A number of years ago, I had the opportunity of a 3-hour-long drive to an event with a Canadian author I’ve known for decades (but who will remain nameless here) during which we discussed many issues to do with promoting authors, publishing, and finding readers for books in general.
This particular author is a voracious reader and does write many in-depth reviews of books for newspapers and magazines in Canada and abroad. For which she is paid by the magazines and newspapers. She is also a tireless champion for authors whose work she truly believes in, and constantly helps those she deems to be deserving to get a leg up in the business. For which she is not paid. She does so because she has always been a contributing member to this writing community.
What we discussed for the most part was the dwindling number of places where readers can turn to find a good, honest review of new books, and where authors can expect to receive an even-handed opinion that will, hopefully, lead to attracting new readers. She was more concerned with finding sites that posted legitimate reviews for all books and authors than finding places where she would be paid to write reviews. That’s where she was coming from. And it was the same direction I was approaching the issue – to find sites dedicated to reviewing, and bringing to our attention, good books.
We tossed around the idea of me developing a website that solely reviewed books … and then we arrived at our destination. I haven’t discussed this idea any further with her since that time.
I did, however, create the site Reading Recommendations in Nov. 2013, with this earlier conversation still lingering in my mind. I wasn’t interested in reading and reviewing books myself, but I did want to promote authors who I felt deserved international attention that this site has since provided them. They don’t pay me for this exposure* and, while I don’t review the books myself (or, at least not all of them), the authors are asked to provide links to promotion sites so that my readers may read reviews of these books in addition to my promotion. This site has worked well and I have promoted more than 250 authors of various nationalities, both traditionally and self-published, writing in every genre, format, and for all age groups. I don’t intend to change the format of Reading Recommendations now. Why fix what ain’t broke?
I’ve been giving a great deal of thought though to the problem of authors receiving legitimate reviews for their work, especially in light of what’s been going on lately with reviews posted to online sales sites and book listing services. And I’ve been thinking about the conversation I had several years ago with my friend. What if I were to set up another sister-site to RR that focuses only on reviews from readers of the books I promote? There would be no anonymity allowed and any connection to the author, including having received a free copy for review, would need to be divulged. In all fairness, I would like readers to know exactly where the reviewer is coming from – no star ratings, no negative reviews, just a good discussion as to why they enjoyed and now recommend that particular book. Reviews may be lengthy, if the reviewer feels they have a lot to say about a book, but will preferably be short and sweet, with no spoilers included, and no personal comments made about the author. Since I will be editing these reviews before posting them to the site, I can delete any trolls who try to spoil this party. (Oh, the power!) It is my hope that readers who normally wouldn’t leave a review on one of those other sites will consider writing something, however brief it may be, to let other readers know they enjoyed a book by one of the authors I’ve promoted on Reading Recommendations. Because, as I’ve said before, If you like a book, tell a friend … and we’re all friends here, right?
I will also link back to the original promotion on Reading Recommendations for each author who is reviewed on this new site. And I will create a list of other review sites (and there are many out there) that provide thoughtful, intelligent reviews for all books.
So, what do you think? Is this a good idea? Will you write reviews to be posted to this site? But, more importantly, as a reader – will you read and take note of reviews on a site like this? Reviewers, this will give you the opportunity to share your passion about particular authors and books with my readers. Readers, this will give you an idea of new books and authors you could be reading.
Would you be interested in providing reviews for this site? Are you interested in reading reviews on a site such as I’ve described? Please post your comments, yay or nay, below. I’m all eyes!
*The authors are asked, in lieu of payment, to promote the site, me, and my books in return – an agreement which has worked to a certain, only middling, extent, I’m sorry to say …