New Post on Tor.com: Book Review of Nation, and Also About Writing Reviews

Yes, it is! And it’s a book review! Of a Terry Pratchett book! With footnotes! 1

This is the first time I’ve ever written a review of a certain… quality. I’m familiar with doing short reviews, the kind that go on a blog and enthuse! when you’re trying to blog up a storm. They’re fun but they can be a little shallow, even if you enthuse! for 400 words.

Most bloggers do that. I’ve seen reviews at 20 words. That’s fine and all, but it’s not the kind of review I can exactly put up at Tor.com. While it is a blog, it’s also a blog for a company, so technically I’m now a professional blogger.

So now I need to add in more context and craft and themes, y’know, go into significant detail about why the book is great 2 without going into full plot synopsis, which is about the worst thing you can do in a review. It’s boring as hell. I banged my head against the wall a good long time 3 before I managed to get something out that encompassed the first two but ditched the last.

I’m actually proud that I didn’t need an editor to tell me that. Although I did wander over to Miss Snark’s to see what she had to say about good book reviews. She’s very to the point. I love her. Good old Miss Snark. 4

In the informal world of blogging, people may ask why the hell would you do that?

I write to be read. Which means I try to reach. Even in my short reviews I always try to cover a little craft, a little context, blah blah, but I’ve always been lazy on them compared to my other posts because reviews are much harder for me. Much harder.

In other words, Twittering on the Global Frequency wasn’t unusual, and is the kind of post that usually gets my blog Stumbled. I’m good at that kind of thing, except when I over-reach (after all, that’s why I’m not writing about meta-blogging anymore). In other words, I’m good at writing about and learning about blogging; I suck at reading for comprehension. I have to read books twice before I can write even a short review with context. 5

Fortunately, Tor.com gets me reaching. It’s not strictly a pay thing; if I’m writing for pay, I want to write something I’m proud of and that people will look at and say, woah, that chick deserves to be on Tor.com. I come into the game with zero credits, so I must earn some.

And all this gives you guys decent reviews and decent articles. I could actually reel back my dedication to the blog articles over there. I could just blast out my post about vampires: the demon lovers right now, with nothing fancy but stark and direct words. That would be enough.

But I can’t do that. It’s not me. I didn’t even do that on my own blog for the stuff that I knew I could hitch up in quality, and when you wander off and write things like this for free 6, you are a sick person.

I write to be read. It’s not about gaining audience any way I can. It’s about gaining an audience that wants to read my words. And for me, that’s been very clearly about quality; for others, it can be humor or philosophy or whatnot instead. There are useful things to learn from social media when it gets applied to your blog; that is definitely one of them.

Notes:

  1. Those were really fun to do. I can see why he does them. You can add deeper asides that don’t interrupt the flow of the article/review/narrative/whatever. Like a discussion of Small Gods. Or this one. [back]
  2. Or, you know, not. Hopefully I’ll keep running into great books to blog. [back]
  3. Which is why, mine editors, you did not see a Thursday post. And might not see a post this Thursday, even though mining the values of Tuesdays and especially Thursdays is something that my blogger mind is strongly attuned to, as waves of the ocean might to oysters. Or… something. [back]
  4. I never did figure out who she was. Doubt I ever will. [back]
  5. As you can imagine, this slows me down somewhat when it comes to learning to write via reading, but I think that reading is the most important part of learning to write. After all, it’s reading and digesting that got me into the position to actually blog about certain topics well. So many people ignore this in favor of getting words out, which if you’re starving is fine, but if you’re not writing for your supper, like me, it’s kind of silly. [back]
  6. Not even ads. Do you know what HTML for Dummies would have netted me on a blog that paid decently per ad view? I could have paid my mortgage for one month. [back]
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