Book bloggers provide a vital nexus between the reading public and the writers of books. The fortunes of an individual book can rise or fall on the recommendations of book bloggers. It was mommy bloggers who propelled E.L. James into stardom, highlighting their importance in facilitating the discoverability of books that could otherwise (and all too easily) remain obscure. The point is, they’re kind of a big deal and they deserve a little recognition. This week, we turn the spotlight on one of our faves – an all-around cool guy and tough customer, Big Al.
Last month in What is a Reviewer?, I took a stab at answering some specific questions about the complete spectrum of book reviewers. This month I’m looking at two specific questions. First, what qualifications does a typical book blogger possess? Second, what are the thoughts of readers about book reviewers: How do they use them? What qualifications do they think they should have? What influence do they have on their purchasing decisions?
Last year in an internet forum frequented by many indie authors, a New York Times bestselling author who has gone from traditionally published to indie made the comment that “anyone can start a blog and be a ‘reviewer’ now.” He was right. A free Blogger or WordPress account and the desire to review books is all that’s required. The barriers to entry are low, just like they are to become an indie author. What the author I quoted above may not have been aware of is that while the removal of the barriers is a relatively new development for authors, it isn’t for reviewers. I was reviewing music for a multi-reviewer website more than ten years ago. Continue reading “What is a Reviewer? – Part 2”
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?”
Big Al is the Capo di tutti Capi at two big-time review blogs, BigAl’s Books and Pals and The IndieView. Al came into the spotlight in a major way when Books and Pals became the scene of the notorious Greek Seaman incident. If you really need a lesson about why an author should not attempt to rebut (let alone rebuke) a reviewer, do click the link. I am sure you will find it most instructive.
While I would be willing to bet dollars to navy beans that practically every reviewer out there has experienced an author going off on them because of a bad review, this one is notable because it went viral, and was picked up by media outlets around the world. That is how I first became acquainted with Big Al and his courage under fire.
When Indies Unlimited was brand-spanking new with the one-man crew complement of yours truly, I asked Big Al if he’d be willing to answer a few questions for a series of articles I was doing on what reviewers want. I was pleasantly surprised that he was willing to take the time to work with a newbie blogger running (what was then) a nothing of a blog.
So, he’s not merely a cold-blooded killer, but also an all-around good guy. I am particularly pleased to announce that Big Al is coming aboard Indies Unlimited as a monthly contributor. How did I make that happen? I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Please welcome Al to the Indies Unlimited family.