Monday, July 5, 2010

How Do You Manage Your Book Review Schedule?

When I started reviewing books, I was my own master. I was reviewing books already on my shelves. Occasionally, I would go to the library and review a book I borrowed. I had no one to answer to except myself. I'd imagine it's the same for a lot of book bloggers when they first start out.

After some time, I was added to a few publishers and publicists lists. The books I received for review were usually already published, so the only deadline was "in a timely manner." I could toss a review book onto my immediate TBR and know that it would be read and reviewed in the next few weeks.

A little more time passed and I was added to more lists. I then learned to be much more selective about what I agreed to. The immediate TBR was quickly becoming a huge pile and while these books didn't have a deadline, I feared they'd get forgotten if I didn't organize better. This meant adding a designated review shelf and starting a spreadsheet to keep track of what I should focus on.

Then the ARCs started coming. These threw me. They weren't released yet, so what do I do? I did what I had always done and read them when they reached the top of the spreadsheet. And immediately post a review. Posting a review in March for a book that comes out in August probably isn't the best way to go about things. And reading the books in the order they arrived wasn't the most effective plan either. That August book was reviewed months earlier than it needed to be, but March books were being reviewed in May.

Things have reached a point where I need a clearly defined schedule. The spreadsheet has taken on a life of it's own. All review books are listed there according to their release dates. I'll throw library books and other book rentals onto the list by their due date (shifting them around in case of renewal). Blog tour books go in under their agreed upon dates. ARC tour site books go at the top (because generally, we only get the book for a week). All reviews now get written and then scheduled to post near, if not on, their release dates. If I'm running ahead of schedule, I'll toss in some of my own books for challenges and post those reviews immediately after writing them.

It's a new system for me and so far, it's working. I realize now that I should also be keeping track of the books I've agreed to but haven't received yet to make sure I don't over extend myself for any period of time. I'll start doing that now, but I'm afraid of what's going to show up in my mailbox in the next few weeks.

Do you have a book reviewing schedule? Is it anything like mine? Suggestions are always appreciated.


  1. Wow! you're organized hehe My ADD doesnt let me stop long enough to organize spreadsheet... LOL

    I do use Goodreads to organize my ARCs by month of release... that way I try to read them by the release date and post the review right a way... books that aren't ARCs get read in arrival order and that gets mixed with My Mood order...

    sometimes I just cant go through a great book because Im not in the mood for UF, so I take a break and go read a PNR or something different...

    I also need to take a break from review request books and read a new release or the newest on a series I love.. something I CHOSE... otherwise I just cant go on... =)

    Awesome post!!!


  2. What a great blog post. I treat my to read list like a lesson plan. I usually plan out the month before what I want to read. I have been blogging for less than a year so I mostly read what is on my own bookshelf. On the few occasions that a publisher or author reaches out to me I will move them to the top of my to read list.

  3. I am also just getting to the point that I need to make some kind of schedule. When I receive a book in the mail I have to search my inbox to see if I had agreed to read it on a certain date, and then I usually try to read it as soon as I can and schedule the review out, just so that I don't forget! Some kind of spreadsheet would probably work much better.

  4. Great post - it really keeps me thinking. My method is ever-evolving and I still have a hard time keeping up. I've been trying to schedule in as I make the commitments with publicists, but find myself moving these dates around because of library books due back, tour books coming in, etc. I have started filling out a note card on each book that comes in (read it on someone's blog) and it has the date I requested, the date rec'vd, the publish date and the date for me to review by. I still miss a few here and there but I am getting better.

  5. I use google calendar and will put a book where I tentatively plan on reviewing it so I always know what I should be reading in order to have it posted on time. It's impossible for me to keep up though and a lot of them are continuously being bumped down a week and then another, etc. =( I'm still trying to figure out what's best!

  6. I just started using a spreadsheet and I find it's working great. What I did have to do is stop visiting the library as I now have no time to read what I want to read. I've stopped taking requests for a little while so I can get caught up and maybe throw in a little 'me' reading, read those things I've been waiting to read so I don't lose the pleasure in reading. And there are times when my job is so overwhelming I just can't get in the reading that I need. I usually let the publishers know when I am approaching one of those times and usually they are pretty accomodating.

  7. OH WOW, sooo organized, I NEED to do this, gosh I dont even know how to start...WOW...breathing would probably be a good place, I am so overwhelmed by my TBR pile, not just ARC's and Tours but all the books I own that have yet to read, now I have thrown in EARCS and Ebooks and it's even MORE of an issue, since I dont have the books THERE on my shelf, usually I have a system of when to read ect, but with the ebooks - EAP - not so much.

    Wonderful post - gotta do this me thinks!!! Especially for the ARC's and books from Publishers and such!

  8. Oh wow, your post was just what I needed to read! I'm wondering what to do with ARCs especially. If you get one now for an August release, are you supposed to read it now and post the review now, too? Or post later?
    Reading your schedule gave me good ideas of what I need to do, too, and since you're so much more experienced, it was great to get some good insight, too! Thanks for a great post :D

  9. I don't have a spreadsheet, but on my TBR shelves I have them separated out to 'review-finished-fun' 'review-finished-deadline' and 'review-ARC-deadline' then I cycle through them. For every ARC I review I then review one fun book and one deadline book. If I do two ARC's I do two of each of the others, but I do it publication order.

    If I ever read an ARC out of order--like I did with Delirium, I write up the review so its done, schedule it for posting on the blog and than go back in order. The fun is when my sister takes a book off the shelf and then puts it back on with no care for where it was before.

  10. Way to organize woman! My review schedule is very very relaxed. In fact, I don't have a schedule. The reason being - I read a book when I feel like it. I have found that when I try to force myself to read certain books at certain times, I loose the thrill of reading altogether.
    This is not to say I don't keep track of books that need reviews (ARCs received from publishers or BEA, Tour books ect). I do it in a very fluid way though - all my books that need reviews are visible to me in one bookcase. I am always looking it over and mentally deciding what book I want to read next (not what book I think I should read next).
    Reading is my passion and I blog about it because I want to share. I don't think I could ever force myself into a schedule because for me, a lot of the magic of reading comes from asking myself 'now, what do I feel like reading now?'
    Probably doesn't help you at all :)
    Great question though!

  11. Ay yi yi! I feel like people around the book blogosphere are always talking about keeping to a schedule. While I am pretty envious of everyone's ARCs, I'm also afraid that having to schedule my books out so strictly would just take all of the fun out of everything. At the moment, I choose to not solicit any books from publishers and I just use the library! My only schedule is reading the books before they're due and, so far, that's working for me :)

  12. Great post! I keep my review policy pretty clear as to, if I accept a book, I will read, but I can't promise that I will read it quickly because sometimes I just have so many others to get to. The other thing is, books, for some reason don't seem to get to me as fast as promised. So at any rate, yes if it's an ARC I'll do it right before it comes out if I get it ahead of schedule. If it's for a book tour, I'll do it when I'm supposed to, otherwise I'll do it when I can because I'd rather do it on my own time so I will be more likely to embrace the book then feel stressed when I am reading it. :)

  13. I have a calendar spreadsheet I use too. One I just made up. I update it everyday, if someone asks me to read then I know how long I have to what commitments I have that I need to meet. Let me know if you want a copy

  14. @Larissa - I belong to GoodReads, but I'm very unorganized there. I'm a little better on LibraryThing, but I live mostly by the spreadsheet.

    @Cari - I like that, treating it like you would a lesson plan. Of course, I have no idea how to do that, but it sounds cool and professional.

    @Amy - The spreadsheet helps, but there are always surprises that show up and mess up the schedule. I don't think I could function without anything though.

    @Crystal - Ever-evolving is a good description of mine too.

    @Jenny - I love Google forms for contests and giveaways, but Google Docs and Google Calendar seem beyond my ability. I use a print out calendar to try to schedule stuff visually, but that's mostly for posts other than reviews (discussion posts, author features, giveaways, etc.)

    @Stephanie - I do wish I had a little more "me" time too. And library books are very good at messing up the schedule!

    @Book Crazy Jenn - Yes, a spreadsheet is awesome for ebooks. I would NEVER get to them if I didn't have them listed with all the other books. They're too easy to forget since they aren't staring me in the face every time I look at the bookshelf.

    @Amelia - Most publishers like it if you post closer to the release date. I'll write the review immediately and then schedule the post for right around the release. I'm not really more experienced, I started only about 2 months before you :) I'm just one of those people who starts something and runs with it obsessively.

    @Lexie - I would probably lose my mind if someone messed with my bookshelves. Actually, I know I would. My husband likes to move books around to see if I notice. I can always tell something is off and it drives me nuts.

    @Emily - I love that you can do that! Even before I started blogging, I had a spreadsheet with all my books and I would schedule out what to read next. I may have a touch of the OCD.

    @Katie - I actually don't solicit ARCs from publishers either. Actually, I think I did ask for one or two after BEA because I completely forgot while I was there, but as a general rule, I don't hunt them down. There's a lot to be said about being able to read and review only the books you really want and I try very hard only to accept pitches that I would have bought or borrowed anyway.

    @Amused - You never know when a book is going to arrive. Some come the very next day, some take weeks, and some never arrive, which is why I haven't added anything to the spreadsheet before it was in my hands.

  15. @Book Junkie - I would love to see it.

    If anyone else has a link to their schedules (in Google Docs or wherever), I would love to take a quick peek!

  16. Fortunately for me, I have not been overwhelmed with review books yet. I am still pretty new to book blogging.....

  17. Add me to the list of those overwhelmed by their TBR list. I have so many tours to do this summer that there's little time for my own choices. I, too, am learning to be much more selective over what I choose to review.

    My system of keeping track is similar to you. I have it in Excel and keep track by order the review is due. And I read in that order. The occasional long break lends me time to read something off my personal no-review-required TBR list, but those are few and far between.

    I am considering transferring the list to Google Docs so I can access it anytime from anywhere.

    Not sure if I'm any help ...

  18. @Julie P - Your time will come, lol. As long as bloggers are putting constant effort into their blogs, trying to make them the best they can be, the authors, publishers and publicists always find them eventually. Then it's up to the blogger to decide whether accepting review copies if something they're even interested in. A lot of bloggers are choosing not to recently, which is completely understandable with the way the commitments can multiply and spiral way out of control.

  19. @ham1299 - If you do switch it over, let me know how easy the transfer was. I like the idea of being able to access it anywhere, but I'm not sure if I really need to be able to or if it's worth it if the process is a hassle.

  20. Very interesting post, having just come back home with a whole load of books from an event and now reading your post, it has got me thinking about how i am organising myself.

    I schedule any books to read for Book tours,but books that are sent to me in the post i read as and when, but do make an effort to read them as soon as.

    If i have made promises for a deadline i be sure to stick to my promise, other than that i do not pressure myself as i only get to read on my travel to and from work as i have a young son.

    I use goodreads as my method of keeping track of books i have read, books to be read, and my wish list.

    Recently although i recieve review books, i still keep buying books, but i have not been able to read any of my own because i have had to get some review ones read.

    Very good post!

  21. Your system sounds like mine. I'm new to blogging and just starting to get ARC's. I've decided to read those for now and save my own or library books for times when there's a lull in ARC's.

  22. Wow, sounds like a good system, but you must have some serious dedication. I don't think I could be that organised. I just want to read where ever the mood takes me. So I rarely accept any books from publishers

  23. I have spreadsheets for everything EXCEPT what to read. I don't have a ton of review books and I read tour books as soon as I get them. I have such reading ADD that I'm not sure this would work for me. However, I am going to buy a paper calendar/planner just for my book blog (I love online stuff, paper planners work best for me). I'm also posting tomorrow about how I'm making a spreadsheet of all the books I own (for Book Buyers Anonymous) and I think I'll add a "review by" date to the spreadsheet so I can organize them by that if I want to as well.

    Great post!!

    Tara SG - 25 Hour Books

  24. You are way more organized than me. I tend to read books in the order they are received. But now I have a bunch of ARCs. Some are for books out in September, October and November. I'm thinking three weeks out is the best time to jump on some of them. I'm not sure. Right now I have no time to read the books I really want. The demand is going up and soon I will have to make some sort of schedule. You definitely inspire me.

  25. Reading through all the peoples posts gave me some other ideas for managing my own review schedule. I usually post all my promised dates on the calendar and work other reviews around it. I try not to over extend myself because I like to read what I want to read and reading on a schedule makes me crabby.

  26. @Naomi - I'm right there with you. I keep buying books too even though I don't get around to reading them because of review copies and the library. I'll get to them someday. I consider it supporting the publishing industry :)

    @Page - A lull in the ARCs? I never thought I'd say it, but that would be nice occasionally. I don't foresee on in my future though, so I may have to cut down on what I accept even further. I went from accepting about 40% of pitches to about 5% and I still have enough to get me to the end of the year.

    @Becky - I only accept what I would have bought or borrowed anyway, so that helps, but the deadlines do tend to control what you read next to varying degrees.

    @Tara SG - Oh, I love my paper calendar. It's just a cheap print out, but it helps SO much with planning events and features.

  27. I am doing something similar to yours - trying to review books around their release date, while also catching up on older review copies that have gotten lost in the shuffle. I do keep track of mine on a spreadsheet.

    I'm also trying to stop accepting as many review copies, because I went on a buying binge in the past six months and have a couple dozen titles I bought for myself but haven't had time for!

  28. Good post and great timing for me. I've been thinking about how to track ARCs and my reading schedule. Currently I have an Excel spreadsheet that I list all review copies that have been sent to me. Problem is, I only use it for tracking, therefore I don't review it on a consistent basis. I do keep a reading schedule in my task manager that I review daily (and it's easy to change due dates). But that seems a bit off to me too. So, I'm now trying to figure out where to keep my reading schedule. Right now I have books listed in iCal for July (again easy to change dates if needed), but I'm thinking about using a notebook. Just not sure how to go about it. It's always a work in progress, isn't it? Thanks for the ideas.

  29. I keep telling myself I'll get organized one of these days.

  30. I definitely have a schedule, but it's flexible ... I move things around as I go if I decide that I'm not in the mood for a certain book or if I don't finish something as fast as I think I will.