The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing
Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards
So You Want to Be a Reviewer?
Are you passionate about books? Do you have a talent for easily capturing the essence of a book after having read it? Do you often feel the desire to share your thoughts about a book with readers? If you answered “Yes” to these questions, then book reviewing can be one of the most satisfying, rewarding activities you’ll ever undertake. In fact, book reviewing can become addictive.
I started reviewing in 1998. Back then, I wished someone had written a book with all there is to know about book reviewing. Sure, I found many articles on the web about the craft, which I read eagerly. But, I really wished I could have found everything in one volume. A sort of “user’s manual”–a book that I would be able to come back to again and again and use as a reference, one that would reveal the secrets of the trade, the Dos and Don’ts, full of guidelines, tips and practical advice.
Though it may seem strange, there are hundreds of books on writing in general, and many on writing book reports, proposals, query letters and synopses, but practically none on writing reviews.
Like all fledgling reviewers, I made my share of amateurish mistakes, becoming all the more experienced and polished because of them. I, too, was guilty of the fledgling reviewer’s disease–that of writing overly-positive reviews. Overwhelmed with enthusiasm, a good heart, and the desire to please everyone associated with the book, I often made the big mistake of forgetting the foremost person a reviewer must keep in mind–the reader. As I read and wrote more and more reviews, it soon became easy to tell a good review from a bad one, and to realize that a large number of reviewers, especially beginners, would profit from a bit of guidance, the things I learned from my mistakes.
The fact is, most people do read reviews to select their reading material. Reviews do have a positive or a negative influence on whether or not a person buys a book. Hence, reviewing is a serious responsibility, one reviewers shouldn’t take lightly.
The aim of this book, therefore, is to offer some guidelines in a clear manner supported with targeted examples of how to write and publish thoughtful, well-written reviews no matter their length, type or genre, and to examine the essence of reviews within a broader spectrum.
This book was written not only with the aspiring reviewer in mind, but for the established reviewer who needs a bit of refreshing and also for anybody–be they author, publisher, reader, bookseller, librarian or publicist–who wants to become more informed about the value, purpose and effectiveness of reviews.
On a final note, the writing of this book has been a highly interesting, educational and thrilling ride into the slippery world of reviews for Anne K. Edwards and me. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey and profit from it as much as we have.
So take out pen and paper, a highlighter, and get ready to write great reviews!
A partial list of contents.
The Five Keys to Being a Good Reviewer
What is a Book Review?
How to Write a Book Review
The Star System: Rating Books
Types of Reviews
The Difference between Reader Reviews and Reviewer Reviews
The Difference between Pre-Publication and Post-Publication Reviews
How a Review Differs from a Book Report, a Critique and a Press Release
The Absolute Don’ts (or Signs of an Amateur)
The Feelings of an Author
What if the Book is Terrible?
Is It Unethical to Sell the Book?
Ownership and Print Rights
When the Hobby Turns into a Demanding Job
Is There Any Money in It?
What’s in It for You, The Reviewer?
Dealing with Review Editors, Authors, and Publishers
Reviewing: Practical Tips to Remember
How to Start Your Own Book Review Site
Reviewers vs. Bloggers: The Controversy
The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing Copyright © 2008. Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards. All rights reserved by the authors. Please do not copy without permission.