Say Yes to the Book

Just in case you’re wondering, yes, I DO spend too much time with TLC on in the background on the days I’m home with Daniel and, yes, I WAS thinking of “Say Yes to the Dress” when I named this post.  I’m aware mine doesn’t rhyme as well, but I’ve made my peace with that.

So I’m pretty much fresh off of a month of BLOB (a book ban acquisition game) and, after an initial buying spree, I’m actually doing much better resisting books now than I was before.  I’m trying to reevaluate what I request, what pitches I accept, what I buy, even what I borrow from the library; I’m trying to learn how to keep this who thing manageable.

To do this, though, I have to think most about what it is that I accept, and why I accept it.  I don’t mean about what my review policy says because, honestly, I don’t usually stick to that, I end up being much less strict than my policy states “oh, I’ll just make an exception for this book…” and so on.  I could sit by myself and analyze the choices I have made and why, but that doesn’t sound that fun.  Instead, I want to know why YOU say ‘yes’ to a book.

As I see it right now, there are two main parts to this question:

1) What are some hallmarks of a book you know you want to read?

2) What makes you decide to accept a book which may or may not line up with your idea of the perfect book?

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22 comments to Say Yes to the Book

  • These are great questions, and I wish I had some great answer to share with. Half the time, I think it depends on the mood I’m in, to be honest.

  • I’m looking for originality – if the book sounds like something I’ve read before then I’ll probably give it a miss. I also like to see the book compared to a book I love. There are certain key words that will always grab my attention, but I’m keeping them secret in case I suddenly get inudated with pitches containing them!

    Most of the time it comes down to mood though – I am very unpredictable!

  • I can be talked into buying a book pretty easily, if you convincing bloggers rave about a book enough times. Then there are the givens…favorite authors, favorite genres, that I have absolutely no willpower whatsoever. It even makes it easier if my library has the book, or if I have a nice juicy balance on Amazon! That is where Kindle can be so dangerous…immediate satisfaction!

  • I am trying to be more vigilant about the type of books I read because there are just too many books out there. I would say that I am pretty open–I tend to stick mainly to literary fiction though. I try to only request books I REALLY want to read. I am a little more lenient when I am offered books, but if it is something I am not interested in, I will say no.

  • I have the problem that a book sounds interesting upon pitch but less like something i want to pick up later on. :)

    but I am getting pickier. I don’t want to read average stories or average writing so I’m looking more carefully at the press materials. Even though they are aren’t always accurate, trying to figure out where the marketing department thinks the book fits in helps me to know if I think I’ll like it. I like original stories, as well, there are some plotlines I don’t think I could handle reading again, like the renovating a house/renovating your life one. And if I have the opportunity to have the book well in advance of publication, I like that, too.

  • I have been thinking about this a lot lately because I recently was accepted into business school and my reading rate will NOT be continuing at my current pace come late summer. I am seriously considering accepting NO review copies going forward, actually. I have more than enough books on my shelves to get through for some time and if there is another book I REALLY want to read, there is always the library or the bookstore. I haven’t made that jump quite yet, but I think it’s going to have to happen!

  • This is such a good question, Jen. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve done a considerably better job saying Yes to pitches. I still say yes more than I should, but I’m also okay with that. Right now, a key component is time. How many have I already said yes to this month? How many have I already said yes to for the month in which it’s published? For some reason, new to me publishers will prompt me to say yes as well. Mood is also a key component. I’ve tried to not instantly say yes or no. I’ve been giving books a week or so before I say yes.

  • These are such hard questions.

    If the book is YA, my decision is easy. I will read out of my comfort area in YA. And I will definitely give books that I’m not sure I’ll like a chance because even if I don’t like the book, I would be able to give the book to a teen who would like it. With adult books, I need the recommendation of several friends/bloggers before reading outside my favorite genres (supernatural, paranormal, chick lit).

    As far as review books go, I pretty much only accept YA and pass over adult books. I have taken a few through LibraryThing, but by and large, it’s only been YA books.

    Whew. Such a good question. I’ll be interested to read other people’s answers, too.

  • I’m always looking for new books by authors I love. Award winners pique my interest–someone thought they were great, there must be something worthwhile about them. Storyline–here I’m pretty open but I do really look for things that sound new. I’m always being pulled into something out of my usual read by book recommendations from other bloggers!

  • These are great questions. Often, if it is a pitch, I will read the synopsis and try to determine if it is a topic or premise that interests me. Other than that, I read reviews from bloggers. There are few bloggers whose opinions I trust implicitly, and if they rave about it (and the premise still interests me), then I am more inclined to add it to my wish list. One of the reasons why I read classics exclusively for so long is because I had no one who could recommend books for me. The blogging world has certainly taken care of that for me!

    As far as when I go to purchase books, it all depends on the mood I am in that particular day. I have a running list of books I would like to read and will pick and choose from that list based on what I can find and my mood.

  • Certain authors will always get a yes. Other authors who I’ve been meaning to read but haven’t gotten around to yet will usually get a yes, unless the premise holds no appeal for me. If it’s YA that doesn’t sound like it has copied the plot from another hit YA title, I’ll probably say yes. Other than that, it’s hard to pin down. Certain premises will make my heart speed up, give me that feeling of “oh, I have to read that!” I’m trying to get better about saying “no,” too, especially as I stare at my to-review shelf and look at books that I really don’t feel like reading and never should have accepted to begin with.

  • I really need to be more selective of the books I take for review. My problem is not that I am saying yes to books that I have no desire to read, my problem is that my eyes are bigger than my allotted reading time.

    I am interested in books that are by favorite authors, the newest book in a series I’m reading, and most anything in a favorite genre. I’ll say yes if the summary looks appealing — very subjective and based on mood.

    What grabs my attention? When it is clear that the person writing the pitch has read my review policy or my blog or knows me from Twitter. I like it when someone mentions a book I reviewed and says, since you liked X, you’re likely to like Y.

    My current problem is accepting more than I can read. I never say yes, just because a book is offered. It’s more a matter of hope springs eternal — I honestly think I’ll manage to read a zillion books a month.

    I’m hoping a biannual BLOB and ROOB will help me stay on track.

  • I pretty much only request review copies through LibraryThing. I’ve had good luck with them, and their algorithm seems to know my taste pretty well because I’ve only gotten one book from them that I didn’t like. I used to request copies advertised on Shelf Awareness every now and then, but I read so many that I didn’t like that I gave up on that.

    I don’t get heaps of review copy offers, but I get enough that I’d never have time to read the books if I accepted them all. And so I rarely accept, unless it’s a book or author I’ve heard of and already want to check out. If the book or author aren’t familiar to me, I’ll do a search for reviews of books by that author to see if the authors’ books look like a good match for me. I’ll also search the publisher’s website to see what else they publish under that imprint, which gives me a idea of the types of books and authors they represent. If that all seems to fit and I’m not feeling too overcommitted, I’ll say yes. (That amounts to maybe once every month or two.)

    I also tend to turn down the books that everyone is getting offered (at least I will if I know everyone’s getting the offer). I get tired of seeing the same book reviewed everywhere, and I’d rather not be part of the problem if I can help it. If such a book looks like a good fit for me, I’ll wait until the hype has died down and read it on my own.

  • Great question! It’s pretty subjective for me, especially this year, since I’ve become a lot more discerning about what pitches I accept. Often, if a book sounds interesting in a pitch but I’m not really excited about it, I’ll add it to my TBR list, but won’t accept the pitch. It depends on mood, on genre (I’m avoiding YA this year, but am gorging on mysteries), on a lot of subjective things!

  • I’m actually really open to almost all books. Maybe that’s just because I’m new to the whole book blogger thing and I haven’t really acquired all that many books – I’m a college student so I don’t buy many books either. Even more, I feel like I’m still feeling around for what my reading tastes are. I don’t like to discount any books because I’m frequently proven wrong when I do try new things. I’m sure this doesn’t really add much to the conversation you’re trying to create, but I figured I’d weigh in anyway.

  • When someone pitches me a nonfiction review copy, I start by looking at the cover. It’s a pretty good indicator of the type of book so I can quickly tell if I’m not interested. For fiction, I start by reading the book description to see if it sounds interesting–a unique job, time period, location, or set-up will definitely get my attention. I then try to get a peak at the first few pages of the book. I can tell with about 99% accuracy if I’ll enjoy the book just by those pages. But when I can’t view an excerpt, I waste an awful lot of time debating back and forth if should I take a chance or not. If the author has other books, I’ll glance at reviews for those books to see if they contain my pet peeves or not.

    I’m too willing to give a book a chance even when I suspect I might not like it. I’ve been pleasantly surprised enough that I find it hard to say, “no” if I’m not certain. But I don’t have enough time to read everything that sounds interesting! :)

    If anyone gets anything from my rambling, let it be that I really wish all review copy pitches included an excerpt 1-3 pages long from the first chapter of the book. I would save me a lot of time that I could then spend on reading and reviewing more books.

  • I had to laugh at your TLC comment. I just recently had a baby, and, more often than not, I have HGTV on in the background for most of the day. I’ll have to check out TLC!

    As for the question of what books to read and accept, I’ve been honing my own standards on this since I began book blogging but I still can’t quite articulate it. I have vastly cut down on the books I’ll accept. I tend to accept books by my gut reaction, by checking out the book blog buzz on a book, and/or by reading an excerpt.

  • I have always been the type of person to read everything that was given to me. Honestly, I have never said no to a book. That does not mean that I go into a bookstore and start shoving books in my basket only to find out that most of them I will not receive my teacher discount on, so then I spend $500 on books because I don’t want to put them back on the shelf. I know that the store clerks will put the books back on the shelf, but honestly, I can’t bring myself to part with something that I have already put into my basket. I have gone to a book warehouse sale and decided that an entire section of picture books would be perfect for me. Why would an 8th grade teacher who has no children want $300 worth of picture books? I don’t know. I still don’t know. I have started trading them or giving them away to the library bookstores because my husband only allows me to have one shelf at home for my books now. Lucky for me, I have about 10 bookcases at school.

    Anyways, what usually makes me want to read a book is the cover. I’m drawn to cover art. If the cover looks interesting to me, I will read it. I might not like the book after a few pages, but I will still finish it. I read Striptease in seventh grade because I thought the pasties on the cover looked funny. So, if a book seller wants to sell me a book, then the cover has to be interesting. I can’t stand the cover art for romance books, even though I usually enjoy reading them. The cover art for romance books makes me want to stay away from them. The ones that I read don’t have a lusty male on the cover, they are usually plain in comparison. On the other hand, I like covers that show action and adventure in most young adult literature. I just want something to catch my eye.

  • My husband is convinced that they must have AA groups for obsessive compulsive book buyers, but I’m certain that I don’t need one. A girl can never have too many books. It’s not really a bad thing to meander into a book store with the intention of buying one book and walk out with ten… is it?

    As for how I pick books, I must admit that I’m sucker for a good cover and catchy pitch. However, more than either of those, I read a lot based on recommendations from friends and other internet bloggers with similar taste in books. I’ve found that staying primarily with recommendations has cut out a lot of junk in my reading.

    Also, has been helpful when I want an immediate recommendation from friends with similar taste.

  • Great discussion! I’m trying to become more picky about accepting review offers, but it’s not easy. I want to stretch my limits and discover new genres and authors, but I’ve been disappointed so many times that I’ve started saying no more often. I try to find the books online to give me an idea of what they’re about, and if there’s an excerpt somewhere, that’s even better!

    Like several others, I like originality. And if it’s something recommended by a blogger I trust or similiar to a favorite author, then I’m open to almost anything! And sometimes, like Kathy mentioned, it just depends on my mood. Wish I had better answers for you, but it’s so subjective…

  • There are too many variables I look at these days since I’m trying to reduce the number of review copies I receive.