A few days ago I received an email from PMI Publishing. You probably haven’t heard of them – they don’t publish books, or magazines or short stories. Apparently they’re a promotions agency. Nothing wrong with that – lots of folks employ promo people to help get the word out about their careers. But this particular email made me uncomfortable. Let me share the bulk of the email with you, so you can get where I’m coming from.
“We just signed an exclusive deal with the three monthly publications in Florida to provide book reviews. As part of our agreement we are required to review between 36 and 64 books over the course of the next 12 months, which will appear in print. There is no cost for the review.
Our goal is to provide a win-win scenario for both our client and for you, the [...]
Continue reading Get What You Don’t Pay For
Misty and I had a lovely exchange yesterday on her post about ethics and characters doing stupid things. If you missed it, take a look back. I commented to her post (which was great, BTW) about a reviewer who had been attacking me and my character Jane Yellowrock, calling her (her decisions, her religious choices, her sex life, her…everything) and me, stupid and much worse
That post and exchange made me realize how important a review is to a book and a writer, and that some simple how-to-review-a-book rules might be helpful. Also, I hope you’ll offer some more suggestions in the comment area to round out the list.
Do: 1. Find something nice to say about a book. 2. Finish any book you review. Otherwise you are not giving *your* readers a fair shake. 3. Review the book you read, not the book you wish it was. 4. [...]
Continue reading Dos and Don’ts of Reviewing
I’ve been thinking about critiques and reviews recently, and had been even before the Magical Words How-to received this latest review from Black Gate. See, I’m currently working on the galley proofs for The Dark-Eyes’ War, the third book of Blood of the Southlands, which will be coming out in paperback in December. There’s been quite a lag between the hardcover release of this book (January 2010) and the mass market paperback re-release, and so it’s been a long time since I last read through this book. Talk about giving oneself some distance from a novel!
Let me pause here to say that I no longer place much stock in reviews. Yes, it’s nice to get a nice review, particularly in one of the big trade magazines (Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal). But just as I try not to let a bad review get me down too much, [...]
Continue reading Writing Life: Reviews and Critiques — Dealing with One, Making the Most of the Other
Last week I was talking about the importance of never giving up in the face of rejection. It’s nearly impossible to reach publication without being told “No” a few dozen (hundred? million?) times. But the vital lesson you learn from all that rejection is how to handle it after you’ve been published, and people all over the country are getting to read what you write. You think agents and editors turning you down is painful? Wait until you have to read those one-star reviews on Amazon! Nowadays, there are lots of book review sites all over the internet, some highly regarded, some amateurish, but all taking a shot at telling everyone how they liked your book. The tough-skinned author has learned how to handle praise and rejection, due to the practice before he ever scored a contract in the first place.
You know all about this, right? Well, here’s a [...]
Continue reading Saying Something Nice
The other night we went to see a performance by a nationally renowned dance company. It was a performance in three acts, as it were, and while the first and third dances were, for me, very enjoyable and fairly traditional — one was set to Handel, the other to Bach — the middle one was, well, different. The music was discordant solo piano, the dance was filled with odd, angular positions and bizarre movements, and the costumes — well, for the guys, picture place mats covered with thick dark fur and strapped to their backs. I think they were meant to evoke a sense of the primitive. Okaaaay….
I’m sure that lots of people in the audience enjoyed the dance. I wouldn’t be surprised if Misty was saying right now “Ooooo, that sounds cool…” It didn’t work for me. And that’s okay.
When I write, I want to reach as [...]
Continue reading To Each His or Her Own
Today we welcome book reviewer Amy Cunningham to Magical Words! Book reviewers are an important part of the publishing world – there are a lot of books out there, and sometimes you need someone’s help to figure out which ones to choose. But I’ll let her tell you all about it. Here’s Amy!
How did you begin reviewing books? Why do you think it’s important to share your opinions of books you’ve read? I’ve been reviewing for about 8 years now. The website I review for, Romance Reviews Today, is celebrating its 9th anniversary, and I came on board not too long after its inaugural year. Mainly it gives me a venue where I can talk to somebody who cares about the books I love to read. I don’t look for prestige or even my name on the cover of a book, but I love to talk books whenever [...]
Continue reading Special Guest Friday: Amy Cunningham!
Years ago, when I was still learning how to put a story together, I was invited by the local newspaper to review books for their weekly book page. I was thrilled – not only did I get free books, but I’d have a unique opportunity to study what made books work and what didn’t, and share that with other people. I didn’t pull any punches, either. When a book didn’t work for me, I said so, in great detail. I believed it was my duty to be blatantly honest. Until the day that I was asked to review a book by an acquaintance, a book I didn’t particularly enjoy. I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t loved the book. Except saying so would not only hurt my acquaintance’s feelings but possibly keep me from getting to review any other books by her or other local authors. I swallowed my [...]
Continue reading If You Can’t Say Something Nice…