Depending on the kindness of strangers

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In A Streetcar Named Desire Blanch DuBois believed she could rely on the kindness of strangers. Many authors seem to feel the same way.

I’ve written quite a lot recently about the never-ending quest for reviews, the currency which sells books. To get these critiques we authors “depend on the kindness of strangers,” as Blanche DuBois said so pithily as she descended into madness.

When I first started asking for reviews, I would scan bloggers’ websites, check their guidelines, compose my query. And then, I’d see that dreaded line: “I am not accepting submissions at this time.” I would react a bit crankily, at that point. I mean, why have a review blog if you don’t want to do reviews? Geez!

“I’m taking a short break from taking on any more books,” wrote one blogger. “I will still be reviewing, but my list of to-reads has become a little over whelming,”

“I am still digging out of the hole of book review over-commitment, and I continue to over-commit,” said another. “Is there a support group for this problem?”

Eventually, I started to think about reviewers in a new light. Mostly, these are regular people, not professional journalists drawing a paycheck for reading books and sharing their thoughts. These are folks who love literature and generally impart their opinions for free, who – when authors are very lucky – post their reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and Twitter, and lots of other social media platforms. These are moms and dads with day jobs.

“We are back on Earth and reviewing. Unfortunately, we’re so busy, it’s unlikely we’re going to accept a request.”

While rummaging for reviews, I am also sometimes taken aback by a subtle whiff of snark.

“I will no longer reply to emails that don’t follow this policy. If you ignore me here, I’ll ignore you. Yes, that sounds harsh, but I get nearly 70 requests a day. I’m only one person and I don’t have the time to search for missing information or reply to every email that fails (to) include what I need to make a decision.”

Yikes! Maybe not so subtle in this case, but again, consider the reviewer’s point-of-view. They are interested in your book’s premise, but you forgot to add the link they requested, or your contact information was wrong, or you failed to include your cleverly composed synopsis, leaving them without the important facts they need to decide if you’re an author they’d like to work with.

The bottom line is let’s have compassion, people. Let’s think of the reviewer as a friend. A busy friend. We can make their lives easier and they can help us sell books. So, carefully follow the directions bloggers lay out on their submissions and policy pages. Even if, sometimes, those directives are just a wee bit strange.

“I don’t do demon/human/angel love, but bad demons are fine, same for angels. I just don’t like them in romances.”

Indeed.

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Anne Montgomery’s new novel, The Scent of Rain, tells the story of two Arizona teenagers whose fates become intertwined. Rose flees into the mountains to escape from her abusive polygamous community where her only future is marriage to a man older than her father. Adan, whose only wish is to be reunited with his mother, is on the run from the cruelties of the foster care system. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?  The Scent of Rain is available at https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780996390149 and wherever books are sold

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