Friday, May 11, 2007
One for the Road
A Conversation with Wilga...
Today, we'll be talking with Wilga Hill Boomerang of Cocktail Reviews. Wilga, or some reasonable facsimile of her, started Cocktail Reviews to provide honest reviews for writers not quite as in demand as Dan Brown. The premise is that there are lots of great books out there languishing in the desert of small presses, unappreciated by the New York Times Review of Books. Cocktail Reviews hopes to fill that gap.
Marva: Hello, Ms. Boomerang, or may I call you Wilga? Okay, I'll take that as a yes. How did Cocktail Reviews get started?
Wilga: As an avid e-book reader, I browsed review sites to get an idea of what e-books were like before I purchased them. Some reviews didn’t tell me an awful lot—nothing more than the original book blurb, anyway—and I thought about starting my own review site with the idea of providing that little bit extra. We do try to do our reviews differently, but sometimes a ‘normal’ review is posted so that all types of reviews are represented.
Marva: What's with the drink names for the reviewers?
Wilga: I discussed opening a review site with a close friend of mine (Witch of Salem) and came up with the name Cocktail Reviews. I think it was Witch who suggested the reviewer names being cocktails. It’s different to the norm, so I liked the idea.
Marva: Give us a rundown of how authors can request reviews and how the review process works.
Wilga: Review requests should be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the author name, publisher, and book title in the subject line. A blurb should be sent in the body of the email along with either the word count or amount of pages (this determines whether the book will get picked up quickly and reviewed fast if it’s a short), the publisher and author name, and the ISBN number.
The blurbs are put in an MS document and sent out to the reviewers in batches. If a blurb catches their attention the reviewers ask me to ask for the pdf/ARC. I send the pdf/ARC to the reviewer. Once reviewed, the reviewer sends me their review and I post it online, providing it isn’t a bad review. Bad reviews get sent to the author/publisher if they choose to see it via email.
Marva: Are these considered to be "professional" reviews?
Wilga: Authors and publishers are free to use our reviews in quotes or any promotion. If what we say helps the author/publisher to garner the public’s interest, then that’s a bonus. I wanted to help authors get recognition, to help them on their writing journey.
Marva: I know you don't want to be thought of as simply a shill for writers. What happens if you hate a book?
Wilga: If one of us hates it, I put the blurb back in the blurb bank to see if someone else may like to try it. After all, not everyone will like every book. If more than one person hates it, I send the author/publisher the option of receiving the bad review/s via email. No one has declined to see their bad reviews yet. One author, utterly charming I might add, wanted to see the bad review so that she could see where she could improve herself in the future. I admired her for that. She wasn’t just after praise; she wanted to learn from her mistakes.
Marva: I see the CR reviewers state their literary preferences. Lots of horror, chicklit, paranormal, romance, historical, etc. Not a single science fiction reviewer. Will Cocktail Reviews consider reviewing science fiction?
Wilga: Of course. Every blurb is sent out. It may get picked up by one of us if we fancy a change. Anything is welcome at Cocktails. Authors/publishers just have to sit tight and hope one of us pick up on the blurb.
Marva: What else do you want to tell us about Cocktail Reviews? Go for it.
Wilga: Just that I apologise if longer books take time to read. Some of us work full time so have to read the books in our spare time. Of course, we’d love to be able to sit down and read these wonderful stories in one sitting (some of us can, and some of us can read short stories in our lunch breaks or while we’re meant to be working—naughty, but fun!). I worry that the author/publisher may think we’ve forgotten about them, but we haven’t.
I’d mainly like to thank the authors/publishers for sending their books to Cocktail Reviews. After all, they have no idea what the review will be like and trust us with their hard work.
Marva: Thanks, Wilga!