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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Some terrible tips for authors seeking book reviews

The advice below is from Rev. Michael Bresciani, and appeared on Facebook and other websites. Bresciani is author of Hook line and Sinker or What Has Your Church Been Teaching You. (published by PublishAmerica -- the worst publishing company in the world) and An American Prophet and His Message, Questions and Answers on the Second Coming of Christ (Xulon Press). His website is www.americanprophet.org. The site "believes in the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God. Our doctrine is the Bible from cover to cover."

Apparently the rev believes that it's proper to stone-to-death adulterers, non-virgin brides, disobedient children and people who gather sticks on the Sabbath. I'm not surprised he's afraid of book reviewers and bloggers.
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  1. You will be sorry if you do not take the time to get a pretty good picture of your reviewer. Use e-mail, snail mail or anything else you've got to pop a few questions to your reviewer. If the review is on radio or TV place a few phone calls in advance. Why? You must get a fix on your reviewer's position and general inclination. If your writing is in religion, check the doctrinal position of the reviewer. A Pentecostal book is bound to come up short in a conservative catholic review. If your book is written with a conservative political bent, it will not do well under the scrutiny of a liberal democrat. You must check out every aspect of the reviewer's mindset that you can by any means you can. If you disregard this advice you will suffer for it.
  2. Read carefully everything you can find that your reviewer has previously written. They can be aggressive without being hyper critical or belligerent. Some reviewers have a pompous attitude. Usually they are not writers themselves. If you find some that are writers they will be far easier to work with because they know all the problems and pitfalls in this profession. A reviewer has opportunity to rub elbows with some people that the rest of us will only know in name only. This does tend to give them an exploded sense of their own importance. How will you know if this is the case with your reviewer? Simple, read their stuff. An attitude is an easy thing to spot. Don't get the idea that your book is so good that no one could possibly find anything bad to say about it. Cranky people are usually very consistent, don't take a chance.
  3. Avoid the Reviewer who is Too Personal: Don't let someone who is having a bad hair day remove your first chance to get a little press for the great American novel.
  4. Grammar and Spelling Snafus:  Here is the bottom line when it comes to a reviewer noticing and dancing with your mistakes in a review. It stinks. First it is the sign of a very unskillful reviewer, especially when it comes to first time authors with POD books. It is almost understood that first tries will have a few more mistakes than the veterans do and for a reviewer to make a big deal of those problems is hitting below the belt by any standards. Don't even approach such reviewers if you see they make a practice of this. If they feel a need to say that a book is a self published work they are miserably out of touch. This is the day of the POD and thousands of books are coming through this conduit that can stand beside any of the big boys from the major houses.
  5. Look for the Honest but Skillful Reviewer: An honest reviewer won't hide the negatives and failings of your book but they will skillfully blend them into a larger picture without burning down the city. Such people are artist [sic] experienced in balancing of literary achievement and fledgling endeavor. How do you find such people? Once again review the reviewer's reviews!
  6. Beware Of Blogs: For a new author to submit the contents of their new release to a blog in whole or in part is like running the gauntlet. Blogs are all too much of a free for all. Every Tom, Dick and Harry has got an opinion. They are certainly entitled to their opinion [sic] but be sure of one thing, an opinion does not a review make. The chance of getting a fair review on a blog is in general about zero. What you will have is a lot of people passing around a lot of second hand information. You may have someone praising your stuff and in the next minute calling you something that is several notches hotter than PG-13. Till you have a better rep as an author, do not expose you're [sic] writing to the free for alls.
A few responses:

It's unrealistic to expect a potential reviewer to answer "audition" questions before being deemed qualified to review a particular book. Most reviewers have large stacks of incoming books, with little time to deal with interrogations from over-sensitive authors.

There is no way an author can control who writes a review. Book review media determine which people are assigned to review books. Even if a book is specifically addressed to Friendly Fred, it may be reviewed by Hostile Harry.

Not submitting a book to any blogs can't possibly guarantee that bloggers won't review or comment on a book. I've reviewed about 20 books in this blog -- and I paid for every book but one that I reviewed. I may buy a Bresciani book just so I can review it here. A few writers have asked me to review their books, but I turned them down because of the subject matter.

As a reader and reviewer (and a writer and publisher) I cannot and will not ignore errors in spelling and grammar, and certainly don't have extra forgiveness for a first book. In general, I neither know nor care if a book is a first attempt by an author. I expect there to be some spelling and hyphenation errors (typically one per 50 pages). I expect the same standards from self-pubbed, vanity-press and Big-Five books. Publishing a book with significant grammar errors is absolutely unforgivable, and it is not "hitting below the belt" to point them out.

I note that Bresciani had one book published by PublishAmerica -- a company known for turning out really crappy books. I therefore assume Bresciani's book is loaded with errors which he wants to be ignored. Even if a writer makes spelling and grammar errors (as demonstrated in Bresciani's website and the posting above) there is no excuse not to have professional editing. If you can't afford an editor, you can't afford to publish!

POD is not the same thing as "self-published." POD is used by publishers of all types and sizes.

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