Lee Davy continues his confessions series with a look at the value a writer gleans from reviewing other people’s books.
Never look a gift horse in the mouth?
It’s funny. I have all of these sayings in my head and I haven’t a clue where they all came from. I assume this one came from my parents, and it was a spell that was cast upon me to make sure that I was never unappreciative of my gifts.
When I was 8-years old I wrote a letter to Father Christmas asking for a Commodore 64. Of course I didn’t really believe it was Santa Claus who put the presents underneath the tree because I found them in my parents wardrobe whilst searching for my fathers not so secret porn stash.
It was a pretty traumatic experience when I found a Commodore 16+4. It was the equivalent of asking for a Ferrari and getting a clapped out three-wheeler, but I couldn’t say anything because I shouldn’t have even seen it in the first place.
So when Christmas morning came, I held back the tears, opened up the three-wheeler, smiled and focused on all of the wonderful aspects of this piece of electronic wizardry that would get my head caved in should anybody know I owned one.
This is where I learned the art of finding a gem in a heap of shit, and it helped me when I first started reviewing books.
The first book I was asked to review was Devilfish – The Life and Times of a Poker Legend by Dave Ulliot. I got a free book and so I knew I had to give the book a good review. I like to shoot from the hip. I prefer authenticity to deceit, and so I was grateful when the book turned out to be a cracking read.
This was an important chapter in my writing career. I got a free book, and at the rate I was spending my money on poker books that was a nice touch. I quickly realized that I would never have to buy another poker book again.
I kept my ear to the ground and when I heard rumblings of a print press I contacted the author and made my pitch to review their heart and their soul. People will do anything to market their book and there are always free copies factored into the budget.
But it’s a lot more than just a free book…
Get the review right and you have a friend for life. You are no longer receiving a free book, but you are on the list for their entire library. The trick is to write the review in a different way than anyone else. This is fairly simple. Just read reviews of books on Amazon and then don’t write anything like that.
You want to make the review personal. Make the author believe that you have really tapped into their essence. Make them believe you were with them when they wrote it. Make them believe that you know their little baby better than them.
By the time you have finished massaging their ego with the faint strokes of your pen they will be gushing.
So you get a free book, they get their ego stroked, and you can sell the review to a poker organization interested enough to slap it onto their copy.
Boom! Boom! as Basil Brush used to say.
But now you have reached into their heart and tickled it with your pen, you can also interview them. Now you have three sources of cash injection from the one book – the free book, the review and the interview.
And there’s more…
If you turn your review into a work of art then the author may be willing to cross your palm with something other than cold hard cash. You would have developed a certain level of trust by now. They are putty in your hands. Now is the time to ask them to take you under their wing.
The easiest way to get to where you want to go is to ask someone who has been there before to tell you how to get there.
Use them as your mentors.
You get a free book, you get paid for writing a book review, you get paid for writing an interview and now you save costs by approaching them to mentor you. I have done this successfully on numerous occasions, and the cycle keeps spinning as you can then write about your free of charge lessons and charge poker organizations to print those lessons in their publications.
You might even win a few quid at the tables with all of the knowledge you have just acquired.
All courtesy of that one free book.