Tuesday, February 01, 2005

To Review or Not To Review

Okay, on this one, I tell you that I'm not stealing or even borrowing. Because, honest, I had this idea this morning. I was trying to think what to blog about today, and I had a spark of inspiration in the shower, where I do all of my best thinking and problem solving. In fact, I used to work with a woman who called them "shower thoughts" and I've adopted her phrase for any spark of brilliance that occurs sometime between lathering up the hair-do and the water running cold.

Anyway, I had this great idea, but before I could sit down to write it up (because of the hellish morning I had babysitting a friend's baby who cried inconsolably for 45 minutes straight which sent me immediately to the phone to make an appointment with my OB/Gyn for a refill on that prescription I let lapse...) I cruised over to The Red Pen Diaries to see that she had hit the nail on the head.

To review or not to review.

Remember I said I got inspired to do a website? I thought as part of it I'd include a section where I'd post my reviews. On books, movies, tv shows. I try to write Amazon reviews on books I read and I enjoy doing it. But it occurred to me as I mapped out my plan that maybe I was asking for trouble. If I post my opinion about something I've read, and if that opinion isn't necessary a glowing "best thing ever written!", am I risking the wrath of irate writers who will then take inordinate pleasure in ripping my (future) stuff to shreds? In other words, am I totally screwing myself?

I know, fundamentally, that the answer is "no, of course not" for a variety of reasons.

1 - It's pretty dang presumptuous of me to assume that any writer worth her salt would care a hoot about what I think

2 - I'm a fairly skilled diplomat. (Hey, I admit to being a non-closer. Give me this one.) I'm pretty good at pointing out things I disliked or problems I had in a constructive way. In other words, I don't get pleasure in bashing the heck out of book just because I can.

3 - It's pretty dang presumptuous of me to assume that if I ever get published, another writer will actually read my book, remember that I gave her/him a not-so-good review, and take the time to do likewise.

4 - There is a severe shortage of good, honest reviews out there. Reviews that fall somewhere in the middle of the extremes of nausea-inducing gush to the vitriol expressed by others who view the romance genre as inferior and will dis any book that includes the words “man”, “woman”, and “love” on principle alone.

5 - It's pretty dang presumptuous of me to assume I'm ever going to get published. Why worry now about something that might possible hopefully if I play my cards right and sell my soul to the devil happen?

I can’t speak to the nature of the industry as far as editors and writers reviewing books they have obvious biases toward (or against), so I’ll have to assume TRPD is correct about some incest going on there. And I have to wonder if there isn’t some kind of unspoken professional courtesy going on behind the scenes. Writers don’t review other writers' work, kind of like doctors not practicing medicine on their own family members. I can respect this and even go so far as to keep my opinions to myself.

Except I’m not a published writer. Yet.

I guess in the end it comes to my firm agreement with TRPD in that far too many review sites that cover the romance genre swing widely in one direction or the other, usually the one that gives stars out like they were free or something. For example, it's hard as a reader to take seriously the woman who is currently Amazon's number one reviewer because I don't think she's ever given any of the 3 gazillion books she's reviewed less than four stars.

On the flip side, as much as Mrs. Giggles' reviews amuse me, I cringe in sympathy for the authors whenever I read them and fear the day she ever wraps her hands around anything I might have to offer. It’s hard to believe that 99.9% of the books she reads are utter crap not worthy of the paper they’re printed on, but according to her reviews, that seems to be her general opinion. Come on, it's one thing to be very discerning. But geesh, my 93 year old grandmother is easier to please.

So, I probably will include book reviews on my site for now and revisit that decision if I ever get published. It'll give me good practice using those diplomacy skills. And hopefully those random strangers who stop by might get some use out of them, if even only to generate some interesting arguments when they disgree with what they see to be my complete moronic-ness.

And if any writer comes my way and is unhappy with my assessment of her work of utter genius, hopefully she won’t feel any big need to retaliate when at long last I have my own bit of heart and soul out there in the big world.

Now...to decide what kind of rating system to use. I'm kind of leaning toward the A,B,C scale. Stars are a dime a dozen these days.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lynn... Review, review, review! As you know very well, notions of what anyone thinks of my reviews has never stopped me (http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/ADBE735U6ULXF/ref=ref=cm_aya_bb_rev/103-0491098-6578256). ;) And I really enjoy reading your reviews here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A21QIKFIGT3XRK/ref=ref=cm_aya_bb_rev/103-0491098-6578256 or anywhere else.. So just go for it - W. :)