Review Recruitment Program: Have You Got What It Takes? : reading by review by Geoff Willmetts.

I was once asked who I write for. I told them that it was the person sitting at the other end of this computer looking at their own computer. I never think of the number of people SFCrowsnest gets on a daily/weekly/monthly basis because the number is…well, as the second biggest Science Fiction website in the world, it’s a lot of people. You can’t think in numbers that big. All I ever know for sure is that there is one person out there reading here. So you’re the person I’m addressing. I don’t know who you or what you are. I’d be happy if you were an alien, mostly because it would than help towards my quota of extra-terrestrials. As I suspect you’re one of those human thingies, then I make the best of what I can find. Right now, I’m after people who have the potential to be reviewers. Experience isn’t necessary as I can train you up but the main three habits are an enjoyment to read, enthusiasm the ability to tell others by writing it down.

There are some limits. Aren’t there always? As we’re situated in the UK, we have to recruit people who live in the UK. It is too expensive to send books elsewhere. If you are outside of the UK, there might be opportunities for ebook readers so don’t give up all hope. You don’t even need one of those gadgets because the files can be read on your main computer. This might not be for you people abroad but it does raise the odds above zero. Although we do other media, the majority is still books and everyone has to do their share of these.

Principally, you must love to read books first. We get a lot of books. Didn’t I just say that earlier? Far more than any other media. I said that, too. Although we principally review Science Fiction, we also get a fair amount of fantasy and a scattering of horror books. That should scare some of you. There would surely be some book or author that you’re interested in. Although you might like particular authors, you should also like trying out writers you’ve never read. If you’re into series books, then you’ll have a field day. I don’t believe a book should be put to one side just because it’s past a release deadline. We’re geeks. We like to make our own discoveries. This is what makes our review section unique compared to other websites and probably why you visit us in the first place. As a reviewer, you become the eyes and voice of what’s out there to tell others what you’ve found.

It would also help if you can articulate an honest opinion about anything you read. Not looking elsewhere to see what anyone else said but to give your own opinion. When this is combined with a book synopsis, then you’ll have the makings of a review. You’ve seen the examples of what we review from reading here. That also means you’re the kind of person I’m looking for. It actually helps if you have no experience. There’s so much less you have to unlearn although that isn’t a requisite. Reviews are opinions, whether they are good or bad. Even with the latter, books will still sell and publishers like to be reviewed than be ignored. All I ask is for honesty. I’ve been told by various publishers that SFCrowsnest is what we are respected. That means a lot.

The rates aren’t good. We can’t pay but a review for the price of a book is good value for money. I don’t expect miracles, two books a month is good. More might be better but I prefer marathon readers to sprint readers. If you’ve picked up a book of your own within our remit that you want to review that we haven’t reviewed, then that’s allowed as well. It also reminds people we know the value of books. We haven’t forgotten our roots. We’d be reading regardless anyway even if SFCrowsnest wasn’t here.

Make no mistake, reviewing isn’t for everyone. You shouldn’t be the kind of person who is glued to the Internet for long periods. You need a hunger to read, articulate an opinion and be reliable to keep going month after month in the world of print. Your only reward being more books and a reminder mid-month that there is a deadline looming in a couple weeks. Reviewing also looks good on your CV because it shows a scholarly attitude and rational thinking.

You also get me to train you up into other things as some of my current team are showing. I seem to have a knack for instilling confidence. I’m an editor. I can get you to walk naked across an active volcano to remove unwanted body hair. That’s part of my job. Instilling confidence that is. I don’t insist on volcano walking. You do have to recognise your own limits.

This is only the first step. Unravel my email so that I don’t get spammed and I’ll send you a flyer about some of the more serious details so you can show me what you can do. The first step is to write a review of something within our remit you’ve currently read and the flyer will offer you the necessary instruction to do that. It’s an important first step that tends to divide the wannabees from the capable.

We are a unique team. If you think you belong here then email me:

Gfwillmetts at – I don’t bite…well, only when I’m hungry.

Geoff Willmetts


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