Book vetter is a newer service for authors and book reviewers. I recently joined it and am still exploring the site although I do want to share my experiences to date.
The basic premise of the site is that authors “vet” books by other authors. Once a book has been vetted by 6 authors, if it “passes” it is listed as a vetted book and available to reviewers (I believe for free but I have not used it in that capacity yet). This service can also be used by authors who have a book they want feedback on prior to publication. I imagine this is like a beta read but I have not submitted either a published or pre-published book for review.
The service is free. An author must “vet” 6 books to get one of their books vetted so it seems like a very fair system.
So far I have only participated in vetting books. One of the upsides of this site is that I can vet books and earn points all while reading books I can also do a blog review on. It is a nice way to help other authors but there is also more give and take than many other methods.
I am on many book writer forums and authors frequently want to trade beta reads. This can be tricky in many ways. Firstly, I may want to trade beta reads with you but one of us may not really enjoy the genre the other is writing. On the Bookvetter site the user chooses the genres they are interested in reading at the outset which means that my romances are only going to be offered to people who are open to reading romances. It also means that I will not have to slog through any police procedural or thriller novels which are not genres I usually enjoy in order to trade beta reads.
Another issue that comes with trading beta reads is that there can be a huge disparity in book lengths. I tend to write novels that are on the shorter side. I use the Harlequin submission requirements to determine market length of the romances I write. Many of the categories are between 50k and 75k words which is generally what I stick to as well. On the other hand the person who wants to trade might have an epic fantasy over 100k words. Since bookvetter has the writers do several reviews the word counts have more potential to be even.
Finally, from a beta read trading perspective it can be disheartening to beta read and then have the other person involved not ever get back to you with their notes. A few times of being let down like that will make anyone nervous about trading reads. Since bookvetter offers a whole community to review there is a much better chance of getting timely reviews and there is not supposed to be any chance of submitting your reviews and not being reviewed.
For published books the writer gets feedback and if the book passes the reviews it is listed as a vetted book for reviewers. At this time I am not sure how much weight that label holds. As a book reviewer I am pretty good at finding my own books to read. As a matter of fact I currently have a to be read list of over 500 books. Gulp. So I am not sure that being labeled vetted is a huge deal. Maybe once the site is older and has more of a reputation being able to say you are bookvetted will mean something. At the moment, I am not so sure.
Anyways, that is the basis of how the site works. Now, her is my review of my experiences as a vetter.
I joined the site and selected the genres I am interested in reading in. There were a ton of choices and it probably took me 30 minutes to add all the categories and subcategories I read in. I then was directed to the book checkout page which had five books listed that were within my categories of choice. I balked. I only got to choose from five? After saying I read in about 100 subgenres I only got five books to choose from? There was no “reject” button either so even though I only saw one book on the list I was even remotely interested I could not mulligan and as for a redraw of potential books.
I picked the only book that looked even a bit interesting and read it. More accurately, I read the first quarter of the book and then realized it was not really for me and skimmed the rest. There is a book review questionnaire I was asked to fill out and on book 1 the questionnaire had three questions that were just there to see if I read the book. Ugh.
I wrote a very long email to the site owner who assured me that they were still a new site and improvements were in the making. I was informed that the books that appear on lists are not random but based on that reviewers site participation. Basically, they had already submitted their needed reviews and were waiting on reviewers. That was a large part of the reason that they did not have a much larger checkout options list. There is an option to give the writer feedback on their description and explain why it does not make you want to check out their book. Also, the site operator is looking into options for some kind of not interested button and/or larger checkout library options but right now the only option I have is to read books I have little interest in or wait to see if someone else vets a few of those books and so I am offered other ones later on.
I will admit I was not thrilled with that answer but I really think the site has potential and I wanted to participate. I sent feedback about descriptions and also checked out the books Amazon pages. I had intended to grab the shortest of the books but I ended up finding that one book had a really awesome Amazon description that would totally have made me want to read it. The description the author had entered on bookvetter was very dry but the Amazon one showed it was a humorous book. I checked it out and so far I am really enjoying it. I looked at the review form for that book and there were no questions that required me to prove I read the whole book so if at some point I decide not to finish it I will be comfortable passing on my feedback without having to prove I slogged through a book that was not a good match for me.
It has been a mixed experience so far for me. I love the idea of the site and helping fellow authors improve their writing. On the other hand the site is young and has some flaws I hope they remedy.
If you want “free” books and the chance for feedback from other authors this is a good site to try. I will be writing more about the site when I experience it as someone getting feedback pre-publication and if I think there is an impact after having a published nove “bookvetted.”
Bookvetter can be found at http://www.bookvetter.com