Thoughts from a Professional Reviewer

I have written more than 860 reviews of books, DVDs, music, and products for Technorai, and probably the best way to find them is to Google “Bob Etier book review” or visit my profile at Technorati.com.During that time, I have been asked a lot of questions from those who want professional book reviews, and here are some of my answers.

You give writers advice. Have you ever written a book or worked as an editor?

No. I’ve also never baked a cheesecake, but I know when something is wrong with one I’m eating. My intent is to let writers know what I, as a reviewer, am looking at when I read their books, and what to consider once they think they have finished writing.

What types of books do you review?

Most of my reviews are of children’s books, YA literature, mysteries and thrillers, reference works, and cookbooks. I have also reviewed books on mental health and medical issues, technology for the reluctant computer user, travel, grammar, memoirs, pets, and dozens of other subjects.

Is there a particular genre you favor?

Definitely. I love mysteries, thrillers, and police procedurals, but I don’t like books featuring politics, drug lords, or sports (all of which may be related).

Is there anything you hate reviewing?

I don’t care for memoirs. Some authors think that because they have memories, they have a memoir. People who write about their personal experiences overcoming mental illness, obesity, religious crises, and other negative events or conditions tend to over-emotionalize and often go off on unrelated tangents. Not all memoirists do this, but when a book is written by somehow who “has a story to tell,” I’m wary. I don’t review self-help, science, poetry, books that are overtly sexual, or anything for which I don’t feel qualified.

What don’t you feel qualified to review?

Anything about sports, most technical books… anything outside my personal experience or sphere of knowledge.

That’s twice you’ve mentioned sports. Isn’t your husband a sports official?

Yes, but he’s perfect in every other way.

What is your number one peeve about books submitted for review?

Um…they don’t have hundred-dollar bill bookmarks included? Actually, poor or non-existent editing.

If you could go back in history and review one particular book or author, what would you choose?

Dr. Seuss. My favorite book ever is Green Eggs and Ham, and I’d love to review well written books that are beautifully edited.

What is your dream job?

Pet psychic or personality readjustment specialist (I made that up, so only I can be one). I think the job that I have always been most suited for is copy editor, although I’ve never been one.

What jobs have you had?

Ugh. The list is endless. Does babysitter count? My first on-the-books job was folding pillowcases in a factory—I was 16 and lasted 4 weeks. I’ve been a checker in a grocery store, designer, secretary, bookkeeper, special projects coordinator, teacher, chaplain, receptionist, social worker, private investigator, office manager, campaign worker…I could go on and on.

What was your favorite job?

I enjoyed jobs that allowed creativity, although I’ve only had one or two positions I actually liked. Being a freelance writer is ideal, but my favorite job is – I know it’s corny – being a wife. I really like being married, especially to a man who appreciates the value of paying someone else to do things you don’t want to do.


 

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