Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Free Books

Where? I hear you ask. From places that need book reviews done.

Today I received a book for review, Alastair Reynolds latest novel, On The Steel Breeze. Not only is it in hardback, but I didn't have to pay for it.

If you want free books, and which reader/writer doesn't, find a website/organisation that does book reviews and ask if they want another reviewer to help them. They'll very likely ask you to review something that you already own and have read first, just to see what your style is like, but after that, if they like it, they'll add you to their list and you can get free books, sometimes before they've been released.

But what should you put in a review? It's down to you. What do I put in a review? Anything and everything that I would want to know about a book before buying it.  Here's a few hints.

  1. Don't be afraid to criticise or be negative. Some books aren't worth reading and will bore tha pants off you. If this is the case, analyse why, before you write the review, and make sure that you express it as YOUR opinion.
  2. If you're reading outside your favoured genre, be careful. Some genres have particular standards and guidelines that have to be adhered to, more or less, to be successful. 
  3. Always find something positive, even if it's only the cover art, or the fact you got it for free.
  5. Tell the truth about what you think. If you think the book isn't bad, see some good writing and a future career, say so. If you think that the editing has let the author down, say so. Be honest.
  6. Remember that you're not the author's fan club, you're trying to help people make a decision about spending money on a book. What does the book remind you of? Who does the author remind you of?
  7. What did you wish you knew about the book before reading it?
  8. Did the story grab your attention? The writing style? The characters? Anything?
  9. Did you fall asleep while reading it, or use it as a cure for insomnia? Did you finish it, skip whole chunks?
  10. Give some specific examples of what you liked/didn't like.
  11. Be reliable. If you can't manage four books, don't ask for four books.
One question I get asked, is do you get a choice of book? Yes, and if you really like a specific author, let them know. When requesting books from the BFS, if there's a book I really want to read, I let them know, which is how I ended up with the Alastair Reynold's one, and a book by Mitch Benn a while ago. They're far happier giving the book to someone who will appreciate it, than one who won't.

The next step is up to you. Some good places to start are societies dedicated to a particular genre. Book reviews will usually be on their website, as will instructions on how to become a reviewer.

Go on, have a go. You have nothing to lose and free books to gain.

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