Hello there my lovelies! This week we're hosting guest blogger Valerie Taylor! I know I've been out a couple weeks, but thank heavens for Valerie who is about to give a really insightful look on ageism in the world, and in publishing in particular. Plus how reviews matter—with an interesting comparison on how new Barbie movie resonated deeply with her, like it did with most women, despite its luke warm reviews in some arenas.
Born in Stamford, CT, Valerie Taylor is the author of the award-winning romantic comedy trilogy: What’s Not Said, What’s Not True, and What’s Not Lost. Today, she lives in Shelton, CT. Besides writing, she’s a published book reviewer for BookTrib.com. She enjoys practicing tai chi and being an expert sports spectator. Look for her new cozy mystery series launching in 2024.
You can find her on social media:
And her books are available on Amazon:
What's Not Said: https://amzn.to/354izun
What's Not True: https://amzn.to/3sDrGNj
What's Not Lost: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BMTP6LL1
Thanks for reading my lovelies! I hope you enjoy Valerie’s story and I'll be back next week!
-Rose Rayne Rivers
Author: Valerie Taylor
Title: Valerie’s Two Cents about Barbie and Book Reviews
Chances are if your bookshelves are filled with indie authors, like me, you may be surprised to discover that many of us have circled the sun more than fifty times. So what? Who cares how old an author is?
The publishing industry, for one, cares.
Typically, the large, traditional publishers want to invest in an author that has staying power, not a one-hit wonder. In other words, an author who is young enough with a long runway in their future and with the desire and talent to create multiple books.
I get it. That makes sense. Multiple books equate to a higher return on investment, which all businesses strive for. They’re not in it for giggles.
But what about the rest of us who, for one reason or another (oftentimes family and career related commitments), chose towait until later in our lives to finally fulfill our book publishing dreams? Should readers push aside our stories, our literary contributions, because of our age?
Ageism, unfortunately, is alive not just in publishing but across many industries. As an example, you may be familiar with the Don Lemon incident. Apparently, he’d had a history of making discriminatory remarks that were causing CNN angst. The straw that broke the network’s back occurred early in 2023, when Lemon (a co-host of one of CNN’s morning shows) was fired because on the air he said, “a woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.” (reference: The Week, March 3, 2023) Though he later apologized, CNN has not yet re-hired him. Maybe that’s a good thing. But trust me, Mr. Lemon, will land somewhere, and we’ll be hearing from him again soon.
But I’m not the only one talking about this issue. After I started crafting this blog, I decided to research my premise about ageism in publishing (talk about putting the cart before the horse!). I shouldn’t have been surprised, though coincidentally, to uncover an article written by Brooke Warner, publisher of She Writes Press (full disclosure: publisher of my first two award-winning novels).
Apparently we agree about ageism in publishing. Ms. Warner writes in her Substack (Age, Aging, and Ageism in Book Publishing, Sep 10, 2023), “older writers trying to start their writing careers in their fifties or later enter the game at a severe disadvantage.” She goes on to explain, “… these are writers who’ve had full lives and careers that have not been centered on writing or authoring books. They don’t have already-existing, thriving author platforms. Building an author platform takes . . . forever.”
Forever is a daunting word. As a word nerd, I googled synonyms for it: constantly, perpetually, incessantly. In other words: never-ending.
So, not only do we mature writers struggle with getting published to begin with, but we also encounter the challenge of time, which clearly is not on our side, especially when defined by traditional publishers.
Therein lies the dilemma. Given the uphill battle mature writers face, what can be done to help them (us/me) succeed along their(your/my) journey?
That’s where we readers (like you and me) come in.
Yes, I’m talking about reviews. Reader reviews are the lifeblood of authors, no matter if they’ve just published their debut or are releasing their tenth book. Speaking from experience, we authors are always thinking about reviews even though we are cautioned not to obsess about them or even read them, for that matter. A difficult pill to swallow.
And because I don’t always take advice thrown my way, I was compelled this past summer to check out the reviews of the Barbie movie before I went to see it in a theatre, of all places,for the first time since the pandemic started in early 2020.
What a phenomenon, huh?! So far, Barbie has earned more than $1.4 billion (with a ‘b’) and counting. That’s just ticket sales. That doesn’t count the sales of all of the new by-products the movie created or those that already existed. Some moviegoers were surprised Mattel, the manufacturer of the Barbie doll, agreed to the negative positioning of the company in the movie. Guess what? Bad press can also be good press, especially if it makes people talk. With the release of Barbie, sales of all things Barbie (as well as all things pink) went through the roof.
As a mother of a daughter who coveted and kept her Barbie dolls, and a grandmother of a ten year old who not only inherited all of her mother’s dolls (as well as the trimmings), but also probably doubled her collection, I was more than a little curious to explore the worldwide reaction to the movie before I suggested to the two of them that we should all go see it together.
So, what did I do? I checked out the reviews.
Given the financial success of the movie, I was amazed the reviews of Barbie were not off the charts spinning into the stratosphere. Many reviews were in the average to above average range (think three to four stars). Yet, even as the less than stellar ratings were piling up, moviegoers were lining up!
As a result, I was still at sixes and sevens as to whether or not to see the movie.
To help me make that decision, I searched for Time magazine’s review. The headline of Stephanie Zacharekin’s article on July 18, 2023, tells it all: “Barbie Is Very Pretty But Not Very Deep.” After reading, or let’s say scanning the very long article, I texted my daughter and set the date and time the three of us would go to the theatre to see Barbie (i.e., not wait until I could see it a home).
Why did the magazine’s lukewarm review motivate me to action? Kind of silly perhaps, but back in the day when I’d read movie reviews in the print edition of Time, my criterion was this: If Time panned it, I knew I’d love it! I can report my aforementioned rationale still holds true today.
As you can see, reviews matter … whether they boost the art form, slam it, or land somewhere in between.
Think about it. In the case of book reviews, roles are reversed. The reader becomes the writer — the creator of a commercial of sorts for each person to view and measure based upon their own benchmark. It’s kind of like the saying, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. And who are we to make that decision for them?
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not recommending we go on a crusade to give books we don’t like poor reviews! Far from it. If you don’t enjoy a book, you have the right to share your honest opinion. (To be honest, though, as a writer who respects what it takes to be an author, if I don’t like a book, I don’t write a review. But that’s just me. Not all writers share my perspective … and that’s what makes the world go round.)
But if you do like, or perhaps love, a book, I encourage you to ACT. Don’t just put the book aside on your bookshelf or toss it in your library’s donation bin before you take a couple of minutes to write and post a review. Sites like Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and Book Bub make it easy to do so.
Who knows? You may find the process of writing a review enjoyable. Like getting dressed all in pink and eating popcorn inside a movie theatre once again.
Thinking about my journey, I published What’s Not Said (with a pink cover, by the way), my debut novel, in 2020. I was nearing my seventy-first birthday at the time. A year later, I published the sequel; and then, two years later, the final episode in the romantic comedy trilogy. I’m in the process of switching genres altogether. In 2024, I’ll be publishing the first, and perhaps the second book, in a brand new cozy mystery series. Just as my published books are stacking up, so are my years. When will I throw in the towel, reach the end of my runway? That’s easy.When I alone say it’s time.
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