Monday, January 25, 2010

And the reviews are in!

Concerned reader God Is My Codependent points out that the last book noted in the post below, Embalming Is Not a Sport, is sold on Amazon (as are, I believe, many titles published by vanity press AuthorHouse).

Let's take a look at the reviews:

--This book could have used a good editor. While the grammatical errors were distracting, and the writing needed a lot of tightening up, it told an entertaining story with some information about embalming and other aspects of funeral service. ... The descriptions of embalmings were coarse and often left out important details, so I would recommend anyone exploring this field as a career option read an actual textbook to get an accurate picture of what embalming involves.

--... But much more surprising to me was the extremely poor writing which comprised the entire work and even worsened as the end approached. From the beginning, this book contained numerous grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes, misspellings, and even ommitted capitalization on virtually EVERY page. The last name of the main character even was inconsistent throughout the book. I could not believe that it got past editing and into print in this shabby fashion.

--This is an interesting novel, for mortuary students or the funeral director. Children should not read this book as it is somewhat sexually explicit and appears to reveal funeral directors as alcoholics. Indeed some funeral directors lean towards alcoholism. Three stars because at times the book is offensive and needs an editor.

--I have been very interested in the field of mortuary science and I thought it would be great to read about someone's experiences with embalming. He wrote more about drinking alcohol than actually embalming. The reader does not get a good view in the life of embalming at all. Besides that, the fact this book was published with so many errors is a joke.

--This unique book eloquently explains why embalming is game, not a sport. Rather like Darts and Tai Chi, there is a physical element to it, just not enough for it to become a full Olympic event. This last point is of personal importance to my Uncle Bruce from Australia who - rather pathetically - has been busy practising his embalming technique for the past four years in expectation of competing in Beijing and lifting his country's paltry medal count.

And yet, after 12 reviews, it gets an impressive rating of 3-1/2 stars out of 5.

I should point out that someone I know published a book with a small publisher (I think a "real" publisher, not a vanity press, though it's hard to tell), and the first Amazon review is a 4-star recommendation, which begins:
This book, which was recommended to me by a family member, was quite a revelation.

Problem is, the review is written under the guy's real name, and I know him to be the author's brother-in-law. Would be odd for the book to be revelatory, as they even live in the same town.

So, to recap:

--Don't trust a publisher that doesn't even spell check.

--If you're going to self-publish, be realistic. And spell check. (By realistic, I mean: If you want something to hand out at business conferences or to your extended family at a reunion or the like, fine. Otherwise, not so much.)

--If you're thinking of going into embalming, it's probably better to read a textbook than a novel about embalming.

--Children should not read sexually explicit books about embalming. Stick with The Berenstain Bears Embalm a Family of Campers instead. It's much more appropriate, and the illustrations are adorable.

--People take the time to write joke reviews even on obscure self-published books that are only going to be found by (odd) people like me and embalming enthusiasts.

--Embalmers like to drink, and who can blame them, really?

--If you're reviewing your sister-in-law's book on Amazon, for Christ's sake, do it under a fake name.

P.S.: It's tough to get published by a legit publisher. Really tough--and getting tougher. (Link via Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.)


ChefNick said...

"Indeed embalming is not a sport and should never be treated as such."

No kidding! Vancouver Olympics category: Embalming!

Knatolee said...


Sabrina said...

What I want to know is, just what were you Googling that led you to this review? Your interest in embalming is indeed a revelation!

Jim Donahue said...

Oh, it's the wacky high jinks over at the AuthorHouse site. Some mind-blowing stuff over there.