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May 5, 2021

Book Reviewer Spotlight Series: Abigail Kincer

A very warm welcome to Book Reviewer extraordinaire Abby Kincer! Abby is a twenty-something living in Houston, Texas. Abby is a lover of reading, cross stitching, cuddling dogs, and sipping on a good cocktail. You can find Abby reading, reviewing, and recommending books of all kinds on Instagram @bookmarkedbya.

CritiqueMatch: Share a fun fact about you.
Abby: I’m a fantastic whistler! It runs strongly on my dad’s side of the family. We can also all sing well.

CM: That is fun! How did you become a book reviewer? Can you offer tips to those looking to become established as book reviewers/ bookstagrammers?
Abby: One day, I just decided that I was one! I started writing reviews on a blog in 2018, but I realized I was missing a very important component for me – interaction about the books I was reading. I took the plunge and migrated over to Instagram, where the reviews and interactions around all things books are seriously flowing. It’s incredibly fun, and I highly recommend that you just jump in and start sharing about your reading life if you’re interested. There are *almost* no rules, no right ways to bookstagram – just share what you love! The one exception here is a firm bookstagram rule: do not tag an author in a negative review. I’ve learned so much from fellow bookstagrammers, and my reading horizons, empathy, and critical thinking skills have broadened exponentially.

CM: How many books do you read per year? 
Abby: I only started getting back into reading after a decade(ish)-long hiatus during high school and college. In 2017 and 2018, I read maybe 10-20 books in a year. In 2019 and 2020, I read 100+ books!

CM: 100+ books per year—consider us impressed! How do you select books? Do you accept unsolicited requests to read someone’s work? 
Abby: I review almost every book I read, and I choose books to read largely based on my mood and forthcoming titles. Exceptions to reviews may include specialty books (comics, illustrated books, etc.) and self-help, depending on how personal it is. I review all requests to have a book sent by a publisher or publicist for my consideration. This means that I do not accept author-submitted requests for promotion or review, and I do not accept a book if a review is required. I have this policy in place to protect myself. I know how invested authors are in their books-and they absolutely should be! But I can find myself in an uncomfortable position if negatively reviewing a book gifted to me by the author or if my reading schedule/priorities have changed. I so highly respect independent authors and the work that they’re doing, and I’ll always rave about a book – independently published or otherwise – that I loved.

CM: What areas of the market do you think are saturated more recently? 
Abby: I think that the contemporary rom-com space is quite saturated at the moment. When I do reach for this genre, I tend to feel a bit bored by the common trope-specific plots and knowing, generally, where the book is taking me. That said, if they’re fun and unique enough, the story can certainly still shine through!

CM: Do you regularly use ARCs? Can you share resources for readers who are interested in receiving more ARCs?
Abby: I do! With so many good books out there in the world, and new ones arriving every week, it’s nice to narrow down my reading list a bit with the help of ARCs. For anyone hoping to receive ARCs, I recommend starting to review books with NetGalley. It’s a great way to start reviewing upcoming titles and to show publishers that you’re interested in providing feedback or sharing with your audience! From what I understand (disclaimer: I’m not in publishing), ARCs are a publicity tool, so it really helps if you have an audience (of any size!) who you share reviews and recommendations with - whether that be on Instagram, a blog, etc. If you’re hoping to receive an early copy of a specific book, you can reach out to the book’s imprint publicity email and request it. Make sure to introduce yourself when you do.

CM: Thank you for sharing these tips! Name a book you recently read and can’t stop thinking about. 
Abby: I didn’t recently read it, but I am always thinking about Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis. I say I don’t enjoy historical fiction, but then I read this book and… wow. It is so beautifully written, so rich in character development. I read Cantoras in mid-2020, and it is still taking up space in my brain.

CM: Can you share monetization strategies for book reviewers? 
Abby: This is an ongoing conversation among bookstagrammers, and one without a clear answer. I’m not sure how I feel about being paid to review a book. Does it make me less credible? Might it cloud my judgment of the book? In lieu of monetizing reviewing a book, I would feel much more comfortable monetizing promoting a book – sharing what it’s about, when it will be available, and why I may be interested in reading it. That said, I have not been paid to promote a book, so who knows! What I do know is that bookstagrammers put in a huge amount of free work that publishers directly benefit from, and being appropriately compensated for some of that work feels like it could be a natural next step.


Reading List

Genres/sub-genres you’re looking for:
  • My favorite genres are contemporary fiction, memoir, and YA with a social conscience. 
What you’re not interested in:
  • I don’t seek out historical fiction, historical nonfiction, or mysteries.


Do you accept unsolicited review requests? It’s complicated – only from publishers or publicists!

How can publishers or publicists contact you? Publishers and publicists can email me at or DM me on Instagram @bookmarkedbya with a synopsis, link, and any additional information.