Updated August 31, 2011Doc Sheldon
Upon finally laying their blue pencil to rest, authors are typically left with one of two feelings:
- This is great stuff;
- I’m not happy with it, but I’m just going to make it worse if I keep mucking with it.
Whichever cloud our head is in when we finally bundle up the final product, once we hear that a respected reviewer is about to make known their impressions of our work, the clouds often take on a menacing shade of gray. We begin to imagine all sorts of devastating scenarios, wherein we’re raked over the coals and our work of love is shredded before a crowd of bloodthirsty “I-wouldn’t-have-it-as-a-gift-after-reading-this” onlookers.
Sometimes, our worst nightmares are realized, and the reviewer bluntly suggests that McDonald’s® is hiring. One rejection letter I got for my first writing effort, many years ago, included two $1 bills to cover my postage, so it wouldn’t “be a total loss”. A memory that sticks with you, let me tell you.
Occasionally, we may be reviewed by someone that’s ill-suited to the job, and just doesn’t have the heart to be brutally honest. They politely point out the positive aspects, totally skirting the (often blatantly obvious) shortcomings of the work, and we’re left with a feeling of relief that quickly fades to ambivalence. Such reviewers, however, rarely last. Nor does the sense of relief.
If we’re fortunate, we get reviewed by someone that is capable, honest and objective. They point out both the negative and positive features, give potential readers some insightful interpretations and neither coddle the author nor skewer him. In short, they do precisely what a good reviewer is expected to do.
I feel very fortunate. Nichola captured my intentions very well, justly (perhaps too subtly) pointed out that the contributors to Critical Thinking were the real meat & potatoes of the book, and made some very constructive (and valid) suggestions for improvements. All in all, I think Critical Thinking got positive and fair treatment, and I appreciate Nichola’s efforts and SEW’s space for the review.
On a slightly different topic, the immediate jump in sales, after Nichola’s review hit, highlighted a bug in my OpenCart system, that readily accepted people’s PayPal payments, but wasn’t quite as efficient about getting them their download links. One of them has been taken care off, and I am frantically trying to contact the rest, to put things right. If any of you reading this fall into that group, please contact me at email@example.com.
If you missed the early link, you can see Nichola’s review of Critical Thinking on Search Engine Watch.