So you want to be a book reviewer???

Ever since I've been recognized as an "official" book reviewer by a number of publishers, and with my status pending with a number of others, people have been asking me how I managed to achieve that particular status. Ostensibly, they show interest in the book reviewing thing, yet most of those curious people are undoubtedly more interested in how to get free review copies of their favourite authors' novels!;-)

Truth to tell, I haven't replied to such inquiries so far because I haven't the faintest idea how it all happened. Nonetheless, I will try to explain. Because if I was able to do this, it stands to reason that almost anyone can possibly do the same.:-)

Shortly following the Holidays, I decided to create a weblog. In order to see how the whole process worked, I had no choice but to create one. Having no idea what it would be about, I elected to somehow do something that would have to do with fantasy novels. Not long after that, book reviews became the perfect fit for this new blog.

Quite obviously, in order to become a book reviewer, one must write book reviews. But that's easier said than done, I soon discovered. As a matter of fact, I had never before written a book review. And writing a "full" review is quite different from chatting about a particular novel on a message board.

For the format of those reviews, I had very little idea about what I wanted to do. But I was sick and tired of those and Kirkus reviews, in which you basically get a short synopsis of the book and a few sentences containing opinions. I wanted something more substantial.

Hence, without giving too much away, I wanted to paint the "big picture" of each book I read. Good or bad, I wanted to be as objective as I could. Since I've started doing just that, a lot of people have commented on my candor and objectivity. I guess I'm not doing too bad!;-)

What exactly makes a good book review, you ask? Honestly, I have no idea. I believe it's different from person to person. You tell me! After all, about 2000 visitors log on to this blog every month to read my rambling thoughts! No but seriously, what I attempt to do is to break the novel down and evaluate certain aspects such as worldbuilding, the characterizations, the prose, the flow, etc.

Many book reviewers seem to have the "holier than thou" attitude, and appear intent on bashing certain books or authors. Some get so deep and philosophical that after a few lines you cannot even remember that you are supposed to be reading a book review. As my weblog's header proclaims, I want to share my love of the fantasy genre other readers. Which means that I want to spread the word about what's good on the market. This doesn't mean that I'll refrain from pointing out bad or sub par novels/series, far from it. But I'm certainly not here to mud-sling anyone. I would rather let people know about what's great, thus pointing them toward books and series they'll hopefully enjoy. I am persuaded that this positive approach appeals more to publishers. The fact that my reviews may encourage people to buy/read certain books cannot hurt.

Secondly, you need a place to showcase your work. Insofar, I have found the weblog format to be perfect. it's free, easy to use, and not very time-consuming. It's pretty basic, yes, and yet one must not lose track of the fact that people are coming over to read articles and book reviews.

And last, but certainly not least, you need people. And that is the difficult part. No matter how good those book reviews ultimately are, if you don't have a following, it's not worth a whole lot. So where does one find a following? Well, that's a wee bit unclear. . .

My weblog was created a little over three months ago. At that time, I was telling myself that if I ever acquired about 30 regulars with whom I could discuss fantasy novels, I would be a happy camper. During those days, I was posting occasionally on message boards such as, and A link to the blog was included in my posts, but I doubted that it attracted more than a few curious souls. About 6 weeks following the creation of the weblog, I added a site meter, more out of curiosity than anything else. That first week, it attracted more than 400 people. At that period of time, I thought I had about a dozen people checking out the site per month! I was blown away. As matters stand right now, the blog attracts an average of 500 people per week, from 19 different countries. The very thought is a bit overwhelming. . .:-)

In the weeks that followed, I was fortunate enough to secure interviews with David B. Coe and Tad Williams, to be hired by an independent magazine (Gryphonwood Press), to have Robin Hobb encourage her fans to visit my weblog, and to have my reviews appear on another website (

Following our interview, I stayed in touch with Coe, who told me that at some point I should consider contacting publishers in order to be recognized as an official book reviewer. Not exactly knowing what it took to be recognized as such, after a while I decided to give it a try. I wrote publishers a letter explaining what the weblog was all about, including my site meter statistics pertaining to traffic, time zones, etc. I invited them to peruse the content of the blog and to offer comments on what they enjoyed/disliked. I included a link to the independent magazine's website and to I enumerated the message boards on which I could be found, and which usersname I utilized (so they could get a better opinion of me). And lastly, I included a list of titles I'd love to review in the future.

Well, as the weeks went by, I received packages with free books (some I had asked for, others not), or inquiries for more information. Of some publishers, I have not heard anything. So this is how it all began. This entire weblog sort of happened by accident. And now, a few short weeks later, I'm writing book reviews and articles, I'm doing free books, and I've been receiving free books!;-)

So as you can see, it need not be as difficult as it appears. So perhaps many of you can become "official" book reviewers as well!:-)

I am acutely aware that the fact that my weblog caters exclusively to a fantasy-reading audience probably had a lot to do with my new status with publishers. But the same can be said of a lot of you, I'll wager. So best of luck to you all!

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