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View Full Version : Do authors actually read the books they promote?



TJMac
2014-Jun-29, 02:07 PM
The title actually asks the question.

I know for years, decades even, I've seen the blurbs on the cover of paperbacks by some famous author saying how good a book, or sometimes just recommending the author of the book. Now, on Twitter, I notice very famous authors that will say, "Just read 'This Book', it's a MUST read. SO good." Or words to that effect.

Which makes me wonder how much those authors read of other folks works. Do they actually read before they recommend, or is it sort of a back scratching favor type thing in the writing community?

TJ

Noclevername
2014-Jun-29, 02:36 PM
It depends on the author, I suppose. In most of the cases I've heard of, the author really had read the book.

jokergirl
2014-Jun-29, 03:41 PM
If it's on their own blogs, I believe they actually do. Can't say the same about the blurbs on books, though. They always seem heavily edited to me.

;)

grapes
2014-Jun-29, 03:42 PM
And authors tend to be voracious readers. Not all, sure

Tog
2014-Jun-30, 09:19 AM
The thing about book blurbs is that there is a timing factor to consider. If a book is covered in blurbs from other authors on the release date cover, you sort of have to wonder when that author got a chance to read it.

The answer may be something like they both have the same agent or publisher, or maybe they're friends in real life and have traded books back and forth for years. Most authors will decline to read unsolicited stories from "nobodies" for fear of writing something similar and being accused of stealing it, but if you saw a Stephen King review on a new J.K. Rowling book, you could probably take that as legitimate. He was critically supportive her through most of the Harry Potter days.

On the other hand, there have been several instances where a little known author of a self-published book quotes praise from other indie authors who have gone on record as never having heard of that book or the author. In one case, it was a small publishing house (probably a scam outfit) who happened to list a quote from Chuck Wendig that talked up their service. Chuck Wendig is not shy about speaking out about things on his blog, and he's got a large following in social media. He's also not overly concerned in keeping his language safe for work. When he called the place out, word spread. Based on that, I can't imagine a big-name author being quoted on something they didn't read and word not getting back to them in some way.

For the legitimate ones, I'm sure they nearly all really do read the stories, but not always by choice. What I mean by that is, if James Patterson's publisher came to someone like King, and said, hey, could give this a look and say something nice about it, King would either give it a quick read, or refuse. he might not have actually wanted to read the book, but he might do it as a favor, or a trade. I don't think he'd lie about having read it, because he'd never know what might pop up in an interview about one of his own books later on.

Among the top three bits of advice any author will give is "Read more." King is quoted as saying something along the lines of, "If you don't have time to read, then you don't have the tools to write." All authors seem to have some version of this.

TJMac
2014-Jul-04, 12:40 PM
Among the top three bits of advice any author will give is "Read more." King is quoted as saying something along the lines of, "If you don't have time to read, then you don't have the tools to write." All authors seem to have some version of this.

I find that interesting, because it makes sense to me. However, a few years back, I know I read an interview with an author, who stated that he did read anyone else, because he didn't want it to affect his own work. I cannot recall who that was.

TJ

Heid the Ba'
2014-Jul-04, 01:40 PM
The thing about book blurbs is that there is a timing factor to consider. If a book is covered in blurbs from other authors on the release date cover, you sort of have to wonder when that author got a chance to read it.

They may have read a draft, or helped proofread it since no-one else will these days. I have always read the book if I review or recommend it, though I don't think my name has ever appeared on the cover of someone else's work.

Jeff Root
2014-Jul-04, 01:59 PM
On the back cover of 'The Fabric of the Cosmos' by Brian Green
are quotes from reviews by six entities -- generally big, famous
newspapers. At the very top, introducing the quotes, it says:

PRAISE FOR
THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE

Clearly, they did not have an opportunity to get quotes about
the book in hand because it hadn't been published yet and
nobody had seen it to review it yet.

Edit to add:

Same thing for Stephen Hawking's 'The Universe in a Nutshell'.
On the back cover:

Acclaim for A Brief History of Time

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Paul Beardsley
2014-Jul-04, 02:02 PM
They may have read a draft, or helped proofread it since no-one else will these days. I have always read the book if I review or recommend it, though I don't think my name has ever appeared on the cover of someone else's work.

I have been quoted on book covers, alongside the magazine I wrote the review for (Interzone of SFX) but I don't think they've ever put my name. (No reason why they should.) One that springs to mind is the first paperback edition of Gregory Benford's Matter's End. Something like, "Benford writes with refreshing honesty." I was very pleased to see that!

Paul Beardsley
2014-Jul-04, 02:04 PM
On the back cover of 'The Fabric of the Cosmos' by Brian Green
are quotes from reviews by six entities -- generally big, famous
newspapers. At the very top, introducing the quotes, it says:

PRAISE FOR
THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE

Clearly, they did not have an opportunity to get quotes about
the book in hand because it hadn't been published yet and
nobody had seen it to review it yet.

Edit to add:

Same thing for Stephen Hawking's 'The Universe in a Nutshell'.
On the back cover:

Acclaim for A Brief History of Time

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

That is standard practice, especially if the book in question is strongly linked to the author's most recent work, e.g. it's a sequel or explores similar themes.

grant hutchison
2014-Jul-04, 02:24 PM
I have been quoted on book covers, alongside the magazine I wrote the review for (Interzone of SFX) but I don't think they've ever put my name. (No reason why they should.) One that springs to mind is the first paperback edition of Gregory Benford's Matter's End. Something like, "Benford writes with refreshing honesty." I was very pleased to see that!Hey, I own something you wrote! :)

Grant Hutchison

Paul Beardsley
2014-Jul-04, 02:30 PM
Hey, I own something you wrote! :)

Grant Hutchison

Yay! Did I actually use the word "refreshing"?

grant hutchison
2014-Jul-04, 02:52 PM
Yay! Did I actually use the word "refreshing"?"Compelling".
I like "compelling" better.

Grant Hutchison

Paul Beardsley
2014-Jul-04, 03:30 PM
Thank you Grant. I'm happy I used that word.

grant hutchison
2014-Jul-04, 11:16 PM
Thank you Grant. I'm happy I used that word.Anyone ever threaten to sue you for a bad review? That happened to me once, but it was all a bit comic-opera - more tiring than threatening.

Grant Hutchison

swampyankee
2014-Jul-05, 12:02 AM
Anyone ever threaten to sue you for a bad review? That happened to me once, but it was all a bit comic-opera - more tiring than threatening.

Grant Hutchison

Given what some authors have been saying about English libel law, that could be a real problem.

grant hutchison
2014-Jul-05, 12:38 AM
Given what some authors have been saying about English libel law, that could be a real problem.If you're misguided enough to make unsupported defamatory accusations, or to use language that can be interpreted as a defamatory accusation (Simon Singh's ambiguous use of the word "bogus", for instance), then you certainly have a potential problem. If you point out real errors, or give examples of something you don't like about an author's writing or plotting, that's extremely unlikely to get you into difficulty. The principle of "fair comment" applies in the UK just as it does in the US, though I think the interpretation of "malice" is rather different in the two countries.

Grant Hutchison

Paul Beardsley
2014-Jul-05, 01:12 AM
Anyone ever threaten to sue you for a bad review? That happened to me once, but it was all a bit comic-opera - more tiring than threatening.

Grant Hutchison

Never, I'm afraid, but I did upset three people badly enough that they complained to the magazine my review was published in, or they complained to me directly, or both.

I'm not sure what the ground rules are in a discussion like this, but can I suggest we name names only for neutral facts (e.g. "I reviewed three of John Smith's books") or positives ("I was quite harsh about Peter Jones' novel but he took it with remarkable good grace; he even thanked me and said he would address the criticisms in his next book" or "Susan Jenkins was so pleased with my review she bought me a drink and introduced me to her publisher"). But for negatives just say Author X or something.

With that in mind, I'd be interested in knowing more about the comic opera.

grant hutchison
2014-Jul-05, 01:02 PM
Never, I'm afraid, but I did upset three people badly enough that they complained to the magazine my review was published in, or they complained to me directly, or both.I was recently talking to the editor of a magazine I used to review for, and he revealed that one of my reviews had lost him a friendship, albeit a cheery-chat-by-email rather than drinking-buddies-for-life sort of friendship. The relationship simply chilled and vanished after my review was published. Difficult thing for editors, who do tend to develop friendships across a broad base in their chosen field.
A classic example is Algis Budrys's notoriously lost review of Stranger in a Strange Land, which Frederik Pohl killed because it annoyed Heinlein so much. The story of how Heinlein got to see a pre-publication copy of the review doesn't cover either Pohl or Heinlein in glory, in my opinion, but I've seen it held up as a judgement-of-Solomon act by Pohl.


With that in mind, I'd be interested in knowing more about the comic opera.Non-fiction book. Fundamental error which I pointed out.
Demand for retraction from the author. We offered a full retraction and apology as soon as the author demonstrated that I had erred in the factual content of my review.
The comic opera arose from the lengthiness of the correspondence, the increasingly bizarre claims and threats made, and how each successive letter and phone call simply further confirmed the lack of understanding I had highlighted in the original review.
Went on for years.

Grant Hutchison

Heid the Ba'
2014-Jul-23, 02:22 PM
I was recently talking to the editor of a magazine I used to review for, and he revealed that one of my reviews had lost him a friendship, . . .
My respect for an editor went up immensely when he published uncut a review of mine which was scathing about a book by a publisher who had strong financial links to the magazine.


Non-fiction book. Fundamental error which I pointed out.
Demand for retraction from the author. We offered a full retraction and apology as soon as the author demonstrated that I had erred in the factual content of my review.
The comic opera arose from the lengthiness of the correspondence, the increasingly bizarre claims and threats made, and how each successive letter and phone call simply further confirmed the lack of understanding I had highlighted in the original review.
Went on for years.

Grant Hutchison
You can't beat a defence of veritas.

Heid the Ba'
2014-Jul-23, 02:30 PM
Given what some authors have been saying about English libel law, that could be a real problem.

Yes and no, the burden of proof may differ but you will struggle to get any damages beyond what you can show you have lost. Punitive damages are virtually unknown in England these days, so you may get decree in your favour but little else. Of course running an action the other party can't afford to defend is another matter.

Githyanki
2014-Aug-01, 02:33 AM
Most authors love to read; that is why they became authors!