Let’s Talk About #BookReviews Day 4

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We are well over half way through “Write a book review on Amazon ” month and this week I’ve been supporting the campaign with some book reviewing themed posts.

Readers reviewers

At some point in book reviewing everyone will come across a book they really didn’t like, could you still write a review and how could you write it?

Negative and Bad Reviews

I can guarantee this is going to cause a scene.

So what do you do if you really didn’t like a book? People who slam a book and its author publically are often called Book Trolls. Like wise authors who have fans who bully anyone who dares to post a low star rated review, are also connected to the troll label. I suspect this is one of the top reasons why people fear to post a review and it damages the industry as a whole.

Firstly put yourself in the shoes of an author, someone who has toiled hard over their book, you don’t know the mountains they’ve climbed to get this far. Personal, physical, emotional mountains, how would you feel if this was your life’s work?

So you can still write a review, it will be challenging. Find points that you did like, perhaps the overall story, a strong character, a funny moment. You might have liked the first chapter, perhaps it was full of promise, even if it all went down hill from there, still say what you liked.

You can say things didn’t work for you like a fight scene or a love scene. Or you had trouble picturing the mystery building. Some fantasy and sci-fi books need to really make the reader understand new imaginary planets and realms. I once read a book which read like an arcade game with characters leaping from level to level in huge cavernous spaces, it felt 2-D and I longed for depth in the form of the descriptions and the senses, like smell and hearing.

My best advice for a book you don’t like, is LESS IS MORE. If I wrote my favourite character was the mother-in-law and she had a minor part in the book, then I’m hoping the author might pick up that the main characters hadn’t hit the mark. If I said I really like the first three chapters, then there is a hint that the rest of the book may not have lived up to my expectations. If you’ve struggled to write perhaps 10 lines then there probably wasn’t much that made you jump up and down, leave a shorter review.  However you still haven’t been rude about the book.

Ultimately the top LESS is MORE tip. If you can’t find anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. A no review speaks volumes. If you’ve been asked to write a review and really feel you can’t, be polite and say the book wasn’t for you. If you bought the book and didn’t like it, move on there are billions more books out there.

Reading Original

A little note to authors.

All authors who put there work out in the public eye, cannot reasonably expect every single person to like their work. We all read a book differently and a range of book reviews and their star ratings is a healthy thing on review sites. I do understand the hours spent on creating a book and often the author is so attached to their work that they cannot stand, that anyone might not love it as they do and see it as they wrote it.

I’ve come across authors who want to disagree with a book review and try to “heavily suggest” that the reader can’t possibly have read the entire book, if they didn’t enjoy, “the romance between the characters”, or they didn’t comment on the brilliant ending. You can’t tell someone how they should read your book.

I have an author who came back to me several times in the last year, to tell me how brilliant some other readers have thought his work, he doesn’t tell me about the other readers who gave it a 3* review as I did, instead he is insistent that I couldn’t have read the book as it was intended, that I “didn’t get it” and I feel he is trying to wear me down, either to withdraw my review or to reconsider. Nope, nada, not happening, don’t do this authors, it makes you look petty and word gets around the book community that you are to be avoided.

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Tomorrow I shall be looking at my book community.

Catch up with posts from:
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.

Let’s Talk About #BookReviews Day 2 #TuesdayBookBlog

This month I’m supporting write a book review on Amazon and I’m helping encourage more reading to post reviews. So this week I’m writing a series of book review themed posts.

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With Amazon being a very important online book seller, it is probably the top author hang out and often the first go to place for book buyers. The number of book reviews a book gets are often more important than their star rating in improving a book’s visibility.

Reading Soft edge

So could you write a review for a non-fiction book? Answer yes you can. Ok, Hands up who’s ever read a non-fiction book cover to cover? Hmm not so many of you.

I feel non-fiction needs a slightly different approach.

1) You still need to be armed with a paper and pen to jot down the book title, author, notes, characters and observations.

2) What’s really important is that you get the gist or the substance of the book. Many non-fiction books start out by telling you that you might want to dip in and out of chapters. Good News for a reviewer they give you permission to skip bits that are of no interest.

3) To help me explain, I’ve just grabbed a copy of “Farm Office Handbook” from my shelves it’s written by The Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators. (I’m a part-time farm secretary here in the UK in case you’re wondering) So I’d jot down book title and who created/ wrote the book.

4 Next look for a  forward or dedication and read it, it often gives you good clues about the book and may sum the whole book up in a few good words which you might be able to use to guide you when you write your own review. But never just copy passages from the forward, write your review and never open the book again, that would be plain rude and disrespectful.

5) Next check out the contents page. Here you’ll find out more about the book. The one I’m using today has a list of 15 chapters ranging from The Farm office, accounting, balance sheets, statutory farm record keeping, staffing and payroll and the Professional Farm administrator (That’s a posh name for my job) At the end of the book are a list of appendix with more details. Many non-fiction books have appendix covering books they’ve quoted from, relevant scientific data, studies, further reading etc. It’s always good to add to your book review that these appendix exist saying a bit about what they are.

6) So back to the non-fiction review. If the subject of the book really interests you, you will most likely read a good 80/100%. make notes on each chapter about what they contain and perhaps write no more than a sentence or two on 5-6 chapters from the book. If you get bogged down in academic details or the subject is written about very deeply and you get lost don’t panic. If you can read at least 50% of a non-fiction book, I believe you can still write a review.  Most chapters will either start with an overview of the subject to be discussed or end with a summary. Use these to find positive points to write about. You can also say; “This book dealt with “X” really deeply” or “There was a great in-depth discussion about….”

7) For a non-fiction review the challenge is to learn something new, discover new people, places and information. You might find a useful website that was mentioned, or a holiday destination, or a museum that would interest you. For instance you might be able to say in your review, “I didn’t know that…” It’s those moments of discovery that you are looking for and can add to your review. Or did the book inspire you do something? When I read  In Praise Of Lilith, Eve And The Serpent In The Garden Of Eden And Other Stories by Susan Scott,  after the first essay I was inspired to go and clean my house and tidy up my garden. I shall say that in my review. I felt so proud of my house after I’d given it some loving attention and it lifted my spirits. It’s little personal details like this that will make a review really genuine.

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8) So don’t be frightened of writing a non-fiction review. Approach it slightly differently, with a very open mind. Don’t panic about having to read every single word. Authors of non-fiction may well have an even harder time selling their books that fiction authors. Often their potential customers may come from a very narrow niche, so your review will be valued just as much as a review for a fiction book.

Tomorrow I’m looking at more of an in-depth book review. Missed Day 1? There were some great comments and discussions catch up here http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-9iV

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.

Let’s Talk About #Bookreviews Day 1 #MondayBlogs

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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.