Tag Archives: reviewing

Authors continuing to behave badly …

It seems to be time – again! – to remind some “authors” out there how they should be conducting themselves in the world of promoting their books. Not everyone has bad manners, but there are enough who make it difficult for the rest of us who DO abide by those guidelines and rules and maintain decent behaviour.

This need to reiterate what I’ve railed on about before here came about after a reviewer posted this poem to her own blog – a poem that was actually a cry for help and an oblique explanation of how she’d been treated recently by indie authors she had set herself up to help promote. I reblogged her poem here then wrote to the reviewer directly to tell her I understood what she was going through.

Fortunately, this reviewer’s experience has had a happy (!) ending, or at least her problem has been resolved somewhat, to the point that she posted a follow-up poem this morning on her own blog.

I knew I’d addressed this subject of “Authors Behaving Badly” before, so I typed those words into my blog’s search thingie and found the following two posts written one after the other in Dec. 2014.

So here, for the benefit of Happymeerkatreviews and those authors who continue to behave badly when approaching reviewers and other promoters, are the two posts:

How NOT to get promotion for yourself and your book …

and

HOW to get promotion for yourself and your book …

Please read and heed. And share this blog if you know authors who could benefit from my advice.

Unfortunately, there are enough authors out there who do behave badly that reviewers and promoters have had to steel themselves from abuse by creating seemingly impenetrable guidelines for submissions, and that just ruins it for the rest of the authors who do approach their own writing, publishing, and promotion in a professional manner. I’ve essentially had to close my Reading Recommendations submissions to anything unsolicited, but I also outline how authors may have their work considered for inclusion. As I say, it’s really as simple as 1-2-3!

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On reviews and reviewing

My novel, Island in the Clouds, recently received a second 2-star review on a book review site. I’m okay with the rating, because I know not everyone will enjoy my writing so this was a little jolt of reality to counter all those 4-and-5-stars I had been receiving since I first published the book in February of 2012.

WARNING – SPOILER: This story has a happy ending …

What caused me to take exception with the reviewer was that she had listed my novel in the “Thriller” category – which it is not – then complained that it had not been “thriller” enough. Worse though was that she recounted much of the plot line, right down to the ending, taking away any potential suspense readers may have discovered for themselves, had they a mind to read my book, in spite of the low rating and this reviewer’s comments. She did not include a “May Contain Spoilers” warning.

I know I can’t, or shouldn’t, say anything to the reviewer, nor do I think I should complain to the site where this was posted. I have to hope this particular review remains buried within the 31 other very-positive text reviews my book has received, as well as the many blog visits, reviews and interviews I’ve enjoyed over these past three-and-a-half-years promoting this book. (And I just know you’re all going to rush over to that site now to read the review for yourselves! Go ahead. I don’t mind, because I’d like you to give me more feedback on this subject below, in the comments section, after you finish reading the rest of this blog post.)

What bothered me most about this particular reviewer, though, was that she really does not know how to write a review. While some of the points she made about my book did strike me as logical (and I do take any criticism under consideration as I write further books in this series), she was kind of all over the map, so I’m not sure how she came up with 2 stars instead of 3 or even 1; she did seem to generally like reading the book, and there were apparently a few redeeming features. Anyway, about the “Thriller” categorization confusion … I’ve now discussed with my editor, Rachel Small, the idea to list the next novel as “Literary Fiction with a dash of Mystery” and hope that disspells any confusion as to my intentions in writing this series. (The next novel definitely is more LitFic, while Island was more Mystery. Neither is a “Thriller”, however.)

So I thought this was as good a time as any to write a blog post about Reviews and Reviewing – how to write a review (how to read a book to write a comprehensive review), how to read a review (as an author) to always get the most from it that will help improve your writing, whether we need reviews in the first place, and what reviews mean to potential readers. About a year ago, I had compiled a list of interesting links to do with these topics, so I present these to you now. Also, I have been discussing this topic with roughseasinthemed, a professional editor, journalist, and reviewer of books. She will have more to say on her own blog, but I’ve listed links to two blog posts she wrote previously that I remembered when the problem of this particular review came to my attention.

And now, here’s how you may become involved in the discussion … Please read through the links I’ve posted below then add to the conversation – especially if you are yourself a book reviewer (either professional [i.e. you are paid to review] or as a blogger). What advice would you give to anyone wishing to review our books? Has an author ever contacted you about a review you’ve posted asking that you edit the content? And, Authors, have you ever had to complain about a review for its content? For those of you who have read this particular review of Island in the Clouds, do you think I’m being too sensitive or do you think the reviewer revealed too much of the plot?

(NB. I’m not talking about malicious reviews or trolls or bullies here. Those reviewers deserve their own particular corner of Hell! I don’t believe my reviewer was being at all malicious – she just did not know how to write a book review. So please focus on this type of review and reviewer in your comments. Thanks!)

roughseasinthemed on Reviewing
I’m reviewing …
Views and reviews

Do We Really Need Book Reviews?
What’s a Book Review Really Worth? from BookMarketingBuzzBlog
When reviews really matter … from Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo
Do Read-and-Review Programs Really Work? from Indies Unlimited

On how to write a book review
How to Write a Book Review from Susan Finlay Writes

Get in on the planning stages and learn how you may help an author before their book is published
Pay it Forward – Beta Reading from Dylan Hearn’s Suffolk Scribblings

Authors, how you may want to deal with your readers … or perhaps not
Authors, Please Stop Complaining from Barbara Vey
What If Authors Behaved In Real Life Like They Behaved Online? from Tara Sparling Writes

Learn something about the publishing business so you know why your book is not receiving reviews, or being badly reviewed …
Publishing Facts You Probably Don’t Know from BookMarketingBuzzBlog

And specifically for Self-Published Authors …
From Tara Sparling Writes:
What Makes Me Buy A Self-Published Book?
What Makes People Buy Self-Published Books?
What Puts Readers Off Self-Published Books?

For those of you who base your reading selections on what sells best …
The 100 Bestselling Used Books Since 2000 from AbeBooks.com (Presumably, these books were well-reviewed when they were released.)

From roughseasinthemed … A blog post, Views and Reviews

Thanks to blogger/reviewer/editor, roughseasinthemed, for inviting me to answer questions about reviews and contribute to this thoughtful post she has written on the subject, Views and Reviews. Please do read what roughseas, T.B. Markinson and I have to say on the subject. Make a comment there while you’re at it. We’d love to hear what you think about reviews – whether you are an author or a reviewer of books.

Also, check out the original post roughseas wrote in July 2014, I’m reviewing … on what a professional reviewer considers when reviewing books.

And, last but not least, you may read roughseas’ review of my novel, Island in the Clouds, here.

Authors, don’t ask me to review your books … Please!

I was planning on writing this post when another by M T McGuire (previously featured on Reading Recommendations) popped up this morning. I reblogged Forget selling. Focus on #writing. here and recommend that, if you have not already read this, you go and do so now.

Okay, you’re back? Here’s the thoughts I want to add to that post …

As you know, I create and run Giveaways of my novel on a certain book and reading site, and these have been quite successful in getting the word out about me and my writing. One of the directives in the author agreement with this site is that we will not contact entrants or winners directly, because to do so might be considered harassment and we could be deleted from the site, if we don’t play by the rules. Fair enough, and I’ve stuck by that agreement, even though I’m itching to chat with those who have won copies of my book.

I also enter a lot of contests on this site offered by other authors. I’ve won quite a number of books, too – some very good, some bad, some indifferent. I haven’t read every book I’ve won … yet, but I do plan to get around to reading them, in good time – and when I actually have time! Currently, if all the books I have to read that are loaded on my eBook were suddenly to become print copies, and those books were added to that tower of already-in-print books stacked by my bedside, I’d run the risk of being crushed, if that stack were ever to topple over. I’ll be lucky to get through all the books I want to read in my lifetime, let alone before the end of this year. I have also been beta-reading and editing for a number of friends – reading that takes a special kind of deeper concentration for me than pleasure-reading. Since I’m writing and sending these author-friends my thoughts on their books, and suggestions as to how I think they might be able to make their books better, the last thing I want to do is write a review-on-demand, especially when the book I’ve been asked to review doesn’t really thrill me, in the end. (I make an exception in reviewing books and authors who I really, really enjoy. But I write those reviews, wanting to share these books with other readers, because THE BOOKS ARE SO GOOD!!)

So, imagine my dismay last night when I received a private message on this site from the author of a book I had recently won, asking me to review his book when I finished reading it. Not only did he not follow the prime directives from the site, but he didn’t even look at my profile to see that I, too, am an author with a book or two to promote. I might not have become as incensed by his message had he bothered to say something like, “I see you, too, are an author. When you’ve had a chance to read my book, I’d appreciate it if you’d send me your thoughts. In the meantime, is there any way I can help you to promote your books to my readers?”

In a perfect world, right?

Now, as it stands, I’m not really sure I want to read his book at all, tainted as my opinion is of this author.

You may be thinking, “Aw, give the guy a break. He’s new at this and is just trying to get his book out there.” The thing is, though, that this author is not the only one who has written, published, and is trying to promote his book. There are tens of thousands of them every day who are trying to get someone, anyone, to review their precious words. But, as I’ve said previously on this blog – and many, many times, actually – Dear Writer … it’s not all about you, ya know!.

I have done my fair share of promoting fellow authors over the decades (because that was my job), but have especially concentrated on promoting others since I first ePublished my own novel in Feb., 2012. I even created the blog, Reading Recommendations, to further promote those fellow authors. Some have promoted me and the blog in return, some have favourably reviewed my books or posted an interview with me on their blogs, many have become very good friends – albeit, virtual friends. What I’m trying to say is that it’s been equally as good for me as my promotion has been for them. For some of them. Not all have paid me back in kind, but those who have are still receiving continuing promotion from me. And, throughout this time, the readership has been building for ALL of us, so we have no need to ask each other to read and review books – the reviews are coming in from those readers who are discovering our work through our promotions of each other.

So what this author who asked me to read and review his book doesn’t realize is that, as well as not really wanting to read the book at all now, I also won’t be asking him to join us on my promotion blog. How can I seriously promote an author who hasn’t shown any interest in becoming part of this writing community?

To paraphrase John F. Kennedy … Ask not what Readers and Authors can do for you, ask what you can do for Readers and Authors!

By the way, I deleted his private message without replying and I won’t report him to the powers-that-be at the site. I hope that he, and any other authors who have been guilty of doing the same in requesting reviews, will see this blog post and recognize themselves in it – AND STOP ASKING FOR REVIEWS!!!

Unless they’re willing to read-to-review my books, in which case, let’s talk about promo possibilities, shall we? Otherwise, as M T suggests, Get back to writing! And write a great book that readers will want to read. Which is where I’m heading back to right now, Tim Baker! (previously featured on Reading Recommendations)

See how I slyly slid a little promotion into this post for my fellow authors…