State of the Blog on Thanksgiving (and Beta Reading)

I started this blog nearly two years ago. There were a few things I expected might happen with time. I figured publishers might start sending me books. I figured people might start reading me if I made any sense. And I even figured I might gain some measure of internet celebrity (I can’t be right all the time, can I?). Even still, it’s been a pretty successful endeavor.

Last night, I received a copy of Francis Knight’s forthcoming debut, Fade to Black. It really solidified how fun this can be. Wrapped in black glossy bubble wrap and then inscribed tissue paper, Orbit Books announced Knight’s novel with panache. It screams, ‘this is going to be a huge book in 2013, don’t miss it.’


I retain the right to tell Orbit they’re full of shit if it isn’t any good, but I’ll be damned if I’m not eagerly anticipating cracking it open after I finish the short stack next to my bed (for the curious, The Red Knight by Miles Cameron, Tomorrow the Killing by Daniel Polansky, The Bones of the Old Ones by Howard Andrew Jones). Every time a book shows up it’s a mini-Christmas, reminding me what a privilege and blast it is to write this blog.

None of it works if people don’t continue reading me. In spite of several black marks, including a massive restructuring of the site and a woeful rate of posting since August of this year, my readership has never been better. 500 readers? Are you kidding me? I never imagined I’d get there. Let’s cut to the chase though, when will I get to 1,000? Help me out here. I can’t let Aidan Moher’s cover posts trump the kind of quality content I produce!

Staffer’s Book Review remains a work in progress and I can’t thank everyone enough for their patience. 2012 was an election year and my day job is politics. Do the math. Thankfully, things are settling, although I probably won’t be ‘back to normal’ until after the New Year.

While having people read me has been rewarding, the most unexpected pleasure came when I got an e-mail from an author I’d reviewed asking me to read a work in progress. When it rains and it pours, and over the last six months I’ve been asked to read no fewer than six manuscripts from six different authors, a few of which I’ve read multiple times through different drafts. Who knew I had any idea what I was talking about? (This is not, by the way, an admission of any competence on my part.)

Recognizing my involvement in the process precludes me from reviewing these books, it’s been a great experience. I’ve gleaned some of the different creative processes that authors use. I’ve seen how fiction evolves. I’m sure that if I ever buckle down and write something of my own it’ll all be wonderfully valuable. In the meantime, it’s just fun.

I write this not to pat my own back — although come on, it is pretty cool — and more as an appreciation for this blog, and the community that surrounds it. It’s a few days after Thanksgiving, and I wish I’d had the time to write this before the holiday. I’m thankful for this blog. Even more, I’m thankful that people have taken the time to read what I’m writing. Staffer’s Book Review has become a significant part of my life. It’s an outlet for a lot of things, but not the least of which is having a discussion with like minded people about the things I love.

So, thanks. Again.

Justin Landon

Justin Landon is the Overlord of Staffer's Book Review. When he's not writing things of dubious value to the world, he's at the gym or being a dad. You can follow him on a multitude of social media, which is strongly suggested lest you miss out on vital information that could someday save your life.

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  • Stefan (Civilian-Reader) November 27, 2012 at 11:43 am

    ARGH!! Jealous!!! (re: Fade to Black)
    That is all.

  • Rob B November 27, 2012 at 11:52 am

    That is pretty cool, being a beta-reader. When will you spill the beans bout whose books these are?

    At two years, you can’t be considered a NKOTB any more. Yes I went there, now suck it Donnie Wahlberg, because your brother is a better actor than you’ll ever be!

    Seriously, kudos and I hope you getting the Francis Knight means a copy will arrive for me this week b/c for some reason you tend to get books a day earlier than I do even though I live closer to the printers in PA and the publishers in NYC.

    • Justin Landon November 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      I presume I’ll mention it when they actually see the light of day. Just because I can’t review them doesn’t mean I can’t flog them.

  • Aidan from A Dribble of Ink November 27, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Cheers, Justin. You clearly have fun running this place, and that in turn makes it enjoyable to read.

  • Rob B November 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Canadians are the most tolerant and nicest people in the world. FACT

  • Larry November 27, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I think that was 2.5 on the Pat Scale ;) Sorry, couldn’t resist! :P

    It’ll be interesting to see how you feel in another 2-3 years, as it seems to me, looking back, that quite a few blogs being to transform (or fade into oblivion) around the 2-3 year mark. Hopefully you’ll continue to have some fun while doing this.

    But it wouldn’t hurt if you had a semi-official blog mascot. I hear squirrels are all the rage in some quarters…

  • Rob B November 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    “But it wouldn’t hurt if you had a semi-official blog mascot. I hear squirrels are all the rage in some quarters…”

    Yes, it does seem that neither Cheryl or Fizbane have made the full transition since the overhaul. /sad

  • Mark Lawrence November 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Congrats. This remains my favorite blog. I like the independence, patent lack of pre-judging, and that your opinions clearly aren’t the product of clique or peer group. More power to your keyboard!

  • Karolyn November 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Keep it up honey.

  • Markus Kessunmaa November 27, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Congrats from frozen north (northern Finland). Been reading your excellent blog almost from it’s birth. I bet that your get over 2000 readers by time Winds of Winter arrives :)

  • JohnAnealio November 27, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Congrats dude. I think you’ve got one of the best review blogs out there. Your productivity never ceases to amaze me.

  • Myke Cole November 27, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    You’re a hell of a guy, Justin. I’ll be hitting you up for a beta-read soon. Also? Move the Polansky book to the top of your list. It’s amazing.

    • Bryce December 1, 2012 at 11:04 pm

      Yep, the Polansky book should be at the top. Great stuff.

  • Jordan November 27, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    I’ve enjoyed reading your posts very much, and thanks for turning me on to Parker! Congrats.

  • Ken November 28, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Great work Justin, congrats. I’ve seen Francis over at Fantasy Faction for a while now and his novel is one of my to-reads for 2013.

  • Nathan November 28, 2012 at 7:32 am

    I started reading you early on, and it was your grown that led me to first experiment with reviews on Goodreads, and when I finally was comfortable with my writing start my own blog. I have enjoyed your reviews, and hope to keep reading you for years to come.

    • Justin Landon November 28, 2012 at 8:13 am

      LOL, we both know you mean — if that guy can write these things, how hard can it be? ;)

      • Nathan November 28, 2012 at 10:43 pm

        Of course! But more importantly that people were still willing to listen to a new voice in this crowded group, if they showed originality and intelligence.

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