Friday, February 25, 2011

To Review or Not to Review?

When I first started this blog, it was destined to be my own personal reading record of books I loved and hated, with comments. I read tons of books and when someone would ask me for a recommendation, my mind would go blank! So a blog seemed like a good idea. This was about six years ago, so it really only was just for me. Then I started to add stuff about writing, and teaching writing, and it grew.

Now things are changing again, and I'm having to think very carefully about content and audience, which of course is what most writers do about everything they write! I've been contacted now by several publishers asking me if I'd be interested in reviewing their books. Well, yes. And no. Because previously I had focused on books I either loved (like "Matterhorn") or hated (like "Twilight") - from a writer's point of view.

So today my first two "review" copies arrived. And I have had to think seriously about what I am going to do (I think we can assume I have now declared my "position" as required by US law). If I hate a book, usually my response is to say why, or ignore it. What if I hate everything publishers send me? (It's possible.) I guess I am going to continue being myself - looking at each book from the POV of a writer. What works, what doesn't, and why. That's my "thing".

But there will no doubt be books that I can't say anything about, good or bad. They're just ... books. People complain about bad reviews in newspapers and magazines, while others say any publicity is good publicity. I thought - what if every newspaper or mag had the policy - if we don't like it, we won't review it. But then if your book never got reviewed, you would have to assume they hated it. What a downer! (You can tell I'm still thinking like an author, can't you?)

Regardless of all of that, this is not now a review blog. I include my reviews now and then when I think they will be useful (or I love a book and have to tell you about it). We'll see how we go ...


Unknown said...

You're inspiring me.

I've been looking for a reviewer that concentrates on the writer's point of view. This is how a writer learns after all.

I like being just a reader reader, but studying writing changed that ability a bit. (Maybe even spoiled it, when looking at Twilight, although I was able to overlook the writer glitches there)
Nahno ∗ McLein

Sherryl said...

It's a problem, isn't it - read to enjoy or let the writer in and read like a writer?
I think you can read critically as a writer for a while (maybe 12 months?) and then eventually the critic fades into the background, although never completely gone, and you start to just enjoy the story again!

Sheryl Gwyther said...

I love when you write about writing, Sherryl, so not complaining if you devote more time to blogging about that. Greedy me!

Sherryl said...

I'm working on a new blog/site which will be focused entirely on the craft of writing and all that goes with it, Sheryl, so stay tuned! I'm going to launch it when I have enough material on it.

Karla Ward said...

That is a tricky situation to be in Sherryl. Do you be true to yourself when reviewing a book knowing as a writer what a bad review does to ones confidence? Or do you ignore the book altogether and say nothing even though the publishers have sent you the books knowing you have read it - won't they be wondering why you have not posted a review? The drawbacks of being a success!!

Looking forward to your new blog.