A Tale of Two Reviews

On my review blog we sometimes have what we call a doubleshot, our normal review that is published in the morning (US time) and a review of the same book by another of the site’s reviewers later the same day. It started because there are some “pals” (when the site is called “BigAl’s Books and Pals” it is the obvious term for the other reviewers, right?) who are fans of the same authors and more than one person wanted to review some of the same books. It seemed like a no-brainer since both were going to read the book regardless and I thought it would be silly to turn down content. They were non-controversial, with little disagreement (possibly a 4 star versus a 5 star). Kind of predictable given how they came about. But they were also interesting in comparing the focus of the different reviewers. The readers, reviewers, and authors all liked the feature. Enough so that I started looking for opportunities where I thought a book would be a good fit for this format and propose it as a doubleshot to a pair of reviewers.

That was bound to bring an end to the predictability, and it did. A book was submitted for a potential review that appealed to me. I’ve gotten fairly good at guessing which books are going to appeal to Keith Nixon, one of the pals. When he’s perusing what is available for reviewing, Keith likes thrillers and “crime fiction” if it is spiced with a bit of humor, even better. This looked like the perfect fit, so I asked Keith if he was interested and he agreed to give it a try. Continue reading “A Tale of Two Reviews”

Big Al: What is a Reviewer?

Big Al, the big Kahuna

Last fall Stephen Hise interviewed me, along with several other book reviewers, for his What Reviewers Want series. In the comment section of part 2, Jacqueline Hopkins posed some questions about reviewers:

“ . . . what is a reviewer, do they have to have certain credentials; i.e., a degree in English, or writing/reviewing, what makes a good reviewer, and can just anyone be a reviewer, are there professional reviewers and what makes them professional? Do reviews written by a reader carry more weight than a professional reviewer?

I volunteered to attempt answering Jacqueline’s questions in two posts. This post will be my thoughts on some of the questions. In a few weeks, a follow-up post will explore the answers further with input from other reviewers and readers.

Since starting my review blog, I’ve been amazed to realize that when interesting questions like those posed by Jacqueline come up, the answers for me are usually the same as the answers a self-published author would (or at least should in my opinion) give if presented with the same basic question. Just like authors, reviewers cover the entire spectrum of possibility and attract different kinds of readers. On one end of the spectrum, you have James Patterson, Stephanie Meyer, and The New York Review of Books. On the other, you have my nine-year-old granddaughter’s authorial debut (published in a very limited pencil and printer paper edition) and the one line, one-star Amazon reader review that says, “This book sucks.” Anyone who is inspired to write a review can do it. All it takes is an account on Amazon – the same minimal requirement to publish an eBook with almost worldwide distribution. However, just as not every reader is going to like every book, not every reader is going to agree or value the opinion of every reviewer. Continue reading “Big Al: What is a Reviewer?”