A mixture of romance, work and life left to simmer on a weak flame.

"Love - a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker."--Unknown.

"I learned long ago that being Lewis Carrol was infinitely more exciting than being Alice."--Joyce Carol Oates

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

May I see your credentials, please?

These days there seems to be talk everywhere of plagiarism, ebook buzz, authors, and ultimately, reviews. Somewhere I was scanning the comments and an author began belittling those who ‘think’ they can write reviews. She went on to say that everyone thought they could review books but very few had the qualifications to truly write an honest review that examines the craft. I got hot, bothered, and riled up…way, way up. And then I reread her post and researched said author. It was so pitiful (it being her website and books) that it took the wind right out of my sails.

So, here I sit, with a perfectly ravishing set-down for said commenter but not the heart to invade her pathetically created world. However, the topic is still worthy of discussion:

What constitutes a review?

As defined in Merriam-Webster:

a : a critical evaluation (as of a book or play) b : a magazine devoted chiefly to reviews and essays7 a : a retrospective view or survey (as of one's life) b (1) : renewed study of material previously studied (2) : an exercise facilitating such study

1 : to determine or fix the value of2 : to determine the significance, worth, or condition of usually by careful appraisal and study

So, a review is the process of a critical evaluation of a book. Critical evaluation meaning you determine the value, significance and worth of the book by giving or denying your praise.

What qualifies someone to write reviews?

A college degree?
A writer themselves?
Must they be published?
Must they work in the book industry? Publisher, book seller, librarian perhaps?

Personally, I think it’s crap. The only qualification you need to write a review is the ability to put ideas on paper. Different people will respect different people’s opinions. Some people read RT for the reviews and by the books based on that. Some people refer to websites, such as AAR or Romance Junkies. I know what bloggers my tastes are most in-line with and I do most of my book reading/buying based on their recommendations and comments/reviews.

Must you spend years studying the ‘craft’ to know what is good and what is bad when it comes to romance?

And might I go on to say that the people with the knowledge are not necessarily the ones with the ability. There are plenty of people out there who have no other claim to fame other than the fact that they are romance readers and their reviews of books are fantastic. There are others who work in the industry or with the craft on a daily basis and have a difficult time conveying their opinions (personally, I think this is because we are just so dang smart).

I don’t claim to be this great all-knowing analyst of the craft and/or genre. I have a degree (in the field) and I teach literature, but I am by no means a gifted reviewer. But this is my blog, it’s my prerogative and I choose to tell people what I think about the books I read. Who said a review has to be this in-depth analysis of the craft? It only has to be my evaluation of a book and how well I deem it significant. Did I like the hero? Did he say something so gay that it ruined a critical moment? Was his profession so ludicrous that it just threw the book off for me? Was there a scene on this page right here…that was so wonderful I will keep this book forever?

As I said earlier, authors need to be wary. You hold a precarious position. I was very angry at what an author said on a blog last night and I could have very easily spent this entire day slandering her, her books and her craft. I won’t, but someone else might have. You must be careful when attacking a group of people who are the exact same market group you are trying to reach. But then again, this leads to the question…is the only bad publicity none at all?


4 touched me

Blogger Megan Frampton pondered...

First off, I promise to stop hogging your blog.

Second, yay to you--you said what I feel. All you need in order to review is an opinion. No credentials required. Heck, i don't even care if you've read in the genre before--if you're a reader, and you have an opinion about a book, go for it. Everyone should decide for themselves whose reviews seem right for them. Whatever.

And authors going high and mighty on reviewers? Not a good idea. The internet is a place where word spreads like wildfire, and you can definitely get a bad name for yourself if you're acting like what you describe. If it makes you too mad to discuss rationally, don't discuss it. Me, I've read bad reviews of my books, stewed for awhile (usually less than a day), then moved on. As I said recently somewhere, I don't even like every word I've written--why should I demand someone else do that?

5/04/2006 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger Karen Scott pondered...

Ok, now you know you have to tell us who the author was don't you?

5/05/2006 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger sybil pondered...

If you are talking about MJD that was more of a joke than anything. The woman herself doesn't have a degree.

If it is someone else... EMAIL me, I wanna see ;).


oh you said last night.... you so need to email me (redwyne at gmail dot com) :)

5/06/2006 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger Fickle Fiona pondered...

Megan--No, don't stop...as long as you keep agreeing with me, that is! ;-)

Karen & Sybil,
Now what kind of lady would I be if I went and spilt the beans like that? And no, was not MJD.


5/06/2006 04:07:00 PM  

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