Sharyn McGinty is the Print Review Coordinator of In the Library Reviews, a review site also featuring author interviews, spotlights, and contests. Started in 2002, the site reviews books and ebooks in most genres, including Christian and inspirational titles. Read their guidelines for details. McGinty is currently looking for more reviewers. If you're interested in joining her staff, take a look at the reviewer guidelines. In this interview, McGinty talks about her brainchild site and about the various aspects of reviewing.
How long have you been reviewing?
I have been reviewing off and on for nearly ten years. I started reviewing for Sime~Gen, Inc. and eventually started my review site. I closed that first site down after about two years. About six years ago, I opened In the Library Reviews.
Please tell us about your book review site. How and when did it get started?
In the Library Reviews is the brainchild of my best friend and I. We were tired of reading so many reviews based on a star-rating, as at the time over-rating was common practice. After much discussion, we launched In the Library Reviews on April 1, 2002 with the radical idea of not having any ratings whatsoever. As the years passed, a lot has changed, including adding a rating system.
What is the most challenging aspect of running a review site?
For me, it’s balancing the review site with everything else in my life. As a homeschooling mother of three, trying to find time to review and update the website is a challenge. I usually end up staying up well past midnight trying to get everything done.
How should an author contact you about a review request?
First I would suggest the author visit our site and decide which of our three review coordinators should be sent the request. Joyce Handzo ([email protected]) is our Christian/Inspirational coordinator. All requests that fall into this category, be they ebook or print, should be sent to her. Safiya Tremayne ([email protected]) handles all ebook requests. Sharyn McGinty ([email protected]) handles all print books.
Second, be sure to include the following information: Title, Author, Author Email, Author Website, Publisher, Publisher Website, Publisher/Publicity Email, Place where the book can be purchased, Publishing Date, Genre, Price, ISBN, and Brief Synopsis.
How do you select the books you review? How do you determine which reviews to post on your site?
Our books are selected by the reviewers themselves. Our review coordinators know which genres our reviewers like and have gotten good at judging which books they will read. When in doubt, the review queries are sent to the reviewers and they have the final say.
Unless two reviewers are unable to review a book, all books are reviewed and the reviews posted to the site. In some cases, mainly when publishers automatically send all releases to us, a review may take several months due to the fact our reviewers are usually booked solid and have to make time to squeeze in a book that wasn’t requested.
Do you think there’s a lot of ‘facile praise’ among many online review sites? What is your policy when it comes to negative reviews?
As a rule, I don’t visit other review sites. Mainly to avoid changing the look of the site or unconsciously making my reviews seem to much like ones I’d read. As to ‘facile praise,’ I find this a lot when I’m looking up book information on Barnes&Noble and glance at the customer reviews. There are several reviewers there who do nothing but give 5 star reviews. In the Library Reviews has posted what some would consider negative reviews. We don’t review to stroke an author’s ego. We’re reviewing to let people know if a particular book is worth their money. If the book is badly written, we’ll state that. Even the author dislikes the review we’re going to post it. Otherwise what’s the point of reviewing if all we’re doing making sure the author is happy?
Do you keep the author’s feelings in mind when you review?
Yes and no. I phrase my complaints tactfully, doing my best to encourage rather denigrate their work. But their feelings don’t influence my reviews, even if it’s one of my favorite authors and they specifically asked me to review their book.
Have you received aggressive responses from authors or publishers because of a negative review? If yes, how do you handle it?
Never from a publisher and only once from an author. I passed on my reviewers’ reasons and apologized. This particular author proceed to bash the review site on several online romance novel groups, not realizing or caring I was a member and would recognize her. Oddly enough the majority of the authors on these lists denounced this author’s behavior as juvenile.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a reviewer?
Beyond the books? (smiles) When I receive a note from the author saying my review brightened their day or encouraged them to keep writing when they were doubting their ability, it makes me smile. However, the most rewarding thing is when the author takes the time to just say “thank you.” I realize it’s a ridiculously small thing, but reviewing takes time away from my family and other pursuits; having an author recognize that fact makes it worth the sacrifice.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Sharyn! I appreciate it!