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May 15, 2008


David J. Montgomery

If you're reading this and thinking, "That sounds like a pain in the ass -- why should I bother doing that?" The answer is: because sometimes it works.

I review books that I wouldn't otherwise know about because the author or publicist or editor emailed me. So I think it's worth taking a chance -- just make sure you position yourself for success.

Jonathan M

Personally I always feel it's a little bit weird to be asked to do a review by an author.

I mean, I know that reviews are part of the whole PR apparatus surrounding a book but I like my thin veneer of artistic/critical autonomy.

I'm like the guy in The Commitments, I don't do 'gigs', I hit like a South American guerilla army and then retreat back into the jungle leaving people stunned and wondering where I'll hit next.

I said it was a thin veneer.

Damn it.


Actually, this is probably the easiest thing you'll ever do for your book.

And it works better than any of the other promotional gambits.

(Sorry. Now you'll be swamped. :))

David J. Montgomery

I don't mind getting emails, as long as they're useful. (What's frustrating is when I have to go back and forth a few times with the person in order to get the info I actually need -- then I wonder why I bothered.)

I think I reviewed one of I.J.'s books because she emailed me. But I'm not sure.


Read any good dog books lately?


Indeed, you did. I asked if you got the book (I'm a little shy about just begging for a review) -- and you said you got it but misplaced it. It turned up, and, boy, was I glad I asked.
But Jonathan may be right about preserving some distance between reviewer and author. Perhaps not everyone would welcome an e-mail.

David J. Montgomery

I think that in today's wired world, it's par for the course. Although if reviewers don't want to be contacted, all they need to do is keep their email addresses confidential (which most of us don't do).


Dear Mr. Muntgumery,

Plz red my self-published book about a half-Japanese half-Ojibwa assassin. It is teh best book ever published. Mom says so, and she's red all the James Pattersons.


Future Bestest sellin Fiction Novelist

Elaine Flinn

What? No title, Rob? :)

Doug Riddle

Wondering what are the other nine best books ever published.

Kerrie Smith

I'm still new the business of authors offering me books to read, although it has happened a few times. I am a bit worried about the possibility that I'll hate the book and then won't want to write the review.

David J. Montgomery

You don't have to worry about that, Kerrie. A book never obligates a review. Just because someone sends it to you, you're under no obligation to review it or even read it.

I read fewer than 10% of the books I'm sent, and review fewer than that.

James O. Born

How about insulting the reviewer's head size?

Dana Kaye

The other thing I think authors should remember is to know what the reviewer tends to review. Don't send a romance novel to someone who exclusively reviews crime fiction. Magazines and newspapers tend to have reviewers who specialize in different genres; a little research goes a long way.


Your book about the half-Japanese half-Ojibwa assassin sounds familiar. Were you at Love is Murder in Chicago?

Cameron Hughes

Sending me a check usually sways me.

Hell, I'll make do with just the check and no book and review it Harriet Klausner style, a lot of educated guesses and the synopsis on the jacket.

Meryl K. Evans

I've reviewed books when the author or author's publicist contacted me. While I feel a little more pressure to give a good review because the author contacted me, I still put the readers first. I don't want to read a 5-star review because the reviewer had no spine to give it a two star. I try to let the review do the talking.

Oh, don't send a book about cats to a reviewer who has never reviewed on anything animals. Make sure the review covers your topic.

You could send a book to a reviewer and hope we review it -- but you have a better chance if it's on topic and if you email first. At least, in my book.

Julia Spencer-Fleming

I have some title suggestions for Rob's half-Japanese, half-Ojibwa assassin novel:

A Cold Day in Rashomon Gate
Shinju Love Medicine
Rainfall on Iron Lake
The Salaryman's Savage Surrender

Make sure you throw in some sex and some historical flashbacks and they'll be buying 'em like hotcakes, Rob.

Clea Simon

And some woo woo, too! How about a vengeful ancestor spirit?

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haha good article, now I know what to ask..

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I have some title suggestions for Rob's half-Japanese, half-Ojibwa assassin novel:

A Cold Day in Rashomon Gate
Shinju Love Medicine
Rainfall on Iron Lake
The Salaryman's Savage Surrender

Make sure you throw in some sex

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About Me

David J. Montgomery is a writer and critic specializing in books and publishing. He is an emeritus columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and The Daily Beast, and has also written for USA Today, the Washington Post, and other fine publications. A former professor of History, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two daughters.

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