Cold Iron & Rowan-Wood

March 8, 2011

How disability affects me as a reviewer

Filed under: meta — Tags: — Sam @ 6:21 pm

This isn’t universal, of course; other people will have completely different approaches. It’s also not comprehensive, because the nature of mental health issues (I have chronic depression and an anxiety disorder) is that they affect us differently in different situations. I owe a couple of you emails; this isn’t meant as a coded note to you, just some general observations.

1. I do this as a hobby. I do not take on obligations, beyond a few short-range projects now and again, and I don’t do schedules.

2. Because of this, I’m not bribable. (Well, not so far, anyway. You’re welcome to try; I recommend single malt Scotch, 85%+ dark chocolate, and really good books.) If you’re giving away free stuff, that’s great, but I won’t feel obliged. If you’re offering free stuff under an explicit contract (eg. a book embargo) then that’s fine, and I’ll decide on a case-by-case basis whether to take it or not. Free books don’t count as a bribe, because the time I spend reading and quite likely reviewing it is worth more to me than the book was to you.

3. I’m much more likely to read-and-review a physical book than an ebook; I’ll get through it more quickly, I’ll be able to flip back and forth to check things, and I don’t have to faff around with software & file transfers. I don’t do DRM-protected ebooks; it’s too much faff to deal with the special software, even if they don’t have the repellent “deletes itself after a few weeks” feature that I found on some e-ARCs I was given.

4. I don’t keep a shit list, but I do keep a spoons list. (If you’re not familiar with spoon terminology, read this before continuing.) I genuinely like hearing from people—readers, publishers, critics, reviewers, bloggers, authors, artists—but approaching people I don’t already know quite well is always difficult, so please don’t mistake it for standoffishness. If interacting with you uses up spoons, then I’m only going to do it if I have a lot of energy to spare, or there’s something quite big in it for me.

Everyone starts at around zero on the spoons list; you can move up it by wanting me to come to you, spamming me, making information hard to find, being unfriendly or ignoring my emails, or acting as though the interaction between us is much more beneficial to me than to you. Just because you’re high on the spoons list doesn’t mean I don’t like or admire you, only that interacting with you (debating, reading your books, reviewing your books, helping you with projects, or just chatting) takes a lot of energy.

You can move down it, on the other hand, by being proactive, being friendly (genuinely friendly, that is; if you don’t feel it, don’t fake it, because we can tell), making it easy for me to find the information I need, and being concerned with what we can do for each other rather than what I can do for you.

Do other disabled reviewers have similar issues? Any others that are different to mine?

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