I'm wowed by recent reviews for Playing Through the Pain -- but getting your book reviewed is a scary process.
Book reviews are subjective and reflect the lenses and biases of the reviewer.
I keep reminding myself of that reality as people review my new book Playing Through the Pain: Ken Caminiti and the Steroids Confession That Changed Baseball Forever.
It's not for everybody. Maybe the next person won't like it.
While it's currently carrying a 4.7/5 rating on Amazon (thanks Mom!) I've been bracing for how readers will receive the book.
My reticence is due, in part, to an unpublished review for a book I co-wrote last year.
You see, some of these book review sites have paid reviews -- if you want your book reviewed, you can pay a fee, maybe $300-600, and then the site will review your book. It's a popular option for self-published and indie book authors looking for exposure.
So this book I co-wrote, a book I was proud of, was reviewed. And then I got the draft of the review.
"…Nothing new to offer readers..."
"Later parts of the book feel like filler to extend the account to something approaching an appropriate length for a book..."
"…An earnest but humdrum work."
Humdrum. No one had ever called my writing humdrum before. That one stung.
It still stings.
We sent back a detailed response to the review -- this book was clearly not reviewed through the right lens -- but alas, the review remained unchanged and it was never published.
This, from the same website that called a different book I ghostwrote "a gem."
Needless to say, I've tried not to worry so much about the reviews for Playing Through the Pain. Reviews -- and the general reaction to the book -- are out of the writer's control. Maybe someone will call this book "humdrum," too.
Thankfully, they haven't yet, and I've been wowed by two recent reviews. All Sports Book Reviews' perspectives were humbling to read. I'm going to pull out one paragraph.
The best biographies require a compelling subject and an excellent writer and on both counts this book is a home run. Caminiti is an endlessly fascinating figure, somehow representing both the darkness and the light, the beauty and the tragedy of top level sport. What elevates the book from good to great however is the quality of the writing – clear, evocative, memorable and effortlessly readable. It is unputdownable and as good as a biography as I have read in a long time. A wonderful, heart-breaking, compelling, fantastic book.
Reviewer Bob D'Angelo had a similar reaction on his blog The Sports Bookie, writing, "Playing Through the Pain is an important book, a necessary book. It is at times uplifting and funny, but also sobering and too sad in a complicated way."
I'm appreciative that these reviewers have taken the time and care to properly consider this book -- and thankful that their reviews haven't been humdrum.