Started in 1998, MostlyFiction.com is an online review site with about 16 staff reviewers who review an average of 20 books a month. One thing that is of interest to authors is that each review is linked to the author's website and includes the author's complete bibliograpy with links to Amazon. If you'd like to become a reviewer for MostlyFiction.com, please read the submission guidelines. In this interview, founder Judi Clark talks about the challenges of maintaining a review site and also discusses various aspects of reviewing, among other things.
Thanks for being my guest today, Judi. Please tell us about your book review site. How and when did it get started?
MostlyFiction.com was started about ten years ago. I decided to teach myself how to build web pages, so it started as an HTML exercise. I had just sent a friend an extensive list of recently read books each with a paragraph about the book. It seemed like a good thing to stick on a web page. As I made my way through the HTML exercises, I expanded the list into individual author pages (researching the authors and books turned out to be fun) and placed the pages on virtual bookshelves. Amazon.com had recently started the associates program and it seemed like a good fit; family and friends agreed it was convenient. Shortly after I signed up with Amazon.com (and got my letter from Jeff Bezos!) I decided to rename my site to MostlyFiction.com. I also found myself writing better reviews, so much so that I started to attract the attention of publicists, publishers and authors.
I was amazed that I was getting free books just because I decided to pursue this hobby. Of course, it opened up soul-searching questions on whether or not I should accept the books (yes, but no promises) and if I was obligated to review if I did accept them (no). Thus, early on I had to establish answers to these questions. Meanwhile, the site did accomplish my main goal – I landed a new job, though the job itself had nothing to do with building websites. Just the fact that I had the site going proved something, I guess. It also helped to land subsequent jobs, of which web skills came in handy.
I did not bring in other reviewers until 2002. I was nervous because I wanted to keep the site’s voice (i.e. my voice), yet I wanted to cover more books. So I had to find a way to convey what I wanted others to write in a review. I suppose that at heart I am a control freak (no! all those who live and work with me are saying) and it was a bit hard opening up to other styles and thoughts. But I’m glad I tried it because I have made some great friends and have learned so much working with other people and accepting their review suggestions and styles. I’ve been lucky that most of our reviewers are better writers than I am. And for those that are not, I have learned that I have a passion for editing.