Independent Writing from an Independent Mind

Open discussion about writing and reading

Why I as an Author do Book Reviews

As many authors and readers already well know I have been a book reviewer for BookPleasures.com for a few years now and I also write reviews for many international publications.  Though my reviews have had thousands of readers around the world I still have had one or two people, including fellow authors, refer to my book reviewing as a “hobby” of mine.  But in fact I don’t and have never before considered my reviewing books as a pastime.  The reviews I produce are as much for my growth as a writer and author as they are to help the potential reader made an informed decision about a book.

Why do I say that?

Simply put I use the review process as my own exercise for improvement in the craft of authoring books.  And I recommend to any author who could commit the time and effort to get into reviewing as well.  Here’s a list of the four main reasons I am so into reviewing other authors’ books:

1) I grow technically as a writer – When I review another author’s work I am constantly learning from their style, the structure of their product as well as their editing and content.  I compare this to works that I have produced in the past and also see which ideas that might work on projects that I will undertake or are currently working on.

2) I grow as an author in the broader sense – There is so much to learn about the themes presented and how authors get their message across.  This is very important because you not only have to find a voice when you write but you must also have something to say in the first place, otherwise you are you are simply rehash and not interesting.  Then what’s the point of writing at all?  This is all about learning how other authors find their own message and deliver it in a way that is unique to their style and personality.

3)  I grow intellectually and personally – I learn the lessons of the books I am reviewing and internalize these lessons.  I look for the parallels in my life and seek the wisdom in the writing.  I want to know exactly the point, the raison d’être, the author had in writing the book and how the book can make its own change in the world.  I always try to pinpoint the connections I have found with my own life or the lessons I have learned and make these examples available to the book’s potential reader as well.  And these lessons aren’t only found in non-fiction books either.  Even fictional books that many would consider that are just for entertainment purposes have these lessons.

4) I promote the art of writing – There are so many books published out there annually, I have heard between 200,000 to 250,000 new titles every year, that it is incredibly difficult for the worthy books to be sorted and found in this huge pile.  This means that it is very hard for authors, especially new authors, to find their audience and be heard.  I consider it my duty as a reviewer to try to help the curious reader to know what they should expect from the books that I review and I try to make sure that deserving authors will find more of a readership through my efforts.

Though books are readily available in today’s world, many readers everywhere take that availability for granted.  But to someone who has written a book, we “know it don’t come easy,” to paraphrase Ringo Starr.  Authors spend a good part of their lives in researching their books, making business plans, outlining the scripts, doing the actual writing, editing, publishing, etc., and quite honestly much of the time it is a thankless job.  A well written, solid review is my way of saying thank you to all the other authors out there who have written the books that have made me what I am today.  This is why I would like other authors to consider writing reviews every now and then.

Where can authors post their reviews?  Of course, many places, but just a few:  Their local newspaper, a literary magazine, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Gather.com, their own blog, an online book club (Shelfari, GoodReads, WeRead, LibraryThing, etc.) or on some other form of social media such as Facebook, Gather.com, etc.

Honestly, if you are a writer doing a few reviews here and there is an excellent way to pay it forward.  Get the conversation started… Remember, what goes around comes around!

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5 responses to “Why I as an Author do Book Reviews

  1. Patricia Fry July 7, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Hello Gary,

    Your work as a reviewer is commendable. Thanks for an interesting perspective and for loving the books we authors write.

    As a point of interest, there were reported to be 411, 422 books produced in 2007. More of them were “self” published than traditionally published.

    Long live the book and the reviewer.

    Patricia Fry
    visit my informative publishing blog: http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog.

  2. Karen Syed July 16, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Love this post! I am a huge advocate for authors reviewing. I think it gives both sides a chance to grow. As a writer who is reviewing, you may help another writer improve a skill. As a writer you may see something in someone else’s work that gives you pause to reconsider your own work. It is win-win.

    I have heard many say it is unethical for authors to review. Poppycock. We are readers. Period. An author is as well-equipped to give a review as a reader who does not write, perhaps more so. It is after all just an OPINION that we offer.

    Excellent piece.

    Karen Syed
    http://klsyed.com

  3. the dotterel July 16, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Agree entirely, and some of the most perceptive comments for my novel, Writing Therapy, came from fellow authors. In fact, if they had the time, authors would make first-class editors! (And I know, a lot of them are.)

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