Her book, Accordion Dreams: A Journey into Cajun and Creole Music, had recently hit shelves and her first post-publication review appeared not from a print outlet but from blogger Mister Anchovy on The Bookworm Collective. The review started off with the following line: “I know what you're thinking. A book about a woman who falls in love with Cajun music and takes up the accordion must be like soft porn for this anchovy with a squeezebox habit. I'll try to get past that...”
Kilpatrick loved the review and she loved its slightly wacky opening but (as so often happens) doubt began to creep in. Was this normal? What would other people think?
This, to my mind, is the perfect example of how reviews from bloggers can differ from traditional reviews.
When you write for a traditional outlet, you are representing a media brand. Get big enough, and your own personality takes center stage (Ebert versus The Chicago Sun Times, for example) but it can be years until that happens. Blogging, on the other hand, is ALL ABOUT YOU. From the moment you sign up with LiveJournal or Wordpress, you are your own one-man show.
While you want your posts to be accessible to new readers, you are also appealing to people who read your blog on a regular basis. In Mister Anchovy’s review, he felt secure enough that the people who regularly read his posts would be in on the joke. For new readers coming in, that one sentence gives us the perfect context for his background in relation to the book: he loves the squeezebox.
When I write a review for bookish, I write differently than I do when I’m reviewing something on my own blog. The people who read my blog on a regular basis are familiar with the fact that 30% of my thoughts are taken up by dancing cupcakes and that I wanted to be the sixteen-year old bride of George Lucas. It means I can take liberties with reviews that I might not be able to otherwise. I can give a much more personal spin and inject liberal doses of wackiness. Because, frankly, my blog really is all about me.
What do you think? Are the reviews you post on your own blogs different than the ones you post to the community? Do you put more stock in reviews from bloggers than those that appeal in traditional media. How do you think blogging is changing the review?
Blair Kilpatrick’s book Accordion Dreams: A Journey into Cajun and Creole Music was published by the University Press of Mississippi. She was kind enough to let me use her story as the basis for this post. More info on Accordion Dreams can be found here.