Category Archives: Uncategorized

How can we encourage more readers to leave reviews for our books?

From Sally Cronin … an idea to encourage readers to also become reviewers.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

I am very keen to make reviews a prominent feature of the book promotions and encourage readers to review the books that they buy and enjoy, or not as the case may be.

Word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool that anyone who is selling a product benefits from. Authors are no different, and our books tend to be judged by the number and quality that they have received.

Part of the problem is that those who are not writers of books or blogs are uncomfortable in offering reviews and feel that what they have to say is not important. Many who do review a book, leave just one line after their star rating, simply saying that the reader enjoyed or disliked a book, but they do not elaborate.

That is obviously very welcome. But whilst a potential reader does not want to read three pages filled…

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READS, TWEETS AND LEAVES!

Here are some great thoughts (and encouragement to pay back) from our very own Great Ape, Chris The Story Reading Ape! Are you following through after you read a great blog post and sharing that post in every way you can? This is how you can help all bloggers get their messages out in front of, and reach, many more interested and engaged readers.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Is that what YOU do?

Of the 200+ authors I’ve had the honour and pleasure to host at my treehouse blog and the (literally) thousands of visitors, only a few have actually used more than one of the many share buttons available under the articles to send them into the ethers of the Internet …..

The most used button?

Twitter!

This I can understand because you don’t have to think up any catchy phrases or do any thinking about what to say – all you need to do is click it and the article heading is sent out to all your Twitterati (SHOULD be a word)

(My little Twittersphere currently has 1800+ followers who receive notification of all my blog and re-blog posts!)

The second most used button?

Facebook!

This is usually an author who wants to share their article, but only to their own Timeline – they tend to forget…

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Reach for the stars

An excellent post on reviews and reviewing written by roughseasinthemed for the KC Books and Music Blog (Kevin Cooper).

KC BOOKS & MUSIC

Good Sunday afternoon/morning/evening to readers of Kev’s blog with my monthly editor’s post. As promised, it’s the hot topic of reviews and stars.

I started writing (professional ie paid-for) reviews on my first newspaper.

The local Am-Dram, school plays, concerts, musicals, as well as books.

The most important point, was that the review had to be interesting. Don’t retell the story, whether it was Midsummer Night’s Dream or Showboat.

Say what was good, what was poor and why you liked it/didn’t like it. Preferably with a large spoonful of tact thrown in, as every person under the sun, and their families and friends, would be reading the review.

And, I pretty much follow those principles many years later when writing book reviews.

I see no point in giving a summary of the story when there is, or should be, an adequate one on the Goodreads or Amazon or Smashwords etc…

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Do the Right Thing …

I had originally queued up this post with the thought of talking railing on about the seeming lack of compassion, sensitivity, concern – for their fellow human beings and the world at large – I’ve been witnessing for some time now from people everywhere (and not just politicians but also those close to home) who should definitely know better.

I decided instead to give you some examples of the ways average people, no matter what their income or expertise, can help others – even if it’s just a matter of including those others in our lives and making them feel welcome and wanted. I also added a video among these examples about helping the animals of the world, because we do share this planet, you know.

Personally, here are ways I have helped others …

For some years, I have promoted other authors free on my blogs. I’ve given them exposure on social media and encouraged sales of their books, all for no charge. I’ve beta-read, done some pro bono editing, and offered free advice and contact information to those authors who I consider to be good enough to deserve that help. I have also volunteered teaching literacy.

I have donated print books to libraries and those groups that supply reading materials for people who can’t afford to buy books or do not have library access.

I pledge to do more, however, and am considering other ways I can Do the Right Thing that will make a difference in the lives of others around me and elsewhere.

Here are a few examples I’ve gleaned from social media recently (and, yes, two of these videos are commercials for large corporations) that offer ideas of ways in which anyone can help the world become a better place.

From The New York Times, Home Is Where the Resistance Is

The Cat Man of Aleppo

Or maybe it’s just a small matter of Paying It Forward

And this story is about a friend who is an avid gardener as well as someone who constantly looks for ways to help others and contribute to her community, just because that’s the kind of person she is … Last summer, when her own garden was in full bloom, she began cutting the flowers to create bouquets then knocked on doors of houses on her street and gave those neighbours the gift of her flowers. Such a simple act, but one which I’m sure the neighbours, many of whom she’d never actually met prior to doing this, very much appreciated.

I know there are hundreds more examples of people Doing the Right Thing, and some other examples I have are friends of mine. I want to “up” my own personal game though and, as I said above, will pledge to do more. As I think of other ways I can personally make a difference I will add them to my blog.

So, what about you? Do you know of other examples in which people Do the Right Thing? If you are already helping the world in whatever way you can – for free, without an agenda or opportunity for personal financial gain, and not just by donating cash to causes in need, but by actually offering personal help, a hand up, or even simply showing compassion and understanding to your neighbours, colleagues, animals … Please post those examples and ideas below. I would love to hear from you!

And, like me, please consider pledging to do more – even if it’s just a small act of kindness a day. If enough people do the same, we can make a difference in this world. That’s the kind of world in which I, and I’m sure you, as well, would prefer to live.

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Smorgasbord Blog Sitting Special – Two Sisters by author Susan M. Toy

Thanks to Sally Cronin for inviting me to Blogsit by publishing this story I wrote about my older sister, Betty!

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

blog-sitting

A very special family photograph and story now of two sisters. Author Susan Toy has many reasons to be thankful for her supportive older sister, not least for home-baked oatmeal cookies.

About Susan M. Toy

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Susan M. Toy has been a bookseller, an award-winning publishing sales representative, a literacy teacher, and is a tireless promoter of fellow authors and their books. She’s also an author and publisher, under the imprints, IslandCatEditions and IslandShorts, and has published eBooks written by other authors, as well as two novels and a novella of her own. Susan shares her time between a verandah on the island of Bequia in the Caribbean and the deck of a trailer near the eastern shore of Lake Huron in Canada.

Two sisters at Barry’s Farm near South Lake at Minden, ON by Susan M. Toy

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This is a photo of me with my older sister, Betty, taken in…

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5 Easy Steps to Successfully Write, Publish and Promote Your Book!

Thought it was time to reblog this post full of “expert” advice, for all of you out there who may be wondering about my …

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

OR … How I Nearly Became an Overnight Success After My Forty-Year Apprenticeship in the Book Business!

If you read my bio you’ll realize I have worked with books and authors in one way or another for most of my life. I have experience as a bookseller, a publishers’ sales rep, a promoter (a self-styled Author Impresario!), a speaker, a student of writing, editing and publishing, a published author, and a publisher of my own and other authors’ work. I’ve been writing this blog on-and-off for almost ten years, and have discussed the book business here, made friends with like-minded authors and readers, networked and reached many other people in the business, made many friends and connected with even more colleagues, have shared a great deal of information I discovered over the years on the topics of Publishing, Reading, and Writing (hence the name of this blog …), followed and…

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Popular posts … Who knew?

A year later and this is still very much the case! There must be a new batch of writing students out there, because the hits for “Writing about meeting my best friend” have recently increased 10-fold. Also popular in searches have been the lines “pain from Chikungunya” that lead readers to my series of blog posts concerning the virus. So much so, again just lately, have people been searching for information that I’ll be writing a separate post about the virus and Zika.

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

For the longest time now, since about 5 or 6 years ago, the two most popular phrases used on search engines that have brought people to my blog are “baking bread in a pizza oven” followed closely by “meeting my best friend for the first time”. Here are the two posts that those searchers click on: Baking Bread in the Pizza Oven and I met my best friend for the first time.

The first search always made sense to me, because home pizza ovens are becoming popular among foodies, Dennis had built one here on Bequia, and I had written a number of blog posts featuring our experiments in using it, both for making pizza and baking bread.

The second search I always took as being very flattering. There seemed to be a lot of people out there on the internet who were nostalgic for that first meeting with…

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Place-Based Crime: Q & A with Susan M. Toy

Thanks to Reading Recommendations-promoted author, Paul Butler, for asking me the questions in this interview on his blog!

paul butler novelist

Setting is often one of the most fascinating aspects of a crime novel. Sherlock Holmes would not have been the same without London, its hansom cabs, its street gangs, and its sharp division between the capital’s east and west ends. More recently, Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels shoulder the history of Edinburgh, with its pubs, its narrow streets, and its seedy antiquity living on into the 21st century.

Anne Cleeves’s Jimmy Perez novels exemplify another kind of place-based crime fiction. Most of us in the English-speaking world have heard of Shetland, but very few people have set foot on the northern Scottish Isle. Placing a story in a location that is real yet quite remote has both advantages and challenges for the author.

This issue is the natural starting point for a Q & A with Canadian-born author Susan M. Toy, whose racy and compelling novel, Island in the Clouds

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A small request of all my readers …

I’m reblogging this post I wrote in April 2016 to update with the information and inclusion of One Woman’s Island, the 2nd Bequia Perspectives novel that has since been published as a eBook. So I’d like to again make this small request of all readers …

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

iitcYes, I know this news is going to be hard to believe, but after 4 years in publication (both as an eBook and in print) Island in the Clouds will finally have a sister-novel to share your shelf or space on your eReader! I finished writing an umpteenth draft of One Woman’s Island a week-and-a-half ago and now it’s in the hands of my editor, Rachel Small. I think at this point in time, after writing and rewriting the story of Mariana on Bequia these past 12 years, I’m more relieved than excited. Now comes the ultra hard work of preparing the final edited manuscript for ePublication, sometime later this year.onewomanisland-cover-draft-3

That publication date has been moved back further, however, because yesterday I discovered this link to a competition for which the new novel qualifies. But the novel needs to be unpublished. Might as well give that a shot…

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Book Reviewing Isn’t Simple – The Dark Truth of Author Bullying

Some are still biting the hand that feeds all of our promotion and publicity needs … This ongoing problem of bullying reviewers has to stop RIGHT NOW!! (See as well my blog post of a few days ago, Authors continuing to behave badly …)

Happymeerkatreviews

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*Ok, I’m honestly a little scared of posting this as I don’t want any more harassment from the wrong people…

The above picture pretty much sums up how I feel today.  I’m exhausted and drained from all the horrible things that have happened recently.  I’ve faced cold distant treatment, attacks on facebook and now I’ve been bullied privately, all because I wanted to be honest and help out an author.

Back in October I wrote this post A Tough Decision – Don’t blame the Book Blogger Blame Your Fellow Indies 😦 after facing a load of abuse from some indie authors.  In the post I talked about my tough decision to stop reviewing indie books, but several weeks later, after having only good communications, I took back my ‘no-indie’ policy and started receiving indie requests again.  BEFORE I go on I must point out that this post isn’t talking about all the…

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