Book review Challenge Series – How I write a book review

Day 1

Welcome one and all to our Book review challenge, I just want to thank everyone who is supporting this series it means so much to me. So what have we got for you?

I truly believe that books and book sales are changing as people browse virtual book stores to buy their books. This is where the book review really will 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 in the last week “Since I starting writing my book I’ve come to realise how important book reviews are” well, we’d be well on the way down to the nearest bookstore to stock up on books!

So today I’m in the spotlight talking about book reviews and giving you some simple easy tips to start you off book reviewing. I’ll get you thinking about reading a different genre and we have a guest piece from Melissa Newman at Martin Sisters Publishing.

We’ve been busy signing readers up who want to read and review one book from the line up we have to offer. There are still copies available of many of the books.

 

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Book Review Challenge

Thursday 26th June – Book reviewing by Bodicia from A Woman’s Wisdom + How to download a PDF file of a book to your kindle+ non-fiction reviews.

Friday 27th June – The Importance of book reviews by author Terry Tyler + a look at Goodreads + A bad or negative review, should you write it?

Saturday 28th June – Book Reviewing by Diane Coto from Fictionzeal + Shelfari + Going in deep, talking more about reviews.

Sunday 29th June – Book reviewing by Ionia Martin from Readfulthings + Reviewing to Amazon + Gearing up to write that review.

Monday 30th June – The Importance of book reviews by Lizzie Lamb + Authors should walk to the book reviewers side of the fence.

Let’s find out more about Rosie Amber’s book reviews.

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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 write for 2 local magazines and post 5 selected book reviews to each magazine per month. The magazines go out to 7000 readers in my local area and both have on-line versions. (Featured authors tell me they love this because they can visit my book review pages from all over the world)
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.
3) What format do I like books to be in for review?
I really like paperback books best, but I also enjoy using my Kindle as an alternative.  I do understand the cost of sending books to reviewers, so I accept books in Mobi or PDF. 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.
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. Sometimes I’m specific about the genre of the book, but not always because people can make their own choice about what they might like to read.  Often at the end I say what I liked about 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 that is full of all the book plot I find there is nothing left for me to discover myself, so I would not buy and read the book. I won’t say I don’t like a book in the review, but I may say if I found parts difficult or challenging to read. There are ways to use words so that hopefully they don’t offend the author.
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. I may let them know that the book didn’t suit me and I feel I’m unable to write a review for them.
12) Do I work with any publishers or groups who regularly ask you to review books?
No, I have reviewed a couple of e-books for Sainsbury’s and a book for booktrope.com. Otherwise it’s just my 2 local magazines.
13) Tell you about any book which I’ve recently read and reviewed which really impressed me.
Roy Dimond writes some fantastic books which make you think about yourself deeply and the world around you.
Book Review Challenge
Guest Piece from Melissa Newman at Martin Sisters Publishing
I asked Melissa about the importance of book reviews from a Publisher’s point of view. Here’s what she had to say;
1)     When an author approaches you with their work, do you ever research them to see if they have written and published any other books?

Yes. We do research authors. We like to see what they’ve written and how or if they market themselves. If they do it’s a big plus for us. Some writers believe that once the book is published then the heavy lifting is done – not so. The heavy lifting is just beginning. Your work is not truly complete until someone reads it; and for that you need to market your work.

2)     If you saw an author had previously self-published a book and had several book reviews, how many reviews and what ratings would impress you?

We are not turned off by self-publishing but if an author has self-published we like to see that he/she has implemented a good plan for reaching potential readers.

3)     When reading a book review, what types of comments would make you feel it was from a genuine reader and not just a friend of the author?

Genuine readers don’t usually use cliché’s, hyperbole and what I like to call “sales speak.” They are honest about their feelings toward the author and his/her work and it shows.

4)     How important are book reviews to the book industry?

Book reviews are extremely important to the book industry but just like everything else in marketing, when the message is obviously controlled then it spoils the book review industry as a whole. Word of mouth is still the best marketing tool and if you give readers a platform to speak opinions then book reviews work – when those reviews are paid for and the message is controlled, they don’t.

5)     Would you ever consider representing a book that had previously been self-published?

Martin Sisters Publishing may consider a book that has been previously self-published but it’s not likely. The initial launch of a book is crucial – that’s when you get the most “oomph.” If it has already been released the “oomph” is gone and it’s much harder to build an audience.

Thank you so much Melissa for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. Find more about them here http://www.martinsisterspublishing.com/

Easy tips for writing a book review – I’ll look at it again in a deeper article later in the week.
1) Have a note book and pen handy.
2) Make a note of the Book Title, author, publisher and date you start the book. You might want to state the genre/ category the book falls into.
3) The first paragraph – what did it tell you? Note down names, places, time frame, any first impressions you get.
4) The first couple of chapters may well introduce lots of characters, note them all down they may be significant later.
5) As you go through make small notes or just use 1 or 2 words about the main events, such as a tournament, a party, a wedding, new job, a journey, etc to jog your memory when writing the review later.
6) At the half way stage of the book you should now have a good feel for the book. Is it fast paced? or Slow? Are there several characters narrating? Are there a couple of places or time frames being used? Can you guess where the book is leading? If its a thriller or mystery, are you being lead down dead end routes just when you think you’ve guessed the plot?
7) Has the feel of the book changed since the start? For instance a thriller may turn very sinister.
8) For the second half of the book, there may be less notes to make, you know the characters, the know where the book is set. Note any twists and turns in the storyline. After half-way the book will be well into the story I probably won’t use much of this material now for my book review because I’m in danger of adding spoilers and giving too much away.
9) The end. So after you’ve read the last page, how do you feel? Sad? Elated? Enlightened? Frustrated? Some books have cliff hangers leading on to the next in the series. If this is part of a series does it have you wanting to grab the next book? Did the ending surprise you?
10) Now think about a review. Think about what you would personally look for when choosing a book? What do you like to read on the back cover of a book? Or in the general description when you buy on-line?
11) Try writing no more than 10 lines to start with about the book in a way which would entice yourself to pick it up. Some reviewers start a review using the published book description and then go on to talk about how they liked the book.
Or perhaps you didn’t like the book, try writing a bit about the plot and the characters, but say how they didn’t work for you. Think about your choice of words, someone has spent hours writing and producing this book. If you really have strong reasons for disliking a book, no review may be kinder than leaving a rude one.
Book Review Challenge
Genres; Moving out of your comfort Zone.
Be aware that many, many books these days cross genres; YA thrillers, romantic mysteries, historical adventure. There are so many sub-genres within the book world that you shouldn’t be blinkered and limit the type of books you try. There is just so much choice out there now with the explosions of e-books and self publishing.
Be adventurous and come out of your comfort zone every once in a while. Challenge yourself to read something new or an old classic. I even read a “New Classic” recently. Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada is marketed as a New Classic by Penguin. Throw in a non-fiction book every now and again, mix it up and if you’ve been in a rut lately you might just be inspired by some of the new up and coming authors. I think we’ve a great selection for you here on this series.
Tomorrow you’ll hear from Bodicia a book reviewer who blogs at A Woman’s Wisdom, downloading a PDF file of a book to your kindle and non-fiction reviews.

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Romancing September Author E.L Lindley (Day 2)

Welcome to our second day on Romancing September Across the World, today we meet E. L. Lindley and we talk about her book “Family Ties”. Zip over to Georgia USA in a few hours and meet E. L Lindley once more on Stephanie’s blog where they discuss writing romance in today’s society. We had a fantastic start to the tour yesterday, I hope you are all enjoying our guests.

E. L. Lindley Author

Let’s find out more about our author;

1) Where do you live?

I live in Sheffield, which is in South Yorkshire. It’s actually my home town but, after leaving for university in 1980, I didn’t live here again until about 9 years ago. I always came back regularly for visits though and lots of my friends live in this area so I’m really happy to be back.

2) You’ve written 7 books to date are they all romances?

I suppose they all fit under the umbrella of romance even though they are all very different. I think romantic fiction is in a really exciting transition phase at the moment, mushrooming into lots of different sub-genres. Two of my novels, Family Ties and Don’t Look Back are probably more straight romance whereas the others fall into the romantic thriller category. Four of my books are part of the Georgie Connelly series, which are light hearted crime capers, featuring Georgie and her love interest, James Finn. There are lots of other regular characters as well and they are great fun to write because Georgie gets into all sorts of scrapes. Dare To Lose is a more serious thriller but has lots of romance thrown into the mix as well. I created Nicola Mills, the lead character in Dare To Lose, as something of an homage to older women, after reading an article stating that readers liked their heroines to be no older than 34. Nicola is pushing 50 but I think she is a very likeable, engaging character.

3) “Family Ties” is mainly set in Los Angeles, but where did Beth live before that, what drew her to that place?

Beth grew up in London but went to university in Edinburgh, where she eventually lands a great job as artist in residence. All this is thrown into disarray, however, when her mum dies. Beth had a difficult relationship with her mother, who was a single parent and it’s only after she dies that Beth manages to find the identity of her birth father. He has a successful business based in Los Angeles and, once she makes contact with him, he invites her to stay with him and his family which has life changing consequences for her.

4) How does the title of the book help Beth to move on from the past?

Beth’s mother was a very dysfunctional person and she wasn’t always truthful in how she presented things to Beth. Beth has been emotionally damaged by her mother and it’s only after her mother’s death that she can begin to unravel the ties that bound her to what was basically an unhappy life. Finding her father and allowing herself to become part of his family is a second chance for Beth. The title is born out of the idea that sometimes the ties that bind us to the people we love are not healthy and family doesn’t have to be defined by blood. Beth is tied to her father and half-brother by blood but she is equally connected to her father’s wife, who welcomes her into the family wholeheartedly.

5) Cal is an ex-marine was this a deliberate career choice for a hero?

Creating a romantic hero is possibly one of the most fun parts of writing. I have to fall in love with my leading men or I know I’m not doing my job properly and so basically I create men I want to go out with. I do confess I have a soft spot for men in uniform but, more than this, casting Cal as an ex-marine ensured that he was always going to be tough, capable and dependable.

6) There are many different romance styles, how did you choose the level of intimacy in this book?

That’s a very topical question because the recent emergence of erotica as a sub-genre within romance has perhaps changed readers’ expectations where intimacy is concerned. With Family Ties, I attempted to maybe be more explicit than I am in any of my other novels but I think it’s still pretty tame. I have to admit that as a reader, I prefer it when the sex is less explicit and left more to the reader’s imagination, which is probably reflected in my own writing.

7) Beth has a lot of emotional issues to work through, where do you get your ideas from?

Beth does have a lot of emotional issues to work through but I think we probably all do. Beth’s situation is quite extreme but we all have insecurities and hang-ups that can prevent us from going after what we want in life. I spend a lot of time observing people and wondering what makes them tick and I’m a bit of a magpie with my friends’ lives. I steal all of their experiences and work them into my stories, hopefully embellished enough so that they don’t recognise themselves.

8) Would you ever try writing any other branch of romance such as paranormal romance, historical romance or thriller romance?

I really enjoy reading all kinds of romantic fiction but I think writers are probably just more naturally drawn to specific areas. For me, I tend to stick to thrillers and contemporary issue based romance. Before I even start to plan my stories, I spend a long time thinking about them and my mind seems to naturally head down the same route. I think historical romance is probably quite unique in that it would require a lot of research and I suspect historical writers have a passion for the era in which they set their stories.

9) If you were ever asked to write something steamy like erotica, would you be tempted to publish under a different name?

To be honest, Family Ties is probably as steamy as I’m likely to get. What I didn’t realise before I set about trying to describe the intimate scenes between Beth and Cal was how difficult it is. I think writing erotica is probably a whole skill set that I don’t have. I remember when I was part way through Family Ties, a friend and I went out for lunch and spent the whole time trying to think of euphemisms for having sex. I’m sure the other diners wondered what we were up to as we giggled uproariously like naughty school girls. I have a feeling that if I was to write an erotic novel it would probably turn out to be more squirm inducing than steamy.

10) Will your next book be a romance too?

I’m currently about halfway through a standalone romantic thriller. It’s about a woman called Maggie who is looking for her sister. She retraces her sister’s movements to Texas, where she went to meet a man with whom she’d been corresponding on the internet. Maggie is forced to hire a local private investigator to help with the search and he just happens to be the man of my dreams. Hopefully he’ll feature in lots of other readers’ dreams as well!

Family Ties 290712You can find “Family Ties” at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Please join me in thanking E. L. for being our guest today and wishing her well with her new book. Don’t forget catch up with over at Stephanie’s blog next.