Sunday, May 15, 2011

let's try this again (2)

There's another thing I forgot to say.

But first, let me just say this: When I write about things -- general things I question -- I really hope people don't take my statements personally. The only things you should ever take personally is if I name you, um... personally, by name.

For example, I like crayfish. They are yummy. I refuse to eat the guts part, though. That part is disgusting. Some people will be offended by my disdain for the gut-half. I don't care. You are a gut-sucker. Not me.

So, here's another thing that makes me cringe about certain reviews. And this, like yesterday's mention, is something that I truly believe readers can see through and will discount automatically as being bullshit.

And here it is:

When a professional author publishes a review or serves as a reviewer on a website, or works in any content or editorial capacity for a publication that reviews books -- all, I might qualify -- under the author's public name.

The ones who do it under assumed names are just sneaky creeps who have their own twisted motives.

It's only a question of ethics and reliability -- honesty -- which are things that some people don't care about anyway.

And I'm not talking about the collegial "Hey, this book is really great" comments that people use as blurbs, or shoot across the internet via Facebook and Twitter -- I'm talking about full-fledged reviews for review sites or periodicals.

Don't do it.

If a published author writes a "review" for a book published within his own megacorp, praise is suspiciously motivated; if he publishes a review of a competitor's product, criticism has an automatic taste of impudence and self-aggrandizement.

It's kind of like a Ford Motors spokesperson bashing the ugly design elements of Toyotas.

I don't think actual "reviews" are done among filmmakers (again, outside the general "admire and respect his work" kinds of comments), and they would probably result in fistfights in the music business (and the class acts in music frequently talk about artists they admire, but they don't review them), because people in those entertainment industries generally know not to go there.

But not some of us in publishing.

I love reading a good book review, and there are some review sites and publications I regularly enjoy. To be honest, reviews definitely DO lead me to buy books I'd never heard about.

But I always look at the byline of the review, so I'll know whether or not the publication/website is handing me a handful of crap.

Finally, if you happen to enjoy reading essay-length book reviews written by professional authors, there's nothing wrong with that at all.

I'm just wondering if there's an underlying question of ethics that is being swept under the obscuring carpet of the author's copy.