This Review Business by Eli L. Sanne

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September 26, 2013 at 1:08am

Okay so in the last few days I’ve chosen to become a book reviewer. Why? Well I read SO many books and I have than a more passing understanding of how to critique someone and something effectively that I thought I might lend my hand to this new endeavor. Additionally, I buy a crapload of books, so it may ease my pocket to read some for free and then buy the others. I won’t lie – financial self-preservation did figure into my foray into literary digestion. 

So why am I blogging? Answer:  Quite simply because I’ve seen a lot of commentary about how authors are being lambasted and stab2skewered by some reviewers. I’m sure this is the truth and that some criticism may not be well constructed and aimed at the author for all kinds of derogatory reasons, but hey, if you put your work out there, you should assume that someone isn’t going to like it. That’s how the cookie crumbles. You want somebody to take up their hard-earned cash and give to you then you have an obligation to create a product that is worthy of purchase. Don’t put out garbage and then get upset when someone proceeds to hand you the glad bag. I own over 800 titles and some authors SHOULD be lynched for even daring to put out the work they have and NOT expect someone to trash them royally. Some of them rank way below amateur and so I’m not impressed. And do I understand that there is a monetary factor involved and not necessarily a quality factor in some cases? Yes I do.

 Here’s what I can’t get behind. A review of a book WITHOUT talking about the author, their goal, aim, and intent is like complimenting or complaining about a meal without talking about the chef. How do you discuss artwork and not talk about the artist? It’s impossible… so to review anancy-pearl book without discussing the author is like half of the story. The author had a clear PURPOSE for writing and a reviewer’s job is to determine IF the author actually achieved said purpose. At the end of the day, a story MUST evoke a response from the reader … and it’s not always one of happiness. Sometimes an author means for us to be uncomfortable and ask questions. If a story leaves you feeling dissatisfied and uneasy… that’s not a bad thing – was that the author’s aim?

 a baby books053A story is a ‘product’ from someone, the author, and so if you are critiquing the product, then ergo you MUST also be discussing the author’s intent… note not author the person, but the intent of said author. A story is an author’s child – do we disown our children? How then can a review be devoid of the author’s intent? It can’t. And an attempt to separate the two is not really a review – what it ends up being is abaa description of the book. Well, the publisher already does that. Is that what we really want to do? Give away the plot lines and call it a review? I should hope not.

So let’s get back to the notion of Book and Author being inextricably linked – Here’s where I think the whole situation gets screwed up. When a reviewer, note I did not say critic – because ‘critic’ assumes that you have a background (degrees and education) in English, Literature, Rhetoric, Education, Creative Writing or something that denotes that you are QUALIFED to render a PROFESSIONAL opinion. Now a reviewer, well hey we are an average Joe or Jean and as such, no-one should really be THAT mired in literary angst over what we say. It can be taken under advisement, but no one should be slicing their wrists open and suffering from ennui because a ‘revieOccupy-Oakland-speakout-at-library-after-raid-before-march-Black-man-100-SPEECH-102511-by-Ray-Chavez-Contra-Costa-Timeswer’ didn’t like what you had to offer.

However, to ‘reviewers’ – our words will influence if someone opts to buy a story so we must be mindful of that and so offer a critique that is fair … but it can’t be impartial because at the end of the day it’s our opinion and we all know opinions are mired in personal feelings.

I’ve read tons of reviews (I read them to determine IF I should click buy – remember 800+ titles) and you know what I HATE? When the revieRejection_Pyramidw tells me, EXACTLY what the blurb said. Really? I can read. I saw that – what MORE do you have to offer? A review should delve deeper into the book. We need to know if the AUTHOR has created believable, likeable characters… or if they are evil tdsp-2x3o the bone, then that’s good as well. Are we rooting for the characters? Do we care about them and the situations they find themselves in? Is the plot line well-developed? Is the scenery and setting appropriate and does it helps to move the story along?

We live in a time of mediocrity and compromise and I for one don’t particularly like to pay for someone else’s attempt at mediocrity. And I have… MANY times over.  

handsome-african-american-man-reading-16568461Why after a very hectic workday do I now come home and opt to review? Well I spend a lot of my work life benefitting from constructive criticism and I’m hoping to show my appreciation to some authors for beautiful work and then to help others become better. Oh yeah, and to not single-handedly keep Dreamspinner and Loose ID and their counterparts in operation.

6 thoughts on “This Review Business by Eli L. Sanne

  1. Are you going to review only authors who don’t need it, like too much of you? Of the last ten reviews posted on this site, not a single one is about an author at his first book. Then I got tired to check. Maybe the eleventh is about a new author. I hope so. In short, is your purpose only about saving money and read the authors you like? Or are you going to offer a real service and review those who really need it?

    1. One of the mission statements of MM Good Book Reviews, is to find and promote new authors. It has been from day one. But, supporting doesn’t mean enabling. If the work in inferior, we will try and be constructive…but, we will be honest.

  2. I am one of the reviewers and I review a lot of firstime or newer or self published author, but as Portia stated the reviews are all honest and how I truly feel about a book. I generally pick my books by the blurbs not just the authors.

  3. Both of you have defended the content of the reviews, which I had not called into question. I have discussed only the choice of books to review.

    1. Beverly, we do review whatever book comes in our hands. If a new author is asking us to review their book, we do it. I have already such author’s on my list. We don’t hunt them down, but we don’t reject books/authors.

  4. Hi Beverly,

    We do try to review first time authors and have self-published authors who have sent in their books for review, we always accept any book that comes in for review and we encourage authors including first time authors to submit.

    Unfortunately we can’t search everywhere for new authors and some of them come from my personal library. We want new authors to send us their work so we can give them a step up but some just don’t know about us and if I find that a new book that I have bought is by a new author then I review it and make them aware that we are here.

    We might have been around for two years but as new authors pop up they are still finding their feet and unless someone either points us in their direction or the author in our direction then it is usually a case of finding them when they have two or three books already published.

    If there are any authors that should have a spotlight shined on them for their book then we welcome having them pointed out to us.

    Thanks for your comment


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