Lately, I have been offering fellow authors a trade: my review for yours. I now know why it’s so hard to get an agent’s attention. I had one tell me once, “I read until the first typo.”


So far, I have received some utter dogs which hadn’t even undergone a proper copy edit, and which make the full gamut of basic amateur mistakes of people who think all there is to writing is to immerse their hands in warm water. Nobody does research. Too many people are offering recycled TV plots we’ve seen a million times before. Still others want only top ratings, or else they’re not interested.


I want to get my own work reviewed, and I like reviewing, but one thing is clear: there must be honesty on both sides. From those of you with more knowledge and experience, I ask: what are your rules? What works best?


My gratitude in advance.


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The difficulty here is in the "trade" situation. It's best not to have the least suspicion of a "I'll praise yours if you praise mine." deal.

Authors trading reviews is not a good idea IMO, and I think if you actually look at the reviews that authors trade you'll see why. It's just too likely that everyone emerges with top marks. It undermines the integrity of reviews.

I'm personally more comfortable with offering free copies to readers in exchange for a review. I haven't used this new website yet, for example, but I might:

I review for the New York Journal of Books, and they have some pretty stringent requirements. They're very cognizant of conflict of interest, and thus a reviewer can't review a book from someone with whom they have a personal connection.

I agree with Eric and I.J. - trading reviews just seems like a bad idea right out of the gate . . .

"Trading" reviews reeks of a potential quid pro quo. There are review sites that can be approached (New Mystery Reader comes to mind). They may or may not do the review, but all an author can do is ask for one. Doing anything to "guarantee" a review is risky.

I put together a website of all my internet reviews. There are I think 20, with a source listed for each. You can Google each of those source sites and do what I did -- write a short letter about yourself and the book and ask them if they'd like a free copy for review. This worked about 2 out of 3 pitches for me back in 2007-08. 

I appreciate the excellent advice.

Here’s the new deal: I’ll review your manuscript if, after the first 20 pages, I keep on reading. If I don’t, I’ll send a private message saying why.


If anyone, author or not, wants to review my manuscript, just ask via my CrimeSpace inbox. No strings attached. I’d rather have an honest bad review than insincere ass kissing.


I appreciate your understanding.


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