By on March 21, 2018

1988 Ford Taurus SHO, Image: Ford Motor Company

Reader reviews have been a part of TTAC in the past, and we’re still interested in running them from time to time. However, it’s come to my attention that a few of you submitted reviews and never heard back.

First, let me say: Mea culpa. Both my inbox and the “editors” account are constantly slammed with emails, and sometimes, submissions get missed. More on that in a minute.

Yes, we’re still willing to listen for pitches for reader reviews, but we can’t run them all. Here, then, are a few tips to increase your chances of getting your review on the site.

Be Patient: Like I said above, our inboxes are slammed. So give us time to comb through our inboxes. Also, please understand that breaking news will take precedent – so we may hold a review until a slow news day.

A lot of what hits our inboxes is spam, so again, please give us time to separate the wheat from the chaff. Speaking of spam, sometimes pitches hit that folder by accident. I check my spam folder daily, so hopefully no pitches will linger in limbo long.

This call for patience also extends to a review we’ve agreed to run – we may have to change the planned date of publishing due to breaking news or other site needs. That’s life in journalism – stories get moved all the time to accommodate other stories. Understand that it may happen to you.

Follow Up: Patience is key, but if we’re taking an unreasonably long time to respond, feel free to give us a shout to follow up. Like I said, sometimes emails get buried in our inboxes and we miss them. Also, I am not known for having the world’s best memory – sometimes I make a mental note to reply and then forget. I am human, after all, and so is the rest of the team. So if you haven’t heard back, or we said “maybe” initially and haven’t followed up, feel free to remind us.

Be Aware of What We’ve Reviewed Recently: I rejected a pitch a few months back because we’d reviewed the two cars the reader wanted to review right before he submitted. This reader is welcome to circle back down the road, of course, but we try to avoid overlap – it’s hard enough with those of us on staff who review cars all being scattered across the country and pulling from different press fleets. If you want to pitch a Golf R, for example, but we just covered it, you may want to give it a couple months.

Keep it Short: 800-1,500 words is the sweet spot. Anything much longer than that, and we’re going to chop, chop, chop. No novels, please.

Know Your Audience: If you read the site regularly, you know what cars are more “TTAC” in character. We’re more inclined to run a reader review of, say, a Taurus SHO than of a Corolla. Regular readers also know exotics don’t get a lot of love here. Your 911 GT3 is nice, I am sure, but the rest of the B & B may not care.

Be Coherent: We’re not expecting Shakespeare, but if you require too much editing, your review won’t run. Steph and I and the others have too much to do to spend hours editing a reader review to make it coherent. Use spellcheck, show a basic understanding of grammar and the written form of the English language (if you’re not a native speaker, we’ll take that into account), and be understanding if we make changes.

Fun Stories Are a Plus: If you have an interesting story that ties in, that helps.

Take Good Photos: We’re not adverse to using press shots, but if you have good or, better yet, great photos (usually four to six, including one interior shot and one front ¾ shot), you stand a better chance of acceptance.

I hope the above guidelines are helpful, and again, mea culpa to any of you who haven’t gotten a reply on a submission. Carry on, ya merry band of TTAC’ers.

[Image: Ford]

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19 Comments on “Housekeeping: Reader Reviews...”

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Not sure if it is allowed, but I hope that it is and I will try anyhow. Below is the final column from my favourit auto ‘journalist’ Peter Cheney ex of the Globe and Mail. Peter spent 7 years as a VW/Porsche mechanic before becoming an award winning investigative reporter and then finally writing a column on autos. Please take the time to read.

    In 2009, I decided to spend the final part of my news career writing about something I have loved since I was a boy: cars and engineering. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Over the past seven years I have driven virtually every car I dreamed of, met some of my driving heroes and went behind the scenes at some of the coolest places in the world, including the Formula One pits, the Morgan car plant where they still make cars by hand, and the Stuttgart Porsche factory I first visited with my father, when I was only five years old.

    Life as a car writer also provided some unexpected lessons. For starters, there is little connection between price and value – that $400,000 dream machine may look cool, but it probably won’t be as reliable as a Toyota Corolla. Also, when you’ve driven one supercar, you’ve driven them all. No matter how much they cost, no matter how fast they are, cars tend to blur together, lost in a half-remembered haze.

    Yet some rides stand out. But not for the reasons you might expect. In 2016 alone, I drove about 50 different machines, including a 600-horsepower Shelby Mustang, the legendary Nissan GTR, and the Pagani Huayra, a $2.5-million Italian exotic with a top speed of more than 300 km/h.

    They were all cool. But my favourite ride of the year was in a beat-up Ford F-150 pickup truck. The paint was faded, the power windows were wonky, and the interior was strewn with food wrappers. Never mind. The old Ford came with two priceless accessories: a great road and a dog. The road ran through a green Georgia valley, then up the side of a mountain. Hawks flew overhead in a summer sky so blue and perfect that it could have been in a movie. And the dog was a very special mutt named Poncho.

    Poncho is no show dog: His lineage may include the Labrador Retriever (which would explain the outsized head), the Australian Blue Heeler (which would explain the rough, mottled fur), the Bassett Hound (which would explain the sawed-off legs), and several other breeds as well. Poncho’s claws were hard on the upholstery, but riding with him was a reminder of what matters most. I’ve known Poncho for a few years now, and he may be the sweetest, humblest dog I’ve ever met. He lives in the moment, as they say, and when you are with Poncho, you do as well. The ride with Poncho happened because I had traded cars with my friend Mike for a few hours. Mike got the keys to my polished red Lotus with its supercharged engine and Pirelli racing tires. I got Mike’s old 150 plus Poncho. By the end of the day, I knew that I had come out ahead.

    As a boy, I was deeply affected by The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be, Farley Mowat’s classic story about his dog Mutt. Among other things, Mutt loved to ride in cars. I thought of Farley and Mutt as I headed through the valley in the old Ford. Poncho rested his head on my lap for a while, then headed over to the passenger side window and stuck his snout out into the airstream, sampling the bouquet of pine trees, wildflowers and hot tarmac. Unlike my Lotus, the F-150 wasn’t much of a handler, so I had to plan ahead for corners, managing my speed like a freighter captain heading into a tight harbour. You don’t need a sports car to practice the art of driving. Poncho licked my arm. Was he thanking me for keeping the ride smooth? Who knew? It was a perfect afternoon, and I knew it would stay with me always.

    Almost every day, someone asks me what my favourite car is, and which ones I’d buy if I won the lottery. The answer: My favourite car is the one that my wife happens to be in at any given moment. And that car is also the one that takes me where I want to go, starts every time without fail, and has a price that doesn’t make my family suffer. Although I admire Porsche 911s, and spent several years working on them professionally, I revere cars like the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic and Citroen 2CV for their brilliant application of practical engineering, and their adherence to the inviolable laws of everyday economics.

    If I won the lottery, I might break down and buy a 911, a Morgan Aero 8 or even a Pagani Huayra (the most incredible supercar I ever tested). But probably not. I already own a perfect, brand-new Toyota Prius that carries my wife and me everywhere we want. The cars I love are practical and hard working. As much as I admired the two Lotuses I was fortunate enough to own, I never cared for them as much as I did for our Honda minivan and our long-suffering Civic, the cars that carried our family through many of our greatest adventures.

    None of these cars can be considered dream machines. But for my wife and I, they were. As the years have taught me, there is an intrinsic connection between engineering, aesthetics and values – utility lasts, while tacked-on design and show-off extravagance fall by the wayside. The greatest, truest style is rooted in authenticity and humanity. And having Poncho with you is the icing on the cake.

  • avatar

    I should reach back into the memory banks and review the ’89 SHO I owned that looked exactly like the one above, except red.

    I wrote a comparative review of my two previous cars — a 2009 G8 GXP and a 2008 Lexus LS 460 — but never submitted it because I’m a perfectionist.

  • avatar

    My greatest car was my 1968 Mini Traveler the day that the staid old Province Ontario finally gave us the license plates for her. No better drive has ever been taken. And, yes, Sparky the Dog was in the back – realistically, there is no room for actual human beings. We wouldn’t trade that first drive in that great little car for a 911 – we had 4 years in her, and she ran like a top. Oh, and we found out that wall beside the car was actually a curb – something all original Mini people have to deal with.

  • avatar

    “we may hold a review until a slow news day.”

    TTAC is a proverbial ghost town every Saturday and Sunday. Why not run the reader reviews then?

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Points for the Farley Mowat reference.

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    Do you accept unsolicited submissions other than Reader Reviews? Do you pay for published pieces?

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