Book Blogger Spotlight: Big Al

Book bloggers provide a vital nexus between the reading public and the writers of books. The fortunes of an individual book can rise or fall on the recommendations of book bloggers. It was mommy bloggers who propelled E.L. James into stardom, highlighting their importance in facilitating the discoverability of books that could otherwise (and all too easily) remain obscure. The point is, they’re kind of a big deal and they deserve a little recognition. This week, we turn the spotlight on one of our faves – an all-around cool guy and tough customer, Big Al.

Big Al runs both Big Al’s Books and Pals and The Indie View. We are also proud to claim him as a feared and respected member of the Indies Unlimited staff. Continue reading “Book Blogger Spotlight: Big Al”

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Done

For the first time in months, my desk is clean. Not “clean” in the sense of “dusted,” mind you – let’s not get crazy here. But I’ve put away all the papers I used as reference material for writing my urban fantasy series: the pocket calendar; the Wikipedia printouts (some more accurate than others); the rough outline that I followed, more or less, for the last book; and so on. It’s all back in the file folder that I labeled “Notes for Book 5” back before I had a working title for book 5 and never bothered to change, even after I decided the book would be called Annealed.

It’s a curious feeling, to be done writing a series of novels. My original goal was to write an urban fantasy novel – just one! But then I thought, why not make it a series? And if I structured the series on the concept of a Native American medicine wheel, I would have five books: one for each cardinal direction, and one for the heart of the wheel. So that’s what I decided to do.

And now I’m done. Continue reading “The Unbearable Lightness of Being Done”

We Don’t Need No … Front Matter

I thought it was a simple question, just like my answer. Kat Brooks mentioned that while sampling books using the “look inside” feature at Amazon she’d been seeing a lot of books front loaded with reviewer quotes among the front matter before the start of the actual book. Her question was whether the reviewer quotes were going to influence our buying decisions.

I rapidly tossed off my answer, that the reviewer quotes ought to be at the bottom of the book blurb or in the editorial reviews section of the book listing, not in the book, and returned to what I was doing. (Our gruel was especially good that day and I was hungry.) The other minions started chiming in with their thoughts and I listened while looking for a chance to steal some extra gruel from those deep in discussion. (Sorry Rich Meyer, you were eating too slow.) Continue reading “We Don’t Need No … Front Matter”

Big Al: What is a Reviewer?

Big Al, the big Kahuna

Last fall Stephen Hise interviewed me, along with several other book reviewers, for his What Reviewers Want series. In the comment section of part 2, Jacqueline Hopkins posed some questions about reviewers:

“ . . . what is a reviewer, do they have to have certain credentials; i.e., a degree in English, or writing/reviewing, what makes a good reviewer, and can just anyone be a reviewer, are there professional reviewers and what makes them professional? Do reviews written by a reader carry more weight than a professional reviewer?

I volunteered to attempt answering Jacqueline’s questions in two posts. This post will be my thoughts on some of the questions. In a few weeks, a follow-up post will explore the answers further with input from other reviewers and readers.

Since starting my review blog, I’ve been amazed to realize that when interesting questions like those posed by Jacqueline come up, the answers for me are usually the same as the answers a self-published author would (or at least should in my opinion) give if presented with the same basic question. Just like authors, reviewers cover the entire spectrum of possibility and attract different kinds of readers. On one end of the spectrum, you have James Patterson, Stephanie Meyer, and The New York Review of Books. On the other, you have my nine-year-old granddaughter’s authorial debut (published in a very limited pencil and printer paper edition) and the one line, one-star Amazon reader review that says, “This book sucks.” Anyone who is inspired to write a review can do it. All it takes is an account on Amazon – the same minimal requirement to publish an eBook with almost worldwide distribution. However, just as not every reader is going to like every book, not every reader is going to agree or value the opinion of every reviewer. Continue reading “Big Al: What is a Reviewer?”