Recently another writer told me about the review site www.page99test.com. Idea: you upload page 99 of your book (published or unpublished) and readers rate it, leaving helpful/unhelpful comments if they feel so inclined.
I was addicted within seconds. Reading only one page of a book is so easy – time-wise – and the standard of writing is very good indeed. You don’t find out the title or author until you’ve completed your rating, or whether the book is published or unpublished. It’s fun – have a go.
OK, so what’s the rant about this time? Reviewers! What is wrong with these people? I’d been on this site for about 5 seconds and I ‘got it’ totally. It’s page 99, right? A random page, just plucked out of the middle-ish to give an overall flavour and a RANDOM excerpt of the author’s writing style. So you don’t review it as if it’s page 1, you don’t review it assuming it should tell you all you need to know about whichever character is present at the time, and you don’t review it as though the entire book is also like this one page!
Within minutes of reading other reviewers’ comments on the piece I had just read (really, really good, by the way), I was absolutely furious. Comments like ‘All talk, no action’. Hey, it’s one page! If you turn over the page in the real, actual book, there might be some action. Who knows? Buy the book…
And pompous stuff: ‘A thesaurus does not a writer make.’ So the author included some ‘big words’ in that one particular page. Why is that a bad thing? Don’t choose ‘literary novels’ as a favourite genre if you can’t cope with words longer than one syllable.
OK, taking a deep breath now. I only have one more rant before I leave you to visit Page 99 and make up your own minds: To quote my favourite songwriter, Morrissey: ‘America is not the world.’ Many of the more scathing criticisms I read were caused by simple British/American/Elsewhere differences. One reviewer went mental over the use of single quotation marks. Doesn’t she know that in some quarters this is actually the norm? Another railed against the use of the word ‘gaol’. Well, hello! If a site for writers invites international users, make allowances for different preferences and spellings, OK? (I read not one single British complaint about the spelling of ‘color’ or the use of ‘alternately’ to mean ‘alternatively’. )
Anyway, I am going to take my friend’s advice and put page 99 of Can’t Live Without up for review. And then I’m going to take a great big Chill Pill…