Now that the Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review section is gone, and newspaper reviews in general are becoming fewer, the democracy of the Internet is coming to the rescue...at times. You have to find the right places.
Many people still don't know about literary blogs and what they do. On the Internet, anyone can write about anything, and some people spend their time reviewing. Publishers and publicists have been taking notice and sending commited reviewers books to consider. The bloggers don't get paid, but they do get free books and the ability to fall into what they love to do: read.
With my latest book "Months and Seasons" being a collection of short stories, I've had the extra challenge of finding reviewers who like to read books of short stories. Be honest. How many books of short stories do you buy a year? If it's like most of the population, the answer is zero. I'm not talking to Joe Six Pack or Joe the Plumber but to Readers Joe and Josephine. I don't buy many collections, either, not when so many novels beckon. (However, I did just get Margaret Atwood's "Moral Disorder and Other Stories" yesterday.)
For my book, I did two things to find possible reviewers. First, I went to Google, and on the top menu bar, I clicked on "More," which took me to specialized places to search. I then clicked on "Blogs" and typed the search words "Lahiri Unaccustomed Earth." I figured that might take me to literary blogs that featured a review of Jumpra Lahiri's book, "Unaccustomed Earth," one of the few collections of short stories to ever reach the New York Times bestseller list. That happened earlier this year.
Sure enough, I came upon many literary blogs that I'd never heard of with reviews of the book. Some of them were extremely well-considered reviews. Among the good writers that had e-mail, I wrote a query letter, explained my book, and asked if I might send a copy for review.
I sent out just over twenty books, and I received my twentieth review today at http://www.caribousmom.com/2008/10/23/months-and-seasons-book-review/. It's that review, in fact, that compelled me to write this blog instead of grade papers. I feel lucky that my book has received so many reviews--and heartfelt ones, too. I've been to a lot of literary sites over the last few months, and not all reviewers write well. I may compose a future blog about what it takes to write a conscientious review, but Wendy's at the above link is one of the great ones. No wonder her site won an award for Best Literary Blog recently.
I want to thank all the reviewers who've reviewed my book, including Sam, Grady, Rebecca, Marc, Dawn, Heather, Alea, and so many more. For a list, just see the column of reviews back one click on my author's page.
The best thing a reviewer can do is start a dialogue with the literary community, and I sense that's happening now with "Months and Seasons."
Thank you, too, for reading this blog. If you're in Los Angeles on Halloween night, you're invited to Skylight Books in Los Feliz where I and three USC graduate students will read our "scary" stories. It starts at 7:30 p.m.
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