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Wonderful Reviews from Publisher Weekly & Library Journal & a Brief Perspective

Somehow I never got around to blogging about the last two Pre-pub reviews that came in during 2009. I’ll post them below and then reflect briefly on how this aspect of publishing appears to the eyes of a newbie author.

The first review is from Publishers Weekly. The complete review can be found here. It’s solid that made me smile. The reviewer wanted more world building, which is understandable. I’m not interested or able to write the quarter million word tomes that are masterpieces of secondary creation. I’m interested in and have the time to write more tightly focused fantasy that builds the world just enough for the story to work. So it’s a fair criticism. More pleasing was the praise for my prose!

Charlton’s baroque prose perfectly mirrors the central role of language and the byzantine politics surrounding the Convocation and the potential prophecy, and the innovative spell craft will please fantasy readers weary of more traditional magics.

-Publisher’s Weekly

The second review, this one from Library Journal, was out right blush inducing. Find it’s complete review here. LJ went so far as to “star” the review, indicating that it was one of their favorites reviewed for the month.

[STARRED REVIEW] Charlton’s debut presents a refreshingly new look at magic and the power of words. Nicodemus is a strong protagonist, but the supporting cast is equally as memorable, two qualities that will make this series opener resonate in the reader’s mind. Highly recommended.

-Library Journal

All of this is tremendously gratifying.

Now, on the promised perspective: One of the funny things about publishing is how important some factors are that the average reader never knows or (rightfully) cares about. The traditional pre-publication review publications are an excellent example. These are newsletter-like publications that review a great many books before they come out and then distribute to booksellers and libraries to help them place pre-orders. Historically, there have been four: Publishers Weekly and Kirkus for booksellers, and Library Journal and Booklist for Libraries. Recently Kirkus has thrown in the towel, which has caused a bit of a stir.

It seems to me that—following a general trend in all news media—blogs are waxing as publications wane. Websites like Boing Boing, Bookslut, Salon.com, Scalzi’s The Big Idea are attracting a whole lot of attention and are becoming important factors in the industry. Part of me likes this; it allows the general reader to get involved where before there were only publications that went to libraries and booksellers. However, the rise of the blog creates financial hardship for the publications, and these publications do provide a important service. I’ll end by quoting from Joshua Bilmes’s thoughtful post on the subject:

“But if we are left with [no publications] at all, if all we have are the dozens of internet review sites which are important to very few but without meaning to the world at large, it’s going to become harder and harder to get a book known and heard about, to build buzz and get things to rise above the crowd…[This is] not a path I’m thrilled to be traveling.”


3 Responses to “Wonderful Reviews from Publisher Weekly & Library Journal & a Brief Perspective”

  • I think the change from traditional publications to blogs will be good in the long run. The publishing community will adapt. Bookstores will find a way to get the info they want. So will libraries. And at the same time, as you said, more people can participate.

    Here’s my question. As Bilmes’ mentions, Kirkus’ subscriptions were on the wane. That means one of two things unless I’m missing something. One, libraries/booksellers are able to get the info elsewhere (as Bilmes’ implies in his blog). Or two, the info in Kirkus wasn’t that necessary to begin with. So why is Kirkus disappearing so important?

    His statement that you quoted about it being harder to get books known isn’t really backed up by anything. So there are dozens of blogs instead of 4 publications. Honestly, anyone who reads those blogs knows that they’re all talking about the same books. Whenever one site picks up a book, seems like the rest follow.

    The laments for Kirkus sound more like they come out of a sense of nostalgia than any real business concern.

    • think your last paragraph is on point. and as to the harder to get a buzz going about a book, i assume Blimes was talking about buzz within the publishing industry. seems to me that the 4 traditional prepub reviewers were able to get the industry going in a way a blog hasn’t yet…but maybe that’s changing w/ boing boing, bookslut, etc.

  • […] the publication of the American Library Association. I’m especially proud to add this to the starred review  from Library Journal! See below for an advance uncorrected version of the review that will appear in the 2010 February […]

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