Welcome Reviewer Extraordinaire, John Valeri!

Hey friends, Liz here. Today I have the pleasure of introducing one of my favorite pals – and hardcore book reviewer – John Valeri. John and I met the first time I attended the Seascape Writer’s Retreat (jeez, was that in 2007? How can that be??) and I was immediately captivated by his love for books, his contagious laugh and his obsession with everything Scream. Today, John has made quite a name for himself in the world of book reviews – a name that no doubt will continue to grow in popularity as he moves into a proverbial new chapter. He’s here today to tell us all about that chapter. 

Take it away, John!

John ValeriOn June 25th, my Hartford Books Examiner (HBE) Facebook page reached its 1,000th like.

On the 28th, I was at R.J. Julia—Connecticut’s illustrious indie bookstore—when a patron shared with me that her attendance at three recent events was a direct result of learning about them through my column (the ultimate validation for those of us who wonder if anybody’s actually reading our stuff).

Three days later, scrolling through Facebook, I learned that the forces behind Examiner.com had pulled the proverbial plug—and that my seven-and-a-half year reign as HBE had come to an unceremonious end. (How cliché that I’d learn of this through social media, right?)

A brief moment of panic.

Not because I’d have to find some new job to replace the $12 of income they paid me every month (that’s an approximation, and probably a generous one) but because I feared losing my place in the community that I so adore. So much of my identity had been wrapped up in a title. What would I do with that being taken away?

I had been granted intimate access to hundreds of authors, invited to moderate panels and one-on-one discussions at prestigious events, received complimentary books by the dozen, and found pull quotes of mine featured on, and in, books by the likes of James Patterson, Wally Lamb, Shania Twain, Mary Higgins Clark, and Debbie Macomber. Even Marcia Clark—yes, that Marcia Clark—who had been a hero of mine since the age of twelve.

It seemed I had a lot to lose.

But then? My paranoia was replaced by an overwhelming sense of … freedom.

While I am deeply appreciative of Examiner.com for providing me a forum, I had increasing frustrations about their poor compensation and maddeningly inconsistent editorial feedback. Still, I had hesitated to part ways because so many people knew me as an extension of that platform.

And then I realized something: Everything that HBE had become was my doing. I was the one who committed myself to writing multiple articles per week at the cost of sanity and sleep. I was the one who tirelessly recruited guest authors to appear virtually before they knew what Examiner.com was (but would later be so inundated with requests that I couldn’t keep up). I was the one who wrote the content that had been pulled for use in books and web sites and any number of other literary things.

Sadly, I also found that my voice, my very personality—which had been absolutely integral in branding HBE—was being silenced by nameless, faceless cyber superiors who thought they knew my readers better than I did. I firmly believe that professional and personable can coexist.

When I announced my liberation on Facebook, I was met with an overwhelming outpouring of support and encouragement from authors, bloggers, booksellers, readers, and other friends who I’d connected with since 2009. It soon became evident that my place among them was never in jeopardy. And if there was a common sentiment, it was this: Start your own site.

So I did.

Actually, my wife did. Chelsey—who is far better at all things requiring a modicum of tech savvy—immediately set about building my own personal web page. (She probably suspected that my initial elation at finding myself untethered would soon turn to abject terror.) On July 4th, I declared my creative independence with the unveiling of www.johnbvaleri.com, a virtual home where I can continue pushing my bookish agenda with reckless abandon.

While this new endeavor has only just begun, I’m excited knowing that the next chapter is mine alone to write.

John, so excited that you’ll be starting your own site. Best of luck to you – and we’re all here to support you! Readers, leave John a comment and wish him well!

57 Thoughts

  1. Let’s hear it for freedom, John! You are such a supporter of our genre, I’m really glad you’re going out on your own. Sure there’s a bit of terror (you do have a day job, I assume – or maybe not?) – I felt freedom and some terror, myself, when I quit my own day job three-plus years ago to write fiction full time. And I’m so glad I did! I wish you all the best in the new gig, and am heading over there right now to follow and sign up and otherwise make sure I see your reviews.

    1. Thank you, Edith! You’ve been such a wonderful support. And yes … I DO have a day job. If only there were more hours in the day, right?

    1. Thank you, Dale. I appreciate that — and I’m looking forward to this new plot twist!

  2. Just signed on to follow you on Facebook and also to get notification of your blogs. Good luck in your new endeavor.

  3. Reviewer Extraordinaire indeed! I simpy adore John (Don’t let that go to your head mister). I’m very proud of him for starting this new chapter in his life. Way to JV!

  4. Welcome, John, and thank you for continuing to spread the word about new books. I’ve certainly bought books based solely on reviews (sometimes saving the review for years before I actually purchase that book). I’ve watched with dismay for the past few years as mystery reviews in the Boston Globe have all but disappeared. So kudos to you for carrying the torch! (And now I have to go find the blog.)

    1. That’s just about the greatest compliment EVER! Thank you, Sheila.

  5. There are some very strange things happening in publishing at the moment! But well done John for deciding to go it alone and making sure we, the readers, still have some great reviews to help us pick books!

  6. I’m excited about your new chapter! One thing that is getting lost in the shrinking newspaper (itself a huge loss) is the lack of a platform for criticism. So glad you are stepping into the void. Thanks for coming to the blog today!

    1. Thank you for having me — and for the kind words of encouragement.

  7. Congratulations, John! I am so glad you are going off on your own. Best of luck with the site and with everything you pursue. And thank you for all you do.

    1. Thank you, Barb! I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t passionate about great books … you know, like yours!

  8. Every door that closes means there’s another one waiting to be opened if only you can find it. You found it. Wishing you all the best. 🙂

  9. Good for you, John! Now it is time to build on the excellent job you did for the last 7 years. You will love working for yourself!

  10. John, as someone who is just waiting to see her books in print (or pixels, or whatever), I’m glad you aren’t abandoning the reviewing gig. We writers need you! Best of luck!

    1. Thank you, Mary! I can’t wait for the day I can review one of your books. And maybe even write one of my own …

  11. Congratulations, John! What an exciting time. And congratulations on your short stories in Tricks and Treats, too! Just “liked” your Facebook page. Please let us know how authors can support your new venture!

  12. I love your tag line — Well Read Is Well Bred! Congratulations on your independence and I look forward to reading your new blog! Thanks for taking time to stop by!

    1. Thank you, Sherry — both for the kind words and the virtual hospitality!

  13. Congratulations, John! Thanks to the Wickeds for letting us know about your new endeavour. I have bookmarked your new blog and found you on Facebook. As an avid reader of mystery fiction, I love learning about new authors and titles via people like you.

    1. Thank you, Grace! So glad we share a love of mystery fiction. Looking forward to keeping up with you online.

  14. The new chapter in your life sounds like it holds lots of promise. Congratulations on taking this step. I’ve signed up to receive notice of your blogs.

  15. Congratulations on your new endeavors, may you find joy in them!

    1. Thank you, Mary Jane! Here’s hoping we all find joy in what we do. 🙂

  16. I know this post is over a week old now, but I had to comment.

    I went through the same thing when Epinions shut down a few years back. I do miss the money, although it was just hobby money. However, I’ve found the freedom to post what I want when I want with no one looking over my shoulder is so wonderful! Enjoy!!!! And congrats.

    (BTW, I’m obsessed with all things Scream as well. They filmed the first one not too long as I graduated from Santa Rosa High. How could I not be?)

    1. Thanks so much, Mark! You’re right — there really is something to be said for freedom. Also, I have to tell you this because you’re a fellow SCREAM fan: I also wrote an Examiner column during the production of SCREAM 4 based on the franchise and, through some crazy luck, got an invite to the Hollywood premiere, where I met Neve Campbell (and others … but Neve Campbell!!!). That kind of made up for earning pennies. 😉

Comments are closed.