Welcome, returning and new readers alike, to Curiosity Quills’ weekly foray into the wild lands of book review sites!
Review blogs are well established by now as one of the best and most popular routes by which readers find recommendations for good quality books in the endless slush pile of new and otherwise unknown authors.
This is word of mouth, made grand and far-reaching by the power of the internet age, and in this column we will spotlight a different blog each week to talk about what they review, how and why, helping you find new places to scour for awesome books.
This week, Jacob Topp-Mugglestone of Drying Ink joins us to talk about opinion posts, the joys of speculative fiction, and what he’s looking forward to most in 2012.
CQ: To start us off, can you tell us a bit about your site and what new readers can expect?
CQ: Your site focuses on Sci-Fi and Fantasy. What draws you to speculative fiction?
CQ: There are a good number of opinion pieces scattered between the reviews. Do you find the reviews and the editorial get different reactions from your readers?
CQ: How many review requests do you receive in the average month? What really grabs your attention in a query, and what earns the email a one-way trip to the deleted folder?
Characters are a big one, too. A novel is fueled by its protagonists, and if I can’t get a feel for them from the query, I’m unlikely to accept the request. I love bold, interesting characters like Harry Dresden of the Dresden Files, Shallan of The Way of Kings, and Kvothe of Name of the Wind fame. A protagonist is your guide for the story; the character (or several characters) you stick with. If he or she’s not interesting enough to be mentioned in the query, that’s a bad sign.
Heh, deletion? Well. The big one is not reading my review policy. I don’t have many requirements at all, but if it’s something that’s outside my genre? I can’t accept it for review. Drying Ink is a SFF review blog, and I try to keep that definition as wide as I can – but on the other hand, I can’t review something entirely unrelated either! Another is not paying any attention to the query, or assuming I’ll say yes: if the query says nothing about a book, not even a link, then I’m not going to review it. There aren’t any guidelines: most of my requests say more than enough. But occasionally I get one that’s two lines long, or has a cover that seems to have been made in Microsoft Paint – and on those occasions, I do judge a book by its cover, I’m sorry to say. But in general, it’s a pleasure to receive these requests, and if anyone’s in doubt, just drop me an email.
CQ: What anticipated new releases are you really looking forward to in 2012?
CQ: What was your hidden gem of 2011, a book you hadn’t heard of till you were asked to review it or a friend shoved it under your nose?
CQ: Have you found reviewing books has changed the way you read, now you need to record a work’s strengths and weaknesses for your readers?
CQ: And finally, use this space to give a shout-out to one of your own favourite book blogs.
Thanks to Jacob for the wonderful interview! If you’d like to see your favourite book blog featured on the Spotlight, ask them to email me at Verity@CuriosityQuills.com