Today our guest is book reviewer extraordinaire Ionia Martin. Please join me in welcoming her to the blog. Plus we have author Adrienne Vaughan’s views on the importance of book reviews, posting a review to Amazon and gearing up to write your own review.
1) Where can readers and writers find your blog?
You can find me at http://readfulthingsblog.com
2) Where do you post your book reviews as well as your blog?
It depends on the book, but I usually cross-post to Amazon.com US and UK as well as posting to Facebook, Linked-in, Goodreads and Twitter. If the author has a publisher site I will sometimes post there too.
3) What type of books will you consider for review?
I don’t do sci-fi books. Otherwise, I accept almost anything that doesn’t include graphic material. If a 15 year old couldn’t read it without blushing or getting sick, I don’t want it. I have kids in the house and I never know when they are going to start reading what I have lying about. My favourite categories for fiction are historical, romance, fantasy and thrillers. For non-fiction I will take almost anything. I only accept review requests during the months of April and November though, as my list is always long and I am usually about 6 months out for a review.
I prefer kindle (Mobi format) over PDF. I love being able to highlight and save passages to use in the reviews. Plus, I have kindle on all my portable devices so it makes it easy to read and travel. Occasionally I long for a paper book.
I go back over the notes I have saved for the book and try to think about what will not only be important to mention for the audience, but for the author as well. If there is something that I either loved or disliked strongly, I want to ensure that gets mentioned. I also make sure I am spelling the author’s name right.
Unless the book is really, really bad (this almost never happens) I just read until finished. I try to plan out my week to where I do a couple of longer books and then a few shorter books so that I can balance the schedule and get to the books as soon as possible.
It really depends on how I felt about the book. It is harder to write a negative review than a positive one. I tend to take longer to put out a negative review as I want to be careful about revealing my feelings. Sometimes I find that if I mull a book over for a few days my thoughts on it will organise a bit better and then I can write a more precise review.
I do tend to read more than one at a time, especially if I am working on a really long book. My rule is that I never read two of the same genre at the same time. I don’t want to get confused and make a mistake in my review. So, for instance, if I’m reading a historical fiction book, I may also read a contemporary romance at the same time.
Do I think this is a good book for the age group it was put out for? Would I buy this for someone as a gift? Did the book capture my attention and not let it go? There are a variety of things that go into a well balanced review. If there are any negatives or serious content errors that the author/publisher should be aware of. Mostly I try to state my honest, bare bones feelings about how the book made me react.
The main thing I want to stress, is that reviews may be important to the author, but they are not ABOUT the author. If you have a qualm with the book, so be it. But to be fair and professional, you must keep in mind that the author is a separate entity. As a reviewer, you are there to give an opinion on the book, NOT the person. Never insult an author in your review. I would also avoid giving spoilers if at all possible. You might love a book and unintentionally harm the author by giving away too much information and then people will refuse to purchase the book. Less is more.
I do write negative reviews, but not without warrant. I never guarantee any author that I will write a good review. If you do this long enough, you will have to write something less than shining, if you want to remain honest and above-board. No one loves every book they read. I’m not afraid to mention what I didn’t like as long as I feel I am still being respectful of the author. I have been called a “Book Nazi,” a “Literary ax murderer” and other such choice phrases by unhappy authors. I think in my entire career as a reviewer I have written less that 10 one star reviews. All authors are different. Some will lose their temper over a 3 star review and some will thank you for a 1 star. Remember why you love doing this and push forward.
I try not to play favourites with publishers. I care about the book. Will it interest me? Have I seen the idea before? Will the audiences I share my reviews with have anything to say about it and will it excite them? It really doesn’t matter to me which publisher or author it came from as long as I feel the book might be a good fit.
Hands down, my favourite book in recent memory is “The Butterfly and the Violin,” by Kristy Cambron. I am still thinking about this novel even though it has been a good while since I finished it. I have very few books on my shelf at home, but I intend to add a hardcover copy of this one soon. Here is the info on where to find it Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
1) How important are book reviews for an author?
Reviews are really important, after at times, many years’ of solitary hard work, it’s great to get some feedback, positive or negative. Positive is better obviously, and when a reviewer tells you what they particularly like, it’s great because you know you are doing something right.
2) What are the top sites for book reviews?
Amazon and Goodreads, I would say. But never underestimate the power of a little review in a local newspaper or magazine, even more valuable to an author in a national title.
3) Many authors have their books and an author platform on Goodreads. Why do you think it’s a good place?
Because Goodreads is all about readers, and that’s who we ultimately want to be talking to – it’s the biggest – virtual – book club on the planet!
4) What else does Goodreads provide for readers that you are part of? (ie Groups, Reading challenge, giveaways)
Like many authors, I am sure I don’t use Goodreads to its fullest extent, but I am currently looking into running some giveaways for my novels, just to widen the net.
5) With the KDP self-publishing platform on Amazon, plus its world-wide buying power, this makes it a top site for books. Do people still need to post book reviews on Amazon or will discounted prices keep books selling?
I am convinced activity such as reviews, likes, comments on any book site, and especially Amazon increases visibility and powers that ‘Big Brother’ of the 21st century – SEO – which in turn encourages automated promotion. Discounted books will still sell, but even more so if a recent review lets you know it is exactly what you are looking for.
6) What would you like to see in a review of any book?
Sincere comments, like is it well written, does it make you laugh, cry, deal with big issues, has a happy ending …are important I think. Comments that make you aware of the content so time invested in reading is not wasted. A general overview of the story is helpful, to see if it is the sort of tale you might be interested in, but trying to synopsis the story in a review is too big an ask in many cases and that’s what the book is for, telling the story. Let the reviewer give the reader enough to know whether it’s worth a go is my opinion.
7) Have you ever paid for book reviews? Are they considered “Professional” and important?
No, I haven’t and whether or not they are considered professional or important depends on who the reviewer is. Most genuine reviewers don’t wish to be paid, but I can understand people wanting a stock of reviews ready for when a book is launched, that’s just like giving a recipe a try before putting a product out on the supermarket shelves.
In saying that I am happy to give my books to reviewers, and happy for them to say what they like, a writer has to be able to stand by what they write and in my case, why I am proud to be indie published.
8) What’s the best way to deal with a review from someone who didn’t like your book?
It’s true what they say, the more you write and publish the easier it gets, but it can still hurt. If it is genuine criticism, I take it on the chin and learn from it; if it is sour grapes or vindictive, I just ignore it. If I do receive a bad review (and there have been very few so far, thankfully) I read all the other lovely ones, from wonderful, kind reviewers, then pick up my pen and carry on.
9) Do you think anyone can write a review? Do they have to be a minimum number of words?
Yes, anyone can write and review …and if possible everyone should. It is the only way you can say thank you to a writer for any pleasure they may have given you. I write them all the time, for everything. However, I NEVER write a bad review, life’s too short.
No minimum number of words. Some people feel happy writing loads, others just say, ‘this book was brilliant, couldn’t put it down’ – always click the stars though, sometimes even that is enough.
10) Where can readers find out more about you and your books?
They can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, find me on Facebook or Twitter @adrienneauthor and here are my links on Amazon
The Hollow Hearthttp://viewbook.at/TheHollowHeart
A Change of Hearthttp://viewbook.at/AChangeofHeart
All books have now been sent out and the requests are now closed.
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How about a modern twist on Tudor history? Relive the life of Henry VIII through the eyes of Harry Lanchester and his merry wives. REQUEST A COPY OF KINGS AND QUEENS BY TERRY TYLER (Contemporary) (All copies have now been requested)
Are you in a romantic mood? How about a romantic Highland fling? REQUEST A COPY OF TALL, DARK AND KILTED BY LIZZIE LAMB (Romance) (2 copies left)
Or how about a romantic romp with journalists in Norfolk with wedding bells in the air? REQUEST A COPY OF BOOT CAMP BRIDE BY LIZZIE LAMB(Romance) (All copies have now been requested)
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More tales from Null City, can be easily read as a stand alone or part of the series.. REQUEST A COPY OF DON’T TOUCH BY BARB TAUB(Paranornal NA Fantasy)
How about a bit of witches and history? England 1647, civil war and Matthew Hopkins sweeps through the land as the Witchfinder. REQUEST A COPY OF THE BLACK HOURS BY ALISON WILLIAMS (Historical) (1 copy left)
Could you see yourself at a tournament of Gamesmen as they play a game of Comet? There’s a mystery man and a potion maker in this fantasy. REQUEST A COPY OF THE BIRR ELIXIR BY JO SPARKES (YA Fantasy) (2 Copies left)
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Can we tempt you with a spiritual quest? Albion, is the oldest name for Britain. Wen and Don take you on a mystical journey through Myths and Legends of these blessed Isles. REQUEST A COPY OF THE HEART OF ALBION BY SUE VINCENT & STUART FRANCE ( A spiritual quest around England) (All copies have now been requested)
Crime? The first book in the Georgie Connelly crime series. Join feisty documentary film-maker Georgie as she dangerously plans to expose Gentleman’s Clubs. REQUEST A COPY OF BUSINESS AS USUAL BY E.L.LINDLEY(Crime) (All copies have now been requested)
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How about a murder mystery set in a coastal resort in Maine? REQUEST A COPY OF DEATH IN A RED CANVAS CHAIR BY N.A GRANGER (Murder Mystery) (All copies have now been requested)
Step back in time to Georgia and the deep south for this book, real people struggling to survive with segregation and inequality. This is a fictionalised real story. REQUEST A COPY OF RED CLAY AND ROSES BY S.K. NICHOLLS (1 copy left)
British comedy comes in the form of the Derek series, we have the first book available as a kindle download for UK reader/ challengers only. REQUEST A COPY OF PLEASE CALL ME DEREK BY MAC BLACK (British Adult Humour) (2 copies left)
1867, the American Wild West. British raised girl Annie meets wild man Colt McCall after a stagecoach crash. Fantastic cowboy romance. (Voucher from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com to download the book.) REQUEST A COPY OF AN ENGLISHWOMAN’S GUIDE TO THE COWBOY BY JUNE KEARNS (Historical romance) (1 copy left)
1924, the English Shires. Jazzing flappers and a half share in a million acre ranch in Texas. (voucher from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com to download the book.) REQUEST A COPY OF THE 20’S GIRL, THE GHOST AND ALL THAT JAZZ BY JUNE KEARNS (Historical Romance) (2 copies Left)
16 year old Jade discovers her Grandmother was murdered. She sets out to find the mystery commune killer. REQUEST A COPY OF JADED BY KRISTY FELTENBERGER-GILLESPI.(YA Thriller) (All copies have now been requested)