Will You Read/Review/Write About My Book?

[UPDATED in 2014] Every week I receive a number of manuscripts, books, and email attachments from authors requesting that I read the material and provide them with a review or other comments.  I receive many more emails simply asking if I would be willing to read and review a manuscript if it was sent my way.  Some of these materials come direct from publishers; the rest are sent by the author personally.  Nearly all of them are posted politely and without onus, but I get guilt pangs anyway, because, A) guilt (lapsed post-Calvinist flavor) is one of my specialties, and B) I know I probably won’t be able to fulfill the request.

I love to read.  I love to read even more than I love to write.  Well, wait a minute, that was a tad hasty, I’d say it’s 50/50.  But the preponderance of my reading is tied to something I’m writing.  And when I’m not reading something for purposes of researching or fleshing out a specific writing project, I’m chiseling away at the “life list” of Things I Just Gotta Read Before I Croak and Who Knows When That Might Be.  My office is filled with stacks and stacks of books read and unread and so is my pole barn (and let’s not even discuss my electronic and audiobook devices).

All of these books are a happy problem.

Also a happy problem: The 80-100 days I spend on the road researching writing projects or trying to get my own work out there to a wider audience.  Worth every second when I get to shake hands and thank readers in person.  Plus I have gotten a lot of writing done in the Super 8.

Not a problem at all: The blessed responsibility to spend some time on Dadhood.

What I’m working up to here – I’m a bit of a beat-around-the-bush’er when it comes to saying anything but “yes” – is that the odds of me being able to read or comment on something sent my way are vanishingly slim.  It is not impossible, but it is sitting on Impossible’s couch.  And I don’t take this lightly, because I have had many people – known and not known – offer kind and boostful words in the days since I first got serious about typing.  So what I want you to know is that if you sent me something and I didn’t get to it or write it up somehow somewhere, it wasn’t because I was being snooty or snotty or formed grim opinions, it was simply because I’m working and being my version of Dad, and you should grow neither meek nor thunderous nor should you lose heart but rather press on and write and write, and write some more, and set up talks and signings and read at open mic events and go on book tours if they’re arranged and set up your own if they’re not, and grow your audience one reader at a time, and set up your blog (or whatever medium/format gets eyeballs these days) and tend it and write some more and share your work and just don’t stop unless it’s not fun anymore.  That’s what worked for me.  And it’s still fun.  I’m a lucky fool to have fallen on this wagon, and I know it.

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