Category Archives: Goodreads
And definitely not from some flounder!
But this is what I can call a message I really like!
Not all readers like to write reviews and post them online, and I get that! So I will never ask anyone to review my books or post their thoughts if they don’t wish to do so.
However, I do know many readers, especially friends, like to tell me their thoughts and impressions about my books after they’ve read something I’ve written. They quite often write to me privately in an email, or they tell me in person when I meet up with them. So I then ask if I may post their comments to my blog, and will do so anonymously, if that’s what they wish.
Here are comments from two friends who had previously read Island in the Clouds and have now told me what they think of One Woman’s Island …
Friend #1 (received by email):
I loved reading One Woman’s Island. I enjoyed it so much that at one point, I wished the story wouldn’t end! I appreciated that Marianne was such a strong character. She believed in her values and did not cave in when she encountered opposing views. Keep writing, Sue. I look forward to your next book. Violet
Friend #2 (From a conversation):
I enjoyed the development of the characters, particularly Tex, who I had no sympathy with initially, but came to like him. Mariana reflects the views of a lot of people who come to the island, who are invasive and intrusive, and get it all wrong. She irritated the hell out of me and at times I wanted to slap her! I really enjoyed the change in speed between life on Bequia and the slow pace of the tranquil garden in several scenes. There should be a place like that on this island where people can sit in private and not be overheard, enjoying a coffee or tea completely out of sight. (smt: Well, there is my own verandah at The View. Although I do quite like my imagined garden in the novel.) I actually felt that what you’ve done is left enough strings untied that what I want most is to read the next book.
Friend #1 has visited us on Bequia, but I have known her since 1979, shortly after we moved to Calgary. We have been friends ever since. She is an artist and has always encouraged my writing.
Friend #2 owns a house on Bequia and has been coming to the island for many years. She’s supported my books wholeheartedly and keeps print copies in her house for rental guests to read. (And if you’re thinking of coming to Bequia, I do recommend you check out this friend’s house – send me an email for details.)
Both women are avid readers, so I am particularly flattered by their comments.
As well, I received a wonderful review of my book from author and friend, Timothy Phillips. (The link will take you to his promotion on my blog.) He did post to both Amazon and Facebook, but I just had to share with you here what he has said:
I was fortunate to read Susan Toy’s first book, Island in the Clouds. This is set on the Caribbean island of Bequia and murders will take place – guaranteed. We don’t have to wait long – a body turns up floating in the swimming pool almost on page one. It’s an exciting read all the way through.
Toy’s second book is also set in Bequia, which is where she resides for half the year. She knows the island intimately and she knows the people, both the ex-pat community and locals and has weaved this backdrop effectively into her story. We will have to wait a third of the way into her book before we have full proof of skullduggery and mischief. Yet, right from the beginning, we have ominous warning of some malevolent presence of things to come through the almost incoherent rambling conversation of three children. So, we’re prepared to wait. It reminds me of the witches’ scene in Act One, Scene One of Macbeth.
We all, especially if we live in the cold North, have images in our mind of paradise on earth – a warm sunny climate, pristine beaches, plentiful exotic fruits, smiling locals speaking in a patois that has a lilting and colourful charm – easy to be enchanted here, nice place to visit. Might even consider moving here if suddenly there was upheaval in one’s life.
That happens to the protagonist, Mariana who has come to Bequia with her two cats for an extended visit to mend from a marriage that ended. She’s naive but well-intentioned – perhaps she’s enervated by sunshine and dazzled by vibrant blue skies. She wants to contribute meaningfully and yet her perception of life on the island through seemingly rose-tinted spectacles is far different from reality.
The tension in Toy’s story builds magnificently, the main characters are intriguing colourful individuals and she develops them masterfully. There are few that will predict the outcome of the story and we are left guessing right to the end.
Toy is an interested foodie and has obviously experimented with local dishes. At the end of some chapters, she has included the recipes for these. It gives one a chance to take a breath and reminds me of the opportunity to stretch, get a snack or an ice cream at Intermission. One needs that.
And I loved your review, Tim! Thank you so much for reading and telling everyone! I especially like the reference you made to Macbeth – Nice!
If anyone else has read and enjoyed any of my books, but is kind of shy about putting their comments out there, your secret identity is safe with me! Just send me an email, susanmtoy (at) gmail.com, tell me what you think, and give me permission to post either with your name or without. As I said in a blog post I wrote earlier this year, A small request of all my readers …
Thank you, to all readers, from the bottom of my heart!
Earlier in the summer, I wrote and posted this to my blog: Why not read books simply because they’re well-written?
Then I asked Chris Graham, aka The Story Reading Ape, to create three memes that promoted three of the ideas I’d covered in this post: Ask for a meme …
For the purpose of this challenge, I want to focus on the suggestion in one of these memes …
Why not, indeed?
I recently began following two Facebook pages that were set up for the benefit of Readers. The gist of both sites was an exchange of reading recommendations and a place where readers could find out what they might want to read next. On the one site, there were a lot of rules posted restricting Indie Authors as to how much they could self-promote. Understandably so. However, authors were also restricted from posting links to our own blogs, and I was reprimanded by admin., even though my blog link in question was a list of the best books I had read this past year and not self-promotion at all. I’d apparently over-stepped the limit of one self-promotion post per week on the site. I’ve removed all my previous posts from that site and have stopped posting there altogether. I know, it is their site and they are allowed to make and administer the rules. But, in the meantime, other site members will never see that list of books by other authors I was recommending they consider reading. Not my own books, mind you, but the books of many other fine authors.
Meanwhile, I continue to read posts by other site members in which they’re asking for reading recommendations – and contributing to discussions surrounding reading books written by the same-old bestselling authors or series or genres that the members have already been reading. And no one is asking for something new, something different, something outside of their comfort zone. An author who is new-to-them who will make the reader stand up and take notice and have that reader recommending the author to every other reader they know.
So, this is my challenge to all readers out there … And this includes all authors, as well, because you’re all also readers, right? (If you answer “No” to that, then SHAME ON YOU! You SHOULD be reading. You can’t write well if you don’t read. But that leads us to another blog post: Writer = Reader. And I digress …)
Here’s what I challenge all Readers to do:
1. Discover a new-to-you author. Look for authors who write a different genre than you usually read.
2. Purchase a copy of their book or borrow from the library. (Preferably purchase. I understand if you can’t afford to buy. However, I give you the inimitable Seumas Gallacher as an example of someone who supports Indie Authors by making a point of purchasing one Indie-Authored book a month. That kind of committment is not going to break the bank.)
4. If you enjoyed what you read, tell your friends and other readers. And if you REALLY enjoyed what you read, become a champion of that author. Read more of their books. Follow them on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, their blog. Write a review if you like to write reviews. Post your recommendation to your own blog or social media sites. Spread the word about this new-to-you author as far as you possibly can. (If you want to write a review and don’t have your own blog or don’t like posting to Amazon, contact me about publishing your review on reading recommendations reviewed or this blog.)
5. Write to the author directly to tell them how much you enjoyed their book. Trust me! We love receiving fan mail!!
6. Repeat #s 1-5. Many times.
I know you’re probably thinking, “It’s easy for her to say. She’s an author who has connections to lots of other authors and knows where to find new books to read. Where the heck am I going to find these new-to-me authors and their books?”
Well, yes, I am well connected, but I have discovered many of the authors I now enjoy reading by watching for listings on Goodreads, Facebook, and mainly through other bloggers. So here’s a list of places where you might consider looking for suggestions on the next great book you’re going to read so you may become part of my challenge!
And blogs written by many friends who support their fellow authors:
Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life, Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore
Chris The Story Reading Ape – Authors Hall of Fame
Allan Hudson – South Branch Scribbler
Tricia Drammeh – Authors to Watch
Dylan Hearn – Suffolk Scribblings: Recommended Reads
Anne Logan – I’VE READ THIS
Mary Bailey – 1WriteWay: A Different Kind of Book Review
There are many, many more. I leave it up to you, Readers, to discover the best places for finding your own new-to-you authors. Don’t forget the local library, too! Most libraries have websites, and librarians are always eager to create and post lists of books that will be of interest to their patrons. (And, thanks to Calgary Public Library, my first novel, Island in the Clouds, has been listed on two such lists, their Around the World in 14 Mysteries and Accidental Sleuths and my second novel on the eponymously named One Woman’s Island recommendations!)
One other source for discovering new-to-you authors – especially poets, in this case – and even new-to-you music, as well, is Bob Chelmick’s The Road Home. This is 24-hour streaming of Bob’s radio program’s that have long been featured on CKUA Radio. Give it a listen. It’s addicting!! (I’m listening as I write this and just heard one of my favourite authors, Robert Kroetsch, reading his poetry.)
So, off you go! You’ll find a lot of fun in the discovery, but I hope you find even more enjoyment in the reading!
Ready, set … READ!
(No need to comment here that you’re taking my challenge, unless you do find a new-to-you author you’d like to crow about. I always welcome accolades for authors! And if you already review books and authors on your own blog, please include your link in the comments section below.)
I’ve written about book clubs in the past and talked about their necessity and importance, not only for club members but also for we authors who are trying to get attention for our books. I don’t belong to a book club myself, but I did recently publish a guest post on my blog from Felicity Harley, titled My two book clubs and why I love them. Felicity pretty well sums up the reasons most readers join book clubs. I know the camaraderie and a shared interest in reading and books are the main reasons I’ve heard others have joined them. And definitely, having your book read by a book club, or being invited as a guest author to a meeting to speak about your book, are certainly the reasons why most authors I know love book clubs!
I was thinking about recommending books this morning, about how we as readers hear about “what to read next” and how book clubs figure into the bigger picture of promoting our books to more readers. My mind was working in the way it usually does (and I know bjH is probably nodding her head right now in recognition, thinking to herself, “Oh, no, Susan. Not again …) and one thought about book clubs and their members led to another thought of how those book clubs could help spread the word further than to just their immediate membership about the books they’ve enjoyed.
What if book clubs were to take their discussion another step and post a review of a book they’ve discussed? That review could be posted to Goodreads or Amazon or the local library’s website. Anywhere online, really, as long as it catches the attention of more readers. And this review could be whatever the club decides, by whomever wishes to write it. But it should be a consensus of the members’ opinions and perhaps include some of the more important points of discussion during the meeting.
This way the book club would receive some public recognition and, trust me, those authors whose books are reviewed would be tickled pink! It’s one thing knowing that 10 or 12 club members have enjoyed what you’ve written. But if the club chooses to also share the news of their enjoyment with the reading public in general .. Well, then! Let me just say that I for one would be ecstatic if I suddenly saw a review on Goodreads posted by a book club that chose to read and discuss my book! (Besides which, we don’t always know a club has chosen to read our books in the first place. Just knowing that has happened would make me happy!)
So, is this idea do-able? Are there book club members out there reading this now who would be willing to suggest my proposal to their club, and possibly act on reviewing books publicly that they’ve read and discussed previously?
Another place where I’d be more than happy to post positive reviews from book clubs of any Reading Recommendations-promoted authors they’ve discussed is on my review blog, reading recommendations reviewed. (Authors I’ve promoted on Reading Recommendations are listed here and here. I also recommend you check through those two lists if you’re looking for ideas on which books and authors to discuss next.)
Please do share this post online, through social media and your blogs, but especially directly with any book clubs you know that might take me up on my suggestion. I’ve noticed there are book club blogs online, as well. I think they might like this concept. And please remember too that many public libraries and book stores also host book club discussions!
I don’t need to tell anyone reading this blog post that we authors manage to survive and keep writing through receiving good reviews that attract more new readers to our work. A positive review coming from a group of happy readers would constitute a major endorsement for many of us.
(So what do you think, bjH? A good idea this time?)
To help celebrate my birthday on June 21st, I’m running another Goodreads Giveaway of print copies of my novel, Island in the Clouds! 5 lucky entrants living in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia will each win a signed copy. You must be a member of Goodreads to participate, and that’s free, so why not join today? You’ll receive lots of great reading recommendations and be able to enter many more giveaways than just mine.
Please tell your friends and encourage them to enter as well!!
If you have already read Island in the Clouds, but would still like to help me celebrate my birthday, please leave a comment on this post wishing me a Happy Birthday, and I will contact you individually to send each of you a special gift! Think of this as me providing each of my Birthday Party Guests with a loot bag, just for attending!
My regular blog readers know I have been very happy with the 5 Goodreads Giveaways I’ve offered to site members from various countries. I wrote a blog post about my experience of promoting books on the site.
To recap, the first giveaway was held in Sept., 2013 for members in Canada, the US, Great Britain, and Australia. 10 winners, from Canada, the US, and Great Britain, were selected from the 758 people who entered.
The second, held from Dec. 2013 to Jan. 2014, attracted 129 entries from Ireland, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, France, Qatar, Germany, Norway, Denmark and South Africa. (Many members choose to keep their profiles hidden, so I was not able to determine where the rest lived.) The 5 winners were from Portugal, New Zealand, Netherlands and Germany.
The third contest that was held from June to Aug. 2014 was the most successful with over 1300 members entering to win one of 5 copies. This one was offered in Canada, US, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa and the winners lived in the US, Canada and Great Britain.
The fourth ran for two weeks from Oct. to Nov. 2014, was offered in the same countries as the third giveaway, and attracted 797 entrants. The 5 books went to winners in the US and Great Britain. I wrote about this contest here on my blog and have since done a tally (with the help of my sister) and discovered that the largest number of entrants – by far! – live in the US.
The most recent giveaway in Nov. 2014 was for 3 copies, and I purposely chose countries where, for the most part, English was not the first language. 179 people entered and 55 were from India – the largest number than from all the other countries combined. I included India, because I had heard it is home to the largest number of English-speaking people of any non-English-first country. Consequently, 2 of the winners live in India. The third lives in Belgium (where my mother was born!).
So, all-in-all I’ve considered these giveaways to have been worthwhile, mainly because they attracted a large number of readers to my work who might not otherwise have heard of me or my novel – over 3200! Several of the entrants have become my friends on Goodreads. One entrant from India contacted me about doing an interview on his blog. A number who won have read my book and posted their reviews. And I have to hope that those who still list Island in the Clouds as a “to-read” will do so at some time or another and consider at least rating the book, if not reviewing it.
But in the meantime, I’m happy to increase my readership and give something back to the Goodreads members who do enter these contests. Because I’m also one of those entrants and have been lucky to win quite a number of books. I not only appreciate the free books I have received and read, but also that I’ve discovered many new books and their authors who I would not have known. And that’s the great power of a site like Goodreads – it brings together Readers and Authors!
Now … if they would just open it up to allow for eBooks as giveaways. That would save authors the cost of mailing print copies to winners.
My books have been listed on Goodreads since they were each published. Those books have been favourably rated and reviewed on the site by many members, both known and unknown to me. I have also been a member of the site and list books that I’m reading, have rated them all when I finish reading, and I’ve even written a few reviews. I’ve found several new-to-me authors listed on the site who I have then contacted and subsequently promoted on my Reading Recommendations blog. And I enter the Goodreads Giveaways all the time and have won a number of very good books over this past year or so.
My best experience with the site, though, has been in offering my own Goodreads Giveaways. My first contest was held in Sept., 2013, and since then I have run three more. A total number of 2998 Goodreads members in 26 countries have entered the four contests and I gave away 25 copies of my novel, Island in the Clouds. Some of those who won copies have rated and/or reviewed my book after they received and read it. But many, many more have listed it as a to-read and now have the book’s cover on their Goodreads page.
The way I see it, these are 3000 Readers who likely would never otherwise have heard of either me or my book. Whether they actually buy a copy is of no matter to me – I just want these Readers to know of the book’s existence and consider reading it, or tell their friends about it.
And guess what I’m going to do next … To celebrate the availability of my eBooks on Amazon in both Germany and India, I plan to run yet another Goodreads Giveaway for members in those two countries, and perhaps a few other countries, because there are many, many people outside of traditional English-speaking countries who can not only read in English but are also genuninely interested in reading books like mine. I hope to have that organized very soon.
The reason I’m so big on Goodreads as a means of promoting books is because it’s all about the READERS! Absolutely everything about the site is about books, authors and reading – so no distractions from other possible means of entertainment. None of the other social media sites are as specific to books – not Facebook, nor Twitter, nor anything else. The people who sign up for membership in Goodreads do so because they love to read – pure and simple! So I’m very happy to list my books there and offer promotions like the Goodreads Giveaways on a regular basis, because I’m promoting to the exact people I should be promoting to – THE READERS!!
A few authors have told me they don’t really “get” Goodreads and have never thought of using the site themselves, either for finding reading suggestions or for promoting their books. But I say you can’t afford to ignore this site, because it delivers millions of interested Readers to you every single day – and where else are you going to find so many people in one place who are interested in books and reading, I ask you??
So a big two-thumbs’-up from me to Goodreads as a means of promoting my own books and for providing me with a never-ending list of books to read and enjoy!
My recent Goodreads Giveaway for 5 copies of my novel, Island in the Clouds, has been a big success, as far as I’m concerned!
797 Readers from 7 countries (Canada, US, GB, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) entered during the 3 weeks this contest ran, and 5 were chosen by the Goodreads Team to receive print copies. I’ll be mailing those books out to the winners in the US (4) and GB (1) on Monday.
There were only a very few Readers who commented on the blog post announcement of this contest. I was running another Giveaway for eBooks there, since we can only give away print copies through Goodreads. So I’ve decided that everyone who commented will win, and I’ll be notifying those commentors about their eBook prizes later today. (Quite frankly, I’m surprised that so few Readers took me up on this offer. Maybe I should have run a contest separate from the Goodreads Giveaway for the eBook versions of my books, but then my experience has been that few people ever comment to enter when these offers are made. Why is that, I wonder …?)
So now we’re down to 4 Reading Recommendations Authors who are still running their Goodreads Giveaways, and I will continue to promote their contests for each of them.
Best of luck to everyone who enters!
I’m so busy promoting other authors all the time that I don’t get around to tooting my own horn about my books or myself as often as I possibly might do. So it always comes as a great surprise and delight to me whenever any of these authors I’ve been promoting in turn offers me some means of getting my name out there or posts a review of one of my books!
And I recently received a second 5-star review from Tricia Drammeh, this time after she read my novel, Island in the Clouds! Here’s the link to that review on Goodreads. The first 5-star review Tricia wrote was for my novella, That Last Summer, and you may read that review by clicking here. Tricia Drammeh will be featured on Reading Recommendations later this week.
And, still available until Nov. 1st, you may enter the Goodreads Giveaway I’m running to win one of 5 print copies of Island in the Clouds or – if you prefer an eBook edition, comment on this blog post to win either the novel or the novella. It’s as simple as that!
To see a complete list of reviews of my books and interviews I’ve done, please click here.
Well, I am one happy author/publisher today after my third Goodreads Giveaway ended successfully with an extraordinary number of entrants – 1457!!! Thrilled, as a matter of fact, as it doubles the total number of entrants for the first contest I held last Sept. Here are the stats for each of the 3 Giveaways:
From Sept. 1-30 – 762 entered, 10 winners – Available to readers in Canada, US, UK, Australia
From Dec. 10 – Jan. 16 – 130 entered, 5 winners – Available to readers in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Guernsey, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland
From June 16 – Aug. 4 – 1457, 5 winners – Available to readers in Canada, US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa
Readers, if you entered any of these contests but did not win a print copy of Island in the Clouds, please send me a private message, if you’re interested in reading and reviewing the eBook version. And, if you’d still prefer receiving the print copy, watch for future giveaways on Goodreads.
Authors, if you are not listed on Goodreads already – what are you waiting for??? I have found the exposure I’ve received for myself and by books to be incredible, not to mention again the success I’ve realized in participating in their First Reads and Giveaway programs, as outlined above. The way I look at this is, every new entrant to a contest or every new reader who adds my books to their “to-read” lists is someone who might not otherwise have heard of me or my books. So, essentially, Goodreads is one of the best means for authors to find new readers! Do consider setting up your own Giveaway on the site (print books only eligible at the moment) and I promise that I will help you promote your contest to my readers and friends, if you send me the link.
Thanks, Goodreads! For providing authors with an effective way to promote our books!
As many of you know, I have written and self-published a novel, Island in the Clouds, and a novella, That Last Summer, and I’ve been promoting both through whatever means I can – mainly on social media and by advertising locally on Bequia and in Minden, where the stories are set. But I’ve mainly been depending on word-of-mouth promotion, hoping that readers who enjoy reading what I’ve written will tell their friends about these books, either directly or by reviewing the books and commenting on them on social media, on Amazon, on Goodreads, etc. This has been working well, enabling me to get the word out there much further than if I were to personally contact every person I know.
But I do realize that many, many more people have read my books than are telling me or their friends about having read them. I’ve given away copies in contests, through my blog and on Goodreads, I’ve sent free eBooks to bloggers and travel or book sites, and I’ve gifted many print copies of the novel to many more people – all in the hope that they will not only enjoy reading what I’ve written, but also that they will then take that a step further and review/tell a friend about the books.
I would like to thank those who have taken the time to review online or who have sent me an email with your thoughts about the books. I’ve compiled everything here in an Online Reviews and Comments PDF (scroll down to What Readers are saying about Island in the Clouds!) Your support and enthusiasm has been overwhelming and much appreciated!
However, I would like to throw out a challenge to anyone else who has not yet reviewed either of my books online or by sending me a direct message: Please consider writing something now and posting it. Even if you didn’t enjoy either of the books all that much, tell me why that was the case. Authors just want their work to be read, and we thrive and survive on Readers telling us what we did right or wrong in our writing. If you do not feel comfortable putting your comments out there for all the world to see, I would even appreciate receiving a private email with your thoughts. It all helps me to improve my writing.
And it helps to attract new readers to my writing … so here’s the Review Challenge for you to consider – If you have read my books, please recommend them to another friend who you think will enjoy them. Then ask them to do the same and recommend it to another of their friends. Pass on your copy if you need to do so in order to convince them it’s worth reading. While I’d love it if everyone bought their own copies to read, I completely understand lending as a means of interesting readers who don’t know about me. I’m even willing to send out free eBook copies to anyone who would like to read and review either book. If you, or a friend, are willing to do that, please contact me. susanmtoy (at) gmail.com
I hope this idea doesn’t sound like desperation-for-reviews on my part. What I’m really trying to get across here is how important word-of-mouth promotion is to ALL authors, whether self-or-traditionally published. I know! I was a sales rep for publishers during my career, and the best-selling books were always those that I could personally recommend as having read and enjoyed myself. (Plus, I can be a very convincing sales person at times …) I now very dutifully read and rate/review many books on Goodreads, and I occasionally post a review on Amazon, but I also publish an Author Promotion blog, Reading Recommendations, so I believe I am still doing my bit to get the word out there for my fellow authors.
So, what are you going to do about this? Are you willing to take up my challenge? I would be ecstatic if every reader who has read either of my books were to recommend just one to another reader! And, if each of you were to review those books or send me an email with your comments, as well … You will have made this particular author very, very happy!!
Authors, please feel free to share this blog post and encourage your readers to become part of a challenge to spread the word about your own books – and all authors and their books!