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Thinking of a Change

So, I spent last night toying with another “Dear Mom” review and I thought it might be fun if some of our reviews were addressed to people other than the author. I.e., I might write the next Tara Janzen review to Holly because we were both disappointed at the last Janzen. Or I might write some of the more negative reviews to my fictional “Aunt Sarah”.

What do you ladies think? Does it take away from the current schtick? Could we still call the blog Dear Author?

Opinions wanted.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Holly
    Oct 10, 2007 @ 11:50:06

    I like the idea, personally. I don’t think you could keep the name Dear Author if you addressed all your letters to other people, but to throw the occasional one out there would be good. I’ve often started a review with a particular person in mind who I know will read and relate. Why not make it more personal here?

  2. Meljean
    Oct 10, 2007 @ 12:20:10

    I don’t see why you couldn’t keep the name Dear Author, especially as this sounds like it wouldn’t be a complete change of format, but rather a now-and-then thing.

    And after reading your last “Dear Mom” review in the comments, I’m all for seeing more of those, because it was fresh and funny — but I also imagine they’d be a lot more work, because you’re not just coming at it from your own perspective, but throwing in a fictional perspective as well … yet still trying to explain what exactly worked and did not in a book.

    So I guess I’m saying, Yay! for fun review formats, and Keep The Name.

  3. Phyl
    Oct 10, 2007 @ 12:44:58

    Maybe once in awhile one of us should write a “Dear Ja(y)ne” letter and you could publish one or two a month.

  4. TeddyPig
    Oct 10, 2007 @ 13:03:21

    I want to see a “Dear John” letter myself.

  5. Laura Vivanco
    Oct 10, 2007 @ 13:09:17

    The “Dear Mom” letter was a funny idea, but I’m not sure how well it would work as a serious review format. Also, if the blog reader doesn’t know the intended recipient of the letter (e.g. “Holly because we were both disappointed at the last Janzen”) then it might make them feel a bit excluded from a tight-knit group which has its own in-jokes and/or pre-existing history. The “Dear Author” format doesn’t imply that close link between the reviewer and the recipient of the review.

  6. Jane
    Oct 10, 2007 @ 13:36:43

    Phyl – I love that idea. I could even set up a page for people to “submit” those letters straight from the blog instead of having to email it. Would it be just limited to a review or an opinion piece?

    Laura – I hear what you are saying. Do you think a fictional addressee like the “mom” or the “aunt sarah” would have the same exclusionary effect?

  7. Laura Vivanco
    Oct 10, 2007 @ 13:59:19

    Do you think a fictional addressee like the “mom” or the “aunt sarah” would have the same exclusionary effect?

    No, I think it wouldn’t have an exclusionary effect. But the trouble with it is that you have to create a persona for the imaginary “mom” or “aunt”, otherwise there’s not a lot of point in making the change. And if you don’t create a persona for the recipient, people will tend to imagine one anyway, and that might well be affected by what they think when they see the words “mom” and “aunt sarah”. One person might have a very hippy mom who went on protest marches, smoked pot and talked all the time about free love, whereas another person might have a devout mother who tried to preserve her daughter from losing her virginity and tried to convince her that babies grow under gooseberry bushes. The type of “mom” you think of, and the type of “mom” the readers thinks of, will shape the letter and the readers’ responses to it.

    Anyway, I think it might end up distracting attention away from the review and towards the humour and/or the persona of the recipient. And then, if it’s a “mom” or an “Aunt Sarah”, would you post their replies? I don’t expect the Dear Authors to answer you, or if they do, they can do it in the comments, but if you have fictional recipients, maybe you’d do fictional responses for them. It could be funny, and a sort of duelling review if the “mom” or “aunt” had read the book.

    Maybe I’m over-thinking this, but it just seems to me that yes, it could be funny, and yes, it might be a good format from time to time, for particular books (just as you sometimes do the videos), but it wouldn’t work so well on a regular basis for serious reviews.

  8. Phyl
    Oct 10, 2007 @ 13:59:54

    When I originally wrote my comment I was thinking of reviews. But it did occur to me later that from time to time someone might have an opinion piece worth posting. Ultimately it’s your choice since it’s your blog!

  9. vanessa jaye
    Oct 10, 2007 @ 14:59:51

    I was more agreeing with Meljean (that Dear Mom comment was really, really funny), but I find myself leaning a bit more towards agreeing with various points Laura has made.

    Dear Specific Person could come across as exclusionary, while Dear Mom might work fine for a ‘good’ review (in this case I think we’d all be picturing a stereotypical mom, or if not, the little tidbits you dropped in the letter would flesh out the mom in question. Worked for ‘Maris’ and ‘Charlie’ all those years… *g*).

    On the other hand, a ‘bad review’ letter to mom *might* run the risk of coming off as too snarky/mean, the humour becoming more important than the meat of the review itself, and the review essentially being viewed more for the bon mots and not for relevant info on the book.

    Tough call. I think the format would work best for those guilty pleasure books, the ones that are sooo bad, yet you love, love, love them!

  10. Jane
    Oct 10, 2007 @ 15:19:38

    On the other hand, a ‘bad review' letter to mom *might* run the risk of coming off as too snarky/mean, the humour becoming more important than the meat of the review itself, and the review essentially being viewed more for the bon mots and not for relevant info on the book.

    Yes, I hear what you are saying but I know that we are going to be writing reviews from time to time that might be considered mean for the mere fact that if I read a book and think it is bad, it’s really hard to write a serious review. Robin did a pretty good job of it in her most recent review that I just posted, but I don’t know that I could have done that.

    Writing a negative review addressed to the author (writing any review to the author) is actually quite difficult because you don’t want it to get too personal. When the review is negative, there is always the possibility that the comments can be taken too personally thus, when I was writing the “dear mom” review, writing it to someone other than the other, I felt more freedom.

    I try never to take into the author’s feelings when writing a review because the reviews aren’t written for authors (despite the schtick here) and because taking into an author’s feelings can really impact a person’s honesty. I really struggled with the Eve Silver review because I met Eve and she’s just a great great person.

  11. Karen Scott
    Oct 10, 2007 @ 17:12:53

    Works for me.

  12. Miki
    Oct 10, 2007 @ 18:59:56

    When did you do a “Dear Mom”?


    In a way, I guess you could say if I didn’t see, it’s possible some/many others wouldn’t even notice it either.

    Or, it’s possible it was for a book genre I don’t read, so I skipped that one. Certainly possible. I’d like to read it, though, and see what I thought of the different styles.

  13. Laura Vivanco
    Oct 10, 2007 @ 19:04:30

    Miki, the initial “Dear Mom” letter was here and then Jane wrote another one in the comments section attached to that post.

  14. Robin
    Oct 10, 2007 @ 21:48:19

    I want to see a “Dear John” letter myself.

    Dear John,
    I can't believe I'm writing this, but we need to break up. I thought I'd love your latest erotic Viking were-puppy shifter time travel fantasy, especially after being seduced by that Medieval vampiric former priest and his free-flowing holy water. But no. It wasn't the secret were-puppy litter. And I was even willing to overlook the fact that Brutus was only normally endowed (where's my ten inches, dammit!). What finally pushed me over the edge was the heroine, Florrid. I can't believe you made her a real prostitute! What's next, a feminist?!

    Uh oh. I think I’ve had too much codeine cough syrup.

  15. che
    Oct 10, 2007 @ 22:51:55

    Personally, I was considering doing a Dear (heroine’s name) because I have a rant against the current twit I just finished reading.

  16. Chantal
    Oct 10, 2007 @ 23:14:37

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
    ‘Dear author’ isn’t broken :-)

  17. K. Z. Snow
    Oct 11, 2007 @ 00:47:48

    All book reviews, whether addressed to somebody in particular or to nobody, are essentially addressed to authors. The premise will remain the same…so do what you want with the format. Far as I’m concerned, you both provide some of the most thoughtful evaluations available on the Internet. Start out with “Dear Masters of the Universe” if you want to; I’ll still read what you write!

  18. DS
    Oct 12, 2007 @ 13:39:33

    [i]Robin wrote

    Uh oh. I think I've had too much codeine cough syrup.[/i]

    You made me choke.

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