On Being a Reviewer - Someone Who Analyzes Books
I've been reviewing and publishing reviews and cover-copy (blurbs that go either on the inside front page or back cover) for authors and publishers since 1997 to the present. To date, I've published over 250 reviews and a few blurbs. The number of authors is too great to list.
"A reviewer's responsibility is to the publication's readers. I write for readers not for the author or publisher."
"In the arts, the critic is the only independent source of information. The rest is advertising."
A good book review is an analysis, not advertising, although a review and its pieces are often used for advertising. Writing a review is a learned art form and more than simple opinion. Book writing takes incredible stamina, determination, and talent. Reviewing books judges that writing. To judge accurately, a reviewer should not only recognize skill, style, meaning of the book, and its measure compared to others, but also possess certain abilities themselves.
Process is based on topic, style, and author. If a work contains a “good” message and style, I’ll read the work. At times a book is recommended, or a review is requested. At others the choice isn’t mine because a publication I write for needs a particular book reviewed. Sometimes authors aren’t happy with my opinion. If an author doesn’t want an honest opinion, they shouldn’t ask for one. Only twice authors have given my publisher and me a hard time about a review of their work, even though I pointed out mainly positives. A review is an honest assessment. If not, it’s advertising. Reviewers want readers to trust them for their honesty. A few always ruin it for the mass. Due to a few authors not being able to handle the opinion they asked for, I will only write reviews of work I am able to say only all positive things about. If the work is distasteful, or poorly done, I refuse to do the review.
Some people believe writing reviews is a lost art. Certainly the number of true reviewers is small these days and that is a shame. True reviewers analyze writing, are qualified, and share the truth about their findings. Everything else is advertising.