Saturday, August 26, 2006

Book Reviews for Fun and Profit!

Kudos to HarperCollins for having an online publicity department. At least they have their ears to the on the Web and are looking to expand coverage of their books beyond the usual literary suspects. In fact, they go so far beyond that they trolled Something Awful, the Boy Wonder's favorite cyber-hangout, to find someone to review Remember Me: A Lively Tour of the New American Way of Death by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen.

HC indeed found a reviewer in Hassan "Acetone" Mikal, but I wonder whether they didn't think that maybe--just maybe--a smartass like him (and they're all smartasses on Something Awful, especially my own not-so-little darling) would write a smartass review. Which of course he did. Mikal's review of a Free Book I Got may not be quite what HC was looking for, but it had me weak with laughter.

There has been much talk of late on GalleyCat and elsewhere as to the importance of author photographs, and whether they attract readers. Mikal definitively settles this dispute, writing of Cullen:

She is pretty cute based on her picture on the inside cover though. This woman has no business putting words on paper. She should be in a classy lingerie catalogue. I'm talking Sears catalogue for sure, maybe Nordstom.

Mikal also discloses the secret that every reviewer--including myself, of course--guards jealously:
The key to writing a good review isn't in the criticism, it's getting a quote on the back of the book. Don't be satisfied with getting your quote on the inside sleeve or in the introductory pages. You want it on the back cover right up top or else it means nothing. This is why you must strive to get review copies as early as possible and review them as quickly as you can. Skip a few chapters if you must. The most important thing is getting the review done.
He offers these helpful examples:

RIGHT: Cullen's seminal work is both a pleasure and a delight to read and will inspire readers for decades to come.
A publisher will probably put this on the back of their book. Even years after the book is released the quote will still be relevant. Your quote doesn't even have to have anything to do with the book. It just has to sound fancy. In fact I expect Harper Collins to plaster this all over the next edition of whatever book I'm supposed to be reviewing here.

WRONG: Stacy is a sloppy cunt ass ho who will sleep with every guy but me. What a bitch. I want my shirts back Stacy.

When writing reviews it is important to leave the drama with your mama! That's what The Daily Dirt is for. While Stacy may be a slut who will sleep with everyone but you it has no place on the back of a major book. Maybe a Random House book, but we're talking the big leagues here.

Acetone writes: "Tell everyone you know that they can get a positive review out of me as long as I can sell the book for money to support my various crippling addictions!"

My response: "Um, you might want to actually, you know, review the book rather than the author pic and blurbs--though I much enjoyed your piece over ones in the NYTBR or Wash Post."

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