Sunday, 20 May 2012

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

One of the interesting aspects of The Great Collapse of Publishing is being a heavy reader who doesn't quite know what to read next. How do you tell if a book - especially a self-published one - is great or simply rubbish.

I say especially self published, but I've had a couple of recent disappointments with big publisher works. However, self published books are a little like the girl with the curl right in the middle of her forehead. There's nothing worse than a badly written, sloppy book that's all over the place and has wooden dialogue, a tenuous plot and scrappy characterisation unless it also hasn't been edited.

You don't want that on your Kindle, believe me.

This has led to the rise and rise of the book blogger, as well as communities such as GoodReads. All that commentary can help a reader sort the wheat from the chaff. Except it's a jungle out there - the explosion of new material that self publishing has opened up to the market has not only meant a new richness of choice and diversity for readers, it has led to a bewildering number of voices crying out into the wildnerness, "Me! Me! Read my book!"

The end result has been a universe of book bloggers out there with months-long TBR lists (To Be Read), constantly harried by authors and being pressured to respond to a constant swathe of imprecation. Let us not forget, back in the Bad Old Days those most egregious of gatekeepers, literary agents, got 40-50 submissions a day (still do, in fact. In the US a big agent can pull 200 submissions a day).

Now book bloggers aren't quite getting as bad as that, but it's on the rise and fast, at that. Soon they'll be getting pretty choosy about which books they take on board - a number of more influential book review blogs actually put new submissions on a list for reviewers to take on if they like the look of them.

Olives has had some lovely reviews (some collected here on the book's website, along with the fabby Time Out Beirut interview), especially  on Amazon and GoodReads. But I'm off seeking more, so spent much of the weekend chasing around the world after book bloggers.

Funny, but I can see that same wary look in their eyes I used to see in agents' when I came into the room...
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