Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Tags: Book Reviews, creative writing, fiction.

Many writers wonder if it is worth the effort to get someone to review their books. If your name happens to be J.R. Rowling or James Patterson, there isn’t a problem because people are lined up and anxious to read an advance copy. For the rest of us, we have to seek out someone who reviews books, then cross our fingers, hoping the review will be positive. There are a lot of avid readers who never look at a book review. It is not until he or she is looking for a new author that they scan through reviews to see if their first instincts are correct. What do other readers think? A review might give you that information—or maybe not.

There are several websites on the Internet where people can volunteer to do book reviews. The people who run the show do not require any experience, the theory being that you—whoever you might be—collectively represent the ‘average’ reader. This is good in theory, but it doesn’t always work our this way in the real world. In one writer’s group, the owner of a small book press decided to do some research and see who some of the people were who were giving constantly bad reviews. He discovered that many of them were high school students. They picked sentences from other reviewers and cobbled something together that resembled a review, then added several caustic remarks. He concluded that their motive was to get a response from some well-known writer, and hopefully a personal contact.

Perhaps it would be good for review sites to include something about their reviewers age and who they are. I review for Thomas Nelson and for Amazon. I do not hesitate to sign my name to the review, and would not take any review seriously if the reviewer’s name was not there. I do not give caustic reviews for two reasons. It is an unkindness to the person who spent months writing the book, plus it serves little purpose in the marketplace. Some of you are probably wondering about the responsibility of a reviewer to warn the public away from a book that is obviously sub-standard. Here is what fellow writer Peg Phifer had to say on the subject:

“I do book reviews . . . It’s tough. I take my time and choose my words carefully. So I’m choosy about the books I will review. And those that submit books to me for review understand that if I don’t like the book, there will be no review, not even a bad one. I don’t believe in them. They’re hurtful. To my way of thinking, NOT doing a review sends a message of its own.”

You can find Peg Phifer's helpful and informative website at:

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