Here’s my twist on the reviewing process—not so much a policy as a philosophy of book reviewing. I’m going to go through my usual process of book discovery—equal measures of science and serendipity. It means I have to hunt down something to read and share it if I like it. It certainly seems the most honest way to give a review. I get a free book if the author offers it to the world as free, or I get a free excerpt to decide if I want to pay for it to finish it, or I just buy it outright if the author has already won me over with just the description (or past books)—and, yeah, I’ve been disappointed sometimes. There are no guarantees when you pick up a book.
I’m going to restrict my reviews to indie authors—it’s much easier to find reviews of a traditionally-published novel by professional or amateur reviewers, so I don’t feel my time is well-spent on those kind of reviews. It doesn’t mean I don’t read traditionally-published novels, just that I won’t review them.
Frankly, I haven’t been buying many traditionally-published novels lately. What the industry thinks is selling just isn’t being sold to me—and I used to regularly wreck my budget buying paperback novels. That’s how you end up with about 3,000 novels and shelf-space for only about 1,000 (doubled up, because I’ve got about the same number in non-fiction and only shelf space for about 2,500). That’s why I mostly only buy ebooks these days—I hate having books I like sitting in boxes in storage where I can’t get to them easily. So, that means if a book isn’t available as an ebook, I’m not reviewing it.
I won’t pretend my reading tastes are eclectic—I’m at an age where I know what kind of books I want to spend my scant spare time reading. I like escapist reading, so likely nothing in a contemporary setting. I won’t list which books I didn’t want to read. I won’t read books with a cast of thousands. Don’t expect to see reviews of books about vampires, werewolves, fairies, Dungeons and Dragons-like adventures, urban fantasy, pointless mayhem, or porn. If there is sex in a story, I like it focused more on emotions than gymnastics and integral to the overall story. I won’t read anything that brings out my Inner Editor because the story’s not ready for public consumption—I’m reviewing, not critiquing. That said, I won’t review anything I can’t stand to finish—that kind of stuff brings out my nasty, snarky side and I’d much rather put my time into spotlighting a truly deserving indie author.
For an idea of my tastes in fantasy, as traditionally-published, check out my fantasy bookshelf at GoodReads.
What’s left is not likely to be a particularly long list—but long enough to give me something to write about on a regular basis, I hope. What I am going to review will be mostly fantasy, preferably epic, dark fantasy. I like emotional, character-driven stories, especially those with fiendishly-clever plot twists. I like good writing, whatever that means.