Heather Domin, author of: The Soldier of Raetia
An Exploration of Reviewing
I was happy to accept when Thea asked me if I’d like to do a guest post for her, but when it came to topics I found myself drawing a complete blank. (Which has been a theme lately, actually.)
Thea had just mentioned how much she liked my review of Trevor Munson’s Angel of Vengeance, so she suggested I do a post about reviewing. Now, lest you think I’m about to throw my two cents into the “should writers review” debate, that’s not how I roll. If I’ve learned anything in fifteen years on the internet, it’s that the same arguments get recycled over and over and over, and I’m not interested in that. I do what I do, and everyone else can do what they do, forever and ever amen.
Since writing is not my career, I’m not under pressure to build a brand, which leaves me free to do things my own way. On the other hand, I have pretty long gaps between completed stories, and I’d prefer to have something to say in those gaps other than “still not done”.
One cannot blog on memes alone. I’ve been reviewing for the Historical Novel Society for several years now and keeping a more casual reading record at Goodreads, so I thought maybe I’d try doing a few reviews in my LJ.
Imagine my surprise when I was offered my first ARC. I was like, “Me? Seriously? Have you read this LJ?” It’s an excellent feeling to be trusted with someone else’s work, and it helps me bring more content to my readers. These days I enjoy a nice middle ground: I get to review lots of great books for the HNS; I blog when I can and do reviews when the opportunity arises; and I keep it light and casual with my friends on Goodreads. I post to my LJ when I have something to say and putz around on Twitter and Tumblr when I don’t. And it goes without saying that writing and reading always come first. Everything else is gravy.
Reviewing is simple for me. If a review has been requested – either by the author or as part of my commitment to the HNS – I do my best to compose an intelligent, concise, and professional summary emphasizing which audience might enjoy the book. When I review something spontaneously (like I did with the Munson novel), I write the way I talk, squee and snark and all, with all the internet grammar and fannish references I would use in any other post. Either way, though, I’m not into trashing books – I’ll point out crucial issues and/or technical flaws, but the vast majority of criticism is based on personal opinion, and I’m not down with presenting my opinion as fact. I just want to tell my friends about the books I read. My motto for reviewing is my motto for everything else I do online: relaxed and groovy. (The wisdom of Eddie Izzard – useful in so many situations.)
So I don’t consider myself a Serious Internet Book Reviewer any more than I consider myself a Serious Internet Blogger (or for that matter, a Serious Internet Indie Author). I’m just a nerd who loves books – reading them, writing them, collecting them, sharing them, geeking out over them, evolving with them. I like how books make me feel. If I’ve made one other person out there feel that way, then I’ve met my only goal as a writer. I feel really lucky to be made for the creative life, and I plan to continue living that life in my own way. I wish the same for all my peeps out there who are walking this weird and wonderful path with me. Nerd life rules.
Heather Domin is the author of The Soldier of Raetia, along with a bunch of other lurking in shady corners of the internet and gathering dust in a bookshelf full of 70-page Mead notebooks. The nerdy blog mentioned in this post is her Livejournal. She’s also on Twitter, where she doesn’t say anything interesting but at least she doesn’t spam you.
BTW from Thea: Heather is one of those great folks you yearn to meet on twitter. We’ve had many a good chat and I always look for her cute avatar if I’m on. She was kind enough to let me flash her during my blogstreak
As for reviews, they can be tough to get. So You submit to a reviewer, and you wait, you wait, and you wait some more. Hopefully, the review is good, and so far, mine have been. But it’s a funny thing about reviews, as excited as you are to get them, it’s always kind of anticlimactic. Kind of like Christmas. I’ve had some good reviews from review blogs. You can check my links on the right. Secret Language of Crows is one that eludes me, though. No reviews yet.