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On Book Reviews
Outtakes from a Conversation with Brian Jewell and Tips for Building Your Own Readership by Posting
© 2019 James LaFond
Brian Jewell and I were having lunch the other day and discussing his work. His poetry book sold better than most of my books and his book on Wing Chun has gotten modest sales, much of them in Europe, which is in line with my experience publishing combat self-help books. Europeans are simply more likely to read books on self-defense and hand-to-hand combat for reasons unknown to this knucklehead.
He pointed out that he had purchased On Bitches and was also looking forward to reading some of my fiction. I think we essentially met through training with Arturo Gabriel, who is the savage Porto Rican on the cover of The Logic of Steel, some seven years ago. I asked him to remind me via email to send him the prequal, Your Trojan Whorse on PDF and some of my fiction.
On my way to meet a lady friend for coffee and boots—yes, a swap for caffeine and footwear it was, a homeless man’s windfall—Brian and I spoke on the Obama flip-phone as I dodged traffic in urban style and he declared that he enjoyed On Bitches so much he was reading it in record time and that he would soon post a review, a review on Amazon, which is what everyone wants you to do, review their books on Amazon. Indeed, I have been the first to review some mass market books and have had the publisher contact me begging me to post a review on Amazon, that any review not posted on Amazon would not significantly impact sales…
Fuck that, Bro.
We are fellow writers, truth-scratching travelers navigating blindly but for each-others help through the morass of lies that is Modernity.
My ego starts getting massaged at $20, cash.
I’d rather maintain or strengthen friendship or an alliance than earn another $3.24 for selling another copy of On Bitches.
I don’t want you writing about my work unless that review can stand as your work under your conditions alone.
Once you have been published and you want to keep growing as a writer, you need to make sure that everything you write is for publication, otherwise, you will end up having to grow your sales through traditional means, by writing promotional material about your meaningful work.
Did we get into writing to write advertising?
No, and I’m betting, “fuck no!”
We got into writing to express ourselves.
Besides, any review you post on Amazon is not yours, will disappear whenever that thought-control organism decides it needs to go, or decides that my book does not deserve a platform.
According to these two divergent streams of action, I suggest that an active writer such as yourself should not devote your energy to reviewing my work unless you make an article out of it and publish it on your platform or as a guest elsewhere, not just on a book-buying site. For readers, who do not aspire to publication, thank you for your Amazon reviews. But, for a budding writer, I don’t want you promoting my work when you could be building yours.
Additionally, with 895 book reviews listed in my archive at this site, I estimate that those reviews have accounted for one third of my core readership, being the readers who check in monthly.
In 2012, my webmaster told me that if I make sure that the book title and its author are in the subtitle of my book review, that said review will show up on searches. This isn’t a big deal if you are writing the 13,000th review of Harry Potter. But, if you are one of only two guys that have reviewed Voodoo Fire in Haiti, as I did, then other unique readers, readers seeking among the fringes of the outerstream haunted by such strangers as I, might find a kindred spirit.
For example, my review of an Ann Sterzinger article, prompted her to look into me and write an article called Graphomaniac, on Takimag, featuring reviews of my books Take Me to Your Breeder and Hurt Stoker. According to the comment section, most of the readers hated my guts. However, I can trace between 1,000 and 1,500 readers to that article, and am guessing that about 300 to 500 have stuck with me. Indeed, I have met a number of good friends through that post of hers.
So, as my webmaster advised, “If you post and title reviews of the weird shit you read, than other people who are into reading weird shit will discover you and you can all geek out over your weird shit together.”
So, Brian, if you or any other writers with a website or other platform, wish to keep me apprised of your progress, when you make a post in video or print, send me a link, and once a week when I post collective missives from my email box, I’ll post a heads up there for you.
Brian, I appreciate the support, but do advise you to make it part of your work, finding a way to make it sensible in your exploration of the word-illuminating world.

Thanks for calling me back today. Also, thanks for the tip on how and where to put up a review of your work. I will definitely do that. Probably be up within a week or two. Here are the links:

Jewell’s Gems
New Kwon and Book
Sifu Brian Invites you into his new kwoon and talk about his new book, The Wisdom of Wing Chun.
‘Do You Follow Jack London’s Rule…’
author's notebook
How Crazy is Baltimore?
within leviathan’s craw
the greatest boxer
song of the secret gardener
beasts of aryas
the fighting edge
honor among men
the combat space
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