Posts Tagged With: reviewing

Examiner article: Writing careers beyond the book

Please read my latest Examiner article to see all the many ways writers can earn money with their writing in addition to their books:

I would very much appreciate it if you would subscribe to my column! It’s free and it helps promote my articles.

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How to get reviews

No, this is not my hand.

If any of you have seen my book reviews list, you know it’s enormous. I really love books! I like different themes from many genres.

How do you get a reviewer to review? How do you get me to say “yes” to review your book?

  1. Have a well-written synopsis: If your synopsis sounds boring, full of errors, or really wordy, I will assume the book is too. I’m not going to test out the preview unless I have time and I’m feeling indecisive. (This is rare.)
  2. Stick to the point: This is why I replaced my email information with a form. Often it was a challenge to even find the synopsis with all the extra information. When I ask for a synopsis, I really just want to know about the book. I usually skim over any other information included, even if it’s raves from other authors or book awards. Your book should be able to stand on its own. Also, while I feel for you if you are writing about your painful childhood and reading and reviewing your book will make you feel validated, I can’t choose books based on that. I write honest reviews and that kind of pressure will scare me away.
  3. I’m an author too: If you have a book and I have a book, and we review each other, then both of us have a review! Great deal, huh. (Hint: if someone is exchanging reviews with me, I give them preferential treatment. I’m not ashamed to admit that.)
  4. That’s really it. Seriously, I choose books based on the synopsis.

How to get a “no”:

  1. Hide your synopsis: If your synopsis is hidden in the middle of a 10-paragraph sell, I may not say yes.
  2. Synopsis is too short: If you leave out vital information, I doubt your talent. If your Science Fiction book’s synopsis gives no indication that it is Science Fiction, that’s a problem. If the highlight of your book is too short for me to determine if I might like it, I will pass.
  3. Synopsis is too long: All that information is important, but I will read the book if it interests me. You don’t have to tell me the whole story. If you do, I may feel like I’ve already read the book.
  4. I feel bullied into reading: “Please help me” stories don’t help. If I feel emotionally pressured, I suspect your talent doesn’t stand on its own and I definitely wouldn’t risk disappointing you with a bad review. So I won’t write one.
  5. You inform me of how honored I am to receive your illustrious book: This is a request and I’m offering you a chance at a free service. You don’t have to lick my boots, but don’t pretend that I’ve been waiting my whole life for this opportunity.
  6. Write the wrong book: Sometimes (most of the time) I say no because the plot of the book doesn’t interest me. It may be an awesome book, but it’s not my thing. No offence.

I write requests to other reviewers to read my books based on these little points. I believe in the Golden Rule and I don’t feel bad when I get a “no”. I just strive to write better books!

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Taking Notes

What kind of information do you actually jot down while reading?

When I’m just reading “for fun” I jot down quotes I love. I try to review everything with at least a few sentences so I remember that I’ve already read it and what it was about. When someone smart suggested the quick review, I resisted because I didn’t want to include work in my fun. After a few grudging mini-reviews, though I realized how valuable those few sentences were. I began texting them to email after every book. I assign them to a “win” or “fail” category based on whether I liked it or even read the entire book.

Here is the one for Divergent  by Veronica Roth in the “win” category: “Imaginative and fascinating. I love her characters and their inner examination of bravery, loyalty, and selflessness.”

This is the mini-review for Fires of Winter by Johanna Lindsey in the “fail” category: “I don’t like stories about girls who hate being girls. No sympathy.”

When I’m planning on reviewing the book for my blog, I take more notes.

Names: I write down all the names I can so that I spell them right and can keep track of characters. I hate going back through the book to try to be sure I spelled the characters’ name right. I don’t normally discuss all the characters, but I want those names handy when I do.

Places: If the places aren’t a name I will remember, I jot these down too. Normally I don’t need it for real locations.

Things I liked: I like to make note as I go along so I don’t forget the notable things. I’m pretty good at remembering, but as I get older my memory gets less and less reliable. Writing it down a few times also helps me formulate how I’ll describe it in the review.

Problems: This is the most valuable part of the review. It hurts, but any problems in the work are learning experiences for me, my blog readers, and the writers of the book. The single biggest learning experience so far is to get your book edited by someone else. Yes, the dead horse is enduring another beating. I was so depressed about the numerous spelling, punctuation, and even word usage errors in books I was reviewing that I made it a rule for review that you name your editor. It DOES make a difference. FACT: I just got some helpful corrections from an awesome blogger/writer friend on The Silver Collar, which I didn’t have edited. I read and reread it but still missed that in a story of only 12,000 words. (People didn’t volunteer any corrections either. I had to ask.)

How about you? What do you note while you are reading?

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