Ooh, boy. I knew over the summer I’d probably have to do this eventually. I took a temporary hiatus from reviewing until the beginning of September, and it was a good decision. Summer is a challenge as it is, with my kids home and still too young to drive themselves anywhere. Combined with other things going on, it was a much-needed vacation.
Now I’m faced with a similar situation. I have to stop accepting review requests. Whether that’s temporary or permanent remains to be seen. At this point, it’s an indefinite break. I have several books still in my queue that I’m expected to review, and I’ll do them before the end of December. They’ll just be a bit later than I originally said.
For those of you who rely on my reviews (often because you’re writing genre-defying books or in categories that get little attention), I am sorry. Here are some options for you:
- You can let me know when you have a new book available. I may or may not be able to purchase it at that time, but if I’ve been a fan, you know it’ll go on my TBR list.
- You can still send me a request, and I’ll let you know. I don’t want to take advantage of you and expect free books, so see #1 above. But if you want to, and I accept, you can send me an ARC.
- You can send me promotional materials, and I’ll post about your new book. If you have a tour going, send me a sign-up link.
For all of those, just use the general contact form (or my email address, if you have it). I’m not doing this for everyone—only for those who have been able to count on me in the past and who already know I’ve got your back.
If you’re really curious about why I’ve made this decision, read on! A number of things led to this decision.
- My own health. I don’t talk about it often, mainly because I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. I have fibromyalgia. There is no such thing as a pain-free day or one without some horrible mix of brain fog and fatigue. I have issues with focus and concentration as it is. I’ve been using far too much energy trying to keep up with reviews and requests. That leaves me little left over for my kids, my spouse, and my actual paid jobs.
- Related to that, I do have paid jobs—three of them. Yes, I’m self-employed, but that doesn’t mean I have no work. Due to the nature of it (editing and writing), I find it difficult to also then speed-read in order to write reviews in a timely fashion. It’s far too much staring at a screen. I am not paid to do reviews, and it would be unethical to expect payment unless I were employed as a writer for a media outlet. But that would be the company paying me, not authors. I am sorry, but my paid work comes first.
- Also related to #1, the sheer number of hours spent reading/on a screen is horrible for my health. I need more physical activity than I am presently getting. Sure, I could theoretically have my phone read books to me while I lift weights and practice my dance steps. But I’d really like that to be time spent away from my desk.
- I’m burning out. I spend a lot of time doing things for other people. That isn’t a bad thing! But I don’t leave my work day and just grab a glass of wine, put my feet up, and turn on Netflix. I get my kids from rehearsals and drive them to classes and lessons. I also perform, so I have my own rehearsals. At least one person in our family has something every single night of the week plus Saturdays.
- I have trouble saying no to people, which leads to the feeling that I’m of no value to anyone for what I bring—only for what they can squeeze out of me. I’ve had a few conversations with friends about this, mainly because I don’t ever want them to think they’re using me or that I don’t feel like our friendship has meaning outside of what I do for them. With those people, I’ve (hopefully) made it clear we’re making mutual exchanges. This applies to people I know offline as well as those I’ve never met face-to-face. A give-and-take relationship, especially one that has consistently involved love and trust in other ways, is never the problem. This is only an issue with people who use me as free advertising and simply send me stuff, as though I’m not a human being who deserves to be asked first.
- The combination of #4 and #5, plus seasonal depression, is terrible for my mental health. I end up taking on too much and wishing I hadn’t, then stressing about how I’m going to finish it and feeling guilty that I don’t even want to. Or I wanted to when I said yes, but later found it to be just too much.
- I need to be able to choose what I want to read. I’ve tried limiting what I will accept, with some success. I do love indie books, but sometimes, I just want to read the next big thing from a major publisher or in a category I typically don’t get requests for. I feel a little bad saying this, but I do not need 100% of the books I read to be queer lit, either. Some of that is the frustration of feeling like I’m reading the same or similar themes and plots over…and over…and over. It’s not particularly good for my development as a writer, since I don’t wish to emulate that style.
- I haven’t been keeping up with what my kids read at school. They’ve had some amazing books assigned, and I’d love to read them—except I’m too busy writing reviews. One of the things that always recharges me is family dinner conversation. Part of investing in my kids is knowing what they’re into and what they’re reading so we can talk about it. I won the lottery on this one, having kids who love to read and discuss their books. It’s time to appreciate that gift.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I hope I haven’t left anyone with the impression that I’m angry or upset with them. The truth is, I hung on so long because I value all the good folks who have trusted me with their work. In time, I may be able to return to reviewing. For now, I’ll leave with a thank you, both for letting me read and for understanding why I no longer can.