Writing and Publishing

What Movies Teach Us About Book Publishing

I read a lot of book reviews and even more movie reviews. Setting aside the critiques that are not really reviews—attacks on persons or perspective—the resulting (real) reviews are insightful for the book or movie in question but also in better understanding their respective industries.

I’ve noticed a difference between movie reviews and book reviews. In movie reviews, it’s common for reviewers to address issues such as quality and budget. Phrases like “big budget” and “b-movie” or “hastily produced” and “carefully crafted” come to mind. Even saying “star-studded,” “foreign film,” or “cult classic” carry implications about quality and budget.

Sometimes, the marketing of the movie makes its way into a review. Some movies have flopped, not because the movie was bad but because of its marketing. Movie reviewers note these things.

Book Reviews

I don’t often see these concepts repeated in book reviews. Yet with the ease and growth of self-publishing and the streamlining (think cost-cutting measures) of traditional publishing, issues of quality and budget loom as greater considerations for reviewers and consumers alike.

These considerations will inevitably make their way into book reviews, with reviewers commenting on more than the words, but also the editing, the layout, the printing, the marketing, and a host of other ancillary issues.

When I review a movie that has production issues, I feel an obligation to point that out, lest readers are disappointed and feel I led them astray. I’m now realizing I have this same obligation with book reviews. No longer can I only focus on the words, but I must also consider the total package.

The changing book publishing industry has put us in this situation. We can choose to lament it or acknowledge it. Regardless, we must be aware of it.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: Successful Author FAQs: Discover the Art of Writing, the Business of Publishing, and the Joy of Wielding Words. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book Successful Author FAQs for insider tips and insights.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.