Frequently Asked Questions

I thought there was only one Frequently Asked Question, but as I set out to answer it, I realized it has a bunch of other questions related or often associated with it.

How do you decide what stories to review?

I don't decide whether or not to review a story until after I've read it. Any piece of net-fic I read is potentially reviewable(*). My current system is to download stories to read and stick them in a personal archive for reading later. When I've actually read it, if I find I have something to say about it, I make a note that it needs reviewing. If I don't, and didn't like it enough to keep, then I delete it. If I've read something short online and like it, then I download it and put it in the archive for re-reading (and often compose a quick review when I'm putting it into the archive).

(*) There are a few exceptions; authors who have requested me not to review their stories, for example, but then I'm unlikely to want to read someone's stories any more if they disapprove of reviews.

I used to print out stories to read, but now that I have my lovely little eeePC it's easy to read them without having to print them out, so I'm saving a lot of paper.

Okay, so how do you decide what stories to read?

Well, I read stories for my own entertainment, just like you do, so I try to pick stories I think I'll enjoy. I do that in the usual ways: looking at archives/fiction-lists and checking the summaries; other people's reccomendations and reviews; stories which have won or been nominated for awards; stories by authors whose other work I have liked; and so on.

All this being done, I usually download the stories and put them into my private story archive. Then I pick from those as to which unread story I read next. Sometimes I pick from the most recently added ones, sometimes I pick random ones, or from a particular fandom. Sometimes I'm in the mood for one thing, sometimes for another.

I know you read my story, why didn't you review it?

Sometimes it's because it was just an okay story, without anything particularly unusual or noteworthy, neither good nor bad. A one-sentence review consisting of "This story was okay" isn't much of a review. But other times it can be that it was a good story (or an awful story), but got lost in the cracks.

Maybe I read it on-line but didn't send myself a note, or maybe the pile of read-but-unreviewed stories got so huge that I had to be more ruthless than usual, or maybe I read it so long ago that I've forgotten what my cryptic notes meant, or maybe I was just too busy. So don't feel left out or insulted if I indicate I've read your story but haven't reviewed it. Me not reviewing something doesn't necessarily mean I didn't like it.

Also, if it's a later story in a series where I've already reviewed earlier stories, I may well not review it, because I've already pointed people towards the series, and if they liked the earlier stories, they can find the later stories for themselves.

Do you review on request?

Not really. I mean, it's really very flattering to be asked to review someone's stories, but I can't even guarantee that I will read them, let alone review them. The best I can do is add your stuff to the bunch of unread stories sitting around on my hard drive, and even if it makes it that far, it could still be lost in the shuffle. There are some stories sitting there, by authors whom I like, which I downloaded years ago, but I still haven't read them yet.

Sometimes people who ask me to review things don't really want a review, they want a beta-reader. While I do beta-read, it's for very few people.

Do you always tell people when they've been reviewed?

As a courtesy, I try to contact every author I review, but if I can't find an email address for them, I won't contact them. I know some people have contact forms and the like, but since I use automated scripts to help me contact people I've reviewed, then a contact form doesn't help, because it has to be done by hand.

Do you reveal author email addresses?

I used to put author email addresses here, to encourage people to send feedback to authors, but with spam amd spambots going on the rampage, I no longer reveal author addresses.