Self-promotion 101: Writing Book Reviews


Working as a solo in an organization with such dominant players as lawyers, I’ve come to realize that self-promotion is vital to my position’s continued existence. In academia it’s “publish or perish”. In a private firm, it’s not as necessary to publish completely original thought, but it doesn’t hurt to get some writing behind your name. That’s partly why Brenda and I started blogging. A simpler and less time-consuming way is to write book reviews for publication in your professional association’s journal.

A couple of times a year, a representative of CALL receives a list of books that the legal publishers would like reviewed. The list is sent out, and members have seconds (well, it feels like seconds) to respond with the ones they’d like. I choose books that I’d like to have in my firm’s library. Another colleague chooses books he’d like to read. For putting in the time and effort writing the review, you get the book for free.

I’ve written a number of reviews already, and I’m currently slogging through another one. This time, I think I bit off more than I can chew! The topic is not an easy one to understand, so in order for my review to be useful, I have to draw on some other techniques. For instance, since I can’t speak intelligently about the actual topic, I’ll concentrate on my areas of expertise, like the finding tools (table of contents and index), format, layout, how I’d use the book, etc. These reviews are used by my colleagues to guide them in making purchasing decisions, so it’s important to be fair to the author, the publisher and the customer. As well, it’s got my name behind it – I don’t want to look like an idiot to my colleagues!

I think it’ll be a while before I take on the book review challenge again. I’ve spent way too much time trying to muddle through this one. Maybe I’ll become like my colleague, and just pick books that interest me.

~ Karen

One Response to “Self-promotion 101: Writing Book Reviews”

  1. Good idea. Writing book reviews is a great way of demonstrating to potential clients that you know what you’re talking about, and can put a sound argument in writing.

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