Before You Ask For Reviews

I'm always honoured when people ask me to review their books. I'd gladly help any young (Clearly. This blog exists.) When I reply, they are always surprised by two things: (i) that I took so long to do it, and (ii) that I wrote such comprehensive notes, with references and tips.

You put a lot of time and energy into your portfolio and I want to give it the time and energy it deserves. I genuinely want to help you, and saying this is good, and I don't like this or delete this doesn't help you understand what you're doing right or wrong or why. And definitely won't make you a better creative, get you hired or prepare you for the  realities of working in advertising.

The best critiques I've gotten were those that left me feeling like I should just go look for a job as
a perfume sample girl in Macy's. Yes, they've hurt my feelings and were difficult to swallow. But this isn't about my feelings. This is about my future.

I strongly believe that praise makes you feel good and critique makes you better. (Check out this post.) So I want reviewers to push, poke and pluck my work. I don't take everything as the Truth and the Light - and you shouldn't either - but constructive feedback can be very productive.

However, when some people send me their books, they're really not ready for a review.
And that's just a waste of both of our time.

Things To Do Before You Ask Someone To Review Your Book: 

Make Sure You Are Ready For Your Work To Be Looked At. Be prepared to get your work torn apart and your feelings hurt. Then be prepared to do what it takes to make your work better.

Make Sure Your Work Is Ready To Be Looked At. Have everything in one place. Look it all over. Is your contact info there? Are any links broken? Are the videos working? Are there typos??

Make Sure Your Work Is Easy To Look At. Is there superfluous long blocks of copy? (FYI: Nobody wants to read long blocks of copy.) Is the type legible? Is the site easy to navigate? Always ask yourself, if someone only had 15 minutes to check out my work, will they get a solid impression of who I am and the work I can do?

Make Sure Your Work Is Worth Looking At. If you want to be a copywriter, art director or designer, you should have a book that shows you can write copy, art direct or design. Your photography is great and all, but this is advertising - show some ads. And make sure they're good.

How do you tell if it's good? Ask a friend. And vet it at The flow chart walks through the elements of an ad and a campaign, from concept to execution, to make sure your work is up to par. It helps you scrutinize your work the way a reviewer would. With less hurt feelings.

The site is best viewed in Chrome or Safari. Firefox will make you download the pdf, which isn't bad but just fyi.

(*my apologies to my fellow grammar greeks - I hope those ATs at the end of sentences didn't break your hearts too much.)