Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Tale of Two Book Review Sites


I am trying to curb my book purchasing habit by reviewing books. I also think by reviewing books I could improve as a writer, and perhaps make some connections that would help me become a "real" writer someday.

There are two or three publishers that allow me to review books for them. Thomas Nelson and their Booksneeze program is probably my favorite to review for. Tyndale does some creative stuff sometimes, and I like reviewing for them. I also review stuff for Bethany House Publishers at times, although those books have a higher percentage of fiction to read than non-fiction.

I have also been reviewing books for a couple of websites that get advanced reviewer copies. I enjoy reading these books as well. The two review coordinators could not be more different. One website is slow to load and clunky, and to be honest visually unappealing. It is hard to figure out the purpose of what the editor of this site wants. She wants a shorter review. She does not want summarization, but wants you set the scene for the book. She wants some editorial content, but none that is too disparaging of the book. One review I wrote is not using the active voice enough. The next book she thinks I said to much about the content of the book. The next, there is another criticism. She gives lots of feedback.

This feedback is a mixed blessing. On one hand, it makes me a better writer. I get to learn to write more succinctly. Conversely, although some of the criticism is helpful, some of it is rather picky. It makes me nervous everytime I write my review (for which my only compensation is the free book).

The second website a short sheet with clear guidelines that seem easy to follow. The writing demands seem to fit my style. The editor seems pleased with my writing. And the website itself is nicer, cleaner, and much faster. The other day, she sent me a list of available books and asked me which one she wanted me to review. It is fun to review for an editor like this. And much better for my self esteem. The critical comments of the other reviewer come to mind when I review for site #2, which helps me in my writing even more.

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