Tag: free books

New Policy: No reviews of free books

I am announcing a new policy to which the staff of Confessions of a Small-Church Pastor will immediately adhere. Okay, I’m the only staff there is, so I am the one immediately adhering. Drum roll, please!  Okay, here it is:

I will no longer review free books on this blog. If I review a book, you know that I paid for it myself.

It’s not that I don’t like free books, or don’t appreciate publicists and authors sending me free books, because I do on both counts.  But, I have noticed that my gratitude for getting a freebie seeps into my review.  I say all the positive stuff and just overlook the stuff with which I take issue.

Not that I review every book sent to me, which by now totals upwards of 25 or so.  But, I do read them, at least until I get the gist of the book.  At that point I have decided that either…

  • a) this is a bunch of pop fluff; or,
  • b) this is good and helpful stuff for me and my readers.

If a book meets the “good and helpful” test, then I have reviewed it, and I hope those reviews were both good and helpful.  I have never given a positive review for a book I thought had real problems; and, I have never fudged on a review to say something that I did not think was true.  I just left out the stuff that I took issue with.  Which is not fair, good or helpful.  So, in the words of Bob Newhart, “Just stop it!”  — which I have done.

Here’s what I’m going to tell publicists and authors who want me to review their books:

Send me the book summary via email along with your pitch as to why this fits my readership.  I will consider reviewing the book if the subject matter fits the editorial guidelines here (there are some, read below), and if the book is a resource useful to my small church community of readers and contributors.

Here are the editorial guidelines I use when writing, so most books would need to fit somewhere in here:

  • I don’t do Bible studies, devotionals, scripture exegesis, doctrinal discussions, or other stuff that is found on sites that do all of that stuff better than I could.  The closest I come to a Bible study or scripture interpretation is posting my sermons each week.  I do that because other small church pastors preach each week, too, just like I do.
  • I do offer practical insight into small church ministry, so if the book or resource fits that criteria, I stand a pretty good chance of buying it and reviewing it.  Practical insight for ministry in a small church is a larger category than you might think, so don’t be discouraged.
  • If I decide to review a book or resource, I’ll let the publicist/author know of my decision, and when the review will run.  No advance peeks at the review, no approvals, nothing but notice of run date.
  • I’ll buy the book myself (I buy lots of books — Amazon loves me!), so this is not as big an obstacle to getting reviewed as you might think.

That’s it — simple, straight-forward and clear, I hope.  What do you think?  Let me know if you think I’m nuts to turn down free books, or if you like the new policy.  Thanks.