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Ramey On Reviewing 2 by Mike Ramey
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Being a Reviewer does have its ups and downs. You have the opportunity to write about what you see, hear, or digest. You have the skill to impact society and the written, spoken, or culinary arts. A Reviewer is an influencer; one who spots trends on the horizon, or, has the opportunity to revisit some history that may be helpful in the future. You have the opportunity to review things you don’t like…and things you like.
Sometimes your reviews can lead the public to some extraordinary people.
INVEST IN YOURSELF--FOR PAY OR FOR FREE:
In my opinion, anyone who writes as part of their livelihood is a professional writer. They deserve to be compensated for what they do. When it comes to reviewing, the Reviewer DESERVES to be compensated for their services and efforts. Thus they should get a FREE review copy of any book, video or CD. IF the Reviewer is involved in covering the food, concert, or movie beat, they should be ‘comped’--meaning they get in for free, are able to eat for free, or get backstage passes.
Now, having said that, let me add this. IF you are just starting out as a Reviewer, get used to the fact that you MAY have to reach into your own pocket to build your credibility. Those who are new to the reviewing game are part-timers and are going to have to invest in themselves for a season, and pay their dues. Such are the realities of life.
Not getting any product from publishers? Buy a few current books at the half-price store, or library book sale, review them, and send the reviews in to the publicity department of your favorite publishers. Post them in brief on line. Soon, you’ll be contacted from a publicity rep, who--IF they like your style--may put you on their list for new product that ‘fits’ your reviewing standards. It’s always nice to prime your own pump. You’ll never know when a gusher will spring forth from publishing companies after you have made the effort to invest in yourself.
IN THE CLASSROOM: WHAT DO I WANT TO REVIEW?
In this month’s session, we’re going to get you to focus on what type of reviewer you’d like to become, and what subject/performance areas that may be available for you to examine.
If one wants to become a Food Critic, a Movie Reviewer, or one who handles the music scene, this will take more in the way of patience and stamina. Patience, in that you are investing more time (and possibly money) to go and see something performed, take notes, and retire to your home after the performance in order to turn out a review of a production or event. Stamina, in that you have to have a fast turn around time on your reviews. Thus, one (in the beginning) must balance their patience and stamina as to what they desire to review, with what they want to review. Let me also add the M word: Memory in remembering what you have written on other items in your career path, and trying to remain not only fresh in upcoming reviews--but historical in your prose for a new artist, performance or writer.
Yes, there are ‘stock’ words and phrases that all writers have--and will--use in describing events for the public. However, one should take the time to expand their knowledge and vocabulary in order NOT to appear stale. The public--and those being reviewed--have long memories of ‘hack’ phrases and descriptions. By all means, do NOT sink into the habit of being boring or obvious IF you can help it.
HOW I GOT MY START--CONTINUED:
When I left the reporter ‘rat race’, and became a Syndicated Columnist (and forming my own syndication group), I used my past experiences writing reviews to open my own reviewing service. I already had the clips and the background to do the job. What took a little while was getting product from publishing and music houses for review. What took a little bit longer was lining up places where I could get my reviews published.
God opened a great door for me, in the form of the Internet.
The ‘funky electronic frontier’ as I called (and still do) it was just getting off the ground. Plenty of new electronic publications were looking for writers and content. Those who had experience, and could provide content on a regular basis were most often encouraged to email their product for publication.
In those early days, I had to ‘learn’ my way around the various electronic publishers. I had to determine which ones were worth approaching, which ones had the same publishing philosophy, and which ones were open to allowing me to review material from a Christian perspective. After a few stumbles, I managed to be led to a few great on-line publications of which I am still associated. From this ‘core’ of publications, I have been blessed to have my work--including my reviews--appear, around the world.
I’ve also helped a few Reviewers to get started…thus, the reason for this series.
When you are first starting out, remember that you are representing yourself. Be professional, be punctual and be able to meet deadlines. You’ll be amazed at how much reviewing work you will have to turn away from your hands, and place in the hands of up-and-coming Reviewers whom YOU have trained and mentored! More to come!
Mike Ramey is a Minister, Book Reviewer, P-School Ranger, Modern Street Gangs Specialist and Syndicated Columnist who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. “Ramey On Reviewing” is one of a variety of columns that Ramey has in cyberspace. To drop him a line…or a whine…the address is still the same:
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