A few weeks back I signed up for Bookvetter, a site which allows authors to peer-review each other’s completed novels and achieve a degree of approval which then connects to book bloggers. I said at the time that I liked the idea of it, and I still do, but I’m not sure how well it’s working at the moment.
Here’s how it’s supposed to work. Authors post their own completed novel for review, selecting the number of reviews they wish to receive. They then have to review the same number of books in return before they can see any reviews posted for their own work. To achieve ‘vetted’ status takes at least six reviews of your work which agree that it is of publishable quality. Which means you have to complete six reviews of other authors’ work. At least. It’s a long process.
I haven’t submitted any of my own work, but I downloaded, read and reviewed one of the books suggested for me. It wasn’t a particularly enjoyable read for me, but that was a genre issue rather than poor writing. The review process itself was easy enough, with an online form to complete, some good/ok/bad options, some yes/no options, and a few places for freeform analysis – likes, dislikes and an overall review. It was very easy to achieve the required minimum length, but it would also be easy to be less than thorough. I thought the form could be improved to encourage more detailed analysis.
The first big problem is the choice of work to review – only three books are presented. You get a wide choice of genres and sub-genres, so you can always find something compatible, but three is very limiting. I also found that two of my three were part of the same series, which is even more of a constraint.
Oddly, all the books I was offered were already published and for sale on Amazon. One was the first of a ten part series, another was published several years ago. It makes a mockery of review questions like: is this publishable? if it is in fact already published, and with a slew of reviews. I’m guessing that these may be chosen to populate the database, and once the site gets busier there will be more unpublished work to review.
The second big problem is that even after several weeks, the choice of books I was offered remained unchanged, so nobody else had reviewed them (or not enough to remove them from the list). This means that the throughput of reviews is very, very slow, which implies that take-up of the site is low. It’s still in beta, and the site itself isn’t the slickest I’ve ever seen, so I’m guessing that a lot of people are waiting to see how it goes. Many established authors already have enough regular beta readers so have less need for a site like this.
Overall, I probably won’t continue with it. The whole process is too time-consuming for the possible benefits (some beta reading feedback and possible vetted status), the site is a bit clunky technically and there’s no forum or community feel to it. In fact, the front page hasn’t changed at all over the weeks I’ve been a member, which implies a lack of developmental attention. I still like the principle, and I wish the owners well, but it’s not for me.