Recently, I had the pleasure of reviewing the works of one of my constituents in the writing industry. After reading her work carefully, I phoned her and we chatted at length about her project during which I cited the high points of her work.
When I sat down to write the formal review, I gave the work four out of five stars, but as my fingers touched the keyboard, I realized that something was missing for me regarding her storyline, and it wasn't until I started writing the review that I realized what it was.
The review itself was not what I would have considered poor by any means. As a matter of fact, I actually wrote that the work was good. But within my review, I pointed out something that from my perspective wasn't there for me as a reader which may have come across as a negative.
After speaking with the author, I realized that the mistake that was made was that I strayed from my formula for putting reviews together. Normally, I email the pros and cons to the author regarding what I enjoyed about the work as well as what I didn't particularly care for...whether it be the editing, character development or interpretation of plot. In this instance, I didn't send an email. Instead, we talked.
Creating the email allows me time to let the full story marinate in my mind so that I can be as objective as possible when I write the review, and it allows the author the time to prepare for what is ultimately going to be written about his or her work. Hence, they know what I am going to write but not necessarily what the exact language is that I am going to use. No one will be blindsided.
For as long as I have been writing reviews, this formula has worked for me because it allowed me to be able to say what I truly thought about the author's work without my words coming across as if I were attacking him or her.
Moving forward, this will not happen again because I realize that part of the review writing process is to be completely transparent. The author will be ready to accept what you write (even if the review is less than stellar), as long they know what you are writing is honest and fair.
As I move forward into 2014 the reviews that I will write will have several components to them including the most important piece which is the "Pros and Cons" email. The review will appear on The Examiner and possibly CNN. I will also host the Q&A section on The Writer's Megaphone platform which will include the link to the article and promote it accordingly to grant further exposure. This, of course, will be at my discretion. Some works will appear on this site, some will just have the review...but all of this is is done with the intention of granting exposure to authors using the social media tools that I have at my disposal.
There is so much talent in the literary industry and much of that talent is well deserving of having as much exposure as possible. This is something that I enjoy doing and that as long as it is still enjoyable, I will continue to do since I do this on my own time.
Look for features that will showcase the talents of writers that you've heard of and some that you haven't. The best is yet to come!
And while you're at it, take a look at my new website! It was in great need of an overhaul!
~ J.L. Whitehead