One-Minute Book Reviews

October 30, 2009

Backscratching in Our Time – Jonathan Lethem and David Shields

Filed under: Backscratching in Our Time — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:10 am
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The latest in a series of occasional posts on authors who praise each other’s books

Jonathan Lethem on David Shields’s Reality Hunger: A Manifesto:
“I’ve just finished reading Reality Hunger: A Manifesto and I’m lit up by it—astonished, intoxicated, ecstatic, overwhelmed. It’s a pane that’s also a mirror: as a result of reading it, I can’t stop looking into myself and interrogating my own artistic intentions. It will be published to wild fanfare, because it really is an urgent book: a piece of art-making itself, a sublime, exciting, outrageous, visionary volume.”

David Shields on Jonathan Lethem’s Chronic City (back cover of the hardcover edition):
“I’m reminded of the well-rubbed Kafka line: A book must be the axe to break the frozen sea within us. Lethem’s book, with incredible fury, aspires to do little less. It’s almost certainly his best novel. It’s genuinely great.”

“Backscratching in Our Time” was inspired by “Logrolling in Our Time” in the old Spy Magazine. Posts in the series appear on Fridays when examples of reciprocal blurbs are available. If you’d like to nominate authors, please use the e-mail address on the “Contact” page. You’ll find more examples of horse-trading in the “Backscratching in Our Time” category.

You can follow Jan Harayda on Twitter at www.twitter.com/janiceharayda.

October 23, 2009

Backscratching in Our Time – Aleksandar Hemon and Gary Shteyngart

The latest in a series of occasional posts on authors who praise each other’s books

Aleksandar Hemon on Gary Shteyngart’s Absurdistan:
Absurdistan is not just a hilarious novel, but a record of a particular peak in the history of human folly. No one is more capable of dealing with the transition from the hell of socialism to the hell of capitalism in Eastern Europe than Shteyngart, the great-great grandson of one Nikolai Gogol and the funniest foreigner alive.”

Gary Shteyngart on Aleksandar Hemon’s Love and Obstacles:

“Hemon can’t write a boring sentence, and the English language (which he adopted at a late age) is the richer for it.”

The “Backscratching in Our Time” category on this site has other examples of logrolling by contemporary authors.

October 9, 2009

Backscratching in Our Time – Mitch Albom and Harold Kushner

Filed under: Backscratching in Our Time,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:56 am
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The latest in a series of occasional posts on authors who praise each other’s books

Mitch Albom on Harold Kushner’s Living a Life That Matters:
“A wonderful, much-needed primer on the truly important things in life. Many thanks to Harold Kushner for reminding us what we should never forget.”

Harold Kushner on Mitch Albom’s Have a Little Faith:
“Once again, Mitch Albom has given us a heart-warming true story, about the power of love to triumph over death, and the power of faith to guide us through the worst adversity.”

These blurbs seem to be another example of a first principle of backscratching: The Less They Need It, The More They Do It. After a series of bestsellers and a movie of his Tuesdays With Morrie, why does Mitch Albom need blurbs?

To read more examples of backscratching by authors, click here. One-Minute Book Reviews welcomes nominations for this this series, which was inspired by “Logrolling in Our Time” in the old Spy magazine. To suggest authors who should be included, please use the e-mail address on the “Contact” page on this site.

October 8, 2009

More Horse-Trading by Authors in ‘Backscratching in Our Time’ — Tomorrow

Filed under: Backscratching in Our Time,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 5:05 pm
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A Delete Key Awards finalist returns tomorrow in the latest installment in the series “Backscratching in Our Time,” which calls attention to authors who praise each other’s books.

October 2, 2009

Backscratching in Our Time – Nora Roberts and Sarah Wendell

Filed under: Backscratching in Our Time — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:33 am
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The latest in a series of posts on authors who praise each other’s work

Nora Roberts on Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan’s Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels:

“Funny, irreverent, insightful, and thorough, this guide zeroes in on the joys and woes of the romance genre.”

Sarah Wendell on Ethan Quinn, the hero of Nora Roberts’s Rising Tides, in Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels:

“Another Roberts hero. I love them. A quiet yet deeply intense man who hides turbulent and overwhelming emotions, Ethan is ferocious about a very specific group: those people he considers his family. Again, that intensity, plus healing and recovery from deep emotional harm, creates a deeply memorable hero.”

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved
www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

September 20, 2009

Another Installment of ‘Backscratching in Our Time’ Coming Friday

Filed under: Backscratching in Our Time,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:23 am
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On Friday I’ll have another post in my “Backscratching in Our Time” series, which calls attention to authors who praise each other’s books. In the meantime, I found an interesting comment on this sort of logrolling on the site for literary agent Nathan Bransford.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted wrote a lively guest post for Bransford about dust-jacket blurbs that dealt in part with the question: Whom should you ask for these? She advised against putting an all-points-bulletin on your Web site* seeking people who might like to compare you to Lord Byron or Joan Didion, then added:

“I’ve also seen novices offer publicly, ‘Hey, if anyone wants to blurb my book, I’ll blurb theirs!’ Again, please don’t do this. It’s unprofessional in so many ways. For starters, there’s already an unpleasant impression in some circles that blurbing is a corrupt process involving log-rolling and political back-scratching and every other awful name you can think up for it. Don’t help perpetuate that negative perception. Further, let’s say Ian McEwan or Nora Roberts – or why not both? – are the sort of authors you’re going after. No offense, but do you really think it’s going to influence their decision, the promise that you’ll gladly blurb them in return?”

If you’re wondering why it’s unprofessional, the simplest answer is: It’s a conflict of interest — or the appearance of one — and as such could damage your credibility and that of the other party to the horse-trading.

*I agree with this only under some circumstances, but Baratz-Logsted made a good case for her view.

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

January 19, 2008

Are You Undercommunicating the Vision of Your Blog ‘by a Factor of Ten’?

Filed under: How to,Nonfiction — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:17 pm
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Explaining your goals more often or clearly may help you build your site

 

By Janice Harayda

Not long ago, I wrote about a paperback on how organizations change, which I recommended as a holiday gift for managers. But the more I’ve thought about the book, the more it’s seemed that the Harvard Business Review on Change (HBSP, $19.95) www.hbsp.harvard.edu makes a point that could also help bloggers who want to build their sites by attracting more visitors, gaining more links, or generally becoming more competitive. The point appears in an article by John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School and an expert on corporate turnarounds. Kotter lists eight reasons why organizations fail to make changes that would help them stay competitive, including “Not Establishing a Great Enough Sense of Urgency” (Error #1) and “Declaring Victory Too Soon” (Error #7).

But the point that caught my eye was “Undercommunicating the Vision by a Factor of Ten” (Error #4). Kotter argues that the leaders in any field don’t spell out their vision once or twice and hope that people will buy into it (or worse, fail to articulate a vision at all and hope people will figure it out.). Leaders “incorporate messages into their hour-by-hour activities.”

Kotter’s advice might sound comically absurd to many bloggers. How can you weave your vision into your “hour-by-hour” activities if you post once or twice a day, as I do, or less? And yet, Kotter has a point. Most bloggers seem to convey their vision pretty much the way I did when I created One-Minute Book Reviews http://www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com: I described my aims on my “FAQ” and “About” pages and hoped that visitors would click on the links to them.

But these pages got much less traffic than others on my site, far less than 10 percent of the most popular posts. Based on that figure, Kotter was right: If I wanted people to understand my vision, I was undercommunicating it by a factor of 10. Worse, I can’t compensate for this adding information to the header on my blog, because I can’t customize the template.

So after reading the Kotter’s article, I made a few changes with the aim of conveying my vision better. These three seemed especially helpful and might work for you, too (though if could customize my header, that might be best of all):

1) Add a regular tag line to the bottom of posts, explaining what your site is “about.” Mine consists of just one sentence, “One-Minute Book Reviews is for people who like to read but dislike hype and review inflation.”

2) Update your FAQ and post the changes both on the FAQ page and as a regular post, so visitors to your site will see the questions without having to click.

3) Keep visitors up-to-date on changes in your mission. If your thinking about your vision has evolved since you put up your FAQ or “About” pages, explain the changes in a regular post.

Have you taken any steps to communicate the vision of your blog that you think would help other bloggers? If so, why not share your views by leaving a comment?

Janice Harayda recently was named one of 25 “Women Bloggers to Watch in 2008″ by the site Virtual Woman’s Day virtualwomansday.blogspot.com/2008/01/women-bloggers-to-watch-in-2008.html. One-Minute Book Reviews is the sixth-ranked book-review site in the world on the Google Directory of top book-review blogs www.google.com/Top/Arts/Literature/Reviews_and_Criticism/.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

The Rubric Theme Blog at WordPress.com.

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