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I’ve written a book. Will you please read and review it or give me some feedback on it?

Every time I receive this e-mail from an author, I just want to reach through the screen and hug her. I’ve been in her shoes.

When my book, Jacob: Journaling the Journey, was in print I, too, had to write to bloggers and Christian newspapers and magazines asking them to write a review of my book. It’s a good way to introduce potential readers to your work and encourage them to buy a copy or twenty.

I never liked soliciting reviews for two reasons: First, it’s kind of like asking a boy out on a date – it’s an awkward and weird feeling that you’re essentially saying, “Do you like me enough to say ‘yes’ to me?”. Then, there’s the agonizing wait to see whether or not you’re going to be rejected. Second, I always felt like I was asking the person to invest an enormous amount of time and work, and all I was able to give her in return was my thanks and a copy of my book. It felt like asking someone for a huge favor that I’d never be able to repay.

So my heart goes out to those fledgling authors who are having to cold call bloggers for reviews. It ranks right up there with having a tooth pulled.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot and people are asking me to write reviews of their books, I have a much different perspective. Far from feeling like authors are asking me for a humongous favor, it would be my joy to serve and encourage each and every one of them by writing up shining and supportive reviews for all.

Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, I find that I can’t:

📖 There aren’t enough hours in the day to read and review, in a timely manner, all of the books I receive inquiries about. And, I can’t bring myself to say “yes” to some authors and “no” to others.

📖 I’ll just be perfectly transparent with y’all, I’m very undisciplined right now when it comes to book reading. I study my Bible. I read lots of articles. But for some strange reason, I’m not reading many books – even books of my own choosing – at this season of my life. I can’t really figure it out because I’ve lived my whole life with my nose in a book, but…there it is.

📖 Writing a book review (especially when you have a relationship with the author) is kind of like a friend showing you her new baby and saying, “Isn’t she cute?”. Fortunately, I happen to think all babies are cute, but…with books, not so much. And the last thing I want to have to do is tell a friend, or even a stranger, that her book has a face only a mother could love. I’m an author. I know what it’s like to hear that. It’s no bueno.

Every once in a blue moon, I’ll write a brief recommendation of a book I’ve picked up of my own volition and taken my sweet time reading because I think it’s something my readers would enjoy or benefit from. I can do that without the pressure of a deadline or worrying about hurting an author’s feelings.

Also, I try to compensate for the fact that I don’t write book reviews myself by publishing reviews written by guest posters. If you would like to write a book review as a guest poster, or if you’re an author who has a blog-less friend ready to write a review but needing a platform to post it on, drop me an e-mail and let’s chat about it.

While I’m honored and humbled that anybody out there might want my opinion on her book, and I dearly wish I could write a review for everyone who asks, I’m afraid that – with rare exceptions for people I’m extremely close to or who have served as mentors to me – for this season of my life, the answer has to be an across the board “no”.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

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