Book Review Guidelines
Thank you for your potential interest in helping me review my book.
All authors need reviewers and I am no different. Despite all my work, my effort is not a polished book at this stage, and I refer to my book as a draft.
Helping an author review a book draft is challenging. Reading a draft is different from reading a final product. Unlike final, polished products, drafts contain errors, duplications, awkward sentence structure and grammar, and sometimes outright incoherence. Much thought and patience is necessary to help review a draft, as well as an ability to provide constructive criticism instead of destructive.
Additionally, hopefully you possess a smattering of the art of diplomacy because authors invest much time and energy in formulating their thoughts and expressing their ideas, and as might be expected from basic human nature, sometimes resist suggestions and changes. Authors can be fickle. Additionally, authors tend to resist change because all reviews mean more work. Although I understand this process and want to provide a worthy book, I admit that occasionally I am susceptible to the same reactions. C’est la vie.
By reviewing my book you will offer me your unique perspective and experiences. I hardly expect you to agree with everything I wrote, and you might even reject my ideas. Yet, that is part of the process of exchanging ideas, an aspect of life that I will not run away from — although I might flinch or grimace a little as I read your comments.
I do not underestimate the time and energy required to constructively review and critique a book; nor do I deny the effort needed to read text critically, provide appropriate responses, and thereafter engage in purposeful discussion. Please notice that at this stage of the writing process I am not seeking a “That’s an interesting book,” kind of review. You will be a participating reviewer, not a mere reader.
What do I expect in your review? Every person possesses varied backgrounds and experience. Therefore, I provide the following list to help encourage and guide you.
- The bulk of my writing experience is within the vertical market of technical writing, mostly in the nature of maintenance procedures. Thus, I am little experienced in expository writing although I am learning to better express myself within that genre. Therefore, although content is my primary concern with your review, I also appreciate helpful comments about my writing style.
- I have no graduate degrees, and other than a few useless term papers, I never have attempted scholarly efforts. I appreciate any comments about the mechanical aspects of formatting a scholarly book, footnotes, endnotes, bibliography, etc.
- For my scholarly books, I have not used standard “Ibid” and “Op. cit.” references in my footnotes. Doing so during drafts is counter-productive because there are too many revisions and subsequent shuffling of footnotes.
- Play devil’s advocate. That is, if you see an idea that contrarian readers might raise, then raise the issue yourself. Perhaps I can revise my text based upon your observations.
- Watch for inconsistencies. Did I offer a perspective in one part of the book and declare something different elsewhere? Did I contradict myself?
- Did I use a term or phrase not defined in the text — and should be?
- Do you disagree with something I wrote? Say so, but please articulate why. Hopefully, I learn something too.
- Did I write something that left you confused? Possibly, and more than likely, probably. Often language is imprecise. Let me know what you did not understand.
- Did I write something that you can refute? Then refute!
- Did I write something as “fact” yet you would be more comfortable if I provided some authority or citation to back my claims? Then ask me to “prove it.”
- Did I write something that seems familiar to you? Perhaps you know of another author who made similar claims and although my effort is original, I might want to improve my own credibility by citing that author.
- Usually I work hard to avoid emotionalism, but I am sure you will find some sentences that sound emotional. I too am human (sigh). Some emotion is okay, but at other times emotion creates an “unprofessional” image. Please add a note if you find some emotion in the book. Perhaps I intended the emotion, perhaps I need to revise the text. Simply let me know what you think.
- I appreciate you identifying typographical and grammatical errors. If you are an experienced writer then you know that the worst proofreader and editor is the original author. However, at this stage of the process my primary focus is content and peer reviewing — the hard-core editorial work comes later.
- I avoid the word “it.” Often when people use that word sentence meaning becomes ambiguous. Long ago I needed substantial effort to exorcise that word from my writing and speech. I will use the word “it” when there is no doubt I am referring to a physical thing, but I never use the word otherwise. By not using “it” I have to write somewhat longer sentences, but often there is less confusion about the subject.
- Words I dislike (personal eccentricities): Assist, Desideratum, Efficacious, Hegemony, Utilize, Methodology. Don’t ask me to use those words. I won’t. Thanks.
- If you have the time and energy I would appreciate an overall commentary/response. I would appreciate your gut reaction. After all, you are not only a reviewer but also a sample reader in the market. We are exchanging ideas. Now is your chance to write nice things. Or not-so-nice things.
I want to emphasize that you must not concern yourself about my ego. I expect your review to help improve my book. After reading your comments I might flinch, grimace, and perhaps pout a little while in the privacy of my office, but your review will make a better author of me. Remember that you are not the one being graded — I am!
Now that you have some idea of what is required in reviewing a book draft, please volunteer only if you believe you can commit the necessary time and effort.
Thanks much for your consideration.