We’re coming up on our third printed issue now, and as of this column, we have close to 750 reviews. Generally speaking, I am responsible for posting the lion’s share of the reviews to our website. As part of that, I’ve read most of them as I prepare them for posting. Not to blow our own horn, but I have to say that for such a new publication, we have some really talented reviewers!
What does a good review look like though? What’s the difference between a good review and an unusable one? I’d like to share our process, and let you, our readers, see how we decide the answers to those questions.
As a staff we agree that not every book we get is going to get a positive review. We have made it clear to our reviewers that the only thing they owe us, and our readers is the honest truth as they see it. The best reviews give the honest truth, respect the writers, even if they don’t like the book, and also respect the readers. We take that responsibility seriously.
For the most part, our reviewers get to select the books that they will read. This means that as one of the reviewers, I’m not forced to read a book that I would be prejudiced against, for example, anything with a Vampire in it. There are plenty of reviewers available who love perfectly coiffed, haunted yet misunderstood Vampires. I am NOT one of those people.
For the most part though, my personal tastes run towards Sci-fi/Fantasy novels, Detective novels, or any ancient history book, ESPECIALLY if it’s about Rome. Generally, at the beginning of the month we send a master list of the books we have available for review out to our review staff. Over that week the reviewers will email their selections to our Editor-in-Chief, M. Chris Johnson. Those books then get sent out to the reviewers. The reviewers have a little bit of time to read the books and write their reviews. At that point, the review is edited for grammar, spelling and accuracy. It’s important to note that other than simple editing we leave the reviews alone. It’s not just words on those pages; it’s the honest opinion of the reviewer as well. We’re blessed to have people that really get what we need. Once that process is completed, the review will be posted to the website, and it ends up on the list available for printing in the quarterly editions.
The unsung heroes of this product are our wonderful group of reviewers. We simply wouldn’t have enough time in the day to put all of this together, without our group of volunteer reviewers.