Before we launched our service we’ve had to think hard about what it should consist of. We’re aware of the vital importance in getting a book as good as it can be before it’s published so we initially envisaged that reviewing the content of a book might be something we could offer.
However after many discussions we’ve changed our minds and will not be offering this service. We know that many sites do but it has to be questionable about what a writer might get for their money. We’ve seen sites state that they will review your book and offer suggestions for as little as £50 and this immediately raises a question in my mind. To genuinely read even a normal length book and to make notes on how it might be improved takes time. If we were to take this on and provide a genuine critique of a book I’d guess we’d be looking at a cost that might be many hundred’s of pounds and possibly beyond the budgets of most authors.
However the main reasons for not wanting to offer this service are more to do with the fact that –
- Although we’re writers ourselves and have hopefully gained some knowledge of the art, we honestly don’t feel that we know anywhere near enough to be judgmental about someone else’s work. There are classic literary works that many people rave about that I personally find unreadable. Any reviewer brings baggage along and we think that, as a reviewer, it’s just about impossible to be subjective
- If your book is ground breaking in some way then it’s just about impossible to review anyway. I wonder what Joyce’s publishers thought when Finnegan’s Wake landed on their desk? There are books that, when they were first published, were truly revolutionary and we’ve benefited as they’ve expanded the envelope of possibilities for the writers who have followed. Again, if I’d been around at the time I’m not sure what I would have made of books such as Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’, Wells ‘The Shape of Things to Come, Orwell’s ‘1984’ or anything by Kafka.
- We don’t think it’s always that helpful anyway. Unless the reviewer knows the genre you’re writing in really well how can they give a robust opinion?
So, as we envisage it, the starting point of our services will be when an author considers that their book is ready to be published. We will then support them through the formatting, publishing and advertising phases.
However, we do feel it is important that authors consider whether their book is really as good as it might be so we’ll be publishing a string of blog posts on the subject of Things to consider before you publish your book.