Writer, Reader, Reviewer

3starsSometimes I hate being an author.

No, that’s not true. I never hate being a writer or an author. I love writing; I love reading. I love supporting other authors and especially, obviously, my friends. What I hate is writing critical reviews. Recently my buddy, Yvonne Hertberger, wrote about a similar situation where she was called on to assess a book. It wasn’t pretty.

Case in point. Recently I read a friend’s latest. I wanted to like it; I really did. But I didn’t. I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for most of the characters, I found the pace slow and therefore frustrating, and there were many things that it seemed I was supposed to implicitly understand but did not. Whenever I read a book that affects me like this, I have to wonder: is it not grabbing me because I’m not giving it enough time and concentration, or am I not giving it time and concentration because it’s not grabbing me? Continue reading “Writer, Reader, Reviewer”

Tell us what you want, what you really, really want…

(…thank you, Scary, Posh, Baby, Ginger, and Sporty…)

It’s funny, isn’t it, how one sentence, just a few words, can stop you in your tracks and make you go…aaaargh!  Let me explain…

I review books; some of you may know this, some perhaps not. How did that happen?

I’ve had a Kindle for a couple of years now, and I was pretty much instantly hooked. I became a bookworm…or rather, an ebookworm. When some Facebook friends started their own reviewing blogs, I had a ‘Eureka’ moment and thought, gosh, what a good idea! In my case, this was a solution to the ‘closure’ I wanted after reading a book, and it was a nice neat way of recording all the ebooks I’d read on my can’t-leave-home-without-it Kindle—an anthology if you like. And if ‘virtual’ passers-by dropped in…well, even better. How nice!

So, armed with a few hints and tips from a couple of review sites for whom I’d reviewed some books, I mapped out what I thought would formulate a worthy review: something I’d be happy to look back at (and not cringe at with embarrassment). I decided long drawn-out reviews with endless analyses and explanations of the plots were just a big yawn…a short synopsis would suffice, I reckoned. Then again, one- or two-line reviews don’t satisfy me either. I’m clearly not clever enough for those punchy, concise, but all-embracing reviews I so admire (viz. Rich Meyer (a learned member of our team), Ed Drury (a frequent flash-fiction flyer—and winner!), so I knew I had to leave those to the smarty pants (Rich Meyer, Ed Drury). Continue reading “Tell us what you want, what you really, really want…”

Introducing BookScather

Indie authors sweat bullets over getting reviews and worrying about bad reviews. It turns out we’ve been going about this all wrong.

Studies show that bad reviews on books by unknown authors actually result in a spike in sales. Who can argue with studies?

Add to this the number of indie author elites bemoaning the state of indie writing. Now look at Amazon and its scorched-earth policy on obliterating suspect favorable reviews while ignoring suspect bad reviews. Amazon is in the process of eliminating ALL author to author reviews.

It’s going to be all right, folks. Even in these trying times, one man has the vision and courage to come to the rescue of the indie community—and that man is me. Continue reading “Introducing BookScather”

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?”

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