Book Reviews (Part 1)
As an author, it doesn't take you long to learn all about The Power of the Review.
Your publisher will happily confirm that a "good" review in a major newspaper such as The Sydney Morning Herald or The Australian or The Age, will help boost sales. And often it will result in follow up calls by other media outlets wanting interviews or apperances which, in turn, help push up sales further, which in turn ... You know what I mean. Besides, a good review makes the author feel very, very happy. Happy enough to go off and share his thoughts with other bloggers.
On the other hand, I was warned, a "bad" review can sometimes (but not always) destroy a book. Not quite what you want to hear when you are new to this game. I gather that a bad review can mean your book gets pushed to the back of the shelves quicker than you can say, publish and be damned. And it will make the author very cross and very depressed and generally, very pissed off.
But apparently nothing compares to not getting a review at all. Full stop. Nada. In effect, having your book thoroughly and totally ignored by those whose job it is to tell the rest of us what we should and shouldn't be reading.
This a fate that befalls the vast majority of books, given that in Australia alone, somewhere between 60 and 80 new books - local as well as imported - will be published and marketed every week. The papers will only have room for half a dozen to 10 reviews at most in their weekly books pages, so the chances of getting your book reviewed are pretty slim to begin with. It also means that just getting your book reviewed (even if the end result isn't all that positive), is considered a major achievement in its own right. Pathetic? Probably, but that's the way it works out here in BookLand.
Anyway, this is a rather long preface to the purpose of today's blog, which is to share with you bits and pieces from a review of Child of the Revolution that appeared in The Sunday Tasmanian on Sunday, 9 July. This is the main newspaper in Tasmania, the smallest of the Australian states and a truly beautiful place. The paper has a readership of about 152,000, which is pretty good for a population of about 470,000.
This was not my first review. I am in the lucky position of having had my book reviewed by just about every major newspaper in the country, which makes me fell rather good. In fact, if you visit my webpage you will find a summary (and links) to earlier reviews. I will post some of them here later, too. I am happy to report that so far, all the reviews have been "good". And yes, I can just about recite off the top of my head the best bits from the best reviews, but only if you insist. Go on, insist ... Anyway, it's a great party trick.
Back to The Sunday Tasmanian. In its review, the paper described the book as "a compelling story", which I think is a good start, before highlighting how Child of the Revolution deals with some of the inconsistencies and absurdities of life in communist Cuba back then. "It is also an entertaining story as (Garcia) explores the absurd gaps between rhetoric and reality," the review adds before concluding as follows:
Garcia has done his best to take the romance and myth out of the revolution and ridicule Fidel, but his love for the land of sultry music, hot nights and street carnivals shines through.
No complaints from me, except for the bit about doing my best to take the romance out of the Revolution. I didn't do that. Castro did that all by himself.