Friday, February 8, 2013

Review That Book

I originally started writing book reviews on my blog to fill up an otherwise empty page for a given day. And back then, I would wax poetically and write in excruciating detail as to why I liked (or disliked) a particular book that I had read. I didn't mind offering my opinion on what I had read because I knew that more often than not, people would say, "Interesting" and leave it at that. And on the occasion that I had decided to review a book from a writer that I personally knew, I was very careful to make sure that I sounded positive in the stuff that I didn't like and emphasize that what I didn't like was due to personal taste and nothing else.

Eventually doing book reviews on my blog got to be a chore and the last book review I'd posted was in 2010 (I believe), while the last music review (yup, even explored that for a bit) was in 2012. And there, another aspect of this blog was shunted to the side never really to see the light of day again.

Or so I thought.

In early 2012 as everyone knows, I sold my book to Solstice Publishing, and one of the requirements that I needed to fulfill was to review one book from a fellow Solstice writer per quarter. I figured that this would be no problem to do. A snap, one might say.

Yeah, right.

The first problem that I had, was, as you can probably imagine, being able to write something pithy, concise and most importantly, have it clock in under 250 words. That one I was able to overcome after digging way down deep into the inner recesses of my memory and channel both my chat room persona and my Facebook persona.

The second problem that I faced, was getting used to the fact of offering my opinion on a given book. This, believe it or not, was extremely hard to do get used to. I really had no problem in offering my opinion on a writer I had no connection with, but when it came down to offering an opinion on a book written by someone I knew, it became wickedly difficult.

But, as they are wont to say, I buckled down, and so began my other niche career of writing book reviews. Overall, between this blog and what I've posted on Amazon, I have written about 30 book reviews.

Even though I have the same procrastination tendencies for writing book reviews like I do for editing/re-writing, there has been a pleasant extra silver lining in all of these writings: my personal writing has gotten better.

Having to work with a tight word count has forced me to tighten up my grammar and summarize my point quicker.

So for those of you who might be reading my blog for the first time and are thinking about dipping your quill into the game of writing, give serious thought about writing book reviews. It's the safest way that I know to work on your writing without getting into trouble.


  1. I have got into trouble for a few book reviews, but not too often. Most of the time if I really dislike a book I'll just say nothing.

  2. I have not gotten into trouble for my book reviews (yet) as the lowest I will go on Amazon is 3 stars. Most of mine have been 4 to 4 1/2 stars, with only a few fives thrown into the mix.

    There has been only one book that I did not review on my blog, and that was because I didn't really get/understand the poetry/prose that the writer wrote. So I actually sent him a very polite letter stating as such. Never heard back from him.

  3. I had never thought about how writing book reviews might affect one's own writing, but it makes sense that you could apply the same critical perspective to your own work.

  4. That's awesome that writing reviews has improved your writing.

  5. S.R.: It really has helped my writing in very subtle and not so subtle ways.

    Whereas I can always go on a tangent when I'm writin a blog post, writing reviews forces me to cut down on the excessive verbiage, which in turn allows me to apply those lessons to my writing.

    I've definitely taken a more critical look at my writing as of late, and writing book reviews has a lot to do with it.

    Lynn: Thanks.

    It has definitely become an invaluable tool for me, because now, once I've finished reading a book of fiction, I spend quite a few days thinking about how to write.

    As for my current writing, it now allows me to take a critical 2nd look at what I've written. Sort of makes me a better editor.

  6. I actually used to write lots of reviews, then the site owner took a new job and decided no one else should run the site, so that was that.

  7. Anything that teaches us how to be lean and concise is good for writers.

  8. M: I think I remember that website. I got accepted there, but after reading the guidelines/bylines and what not, found it wasn't really for me.

    But, that is kind of selfish of the former owner.

    Debra: Absolutely. I'll take any help/advice that I can get.

    BTW, your book was mailed out last weekend, so you should be seeing it sometime this week.

  9. I am afraid I don't have enough experience or knowledge to comment on any of this. All I can every say is "bless your heart".

  10. G.A.: Thanks.

    You don't have to be a writer to do book reviews. If you like a book that you have recently read, you can always through your two cents up on Amazon about it.

    Doing a review, no matter how short or how long, is one of the easiest ways to show a writer that you care about their story.

  11. I'm glad the reviewing serves many purposes, G. I edit for a living so reviewing wouldn't be my thing. :)

  12. Talon: Yeah, I can see where that could become a small problem. :D

    It definitely does, that's for sure. If anything, its helped develop some critical thinking skills for my writing.


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