Friday, March 13, 2009

Are fair book reviews possible?

While I was working on my latest book review, I found myself wondering if it was even possible to do a fair and unbiased book review.

It might have been the fact that I could hear a voice in the back of my head saying "If you can not say anything nice, then do not say anything at all." I am not sure what one of my relatives said that, but I am sure that the voice is one from my childhood.

And with this particular book, it was natural to hear it.

The reason I considered writing a review for the book is simply the fact that the author rants and raves about a couple of bad book reviews that he recieved when the book came out; as in he gives links to the bad reviews...the freelance writer in me goes if I write a bad book review, will he give me free advertising too?

Probably not: my book review ended being a lot more favorable than I expected it to be. I actually found some merit in his book. Sigh. I am going to have to do my own advertising.

(My regular readers know how sad that makes me; I have never been really good at advertising.)

But over the years, I have done a lot of bad book reviews.

A few years ago, one writer that I know said that he would send a free copy of his book to legitimate book reviewers. What exactly is a legitimate book reviewer? I am betting it is one that you are sure is going to give you a favorable review.

Or at least it is if you do not know how books actually get sold. It is not the reviews that sell books, it is the word of mouth. Even a bad book review can sell books (calling something a train wreck makes people curious for some reason).

So it probably does not matter what my opinion of your book is, you just have to get people curious enourgh about it to sell copies.

1 comment:

The Scribbler said...

I was weekly book reviewer for The Budapest Sun for two years, back in the early 90s. Most of the reviews I wrote were from warm to glowing. But I do remember letting a couple of books really have the full scorched-earth treatment. The biggest English-language bookstore in town told me they had and instant run on one of them. Go figure.