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July 20, 2019

Getting Organized! How to Deal with the Review Pile

by Donna Huber

Something that I have struggled with since I started blogging 8.5 years ago is keeping my review copies organized. How do you keep up with what needs to be reviewed when?

In my early days of blogging, I had trouble saying no to review requests and my review pile grew way too fast. And I think because of how quickly review books rolled in once I got my first request I didn't have time to figure out a good way to organize my books. I know I still have books that I received that first year or two that I have yet to read.

I pretty much have my print review copies organized. I have two shelves that house my review copies. One is of review copies and giveaway wins from the early years; it is organized by publication year.  The second shelf is the more recent giveaway wins and review copies and it is organized from smallest to largest. I mentioned a few weeks ago that when my second review shelf reached 15 books I decided that I wouldn't add any more to that shelf until I had read one. Keeping to a 15 books limit has worked well for me. Right now I have 12 books on that shelf and I'm debating on adding a few books from the other shelf to bring the number back to 15 and that way I can start working through the backlog of books.

Print books are a bit easier to organize because you can see them every day. But authors and publishers are sending fewer print books and more ebooks.

And ebooks are where my organization totally falls apart. Part of the reason is that up until the past year I read on a Nook. Unlike with a Kindle, you had to download books and sideload ebooks using Adobe Digital Editions. This extra step means that many ebooks got lost in my email inbox. Now that I'm using a Kindle and can email the books directly to my Kindle that particular problem has been eliminated.

However, I still have trouble remembering what is on my Kindle and when does it need to be read.

I'm doing much better with my Netgalley requests. In the early days, I requested too many galleys and I couldn't get to them. Again the sideloading requirement of a Nook meant I sometimes didn't even get the ebook downloaded before it was archived. Needless to say, my Feedback Ratio tanked. I took a break from Netgalley for a while (only using it when someone pitched a book directly to me and then offered the Netgalley link). However, now that it is easier to load the Netgalley ebooks to my Kindle I've started to use it regularly. I'm still rebuilding my Feedback Ratio.

With Netgalley, I check about once a week to make sure that I don't have any books set to archive soon. I like that you can sort the list by publication date (I use this when determining how many ebooks I have publishing in any given month so that I don't request more than I can read) and also my archive date (which I use to determine what book to download).

Since this has worked well for Netgalley books, I'm trying to do that with the other ebooks I've received.

I debated setting up a spreadsheet in Google Drive to list out the ebooks, but I think that would require more time than I want to spend. Since I use Goodreads regularly, I decided to try organizing my ebooks there (along with all my books). I already had a "For Review" shelf. So the first step was to make sure I add any ebook I receive to that shelf. I also had some "publication month shelves". I created these when I was doing the month "What is publishing this month" posts. So I decided that I could set up shelves for each month and add the books that shelf. Only my review copies and giveaway books are added to the shelves. And right now it is just for future months (so if I receive an ebook that published this past January, I'm not adding it to a publication date shelf).

This has been somewhat successful. Here are some problems that need to be solved to make this strategy more successful.

1. Remembering to add the ebooks to my Goodreads shelves.
2. Getting the right publication month.
3. No easy way of seeing the date of publication.
4. Checking the publication date shelves.
5. Books that have already published.

Problems #1 and #4 are related and something I just need to make more of a habit of. Since I know looking in my inbox will do no good, but that I'm better at adding them to my Kindle as soon as I receive a review book, perhaps I should check my Kindle once a week to make sure I have added all the ebooks there to my Goodreads shelf.

Now problems #2 and #3 are a bit more tricky and I would love to know your suggestions for solving them. I think for getting the right publication month, authors, publishers, and publicists can help. Recently I added an ebook that I received in May to the July shelf based on the expected publication date listed at Goodreads. However, a few weeks later I receive a notice that the book published. In the review pitch, date of publication wasn't listed. This would help immensely in planning out my reviews. The publication date wasn't ever changed on the Goodreads listing. Authors, do you know that if you have claimed your Goodreads author page you can update the listings for your own books?

Unlike with Netgalley, I cannot sort my Goodreads books by the publication date. The best I can do is put them on a publication month shelf I create. But at a glance, I don't know if a book is publishing at the beginning, middle, or end of the month. Ideally, I guess I would be a month ahead on my reading and then it wouldn't matter, but that's not realistic.

Then there are the ebooks I receive that have already been published (problem #5). Should I create past publication shelves? Would I remember to check them? For example, if I received an ebook now that was published this past February and I know that I had read all the books on the February shelf by the end of February, would I really remember that I added a book to that shelf in July?

Do you struggle with keeping your review pile organized? Do you just say the heck with it and read what you want when you want? Or have you found a strategy that really works for you? I would love to hear about your struggles and successes in conquering the never-ending to be read pile.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour

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  1. Awesome post! It can certainly be overwhelming when the to-read stack piles up!! I personally use a spreadsheet to track all of my honest reviews. So far that's been working well for me! :)

  2. I have developed an Excel spreadsheet that I keep revising. It works well but sometimes I feel like I'm spending more time on the spreadsheet than I am reading books!

  3. I've debated a spreadsheet. I just don't know if I would keep up with it. I did start a spreadsheet this year to track what I read with more details than my Goodreads tracking allows (because of all the end of year statistics blogger posted last year). I'm usually a month behind on recording my books read.

  4. You actually can sort your Goodreads shelf by Pub date (that's what I do). Here's how you do it:
    Click on the shelf.
    Click on "Settings" at the top (in the menu next to the search box).
    You'll see a list of visible columns.
    Click the checkbox next to "date pub".
    Click the "Save current settings to your 'For Review' shelf" button.
    Now the column should show up in your list.
    You can sort by that column by clicking on the title (I sort my review books by pub date to keep track of them).

    Hope this helps!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. Awesome! Thank you so much. Now just to remember to add the books to my shelf.

  5. I’m rarely ahead of my schedule, but I have a three step process that works for me which I do as soon as I receive a book in whatever format.
    First, I add the book to my Goodreads shelves tagged with ‘ARC’, and ‘provided by publisher’. I also use the tags Netgalley or Edelweiss
    Then I add the book to my review schedule which I list on my blog.
    Finally, I add them to a digital calendar app on the day I plan to post a review (I used to use a paper diary as well) .That way each week I can check the calendar and see what I need to read/review to keep on schedule.
    It works for me, and after so many years the process is simply a habit.