Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Why I Won't Review Your Book

Every week, I get three or four emails from authors, publicists, and publishers, asking if I would like to review their book on my blog. On some days, I get as many as two or three requests. Back in 2006, when I first started the blog, and received a review request, I thought "Great, I get a free book." Now, I'm just overwhelmed and I turn down a huge percentage of the requests.

I have books stacked up all over the place. On my nightstand, I have two piles of books, each stacked up over a foot high. I have books on the floor next to my bed, the coffee table in the family room has three piles of books stacked up, and all the bookshelves are two rows of books deep with books stacked on top of the rows.

So besides lack of space, there are a lot of reasons why I might not review your book.

1. The book has nothing to do with business or investments

I've been asked to review all kinds of books, everything from cookbooks to children's books. They may be great books but not a fit for the blog.

2. The book is outside my area of expertise

Occasionally, I get a request to review an investment book that I have little knowledge of, for example commodities trading, which I feel I couldn't give a fair evaluation due to my lack of familiarity.

3. The book is a blatant sales pitch

Many authors have a business or website that they are involved in, and they mention it in the book. I see no problem with this as I mention my web sites in my books. However, when a book puts at the end of each and every chapter, "Please call us at our 800 number to set up an appointment to discuss your financial situation," then that is going way overboard. I actually received a book that did just that. It's too bad because the content of the book was pretty good.

4. The book is just too basic

I sometimes receive a book about finances and investing that is really simplistic. In other words, they include such recommendations as "Pay off your credit cards at the end of each month," "Set aside some of your paycheck into an investing program," etc., etc. There is nothing wrong with this information, but the market for this type of advice is not the same audience that reads my blog.

5. The book is not my cup of tea

Every once in a while, I will read a book that I just don't like. The book may not necessarily be bad, it's just not for me, and it could be for one of many reasons. Others may really enjoy it. I just don't want to write a bad review. As an author of a few books, I know the incredible time and energy that goes into writing a book. So instead of criticizing the book, I just won't write anything, since I don't want to deter another reader who may find the book to be just what they are looking for.

6. The book's trading technique is too simplistic and not backed up with long term research
I received a stock trading book a few years ago, a few months after the market crash. The book must have been published right around the time the market was starting to drop. The technique could be boiled down to one sentence. Buy a good stock and sell it as soon as you have a slight profit. The rest of the book was filled with extraneous information about the stock market in general, which although somewhat interesting, did not relate to the trading technique. That wasn't a major issue as many other books do that.
However, although a claim was made that the technique could be used in any market, the author used the results of a personal portfolio going back just two and a half years and ending just before the market crash. Looking at the current 'holds' in the portfolio at the end of the 'study' and comparing them to current stock prices at the time I finally read the book, it looked like the author would be holding most of those stocks for a long, long time. At least one of the stocks went out of business, wiping out most of the trading profits that the author had made for the last couple of years. Even today, most of the stocks in the author's portfolio still would not have reached a point of a 'slight profit' to be able to sell.
I think that if an author claims that a trading technique can be used in any type of stock market, the research must be done over periods that include bear markets, and definitely longer than two and a half years ending at a market top.
7. I just don't have the time
At my last count, I have somewhere between 49 and 52 books that I agreed to review, that I still need to get around to. Who knows when I will get through the pile. In addition, I read a lot of fiction; I've recently been reading one novel and listening to a second novel on CD in my car. So if I respond that I just don't have the time to review it at this time, I mean it.

Anyway, I've written many book reviews during the last few months, and hopefully you will find one of them interesting. And if you've written a book, maybe it will meet all my criteria and hopefully I will have time to read it.

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