I had a tiny little uncomfortable situation recently and feel the need to get this off my chest.
I was asked by an author if I would like to read their book.
I said yes.
To cut a long story short they then expected me to buy the book.
I said, politely, no.
They said it only costs X amount, why do you need a freebie?
They continued to ask. Saying they were fine with me reviewing it.
I feel genuinely bad about this, a bit grubby in fact, like I’m doing something wrong. So this is half to clear my own mind but also half to put it into context if anyone is unsure.
In my life I have:
- A family, children, partner, pets.
- Those children are at university, opposite ends of the country. Several weekends are tied up either with dropping off/collecting/visiting.
- A full time job 40+ hours a week.
- And I am completing a degree.
In my spare time, limited as it is with everything that goes along with all of the above, when I am not walking the dog, at the vets, at medical appointments, shopping, at the hair dressers, cleaning, doing laundry etc etc, I like to read.
I like to read crime thrillers and psychological thrillers in particular as they are a huge distraction from everything else and allow me to completely switch off.
I used to write a blog, spent a lot of time on it, and started adding reviews of books. After a while I created a spinoff blog that just focussed on book reviews. I bought books and posted the reviews online.
My initial intention was for this to be helpful to other readers. I was completely honest and if a book was awful I would give it an appropriate review. However, over time I realised that a book review was actually of more use to the author and that a bad review was damaging. At that time I made the decision not to post reviews for books I couldn’t give at least 3 out of 5 stars. To champion the good books instead. After all, I was aiming to do a good thing with this and my lowly opinion shouldn’t be out there to put people off a book that someone had slaved over and poured their precious time and heart and soul into.
Soon after, I joined some wonderful blog tours and began being gifted books in return for an honest review. I also joined Netgalley and again was gifted books in return for an honest review.
I still buy books, on Amazon and from indie bookshops. Often, if I’ve really loved a gifted book I will make a point of buying a copy or copies for other people as gifts.
I am, I guess, a bit insulted that someone thinks so little of my time and thinks that I am ‘after freebies’ when that is so not the case.
Let’s look at that:
I am gifted a book that is for sale at £4.99.
I take 4-5 hours to read that book. Let’s say that in my job I earn £15 an hour.
I then set about reviewing the book. This on average takes about an hour.
When I can, time permitting, I also make a video review of the book to further enhance the review and help publicise the book. I’m new to this so it takes ages! A video review probably takes around 3 hours from start to finish.
That would mean I’ve already invested £60-£120 into scoring my £4.99 freebie. Go me.
In short – it would be much cheaper for me to just buy books and read them and move on.
(At this point, I’ve already paid for my blog, spent time on it’s look and associated social media, so we’ll chuck that in for free.)
(There will be another amount of time required for scheduling and arranging with the tour operator but we will chuck that in for free too.)
I also go to author events when I can and I have been a beta reader a few times and am a member of an advanced reader group where I invest time in reading and providing feedback prior to publication – all for free, purely for the love of books and reading.
To be clear – I love reading. There are some hugely talented and utterly wonderful authors out there who I very happily do all of this for because I appreciate them and I want them to keep writing brilliant books for me to enjoy!
Huge thanks to those who organise blog tours, you do an amazing job which must take a huge amount of hours – I appreciate you all.
Huge thanks also to every author out there who makes reading a joy and extra huge thanks to those who are pure delight to interact with on twitter. You brighten my life.