Friday, May 13, 2011

The Art and the Gift of the Review by Nanci Arvizu

Guest post for Sigrid Macdonald

Page Readers
Nanci Arvizu
The Art and the Gift of the Review.

Writers and Reviewers

As a reviewer at Page Readers, I am open to reading just about any kind of genre. Of course I have some that I like more than others, and some I shy away from completely, but if a title catches my eye and the description of the book sounds good I will read it regardless of the genre.

But what happens when a book I’ve agreed to read and write a review for turns out, in my opinion, to be less than “breathtaking,” “mesmerizing,” or “one I couldn’t put down?” Do I only share the positives that I can find in the work to create my review? Or do I put it all out there, the good, the bad and even the ugly for the world to see?

Tough questions. When I’ve received a book from an author, especially when they’ve gone to the trouble and expense of sending me a print book, I feel as though I owe them my honest opinion. If the work turns out to be something that totally saddles my horse, I post it everywhere knowing the author will appreciate the accolades. When the saddle doesn’t fit, am I required to lie and say it’s fine? Ever ridden in a saddle that doesn’t fit you or your horse? Let’s just say it doesn’t work. Your hide will be chapped for days.

There has been much buzz lately about a certain author (who shall remain nameless) who badmouthed a reviewer on the reviewers’ blog, because he stated a fact: the book was filled with editing errors. He admitted to enjoying the story. The author accused the reviewer for not downloading the correct version of her book from her sales site on Smashwords. The comment thread was probably one of the longest I’ve ever seen - and I read every comment right up to where the owner of the blog stopped allowing comments altogether.

The author blamed the reviewer not downloading an updated version of her work. Since when is it the readers’ responsibility to make sure they have a final draft of a book?

As a writer myself, of course I want the words I put down on paper to mean something. Will they mean the same thing to every person who reads them? Wouldn’t it be something if every time I shared a story, an article or opinion about anything that the world clamored to read it and shot from roof tops screaming, “this was the best thing I’ve ever read!”

When we put pen to paper weaving our imaginations into tales, or even retell a much-repeated tale in our own words, not everyone is going to “get it.” Authors need to have a thick skin and understand their work will not appeal to every single person -- even if only a single person reads it.

Be brave. Write it anyway. Get feedback. Know that with honest input (you don’t even have to call it criticism) your skills as an author will only improve. Believe in yourself.

But never ever lose your temper over a bad review of your work. If you can’t handle the ride, don’t get the horse out of the barn.

Nanci Arvizu
Host of Page Readers on Blog Talk Radio
Reviewer at Page Readers blog
V.P. Promotion a la Carte

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