Friday, February 13, 2009

How I became a "Part Time" Book Reviewer

“I am a firm believer in serendipity ~ all the random pieces coming together in one wonderful moment, when suddenly you see what their purpose was all along"
David Levithan
Source: Boy Meets Boy

Life sometimes does offer us some very strange twists and turns since I never imagined that I would one day become a book reviewer.

This story begins back during Christmas 1999. I had just finished reading the first edition of The Underwater Photographer by Martin Edge, a renowned British underwater photographer.
I thought it was an excellent book, and when I happened to accidentally come across Martin’s email address in an underwater news group forum, I dropped him a quick congratulatory note on what a fine instructional book it was. Martin soon replied that he was keenly aware of my editorial & underwater photography work and that he was honored to have received such high praise from me. I never, ever, expected that.

Anyway, about a year or so later, Martin contacted me by email to ask if I would grant his publishers permission to use passages contained in my initial email to him on the rear jacket of the 2nd reprint of the 2nd edition - The Underwater Photographer. My quote appeared next to quotes by world-class underwater photography luminaries, Jim Church and Stephen Frink.

Then in June 2004, I was contacted by an Associate Editor for Focal Press to request my help with a project they were working on. The Underwater Photographer by Martin Edge was being rewritten towards taking a full digital approach to underwater photography and would be given a title along the lines of 'The Underwater Photographer Goes Digital'. They were asking me if I would be interested in being involved in reviewing the current book in line with the proposed new table of contents and the proposal that the author had supplied to them. It was very important for Focal Press to get feedback when looking at a new edition to ensure that the coverage and level that the author was proposing is suitable for the market. As an individual involved in magazines specializing in this subject area and an underwater photographer, they stated they would really value any constructive feedback I could offer that would help them and the author successfully develop this successful book into a new edition. I agreed to participate and was happy for Martin Edge when in May 2006, The Underwater Photographer, Third Edition: Digital and Traditional Techniques was released to critical acclaim.

In July 2008, I was again approached by Focal Press to review the proposed new edition of another book authored by an award-winning American commercial & fine art photographer. Apparently, this author/photographer thought that I would be an ideal candidate for this task. It would seem in this instance that my own reputation must have preceded me, as I had never actually met or corresponded with this author/photographer. At this point, if I told you who this individual was, I would have to kill you as I’m sworn to secrecy not to divulge any specifics until the new edition is actually published.

So, my endeavors as a book reviewer all began from a single congratulatory email to an author across the Atlantic Ocean. To review books about one's favorite subject and then to comment about them, how serendipitous, indeed…