This competition is simple and won’t take you long [in fact, a sentence will often be enough] but I need to give you some backstory first.
A few years back. I was reading a book by a very famous children’s writer and I was struck by one of the pages that preceded the actual story. It was a long list of favourable reviews by readers [as opposed to critics]. They were gushing, without exception. Things like: You are an absolutely brilliant writer or You are my favourite writer in the whole world or I can’t put your books down or You make Shakespeare look like a dumbass [I exaggerate only slightly]. Now, I couldn’t help but feel this was somewhat tacky, a “hey, everybody thinks I am hot poo” type of self-publicity [to be fair, it was probably the publisher’s idea, rather than the writer’s – anything to sell books].
I was starting to write a series of books for younger readers [boys aged 10-12] and I thought it would be cool to do something similar. Except, rather than saying how brilliant I am, I would make up reviews that came to a different conclusion. Here are some examples:
- I have always hated reading. Then I read your book and now I understand why
- I used to think Brussels sprouts were the most disgusting thing in the world until I picked up one of your books
- I laughed and laughed until I thought I would die. Then I started reading your book
- Amazing characterisations, enthralling plots, vivid use of language. You might want to give any of those a go
- My sister thinks you are a brilliant writer. She also believes she is from a small planet near Alpha Centauri
- Hilarious… fascinating…amazing. Just three words I wouldn’t use to describe your book
- My teacher caught me reading your book during maths class. She was going to give me a detention, but reckoned I’d suffered enough
- Your new book is pitiful, pathetic and poorly written – a huge improvement on your last
You get the general idea. Funnily enough, a few of my readers took great pity on me: “Didn’t you feel bad about those reviews at the front of your books?’ I didn’t have the heart to tell them I wrote them myself.
So, the competition. Submit a clever or witty put-down of one of my books in no more than three sentences. YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO READ ANY OF MY BOOKS, WHICH IS AN AMAZING ADVANTAGE! But if you want to check out what I have written [and some details about the books] then go to my website, here. The winner will receive signed copies of the American versions of my first three novels for Young Adults [rare – could be worth a fortune in years to come ... he dreamed]. Just remember, I am looking for something slightly clever and well-expressed [“Jonsberg’s writing is crap” won’t win!]
If you are interested in harsh reviews, there is an annual competition for the nastiest review of the year. Read some. The shortlist section of this website [Hatchet Job] makes for cringeworthy reading.