Becoming a Reviewer

I started reviewing about 10-12 years ago, but it wasn’t until 2006-2007 that I came up with the idea of writing The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing. I know this sounds a little corny, but I just woke up one night with the idea.

I thought a book like this was needed because there wasn’t another like it on the market, and I knew that I, for one, would have profited from it when I started reviewing. I proposed the idea to my dear friend, mystery author and reviewer Anne K. Edwards, and invited her to be my co-author. She accepted and we immediately jumped into the project.

The book took about a year to write and we had a marvelous time working on it together. Anne had started reviewing around the same time I had and she shared my passion for reviewing, so we were a perfect match. We made a list of topics in the form of an outline and divided the work between us. We also sent a proposal to publisher Lida Quillen of Twilight Times Books and she loved the idea and immediately sent us a contract, so the book was contracted before we actually finished it—that deadline was helpful in keeping us focused and motivated.

So, in a nutshell, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing is a how-to book on how to write well-written, well-structured, honest, professional book reviews no matter their type or length. Its primary audience is beginner reviewers but we’ve received wonderful feedback from intermediate reviewers as well, telling us how helpful they found the book.

I’m often asked what makes a good book review. Here are a few tips:

A good book review, whether short or long, is a well-written, honest, thoughtful evaluation of a book, one that points out the good and the ugly. If negative, a good review must also be tactful. I usually, though not always, follow a simple formula for a review, something I learned from Alex Moore, Book Review Editor of ForeWord Magazine: An interesting lead or quote; a short summary of the plot (without ever giving away spoilers or the ending); an evaluation supported by examples or quotes; and a recommendation (or not). A review is written for the reader/consumer in mind, and must help them decide whether or not the book is worth their time and money. It goes without saying that a good review should be free of spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors. Finally, a good review should engage the reader, should hold the reader’s interest and attention.

Currently, I review for SimplyCharly.com, Voice in the Dark, and numerous other publications. Additionally, I offer book reviewing workshops at online conferences and SavvyAuthors.com. For those interested in private, one-to-one courses, I also offer these from my website.

 

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