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The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing




Book Excerpt




The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing

Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards



So You Want to Be a Reviewer?


Are you passionate about books? Do you have a talent for easily capturing the essence of a book after having read it? Do you often feel the desire to share your thoughts about a book with readers? If you answered “Yes” to these questions, then book reviewing can be one of the most satisfying, rewarding activities you'll ever undertake. In fact, book reviewing can become addictive.

I started reviewing in 1998. Back then, I wished someone had written a book with all there is to know about book reviewing. Sure, I found many articles on the web about the craft, which I read eagerly. But, I really wished I could have found everything in one volume. A sort of "user's manual"--a book that I would be able to come back to again and again and use as a reference, one that would reveal the secrets of the trade, the Dos and Don'ts, full of guidelines, tips and practical advice.

Though it may seem strange, there are hundreds of books on writing in general, and many on writing book reports, proposals, query letters and synopses, but practically none on writing reviews.

Like all fledgling reviewers, I made my share of amateurish mistakes, becoming all the more experienced and polished because of them. I, too, was guilty of the fledgling reviewer's disease--that of writing overly-positive reviews. Overwhelmed with enthusiasm, a good heart, and the desire to please everyone associated with the book, I often made the big mistake of forgetting the foremost person a reviewer must keep in mind--the reader. As I read and wrote more and more reviews, it soon became easy to tell a good review from a bad one, and to realize that a large number of reviewers, especially beginners, would profit from a bit of guidance, the things I learned from my mistakes.

The fact is, most people do read reviews to select their reading material. Reviews do have a positive or a negative influence on whether or not a person buys a book. Hence, reviewing is a serious responsibility, one reviewers shouldn't take lightly.

The aim of this book, therefore, is to offer some guidelines in a clear manner supported with targeted examples of how to write and publish thoughtful, well-written reviews no matter their length, type or genre, and to examine the essence of reviews within a broader spectrum.

This book was written not only with the aspiring reviewer in mind, but for the established reviewer who needs a bit of refreshing and also for anybody--be they author, publisher, reader, bookseller, librarian or publicist--who wants to become more informed about the value, purpose and effectiveness of reviews.

On a final note, the writing of this book has been a highly interesting, educational and thrilling ride into the slippery world of reviews for Anne K. Edwards and me. I hope you'll enjoy the journey and profit from it as much as we have.

So take out pen and paper, a highlighter, and get ready to write great reviews!

A partial list of contents.

The Five Keys to Being a Good Reviewer
What is a Book Review?
Reading Critically
How to Write a Book Review
The Star System: Rating Books
Types of Reviews
The Difference between Reader Reviews and Reviewer Reviews
The Difference between Pre-Publication and Post-Publication Reviews
How a Review Differs from a Book Report, a Critique and a Press Release
The Absolute Don'ts (or Signs of an Amateur)
The Feelings of an Author
What if the Book is Terrible?
Is It Unethical to Sell the Book?
Ownership and Print Rights
When the Hobby Turns into a Demanding Job
Is There Any Money in It?
What's in It for You, The Reviewer?
Dealing with Review Editors, Authors, and Publishers
Reviewing: Practical Tips to Remember
How to Start Your Own Book Review Site
Reviewers vs. Bloggers: The Controversy


The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing Copyright © 2008. Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards. All rights reserved by the authors. Please do not copy without permission.



Author Bio

Mayra Calvani is a multi-genre author and reviewer. Her short fiction, articles and reviews have appeared on many online and print publications. She's editor of The Fountain Pen newsletter and co-editor of Voice in the Dark ezine. When she's not writing or reading, Mayra enjoys playing the fiddle, walking her dog Amigo, spending time with her family, and watching too many reruns of Gilmore Girls and Nancy Drew. She lives in Brussels, Belgium.

Author web site.


Anne K. Edwards writes what she reads--mysteries. Death on Delivery is her second book, the first in the Hannah Clare series. Anne lives on a small farm in southern Pennsylvania with several cats and horses. Her interests other than reading and writing are meeting new people, traveling and talking to other authors. She is the editor of Voice in the Dark, a free monthly ezine featuring author interviews, columns, articles, short fiction, and resources for authors and readers.

Author web site.

TTB title: The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing





About the book


Author News

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing is an Award-Winning Finalist in the "Business: Writing & Publishing" category of the National Best Books 2008 Awards, sponsored by USA Book News.

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing by Mayra Calvania and Anne K. Edwards (June 2008 release) has been selected by a professor at Loyola College for a course there. The reason we know is because the professor wrote to ask "where are my books? ...the semester begins soon."



"As an experienced reviewer I learned that I do not know it all and will keep my copy of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing for reference. It is not a book I will loan out because it won’t be returned...If you want to break into book reviewing, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing is a must-have reference. Heed the author’s advice and you can write reviews that will get you and the books you review noticed."
Reviewed by Sharon Broom, Armchair Interviews.

"The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing is a useful took for both amateur and professional book reviewers, as well as book review editors. There should be no doubt that the good tips, thoughtful perspective and resource information can be of considerable value to anyone wishing to practice this art."
Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford, Allbooks Reviews.

"The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing should be considered mandatory reading for novice and aspiring book reviewers, as well as having a great deal of enduring value as a reference for even the more experienced reviewer. Additionally, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing will provide to be informed and informative reading about the book review process for authors, publishers, publicists, booksellers, librarians, and the general reading public."
Reviewed by James Cox, The Midwest Book Review.

"I do recommend The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing as a must-have resource guide. Calvani and Edwards present a well-written gold-mine to potential reviewers as well as a source of information for experienced reviewers and authors."
Reviewed by Irene Watson, Reader Views.

Do you love to read and write?

Book reviewing combines both passions and readers rely on your judgment.

In fact, most people do read reviews to select their reading materials, according to Mayra Calvani, co-author with Anne K. Edwards of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing. To bolster her assertion, the authors cite a poll showing that 74% of 100 respondents are sometimes influenced by reviews before buying a book.

A multi-genre author and reviewer, Calvani writes that when she began reviewing in 1998 there were no books on writing reviews and that little has changed. That's why she and mystery author/reviewer Edwards decided to offer guidelines on how to write and publish thoughtful, well-written reviews no matter their length, type or genre.

The Slippery Art... is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in book reviews - writers, reviewers, publishers, publicists, librarians, booksellers and readers. There are examples of good and bad reviews and ways to handle adverse reactions to your review by the author, publisher and/or publicist. Also covered are the absolute don'ts of a review, i.e., don't give away the ending.

The book also deals with the problem of too many books and too little time. Reviewing, the authors state, can become addictive and at times overwhelming.

Included are sections on how and when to build a review site, whether for single or multiple genres, one or several reviewers, or to sell ads. The resource section alone is worth the price of the book.

There are many advantages to being a book reviewer. You will share your views with readers, receive complimentary copies, gain credibility, and may even be invited by a publication to write reviews and articles. But you won't get rich. As Jim Cox, editor at Midwest Book Review, has said: "Here's the secret to being financially successful as a book reviewer - marry rich."

Reviewed by Francine Silverman, editor/publisher of The Book Promotion Newsletter.

You talk about challenges! Reviewing a book on how to review books--that's a challenge. So you think you want to review books. Then this should be the next book you read. Find out if you have the right attitude, and tools that it will take to be a reviewer. I've been reviewing novels for about a year. I wish I'd had this book when I started.

After reading The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing you will find that reviewing is indeed an art. It's a learned skill that can impact the work of the author, and the publisher, as well as what the reader selects for his/her own enjoyment. You will learn how the reviews that you write will affect you and your believability, and the readers and their trust in you.

This book tells you how to find books to review, how to read a book for review (things to watch for, and how to track them), how to construct that review (using tact when necessary), and where to submit reviews. There are numerous examples depicting the dos and don'ts of reviewing; in-depth descriptions and differences between the "reader" or "reviewer" reviews, and the meaning and effects of Pre-publication or Post-publication reviews. You will get the answers to questions: Can you make a living doing reviews? What are the perks of reviewing? and so much more, including extensive listings

As a writer this book gave me insight in my own writing, and as a reviewer I learned a lot about the business of reading. Calvani and Edwards have provided the world of publishing with something that was sorely missed, a well written, easy to understand and follow, book of instruction and information on and about the fine art of reviewing.

This book has found a permanent place on my reference book shelf.

Reviewed by Wanda C. Keesey, author of Lost In The Mist.





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