Reviews

Another book review is up over at Adventures in SciFi Publishing.  This time, I reviewed Bone Machines by John Dodds.  Great book and it’s available in podcast form too.  If you’re into crime thrillers, I recommend checking it out.

Speaking of reviews …

Justine Larbalesteir talks about why she loves bad reviews and John Scalzi weighs in (here and here).  I also had a friend recently ask me about protocol surrounding receiving books and writing reviews.  Now that I’ve had some more time to think about it, I’d like to offer this advice to authors:

Just because you’ve sent your book to someone does not mean they are obligated to review it.

There’s a lot of reasons for this.  Writing a well done book review is hard.

Reviews are not whipped out in an afternoon.  If done right, a reviewer has to actually read the book.  Then they have to figure out why the book appealed to them.  Sometimes this is easy, sometimes it’s hard.  A well written book just works.  Then there is actually writing the review.  This usually takes me a couple of hours to an entire afternoon because I have to figure out just the right way to articulate things and make sure I’m not repeating myself.

As for me, I just don’t write bad reviews.  Why?  Well, look at what goes into writing a review.  It’s hard work.  Why would I waste my time pointing out all the flaws and generally tearing something apart?  It’s not constructive.  Heck, if I don’t like a book I often never bother to finish reading it.

Being a writer myself, I know how neurotic we can be so let me touch on that last point:

Just because a reviewer has not written about your book, does not mean they hate the book or they hate you.

Sometimes a book just doesn’t work for someone.  Take for instance the last three books I’ve been unable to finish – The Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss), Neuromancer (William Gibson), and Carnival (Elizabeth Bear).  All of these earned extremely high praise.  They just didn’t work for me.  In Rothfuss’ case, I think I wasn’t in the right mood and I suspect I’ll pick it up sometime in the future.  For Gibson, I lost the plot about 2/3rds of the way through.  Maybe I’ll try again in the future, maybe not.  And as for Bear, I attempted to read the book prior to Viable Paradise and I just couldn’t get a handle on it.  Maybe some of her other books I’d like better, maybe not.  But at the same time, the fact that I couldn’t get a handle on it was why I sought her out for a one-on-one at VP.  I learned a lot of valuable things fromt that session.

Not finishing the books didn’t mean I hated the author or I thought they wrote crap.  It just meant the book didn’t work for me.  That’s all.

In parting, let me offer a last bit of advice to authors:

Just write the damn book.  Everything else will work itself out.

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