Author Assistance

Are you a new author? Self-published? Published by a small press? I would like to assist you! There is an audience out there for most books, but the problem is finding those people. So many worthwhile books languish in obscurity for a variety of random reasons – some controllable factors, and others not. Sometimes it is a bit of a mystery why one book takes off and another falters. It may have little to do with the quality of the writing.

Being a writer takes you on a ride of emotional highs and lows. It is isolating work, and discouragement is common. You must be open to critique, and critique can be offered in a helpful way -or- in a way that crushes you. It takes courage to pour your heart and hard work into something and then make it public. Will it be appreciated? Will it be ridiculed? Perhaps worse, will it be ignored? (The later is all-to-common. Did you know the typical independently published book will only sell about 100 copies? What a shame.)

My interest is Christian non-fiction of a thoughtful nature – books about the Christian life, spiritual growth, biblical/theological issues. This can include books that are true stories, where an author shares an experience and its affect on their Christian faith.

How can I help? Well, these are just casual and little things, but I want to encourage and assist you how I can…

  • I would like to pray for you and your book. As said, writing can be discouraging and isolating, and I can pray for you as a person. But I also want to pray for your book – that God will help it find its way to those who will benefit from it. For the Christian, there is that balance between promoting a book and trusting God.
  • If your book looks right up my alley, I can consider purchasing a copy. This will help with your sales, and when I write a review on amazon it will be a “verified purchase” which helps with credibility. If your book does not look exactly like my favorite, that does not mean I am unwilling to read it! But would request a copy in exchange for a review. *Unfortunately, I do not utilize an e-reader and would need a tangible copy. If your book is brief (less than 50 pages) I could print a pdf copy.
  • I can post the review in 1 or 2 places, such as: my blog, amazon, and goodreads. Amazon reviews are particularly vital for authors.
  • I can share links about your book on social media, such as twitter.

Please note, that I will make every effort to write a positive review. I usually only write negative or mixed reviews when I have significant doctrinal or theological concerns. For example, see my 2-part review of The Power of I Am. If I should discover that I have significant concerns with your book, I would contact you to see how you want me to proceed.

After the contact form are some extra thoughts and clarifications about writing book reviews.

Book review tips…

In case it concerns anyone out there, by saying that I will write positive reviews does not mean I am going to lie and say that a not-so-good book is good. I am a discriminating reader. There are some books that languish for a reason. But I think there are ways to write such reviews without crushing the author. Here are a few thoughts…

It is not fair to negatively critique a book due to an unfair expectation. What type of book is it supposed to be? Did you expect it to be something the author did not intend? Some people will misunderstand a book – try to avoid that. I saw it summarized this way:

“A good book review appreciates and critiques the book that is written, not the book that the reviewer thinks should have been written.

For example, it is unfair to critique a book for not being academic enough, when the author wrote for a lay audience. I observed an established author’s historical book for a lay audience be picked apart by a historical scholar for failing to bring out certain historical nuances. If the author added all the nuances this scholar wanted, it would not have been for a lay audience.

It is important to keep experience level or credentials in mind. Is this the author’s first book? No one’s first attempt at anything will be the best it could possibly be. However, it may be exceptional for a first attempt. Would you judge your 5th grader’s art project by the standard of a professional artist? Uh, no.

Good book reviews will include suggestions for improvement or address a weakness in a book. But the point is: Don’t be unnecessarily critical. Be fair. See the potential.

Critique can also be offered in a veiled way (hinted at) – and the observant will pick up on it. Also consider that some critique could be offered privately, rather than in a public review – if the author is looking for it and depending on your relationship with them.

While about a different type of writing, I appreciated this article: Don’t Crush That Writer. Critique should be helpful, not crushing. The article tells the story of a manuscript that had real potential but it was annihilated and the author crushed – and sadly gave up writing altogether. That’s another consideration – is it a manuscript or already published? After publication, it is too late for improvements to be made, so consider the purpose of your critique. Which takes us back to the beginning:

“A good book review appreciates and critiques the book that is written, not the book that the reviewer thinks should have been written.”