Self Publishing Reviews

There is an interesting posting going on over at selfpublishingreview about this article by mrsgiggles.

http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/2009/04/01/a-review-of-self-publishing-review-sites/

This is an interesting debate. Why? Because it goes to the heart of what remains different about indie book reviews and the reviews we see in the mainstream press on books. As has been said above, mainstream reviews in national papers and magazines are inherently ‘reader centric’. The general public are not interested in the process of publication or how the book was printed, typeset, or whether it happens to have a typo on page 126, or that the font is not entirely appealing to the reader’s eye over a few hours. They want a critique of the story, and the story alone.

Indie publishing reviews aim for the same result, but let’s face it, they are often written by indie authors themselves, with experience of hands on small press publication or self publishing, and that experience together with the fact that indie review sites and magazines are read by the same people, results in reviews that look far beyond just the ‘read’. The reviewer is examining ‘the Book’ as well as reading the book, capital ‘B’ for book. That means how it smells as well as how it talks.

We indie sorts need to ask ourselves when is the last time we picked up the New York Book Review or the London Review of Books and read a negative review because the reviewer thought the cover ‘garish’, or the trim size didn’t quite suit this genre, or the 60grm paper didn’t come from regenerated forest stock. The fact is that the mainstream review press don’t give a shit if the paper came from the most precious oak of the Brazilian rain forest, or if the 80grm paper it easier on the fingertips than 60grm.

Let me digress for a moment.

My own partner for several years reviewed books for national newspapers. Her name never appeared on a byline once, yet, she read and reviewed some of the most important works of fiction published in Ireland and the UK over the past twenty years. She has no formal journalistic or academic qualification. Her forte is that she is an avid reader and devours books. She happened to know several ‘reviewers’ who decided that their time would be better served if she read the advance review copies of books to be published and report back to the national newspaper reviewer. At times, she was paid a modest fee, other times, more often, the pleasure for her was a descent read and a free book. I think the common reader of reviews would be appalled at this practice which was, and still remains a common practice for national book reviewers. I’ve actually no problem with a reviewer who uses this method to reduce the constant slush pile, but to ‘review’ a book without ever having read it themselves it unbelievable.

Just like these kind of book ‘reviewers’, I think our Mrs Giggles has her own agenda.

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