Let’s Talk About #Bookreviews Day 1 #MondayBlogs

rosie gardening

I’m involved with helping to spread the news that August is write a book review on Amazon month, this week I’m going to post some themed book reviewing posts to encourage more people to leave those all important reviews.

Readers reviewers

I truly believe that book sales have changed as people browse virtual book stores to buy their books. This is where the book reviews really help sell a book in a market place full of millions and millions of books. If I had a £1 for every-time someone said to me, “Since I starting writing my book I’ve come to realise how important book reviews are”, well, I’d be well on the way to spending that money stocking up on books!

1) Where do I post my book reviews as well as this blog?
I choose to regularly post my book reviews to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. I also write for 2 local magazines and post 5 selected book reviews to each magazine per month. The magazines go out to over 7000 readers in my local area.
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2) What type of books will I consider for review?
I enjoy romance, paranormal, humour, murder mystery, mild thrillers, spiritual and YA/NA books. I will read both non-fiction and fiction. Book reviewing has also widened my preferred reading genres and I do touch on sci-fi, historical fiction and many sub-genres of all those mentioned.
3) What format do I like books to be in for review?
I still enjoy paperback books, but my Kindle is now heavily used.  I do understand the cost of sending books to reviewers, so I accept books in Mobi which I can upload to my kindle. Authors can also gift me books or send me a voucher to cover the cost of buying their book.
4) What’s the first thing I do when beginning a book review?
I have a note book with me when I read books and I write down the title and author, the day I begin the book and I start noting character names and places, jobs, relationships etc as I go through the book.
5) How do I proceed after that?
Then I’ll note down specific events from the book, or small phrases or even things I don’t understand which may become clearer later in the book. I usually fill an A5 sized sheet with notes per book. Occasionally I’ll write more.
6) Is there an average time I spend reading a book?
I would say 2 days per book.
7) When I’ve finished a book do I write the review immediately? Or wait a while?
I always try to write the book review straight away while it is fresh in my mind. However if a book has troubled me and left me doubtful about certain points or areas, I might skim read a few reviews on Goodreads and Amazon and see if others agree with me or not. Although this isn’t always helpful if a book has received a handful of only glowing 5* reviews and nothing else. Glowing 5* reviews from family and friends stick out like sore thumbs and can put off new reviewers who would genuinely like to leave a review but feel intimidated. Much better and more genuine for an author to have a range of star rated reviews for their work.
8) Do I start a new book before writing up a review? Or do I ever read more than one book at a time?
The only time I might start a new book before writing a review is if I’m away from home. Occasionally I have more than one book on the go at a time, but the second book would usually be a non-fiction book which I could pick up and put down and is possibly one I’m reading for pleasure rather than review.
9) What points do I try to write in a review?
I like to tell the readers who the characters are, perhaps outline where and when the book takes place. I might hint at some of the plot developments and drop in a clue or two as to what happens. I try to entice the reader to go and buy the book. I’m also specific about what I thought the genre of the book was early in the review, so that a reader can move on if they aren’t interested in that genre.  Often at the end I say what I liked about the book or who I think would enjoy the book.
10) What do I try to avoid putting in any review?
I try to avoid spoilers and telling the reader too much. If I read a review or a book blurb that is full of all the book plot I find there is nothing left for me to discover myself, so I wouldn’t buy and read the book.  I may say if I found parts difficult, challenging to read, or areas which I didn’t think worked and occasionally I’ll recommend another run through editing, no one wants to spend money on a book which has more than half a dozen errors. However I won’t publically trash a book, there are ways to use words so that hopefully they don’t offend the author as long as they can look objectively on their work and the review.
11) If I find I really dislike a book, would I write a negative review?
No! People have spent a lot of time and effort writing their books. If my review is going to be 2*’s or below I write an appraisal for the author, highlighting areas where I had issues which I send privately to the author. Sometimes this goes down well other times it doesn’t. Common areas are lack of editing, in content and the written word, a proof reader really is a vital asset in today’s competitive market. Other times it is from newbie authors who have spent so long in their writing cave that they haven’t kept up reading within their genre, seeing how writing styles are moving and yes their is even “fashion” in writing too. Just this week I was asked by an author how he was expected to know that opening a book with a dream scene marked him as a newbie. Opening dream scenes have been written so many times I’m afraid, they really are no longer cutting edge writing. Authors also need to be aware of key words which mark their writing as pretty basic, my examples are from Rayne Halls book “The Word Loss Diet“. Look, turn, see, stare, glance, sigh, smile, really, quite, started to.., began to…. When I read a book on kindle I can easily ask it to count the number of times a particular word is used and some are definitely like red rags to a bull.  In the last few months I’ve read books which average no more than 300 pages; one had 1060 uses of the word “said”, another 67 uses of the word “sigh” and a third used the word “smile” 127 times. My point is they make reading them repetitive and they run the chance of boring the reader.
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12) Do I work with any publishers or groups who regularly ask you to review books?
I do, recently I’ve reviewed for; Brook Cottage Books, Curiosity Quills, Aria Fiction, Honno Press, Stargate Novels, Publishing Push, Book Publicity services, Bonnier Publishing and The Blue Harvest Centre.
Tomorrow I’m talking about writing a review for a non-fiction book.
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There’s still time to join the #AugustReviews campaign.
1) Write a review for a book you’ve read,
2) Post it on Amazon,
3) Tweet the URL of the Amazon review and add #AugustReviews and @TerryTyler4
4) Not on Twitter? No Problem, send me the link using the contact form above and I’ll send it on to Terry, she’ll get it up on her Halls of Fame.
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30 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About #Bookreviews Day 1 #MondayBlogs

  1. Yes, I agree it’s so important to review books especially now almost anyone can publish independently. There are some absolute gems in the indie author sphere, but finding them is often more luck than anything else!

    I have managed to miss #AugustReviews but love the campaign idea

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  2. I can’t start my day without reading your reviews, Rosie. Yours is one of my favorite sites and as an indie author, I always appreciate the thought you and your team put into every review. Great post!

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  3. Ugh. This reminds me I’m behind on my reviews.

    But really…authors shouldn’t reply to reviews and certainly not negative ones. It’s professional courtesy.

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  4. Despite the fact that when I am not writing, I am probably reading, I’ve never written a review (okay so that one for a professor at Uni more than a few years ago). However, a book I read recently has moved me to thinking quite hard about giving it a shot. I’m more concerned with not doing the book and the author justice. I really enjoyed it. For this particular book I would happily put it on one of my blogs, on Amazon or even on the moon!

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  5. I’m the guy in (11) who opened with a dream sequence. Rosie also advised me to get the Word Loss Diet which I have done and it has been very useful. Some thirty hours later I am almost there. Most words were not used very often, but ‘that’ was an exception. Almost 1,000. I am on my third day working through those and then I’ll do another read through to see if any more ‘he said’, ‘she replied’, ‘they asked’ can be removed. At that time I will look at the dream sequence again, perhaps after a lengthy dram sequence. Strangely I didn’t decide to add it until the last minute. I’m still not sure why it should be proscribed though. Surely whether it is relevant cannot be known until the book is finished. On balance it is unnecessary so will probably go. I don’t think the dream sequence annoyed Rosie as much as “Immediately silence descended” LOL, anyway silence now only descends gradually LOL.

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    • Fantastic Tony, so glad you bought Rayne’s book and mucho respect that you hold your hand up to being “That Author”, Rayne has another book called “Writing vivid dialogue” which will iron out masses of dialogue tags like he said/ she said. In fact I recommend loads of her books for all sorts of writing pointers. At just a few £/$ they are gold dust for authors.

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  6. Interested that you give private feedback to the author if you don’t like the book. I’ve done this (when the book ended on a cliff-hanger – which I hate) and got a polite response but later was anonymously mocked in his blog (did he think I wouldn’t read it?) for my absurd stance. No more feedback for you Mr Snarky Pants.

    More worrying for me is a 400 page paperback I was sent with a lovely note from the writer (who I don’t know). I sat down all excited to read it and I struggled. I wondered if it was me, so I showed it to my wife. It wasn’t just me. I think they’ve done a lot of research and I’d like to know about the period, but I feel they really need to go on a writing course. There are a lot of 5* reviews, but I’m sceptical. Opinions can honestly differ, of course, but I found it very, very hard to read. This was a 400 page book. That’s an awful lot of work and it’s in paperback, so that’s an awful lot of money. And they seem so nice. I can’t bring myself to say just how badly I think it is written. I feel awful for them. It genuinely upset me. What on earth can you do? I’ve taken the coward’s way and I’m just saying nothing.

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    • Hi Tom, cliff hangers are ok if the next book is ready to purchase straight away for the reader who loved the book, a cliff hanger gets annoying if the next book is months or years away from publishing and the author runs the risk of losing readers to other books and not getting them back. My suggestion for a review of a book with a cliff hanger is to say something like this, “the ending of this book may leave some readers frustrated.” This way you don’t make it a complete spoiler and you don’t have to say you personally don’t enjoy a cliff hanger.

      I’m seeing a trend that many readers don’t have time for long reads and books that have pages averaging 290- 325 pages are often more popular. As a gross generalisation (and this is very rough) I’ll say that a book from a first time author that is in excess of 350 pages has plenty of room for slimming during another edit. This would tighten writing and get rid of unnecessary words. For a suspicious number of glowing 5* reviews, I’ll do a little digging and see how many of those readers are regularly reviewing books or are “friends and Family” of the author and have only ever reviewed about 2 items from Amazon.
      When thinking about a review one good adage is that “Reviews are for readers more than authors” an author can benefit from your feedback but ultimately your review will influence another buyer’s decision.
      For the book like the one you describe my review would be something like this:
      Book Title, its genre, a bit about the setting, main characters and about 2-3 lines on the plot. The I’d say “it is very obvious that the author has done extensive research into this subject / time in history which I found particularly interesting, however…. (I couldn’t empathise with the characters…. or the dialogue felt wooden….or the descriptive sections were too long/short) You don’t have to go into it in great lengths. You could end with “the book just wasn’t for me.” If your review is only one paragraph that’s fine, don’t get hung up on a sympathy vote and guilt, if an author can afford to produce a book, put it on the open market, and ask for reviews they should be open to an honest review.

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  7. Pingback: Let’s Talk About Book Reviews by Rosie Amber [Reblogged] - Gillian Doyle

  8. Hi Rosie,
    I found your wonderful post via Michelle. Glowing and constructive reviews are so important to authors and for readers to help them decide to buy a book. I’ll share your post too. 😀

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