Why I review the books I review

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Truth be told, if my name were James Patterson and/or if I worked for the New York Times, a fair number of readers might be waiting to see what I (or my newspaper) had to say about “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” or “Frankenstein: Lost Souls.”

But I’m not and I don’t.

I’ll probably read “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” because I enjoyed the late Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” I probably won’t review it, though, because by the time I get around to reading it adding one more review to a slough of them on Amazon or GoodReads just isn’t going to matter.

More importantly, though, is the fact that Stieg Larsson’s books don’t need any help, nor do they need any cautionary words or warnings. But small-press and self-published authors do need publicity, so I’m going to focus on novels from those sources when I find books I like.

I have no delusions of grandeur about this. My review isn’t going to catapult an unknown author onto the New York Times bestseller list. The book world runs on publicity. The trouble is, those who don’t need it keep getting more of it. Those who do need it get very little of it because they’re not already famous.

This is one of those paradoxes that drives authors nuts. “Why,” they ask, “is there a million dollar marketing budget for a book that’s going to become a bestseller with no marketing at all?” And, “Why are a hundred reviewers lining up to review the last James Patterson book when, really, everything that could be said about it has already been said?”

Mob instinct, I would say.

I would much rather offer my humble opinion about a book you might not hear about at all unless you chance upon my blog review or my GoodReads review. Perhaps you will find a title you like and you’ll buy a copy. After you read it, you might tell your friends about it.

The authors of the books I review may have worked for a year or two writing their books. In some cases, they struggled with their manuscripts off and on for decades. I think they deserve a chance to be read. That’s why I review them.


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4 responses

  1. You review wonderful books, Malcolm, and I’m sure all the authors you’ve reviewed appreciate your giving them some coverage. I know I do.

  2. I enjoy your reviews. They are interesting and honest and a whole world better than following the pied piper at the Times.

    • My reviews are skewed toward the high side in terms of the number of stars because I tend to review books I like or that I’m pretty sure I’m going to like. Plus, who wants to copy that pied piper anyhow. Thanks.