Apr 23, 2013
by Terri Wagner
When other authors ask you to review their book, what is the first thing that comes into your mind? Now, this is a book already more or less written. An ARC as they call it in the business. I am very comfortable doing ARC work because it was a big part of my trade publication work. Of course as I have blogged many times, nonfiction is ever so much more easier than fiction. Fiction is so terribly subjective.
That said though it is worth our effort to help out our fellow authors...we are after all all in this together. With the advent of the Internet and online publishing, wonderful stories that once would have been rejected have a chance to be read. I like that. Over the years, I have read many manuscripts that I thought why rejected? It is definitely as good as blah blah blah in that genre. Who knows?!
In the nonfiction world, we are more interested in the technical aspects of the article. Is it real? Is it possible? Does it follow the technical principles already in place? And yet fiction with its many genres has the same rules, now doesn't it? Is it believable? Does it follow the genre's rules? Is it intriguing or at least entertaining?
This past weekend, my niece and I went to see the same movie at different times with different friends. She did not like it. I did. I am always amazed how believable Tom Cruise is in his movies while remaining in the very least odd and eccentric in real life. (That is about as nice as I can really put it, LOL.) So why the difference? Did she expect more action? Was she looking for a space Fast and Furious story? Was I just in a reflective mood that day and liked the mind game approach of Oblivion? I have found over the years that the very best written scifi rarely transitions well into a movie. After all, Star Wars was a movie first!
So back to reviewing. Will my mood change my initial read through? Do you read it more than once? I do. I think you almost have too. Especially if it is a genre you are unfamiliar with. How else can you give it a proper review? When I am in unfamiliar territory, I google the genre and try to find the principles inherent in that genre so I can judge how well the author did.
Bottom line: Reviewing is serious business. It is the heart felt work of someone creative and probably a bit insecure (aren't all writers a bit insecure?). We owe it to them to review well. Give our honest opinion but also be honest with ourselves. Don't just say you liked it. That's telling me. As we always say in the writing world, don't tell me show me. Say what you liked. What made you cry, laugh, cringe. Sometimes the best I could offer up an aspiring tech writer was you seem to know your stuff. Sometimes that was all they needed to get better.
So go forth and offer to review. We are writers, let's support one another.