Monday, January 24, 2011

On the sticky subject of book reviewing

Last night, I noticed a few comments on Twitter that were part of a larger #querychat.  I don't know how it came up, or what the other commenters had to say, but literary agent Jill Corcoran made her case for not reviewing books on-line.

She discourages her clients from reviewing books on their blogs (I don't know about Goodreads) because she believes it serves no purpose except as a possible liability.  Namely, if you don't like a book and you review it badly, and your book goes on sub to the publisher of that book, and the editor happens across your blog, what are they going to think about taking you on as a new writer?

It's a fair point.

And now it's got me wondering.  Should I be posting reviews on Goodreads?  Anywhere?  A while back, I turned myself in knots over posting a negative review of a book anonymously.  I know what goes into writing a book.  Crawling through the slushpile of countless agents.  Refining, refining, refining your manuscript.  Clawing your way onto the desk of an editor.  Getting the attention of a reader from the shelves of a bookstore or library.  The odds are incredible.  So, who am I, really, to say whether a book was good or not?

Certainly I'm entitled to my opinion.  Even the most popular books/movies/songs/fashions/what have you don't resonate with everyone.  But does it matter if I share that opinion?  

I'm not going to digress into a tirade about the Internet making everyone feel entitled, blah blah blah.  I'm blogging for God's sake, that would be nothing but flinging stones from the front porch of my glass house.

But it does make me wonder...

In the end, what is the benefit of posting book reviews?

- Liz

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In which I count on others to do my job for me...

My brain is soup.

I've come across many wonderful blog entries this week, so I'm just going to give you a round up.  A Link-A-Palooza, if you will.

Hope you find something you didn't see before.  Enjoy!

Melanie Benjamin is a frequent and wonderful contributor to The Huffington Post, and she has written two wonderful and thought-provoking entries recently that you should definitely make note of.

First, a discussion of book tours, and why new authors might want to avoid them.

Second, a humor look at the deals we as writers make with the universe if only...

Kate Messner wrote a poem on the occasion of the ALA Award announcements last week.  It was meant to comfort friends who did not get the awards they hoped for, but it spoke to me as an unpublished writer who keeps on trying.  THIS is why I write.

Then Lisa Schroeder reminded me that no matter where you are in the publishing spectrum, there is always someone doing better, and it's best to say "Oh Well."

The incomparable Victoria Strauss weighs in on the infamous First One Publishing contest, and helpfully rounds up all the other blog memes out that did their own weighing in when this cluster $@%& hit the Interwebz.  Please--don't enter.

And finally, I've been in contact with a charming gentleman by the name of Johnny Dale this week.  If you haven't heard of him, he is the author of The Darling Budds, which is a serialized novel posted on his very ownest website (which is gorgeous, by the way).  He's amassing it into an e-book that he's "straight-up giving away."  It's a boarding school, lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-bitchy book that actually breaks through those stereotypes to explore something real.  Check it out.

Anyone else have some goodies to share?

- Liz

Monday, January 10, 2011

In which I discuss new beginnings of many types

Happy 2011!

Where have I been for the last 10 days?  Well, purging my house and cleaning like a house cleaning mad thing on mad house cleaning tablets.  Seriously, it's awesome in here.

Which is good, because I'm about to start working from home.  How do you like them apples?  I like 'em just fine, especially with a little caramel to dip them in.  It's a good news, bad news thing--as these things so often are--because the reason I'm about to start working from home is I went ahead and lost my not-at-home job.  (Such a weird expression, like my job slipped out of my pocket on my way home, or I'll turn it up next time I pull of the sofa cushions).  But I digress...

The query hunt has been fruitful these last few weeks.  I'm running at about a 30% request rate for all the replies I've gotten thus far, and that my friends, is nothing to sneeze at.  (And speaking of weird expressions, do people sneeze at things they disdain in real life?)  I'm really hopeful that this is going to be THE ONE that lands me an agent.  We'll see, won't we?

The red ones make it look
like the tub is bleeding, too,
which is fun!
The other night I was in the shower when an idea struck me like a bolt from the blue, as these things so often do in the shower.  So now I have a new tip for you from one writer to another:  If you do not have children, or your children are grown, you should STILL have bath markers in your shower, because you can make notes all over the wall while your brain is full of suds and steam and all other good things shower-related.  Then you can take pictures of them with your trust iPhone and never worry you'll forget what came to you in the shower again.  So there you go.

Finally, I would like to pimp four blogs to you.

1.  My friend Jane is new to the writing world, finding her way and feeling a bit of a fool for not knowing what to do with this on-line world of writerliness.  Feel free to stop by and give her some newbie lovin'.

2.  This is the story of someone in my family's death and subsequent illegal burial.  I will be no more specific.  And don't worry, it happened a long time ago, so I'm not looking for sympathy.  Quite frankly, it's HIGH-larious.

3.  Speaking of HIGH-larious.  Hyperbole and a Half's latest blog is a story I could so picture happening in my family, specifically to my son, in fact, that I had to share it.

4.  My critique group, the erstwhile Inkslingers, have started a new project--tiny little writing prompts that we're all going to answer in a very tiny way every few weeks.  It's a casual affair, but I'd love you all to play along!  Everyone is welcome.  See the rules, written by yours truly, to join us.

How's by you, blog followers and casual readers?  Anyone else got some new beginnings to share for this cold January night?

- Liz