Volunteering Early to Tech Review

Another “write this once so I can refer to it later” post. If I sent you a link to this post, it’s probably because you asked to tech review a book before I’m ready for tech reviewers.

This week, I received several requests from readers who want to do a pre-publication tech review of one of my new books, like Tarsnap Mastery or next year’s FreeBSD Mastery: ZFS. Generally these readers are enthusiastic fans who get confused between “Lucas released a new book” and “Christmas.”

I need fans like you. Seriously. You’re my best hope of staying in business as a writer.

When you send me that email, I do hang on to it until the book needs a tech reviewer. But my email is a tarry morass. Like the La Brea Tar Pits, it often sucks down the innocent. The further in advance you ask, the more likely I am to lose your email. The precise traits that give my books their character make email management difficult.

Should it be otherwise? Yep. I wish it was. But I’ve decided to stop fighting it.

I always announce requests for tech reviewers here, on this blog.

I’ve also observed that the further ahead people ask, the more likely it is that the volunteer can’t provide any feedback. Being free in December means nothing for your availability in February.

Also, I can only handle a limited number of tech reviewers. I specify the criteria when I ask for reviewers. For example, in Networking for Systems Administrators I wanted about half ignorant readers and half knowledgeable network people. I asked people to specify which they were in their offer. For #n4sa I wound up with a lot of experienced volunteers and not so many ignorant ones so I needed to solicit more newbies (which I did find, so don’t go volunteering now).

Your early request doesn’t have the information I need to choose you or not. When I solicit volunteers, I’ll reply to your original offer with a link to my solicitation post.

But the best way to be chosen as a tech reviewer on a specific book is to watch my blog. Offer to tech review at the time I’m ask for tech reviewers, with the information I ask for in the request.