Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I'm a reviewer. It's what I do.  Lately I've read a lot of angry words directed at reviewers, so I decided to set the record straight on the subject.  I have spent twenty plus years as a journalist, have a degree in literature, have been the staff reviewer for Meridian Magazine for eleven years and also have twenty years experience as a published author.  Perhaps my most important credential is that I review for an accredited publication.Today almost anyone can call him-or-herself a reviewer.  After all, anyone can write a short blurb for Good Reads, Amazon, or one of the book store chains about a book and call it a review.  Some people do this very well, but unfortunately, for others it's an open invitation for anonymous nastiness. 

I deplore trolls who get some kind of sick jollies out of making mean remarks about books just because they can and because they can do it anonymously.  However, it's true that not all books are created equally.  Some actually are poorly written.  For the casual reviewer it's enough to say "this  book didn't appeal to me", or just don't say anything at all.  And those stars!  Only twice in all of the years I've rated books have I given a one star and in both cases it was because of filthy language and a total disregard for factual research. There was a time when I rated every book I read, but no more.  If the book is a genre I don't care for, I generally don't do stars because it seems unfair to mark down a possibly well-written book just because it's not the kind of book I like and therefore didn't enjoy.  I also don't rate books if they're  part of a group of books I've been asked to judge for a contest. A real reviewer does point out flaws in books, but does so in an attempt to suggest a way the writer can improve and to be honest with his/her audience.  If criticism isn't constructive, it's better omitted. Criticism of mistakes or weaknesses should never belittle or become a personal attack on the author.

It's much more fun to say positive things about books than negative.  I love introducing my readers to an author I enjoy.  When a book delights me, I want to let everyone know about it.  That's the real purpose of reviews.  Reviews are a means of letting readers know about a book they might otherwise miss.  It's a chance to let readers Know a little bit about the author.  Reviews give readers a chance to peek at a book just enough to know whether or not it is a genre they wish to read.  I see the critic's role as more cheerleader than flaw finder.

And one more thing.  Many books today are published independently and I'm often asked if I review these books.  Yes, I do.  But unless the author sends me a review copy I may not know the book even exists.  Anyone who wants me to consider reviewing an independently published LDS novel can contact me through the comments section here or on face book, give me an email or message address and I'll send you my address.  Either print or electronic copies are fine.  If your novel is published by an LDS publisher, just contact your marketing manager to remind him/her to send me a copy.


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