Showing posts with label reviewing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reviewing. Show all posts

Saturday, June 24, 2017

How to Write a Positive Review | Book Blogging Tips (#61)


You might laugh looking at this title thinking it's not that hard to write a positive review. But trust me, looking back at any blogger's early positive reviews, you'll see a major difference to what they're posting now. 

Contrary to popular belief, it's not only the negative reviews that are hard to write; it's also the positive ones. Let me explain.


The problem with five-star reviews

When you check the five star reviews on goodreads of your favorite book, it's very likely that you won't find any assessment of the book, but instead a bunch of fangirling and flailing around about how genius the book is. While that may be nice to read for the author, to see people say nice things about their book, it doesn't really benefit the reader. If I haven't read a book and am looking to, I never check the five star reviews, because they hardly ever tell me anything about the book itself.

It really frustrates me as a blog or review reader to find a positive review that's telling me nothing aside from how much the reviewer liked it. It's really a craft to manage to condense your fangirly thoughts into a helpful review that other readers might benefit from. 

What I think a positive review should be like is pretty much is in line with what I said about writing negative reviews, if you'd like to compare.

Most common mistakes are:

  • Flailing 
Like I said, this might be nice for the author to read, but what does this tell me? ADGHSABJSALJKLKL followed by 67 gifs isn't much of a way to judge whether I want to read this book, is it?
  • Strong focus on the characters
Sure, it's great to give some info on the characters and all, but most of the time character assesment and how you liked them is super subjective and doesn't really tell the readers whether the book will be for them. 600 words on how swoony the love interest is aren't really helpful. It's all in the balance. You can add maybe 200 words on that but make sure to also add other things in your review!
  • The super subjective stuff/disregarding the actual craft part.
Personally I like reviews that focus on general issues and then add some subjective things. If you just go subjective, talking about the chemistry between the characters, their "illogical" behavior and all, you're not really giving the reader any valuable information. Sure, you might argue that it's all subjective when reviewing, but naturall some things are more subjective than others. Tell me about the compelling story, the extensive world building, the writing. 


At the end of the day, how you're writing your reviews is your business. If you feel more comfortable your way, please do continue doing so. These are only guidelines and in no way a rulebook. As always. ;-)


What things bother you about some positive reviews?



More on reviewing:
When is it okay to share your review of a DNF?
I Only Read Negative Reviews on Goodreads
Is Sharing Your Negative Reviews Mean?
No Comments on Book Reviews?
When You Have to Write a Negative Review

all Book Blogging Tips

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Should You Only Post 3 Star and Up Reviews? | Book Blogging Tips (#59)




I've noticed that there is a shocking amount of bloggers who seem to rate everything five stars. 

Every book they encounter is a new favorite, especially the popular books out there that have a huge fan base. 

While I genuinely believe that not all of these people are actually aware of what they're doing and just are easy to please, I also believe that a huge amount of them is just too scared to post a negative opinion online. 

I absolutely know where people who do this are coming from. While I do think that the blogging community on Wordpress/Blogger is mature enough to respect each other's opinions and not throw hissy fits, I've definitely been a victim of people lashing out at me for my opinions.

I'm very active on tumblr, a site that is known for people overreacting over everything. When I was asked about my opinion on SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo, a very very popular book up there that's hyped and worshiped to no end - and told the person that I found it offensive and didn't like it - I was told to kill myself via multiple anonymous messages sent to me. Huh.

It's always a matter of tone

Especially because there's so much anonymity on the internet, people sometimes forget that there's another person at the end of the receiving line. That doesn't only count for messages sent to other users, but also for blogging and reviewing.

As bloggers it is easy to ignore everything else and just pretend you're in your little bubble and post opinions that others might consider offensive. While I'm a strong supporter of freedom of speech, I think this should never be an excuse to be rude. I think we can all agree that there is a difference between writing a one star review respectfully and doing so to purposely hurt someone. 

Authors read reviews sometimes, too. To me, it's perfectly fine to post low rating reviews on your blog, after all this is just a collection of personal, subjective opinions, isn't it? If you're writing a zero star review because the book was poorly written and overall a nuisance to you, go ahead! But don't do offensively. 


Is your blog "genuine" if you rate everything positively?

But another thing that you'll have to consider is that the more negative opinions you post, the more people feel themselves "invited" to chime in and tell you all the reasons why you are wrong. In order to avoid that I can understand that some people refrain from writing negative reviews on their blog. 

To me that takes away your credibility, though. Bloggers are just people who post their opinions online. That's in the definition to me. And if you're one of those that's too scared to post a negative review, I will very likely not enjoy your blog. But of course, this is so subjective. Maybe this doesn't affect your personal reading experiences at all, who knows! It's almost impossible to like everything, and even if you don't actually, your blog will appear that way if you don't have a single one star review up there. Also, let's admit it, sometimes it's just fun to read ranty negative reviews, for me at least!


Do you post negative reviews? 

What's your opinion on people who don't?


More posts on reviewing and blogging culture:

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Refusing to Review Indie + Self Published Books? | YA Talk



If you have a blog I'm sure you've gotten pitches by self-published authors to review their books before.

The first people who reached out to me were mostly small presses and indie authors back when I started blogging. Since then the amount of pitches I get has raised exponentially - so the demand is definitely there.

There are a lot people who look for reviewers.

But what I've noticed is that many bloggers already state in their review policies that they don't review indie and self-published books at all. 



Why do reviewers prefer traditionally published books over self-published/indie books?

I always wondered why - I do get that there is a certain desire to always be on top of new popular releases in this community, but flat out refusing to read books that weren't published by the big five is a little harsh, is it?

I've asked around on my tumblr and received a couple quite interesting answers.


Generally the reasons people have given me were a mixture of:
  • Indie books are low quality
  • Indie authors are disrespectful
  • Indie books aren't interesting enough
  • Readers aren't interested in indie reviews

Even if that were true for the majority of books, is that a reason to doom all indie books?

I do love to review indie and self-published books because I feel like I owe it to the community of writers out there. There are definitely gems out there that I would have never discovered had I refused to read self-published books. 
Many now very popular authors like Kiera Cass and Jennifer L. Armentrout and Amanda Hocking started out as self-published authors. It would be an imposition to try to say that all indie authors are worse writers than traditionally published authors.

Of course you'll have to wade through the mud and read a couple of bad books before you discover something you truly enjoy, but isn't that the case for traditionally published books as well? I've read traditionally published books that were low quality, full of typos, boring, and got me very little views on my reviews before. 

I think it's definitely wrong and a little shameful to just refuse reading books that aren't traditionally published. I haven't heard a single reason that I actually consider valid, to be honest. Give indie authors a chance, guys. 

Do you review indie books? Why/why not?


Continue Reading...

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How to Rate Books: 6 Things You Should Be Doing | Book Blogging Tips (#56)

Every reviewer needs to find a way to rate their books. A rating scale is absolutely essential, whether you just review on goodreads or library thing or your blog. 

Here are some tips on how to get started rating books.






1. Establish a scale
Most bloggers go for 1-5 or 1-10. Some bloggers also make use of the 0 rating. It's a matter of personal preference, I think, if you have a bigger scale you have more room for individual ratings. 

A huge part of your rating scale is also what you're rating in. It might seem trivial, but especially if you have a themed blog, you might want to consider a very unique rating scale. Instead of rating in plain stars, you could make little graphics and rate in strawberries, books, top hats, whatever you fancy. It's by no means a must and the good old star rating scale works as well.

2. Think of criteria
To some people it may just come naturally how they're rating a book, but I guarantee you, if you're just starting out reviewing things you will not be able to rate something ~naturally~. It's a skill that's built over time, so as a newbie you have to think of certain things that a book needs to have if you want to give it a certain rating. This may sound more difficult than it actually is; let me illustrate:
  • 5 star books: Nothing to complain, you loved everything, the characters are great, the plot is fantastic
  • 4 star books: A little to complain, you still loved everything, the characters are mediocre, the plot is mediocre
  • 1 star books: You hated everything, the characters are terrible and so is the plot.

3. If you're unsure, compare
In my early blogging days I used to always go back to my older reviews and compare the book I had just read and wanted to review to them. Example:
  • You gave BOOK 1 4 stars
  • You gave BOOK 2 2 stars
  • You like book you've just read not as much as BOOK 1, but more than BOOK 2. Therefore BOOK 3 gets three stars

4. Stop being so harsh/generous
Yes, before I've even seen a single review you've written, I can already tell you that you're either giving everything 5 stars or nothing 5 stars. This is a very common thing with new bloggers, and there is really nothing that can fix that aside from experience. I'm one of those people that tend to always be too harsh and very very cautious with their 5 star ratings, which is actually the worse option. 

If you're like me, you're doing more harm with your reviewing than you're helping. Authors and publishers don't want to see negative review and neither do your readers. This doesn't mean you should rate everything great or not review at all, this just means that you have to be REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY sure about your ratings. Are you very confident in the ratings you give out?


5. Look at other bloggers
This is essential. Every book blogger MUST read other book blogs or in the very least other reviews. You have to look at other people to get a feel of what you're doing. If you're always giving everything better or worse ratings than eveeryone you'ree following, you very likely have a rating problem. 


6. Always go back to your older reviews
Even after almost three years of blogging I still go back to older reviews and check with the older review you've written. Either to rework or to compare the way you're rating now to the way you used to rate. You can always learn from your old mistakes, make use of that opportunity!

But always remember: These are only suggestions, at the end of the day it is your blog and you should and have to review the way you want to.


How do you rate your books?




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Saturday, April 29, 2017

So You Just Received Your First Review Copy... | Book Blogging Tips (#55)


... and you probably think that you've made it. People are sending you free stuff! That's amazing! You've made it this far already but there are quite a couple of things I'd like to tell you. 

While you can be very proud of this accomplishment, you have to realize that by deciding to start accepting review copies, you're also accepting responsibility. 

Here are some things I wish someone had told me when I accepted my first copy.


1. Don't go overboard
I know it's super exciting to realize that you've been blogging long enough to be considered to receive review copies, but please please don't see this as a sign to start requesting everything. 

2. Don't request backlist titles
That's a thing many newbie bloggers don't know about - backlist titles are books that have been out for a while. Typically publishers have a set amount of review copies that are sent out at a certain time before or shortly after a book's release. Backlist titles are usually not available for review, so only request review copies of books that aren't out yet to avoid wasting someone's time.

3. Don't accept any and every review copy sent to you
It won't take long until lots of people will reach out to you. Usually it will be indie authors and small publishers first who will ask you to review their books. Don't say yes to every single book just because it's free. Keep in mind what kind of blog you run. Is this book something that you'd even pick up in a bookstore? If it's not, don't accept the copy. Just because it's free, you shouldn't say yes to everything because -

4. People expect you to actually read the book
Sure, this is the old drama, some people think review copies don't have to be read, it's only an agreement to consider - yada yada, let's not have this argument right now, this isn't the point of this post. You're getting the copy because something is expected in return, whatever that may be. Don't request a billion books with no intention of reading them, that's just not a nice thing to do. 

5. Don't be afraid to publish a negative review
Just because you got something for free it doesn't mean that you can't dislike it. Don't be afraid to publish a negative review for a review copy! Nobody will be mad at you for that. You're asked for your honest opinion in 99.5% of the cases, and that also covers the possibility that you might dislike it. 

6. - but don't be a jerk about disliking the book
Especially with ARC for indie and small-published books you have to realize that your review might be the first review that people see when they go look for the book. 

Sure, disliking and publishing really negative reviews is absolutely 100% fine, but pay attention to the tone. Reviewing is a skill, it's an art in itself to be able to express your negative opinion without being a complete douchebag about it. Meaning no insults.

7. Consider that you might receive backlash
If you read an early copy and are one of the first people to review a book, of course more people will see the review. Be prepared to have people disagree. Consider this while writing the review. Again, don't be a jerk. If you're going to be a jerk regardless, know that you might receive backlash.

8. Don't send negative reviews to the author or publisher!
You may have seen on twitter for example that many reviewer tag authors in reviews. This is a great way to get your review out there, but please, please, please only do this if you rated the book 4 stars and abover and/or hardly said anything negative about it. 

Many authors are very vocal about not wanting to be tagged in negative reviews unsoliticedly. Publishers won't reshare your negative reviews either and it's basically just wasting everyone's time / ruining somebody's day. So please don't do that. 

What are some things you wish someone had told you after you received your first review copy?

Continue Reading...

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

How Subjectivity Ruins Your Reviews | Book Blogging Tips (#54)

Reviewing is hard. Any blogger will be able to tell you that. 

Today we'll talk about a mistake that you'll find among veteran and rookie reviewers alike: being too subjective in your reviews and the effect this has on your readers.





Extreme subjectivity ruins most of my older reviews. 

Yes, reviewing is subjective by nature, but what I'm talking about is finding the balance between "this is a bad book" and "I didn't like this". I couldn't do that for a long time and I didn't see a need to do that for even longer. You absolutely non-negotiably need to do that though if you care for your audience and don't only do this for you. 

At the end of the day none of us are just reviewing for us, are we? 

I started out blogging to archive my thoughts for myself but since my blog has grown a bit, I grew more and more aware of the fact that there are a lot of people out there who come to me to find their next read or who absolutely trust my judgment. Chances are, it's the same for you.

You probably have a couple people out there who solely rely on you and your reviews to pick their next read. Writing books off immediately that are well-written with well-rounded characters and fantastic world building, simply because you didn't enjoy them for a very subjective irrelevant reason? That's selfish. Yes, it's your blog and all and you can do whatever you want; I'd never try to tell you any differently. Stop reading right here if don't tell me what to do is your takeaway from what I just said. Or read those paragraphs again.

If you cherish being a resource for people, it's important to also take into consideration that 

Your taste =/= an infallible indicator of quality, talent, or entertainment value.

To explain that I usually use books that provide excellent representation of marginalized identities. HOW TO MAKE A WISH by Ashley Herring Blake for example wasn't my thing personally, because I don't like sad, quiet contemporaries. Super subjective and tells you nothing about the quality of this book. It's just my two cents that couldn't be more irrelevant. HOW TO MAKE A WISH also had the first biracial character that I saw myself in. Like, ever. The first time I felt represented. I still gave the book five stars and I'd do it all over again, even though I didn't really enjoy it aside from the representation aspect. 

By being extremely subjective and giving books 1-3 star ratings left and right because you didn't enjoy them for an arbitrary irrelevant taste reason, you are possibly preventing readers from finding a read that will change their lives. People hardly ever read full reviews, and sometimes they pick books up solely because of the rating of their favorite blogger. Contributing to a negative rating (3 stars and below), will also make sure that less people who might be able to see themselves in this book will pick it up. That's on you. You contributed to that. This obviously transcends the issue of representation of marginalized identities. This is a lesson that definitely was the hardest for me personally. 

I do struggle to give books that I didn't care for five stars, and I do struggle sometimes to not just downrate something because I thought it was a terrible book, personally. But the people that I owe the most to are my readers, people like you who are here every week or even every day. And I hope that this helped you to understand that blogging and reviewing is about so much more than just you and your taste.

You're completely free to disagree with what I said, but truly, at some point, reviewing isn't about you anymore. Think of your audience. Especially the marginalized people. Cause if you don't care about them and are just doing this for you, why do you give them the option to follow? Why is your blog public?

What do you think of really subjective reviews?


More Book Blogging Tips on Reviewing

When is it okay to share your review of a DNF?

If you'd like advice on allyship and writing diversely, check out my Patreon.
Support The Bookavid by leaving me a virtual coffee on ko-fi.

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mean Horror Book Reviews and Learning to Review Properly | YA Talk

I've been recently diving more into YA horror and noticed a pattern - no matter who wrote it, you'll see that ALL horror books have very low ratings and the most upvoted reviews are exclusively negative. 

If you're active over there you might also know that books usually have 4+ star ratings unless they're exceptionally horrendous or offensive (well, not always...). 


So I'm asking - why do we hate horror?

Seriously. I think this might be a reason why YA horror isn't taking off as a genre. I'm seeing reviewers give books one star ratings because they didn't scare them shitless, give books extremely negative ratings simply because they play into a cliche - you'll find the most unnecessary reasons over there. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, entitled to writing a scalding review, but it's fairly obvious that reviewers and bloggers are extra mean when it comes to horror. 

I get it, horror is an extremely subjective genre. Of course not everything will scare you, of course not everything will work out for you - but I feel like a huge part of learning how to review is to learn to appreciate craft and calm down a little about your own preferences. Just because a book didn't work for you you don't have to rate it one star. That's a rookie mistake. You have so much impact on authors' careers and doing that is almost always a bad idea. 

The problem with this behavior is that this is probably one of the leading reasons why there is so little horror on the market in the first place. Bad reviews, no recommendations, scalding comments from reviewers - all that leads to less sales, less buzz, and people being less interested in reading those books in the first place. I constantly hear people say they want more YA horror, I see bloggers and reviewers alike complain about the lack of horror - but then turn around to give every single horror book they read a scalding review because it wasn't the right kind for them. Again, I'm not saying you can't review horror books negatively. But this systematic pattern of being mean about horror books is such a frustrating thing to see for anyone who truly enjoys YA horror.

Keep in mind that the world doesn't revolve around you.

I've rated books I personally disliked and could hardly finish five stars before because they are extremely important books by marginalized writers about marginalized teens that have no representation on the market. It's incredibly important that you review with the thought in mind whether SOME of your readers might enjoy the book. That's just an example - I can't wrap my head around this that it seems like everyone is being extra harsh about all horror books on the market. And don't get me started on diverse horror books. Their ratings are even worse! You can't tell me that this is a coincidence.

I don't know, you guys. This just makes me sad. 

Contrary to popular belief, reviewing is a very difficult thing that demands a lot of responsibility and maturity. Seeing horror author after horror author have their book tanked because it didn't work for some people personally is just disheartening to see. I want more YA horror. I'm happy to read as many horror books as I can. But I don't know if we'll even get any more if this behavior continues.



Do you like YA Horror? What's your favorite read? Let's talk YA.



More on reviewing: 

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Review-Only Book Blogs and Why They Almost Never Work Out | Book Blogging Tips (#52)




Many bloggers I know started their blogs because they only wanted to share their reviews with other people, myself included. But is that actually a good idea?

My blog first and foremost was born because I wanted to share my reviews. But I had to learn the hard way that review-only blogs are not a thing and very likely never will be.



So why do review-only blogs not work?

  • People don't read reviews!
Seriously. Any and every blogger will tell you that their reviews get the least views out of all their posts. People don't read book blogs for the reviews only and if they do, you have to write extremely good reviews. Once you've established a significant following and people know who you are and care for your opinion, this might change. But to get there with a review only blog is a thing that I'm yet so see in the blogging world. 
  • Reviewing is a skill that you can't build in a year or less!
Everyone's early reviews are a mess. This is just a fact. Writing reviews on a blog is completely different from any other platform. Even if you've been writing reviews on tumblr or Goodreads or booklikes or wherever for YEARS, this doesn't count. 

Trust me, you still won't be up to book blog standard and you will go back and cringe at all these reviews. It will be even harder to attract readers with a review-only blog when your reviews clearly display all the signs of a blogging newbie.

A lot of bloggers who start up review-only blogs probably still make newbie mistakes and probably will for a long time. It took me at least a year of reviewing to write halfway decent reviews. No formatting, way too long reviews, repeating the plot instead of giving your opinion - basic stuff like that. That's something you can't immediately change when you notice you're doing it. You'll learn how to review through writing bad reviews at first, that's how it goes for everyone.

  • You have to make a name for yourself before people care about your opinion!
It's true that you can maybe fake your way to the top with a crappy blog if you advertise a lot and comment on 3280932893 blogs per day, but who has the time? Also you won't get any long-time readers from this, only follow-backs.

The thing is, nobody will listen to your rambles if you're the new kid on the block. You have to earn readers for your reviews. You have to post other super interesting things to get people interested in what you have to say, and you can only do that by posting something else than reviews.

  • Post-consistency is a thing for all blogs!
And if you only post reviews, you'll have to read a lot. I usually unsubscribe from blogs that don't post at LEAST weekly, I do prefer blogs that post 2 or 3 times a week in general. Unless you can't commit to read and write a review for at least one book per week, you're screwed.

...


Sure, at the end of the day, it's your blog and you can do whatever you want, but I can already tell you, either a year from now your blog will be gone. Sometimes listening to experienced bloggers is the best thing you can do, we've all learned from our mistakes, you don't need to repeat them and go through the same thing, do you? Trying to start a review-only blog is the hardest way to start out and it just never works out.

Did you start out as review-only?



More advice for newbie bloggers in my Book Blogging Tips series:

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Friday, March 3, 2017

How to Improve Your Feedback Ratio Quickly: #NetGalley Advice | Book Blogging Tips (#50)


It's recommended that you keep up a ratio of 80%, meaning that you have provided reviews for 80% of the titles you've been approved for. 


At first this may sound high and very unattainable but I have developed a fool-proof way to improve it.

When you just signed up for NetGalley it's super hard to even get approved for books. How do you get experience reviewing books when in order to get a track record you have to show a track record?

Easy: Read Now

Read Now is a section that I personally consider a gift from God. There are many books that are instantly accessible to anyone and everyone. You'd think that these are all terrible books that are poorly written, but no.These are all books that people want reviews for desperately and you'll even encounter the occasional well-known already published book there. CARRY ON by Rainbow Rowell was in that section a while ago.

If you shy away from the vast amount of indie books that are offered there - my personal advice is to head over to the graphic novels and comic section.

But why???? I don't even like graphic novels, I'm an adult sci-fi blog, what even

Here's the thing. You can read a graphic novel or comic within an hour tops, write up a review, and you're done. You can get your approval numbers up super quickly with those read now comics and nobody cares whether you usually review a different genre.

Another pro tip would be to start reviewing picture books. They're typically 250 words maximum, you go figure how quickly you can read and review these.

See, you're not really in the position yet to be picky. You just started. You gotta take what you can get.

Ughh, how long will it take until I can start requesting books I actually want to read? Do I have to read picture books for the rest of my life?

Fear not, gentle reader. I started requesting books from major publishers at about 25 approvals. You may start earlier but I guarantee you, the big five won't even touch you if you haven't reviewed and read more than 20 books.

MORE TIPS:
  • Books are "archived" after a certain time, meaning you can't download them anymore then. Typically you're expected to at least send over the feedback/review before the archive date. It's no harm if you do so after it's been archived, but people won't cheer on you if you do this either.
  • You can DNF a book. If you just don't like it, send over a note via the feedback option explaining why you don't want to read the book. Don't do this too often though and have valid reasons.
  • For the love of all that is holy, don't request more than 20 books at once. What if you get approved for all of them and they end up being due next week? Yikes!


If you have any more questions, feel free to ask!!

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Monday, December 19, 2016

When Authors Reply to Reviews and Why This is a Problem | #AuthorsBehavingBadly

I've talked about #AuthorsBehavingBadly on Social Media in general before, but replying to reviews is a whole different matter that absolutely deserves its own post in my opinion.
Many authors who have just had their first book published and are slowly getting their first reviews or are simply not very active and well-versed in book community etiquette, will probably end up doing this.

Not all authors who comment on reviews have a malicious intention and I'm going to start of talking about those authors that really -just didn't know- they aren't supposed to comment.


Scenario 1: You wrote a good review and the author is commenting to say something nice

Why it's not cool
While this is clearly just a nice gesture of the author, or at least meant as such, this is an invasion of safe space. Reviewers sort-of exist in this bubble universe of the book industry. Iit's absolutely okay to share a positive review of your book that you liked, that's what they're for after all - but oh boy, please, please don't comment. Not even to say thanks. Just don't. Tweet the review if you like, share the link if you like, we appreciate it, but please don't comment.

When it's okay
Should you have gotten tagged in the review, this is a whole other story.

See, it all comes down to consent. Reviewers aren't interested in discussions with authors unless they are actively seeking those out. I wouldn't be reviewing if any and every author commented on my reviews. It just doesn't feel safe, you're feeling obligated to be nicer than you usually would have, you're not really able to express your opinion without cringing at the thought of the author reading it - it's just a mess.

So unless you have been sent the review, your comment isn't wanted.

Scenario 2: You wrote a negative review and the author is going "um, actually" on you


Why it's not cool
This is probably the nightmare of every reviewer. Having to justify yourself to the artist. - I get it, your books are your babies and you poured your heart and soul into this, but welcome to the real world. People will dislike your work and it will happen frequently and this is a thing you have to be able to deal with professionally, else, you're probably not in the right industry. 

I'm sorry but this is just making thing unnecessarily hard for everyone. The reviewer's irritated, the author's probably angry, the possible readers are weirded out. Why would you want that?

When it's okay
No matter what the reviewer said and no matter how much you think they're wrong, doing this is never ever ever ever ever okay. Even if you are sent a review, bashing reviewers is a no no. 


"Okay, so you say this isn't good, but I'm still going to comment, I don't care. They're wrong, I'm going to call them out."

The thing is, I'm addressing this in the first place because it is a problem. Recently a dear friend of mine has quit blogging after an author with a medium-sized following decided to unleash their fury on them. 

  • Completely ignoring that this is cyberbullying - is that really the message you want to convey?
  • To have bloggers be scared to be scalded whenever they leave a negative review?
  • To make bloggers want to quit reviewing?
Time and time again I have to say that reviewers deserve respect, that we are a vital part of the publishing industry and that without us, many NYT-bestselling authors wouldn't be where they are right now.


So what have we learned?
  • Reviewers want their safe space and deserve their safe space
  • Respecting boundaries also includes biting your tongue when encountering negative reviews
  • Putting negativity into the world will probably come to bite you in the butt eventually. (RE: the stories of the cyberstalking/cyberbullying authors who aren't selling books anymore now, you know the ones)


How do you feel about authors replying to your reviews? 

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Friday, November 11, 2016

More Generous Ratings For Indie Books? | Book Blogging Tips (#46)





I've noticed recently that I tend to give indie books better ratings than traditionally published ones. 

I wish I could say it wasn't intentional, but I think it is. Here's why I rate indie books more generously.


First, let me slam-dunk your prejudices in the trash. 
  • Quality is absolutely not an issue. If you think indie books are low quality, sorry, you just probably don't have a qualified opinion here. Of course, with EVERYONE being able to publish books these days, there's a fair share of bad writers. It's logical. But condemning everyone because of a handful of bad books you read is a little... narrow-minded. That's like saying I don't read Hachette books anymore because I didn't like the only 3 of their books that I've read. 
  • Because you don't hear about them, they're bad? Especially if you sign with a small publishing house or are self-published, there is near to no way to get the word out about your book the same way you'd be able to if you were published under the Big Five. 

TL; DR - here's why I rate indie books more generously than traditionally published books:

#5: Indie publishing is hard, competitive, and authors rely on reviews and ratings. 
A Big Five author won't give a rat's ass about my one star review, but bad reviews can crush indie authors' sales. Don't be unnecessarily mean. When in doubt, give one star more than fewer.

#4: Indie authors do their publicity themselves. 
Every review copy sent out goes out of their own pocket. Especially when you received a physical copy, that's the author straight up taking their own money, relying on your review. Writing a fair critique is the LEAST you can do.

#3: Collaboration with indie authors is more personal. 

Often the authors themselves reach out to me, asking me to review their book. If I'm going to write a bad review, I BETTER know what I'm talking about. I better have reasons for every single negative thing I say, because guess what - the author's at the other end of the receiving line and they sure as hell will realize when I'm being a dick for no reason.

Yeah, I have to admit, sometimes I'm a little hard on traditionally published authors and nitpicking a lot. Among other things, a reason for this is probably that I'm not face to face with the author.

#2: There are people who refuse reading indie books. 

A few bloggers I (used to) admire actually support this. Oddly enough, none of them has ever dared to state why. Let's prove em wrong.

#1: People think indie books are all shit. 

And honestly, if the one thing I can do to help ERASE this stupid, ignorant stigma, I'll do it via good reviews. I would never rate a book that's bad, positive just because it's indie, don't get me wrong - but I'll do my darn best to promote the crap out of every wonderful indie book I encounter.


Are you more generous with your indie ratings?

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Are you awkward about getting Review Requests from Authors? | Book Blogging Tips (#44)






Even though I don't really mean to be, I have to admit I'm super awkward about getting review requests by authors. This is 100% on me.

Most experiences I've made so far were delightful and I ended up liking most of the books that were offered to me by their authors.

But what if I hadn't?



WHAT IF I DON'T LIKE THE BOOK?!

How do I phrase politely that I absolutely hated your novel and wrote a 300 word review about how much I hated it? Even though I feel like my reviewing style is at that point where even negative criticism is phrased respectfully, I'm sure no author wants to read this about their book. And yea, indie authors read reviews. I know they do because I get reactions to the reviews from them once I have sent the links over...!

I still want to review books that are offered to me by the authors, I think it's a great opportunity and I like that they are so approachable, but sometimes I just wish there was more .... distance. I wish I didn't have to bite my nails feeling ashamed. I wish I would stare at my email account, just waiting for one author to absolutely flip out when I send over a bad review. That stuff happens. 

Last year an author actually tracked down someone who gave them a negative review and wrote an article in The Guardian about this, not seeing what's wrong with that. Since I read that article I've been extra picky with accepting books for review that weren't offered through a publishing house.

AM I SCARED OF AUTHORS?

Heck yea, I am. I'm scared of getting negative reviews, possibly managing to agitate a black sheep that turns out to be a psychopath. Things like this are known to happen. Remember that author who tracked down a reviewer and hit them over the head with a bottle? I'm flat out scared to get my face slashed by someone that didn't like my opinion. Is this far-fetched? Maybe

The thing is, while this probably, very likely *knock on wood* won't happen to me, there's always the possibility. The easiest solution would be to only work with big publishers then and completely cut off any contact with authors that isn't going through their publicists first. Well. I don't know if that really is a solution. 
  • I want to read indie books, 
  • I want to talk to authors, 
  • I want to see their reactions to nice reviews, 
... but there's always going to be this little voice inside my head that will tell me to keep this or that sentence out of my review.

It will tell me to censor my review a little more, which I definitely wouldn't have done if the book were offered to me through a publicist.

While I do know that not every author can afford a publicist and/or it doesn't make sense for everyone, sometimes I wish there was a puffer person. 


Am I weird or are you also awkward about getting review requests from authors?

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Read Only Popular Newly-Released Books? NAH! Reasons to Read Backlist Books




In the blogosphere you'll often notice that many bloggers seem to only be reviewing popular books. There are many reasons for that, free review copies, the hype around those books, or simply just seeing them in a bookstore and being unable to resist. 

Whichever reasons you may have for predominantly reading new books, allow me to introduce another concept: b a c k l i s t books.

What's a backlist book?

A backlist book is a book that has been out for quite some time. It's typically not promoted as much anymore, and probably not hyped as much anymore.

But won't reviewing "old" books impact my views negatively?

I mean, it's no secret that reviews aren't necessarily the way to go if you care a LOT about your views and only want to post stuff that will possibly blow up and go viral. Whether you review backlist or frontlist books, you won't get a lot views either way. 

But the thing is, not all bloggers are always on the lookout for the newest books. And bloggers aren't your only readers anyway, there are lots of people who read book blogs but don't blog themselves. And they won't have the faintest idea what you recently got in your inbox, what book just got sent out to reviewers and is everything everyone is reading. 

From experience, my own and that of others, I know that most people either go for reviews of 

a) books they have read                   or                      b) books they have heard a lot about. 

And either can be backlist or frontlist. It really, really, really doesn't matter to your readers what you review. If you are still skeptical, go for backlist books that have a lot of reviews and generally have been popular.

But why should I even read them?

Because it helps the authors and publishers tremendously! And we all should generally just stop always chasing the newest hit, this is super boring, don't you think? 
  • Imagine a world in which authors only get buzz in the first year that their book is out. 
  • Imagine a world in which you can't be a successful author unless you put out a new book every year. 
Sounds boring, doesn't it.

Backlist books don't bite, I don't get why this is even an issue I have to address. Do you purposely walk past book stores and not buy what's on sale unless it's a brand new book? C'mon. Stop this. Review backlist and frontlist, guys. 

Do you read backlist or frontlist books or a mix of both?

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Why Book Bloggers Don't Reply To Your Review Requests and How to Fix It





Again, it is time for another "I'm so upset about the sheer volume of ridiculous emails in my inbox that I write a post about it".

This time in the only form people seeking reviews seem to be able to read: Bullet points.

Again, this is mostly directed at inexperienced authors. Please, if you're reading this, take my advice. it works wonders.

I don't know how often I've said it, but the #1 remedy is always reading a review policy. I have specific instructions in mine, and if you're not following them, I'm not even opening your email. Be respectful.


Addressing

OKAY
  • "Hi/Hey/Howdy/(greeting of choice)/ Dear [Name]"
  • "Hi/Hey/Howdy/(greeting of choice)/ Dear [Blog Name]"

NOT OKAY
  • "Hi/Hey/Howdy/(greeting of choice)"

Why: If you're not even bothering to write my name, pretty sure it's a mass email. Delete.

First Line

OKAY
  • [jumps right to pitch]
  • Personalization
  • Tell me why *I* am the right blog for this

Why: I like a good personalization. If you show me you read my blog, reference one of my tweets/interests, you've already got a foot in the door. Even if your book isn't for me, chances are I might give you some helpful feedback. Make me feel special and I'll be nice to you. It's okay if you jump right to the pitch as well if you can't think of anything.

NOT OKAY
  • "I know you don't like this genre"
  • [pitch for a genre I don't read]
  • "I know you don't read this, but"
  • "I know you receive many submissions/are you so busy, but"
  • I'm a big fan of your blog (Note: almost always a lie, I react allergic to it at this point)

Why: Lies are never good. Just say nothing instead of lying. Don't try to guilt-trip me into reading something, and don't try to talk me into trying a genre that I don't want to read. You'll fail.

Negotiating

OKAY
  • I'm offering you a free copy for review

NOT OKAY
  • I'm offering you a free copy for review on the following sites:
  • I'm offering you a free copy, if
  • If you're not interested, can you promote my book anyway

Why: Book bloggers know what they're doing. You come across as patronizing. We're not going to change our habits because of you. Who do you think you are to even suggest that? Delete.


After You Sent the Book

OKAY
  • asking whether I received the book

NOT OKAY
  • reminding me of the launch date
  • giving me a deadline à la "have you read it yet, if not read it by"
  • asking me how much I read
  • asking me when I'll post the review
  • following up in any form whatsoever

Why: Chill out. Your book will be read if I said that it would be. The only thing you'll achieve is that I won't ever work with you again. Maybe decide to not even read the book and cancel our whole arrangement because you're annoying to work with.


Tips:
  • Don't listen to any tips you get from people who aren't bloggers and reviewers
  • Don't listen to any tips you get from people who have successfully spammed their way into getting a lot of reviews
  • Read review policies (!!!!)
  • Personalize your requests and pick the bloggers you target carefully
  • Read review policies


Authors: If you have any more questions, there's an option to submit a comment anonymously. 

Bloggers: Any pet peeves to add?

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

When You Have to Write a Negative Review | Book Blogging Etiquette (#4)




Opinions are a difficult matter on the internet. Sometimes you encounter more troll and hateful comments than genuine ones. People often use the anonimity of the internet to show the worst of themselves.

Especially as a book blogger, you may find yourself in a situation where you don't like something everyone likes. 




Of course you are free to share your opinion and tell people why you don't like a popular book. The key here is to put emphasis on the why:
  • Reasons: 
Always give reasons why you don't like something. Don't just express your hate with mean gifs and insults. Be professional about it and just state in a neutral voice why you're not a fan. Never insult. Neither the fans, nor the author. Words are your friend here, show that you have an education.

  • Voice: 
Again, no insults.You're going to want to write a review that shows constructive criticism. If you can't be constructive, simply be polite.

  • Other Perspectives: 
What I like to do before I'm typing up a ranty review is to think about the people who love this book. Maybe you're not the target audience, maybe you have a history with disliking that special genre, or you're just not in the mood for this. Don't demonize a book just because you weren't feeling it.

Think long and hard before you publish a negative review that might affect other people and keep them from buying the book. Is your hate justified? Is this an offensive book or do you just not like it because it doesn't fit your taste? There's a huge difference between the two. Do your best to judge which case you're dealing with.


But what about Goodreads reviews? 

Don't take Goodreads as an example, this is the worst thing you can do as an independent blogger. Goodreads may be a critique platform in theory, but in reality it's just a way for people who hate something equally to huddle and say mean things. You'll quickly notice that the most popular and most liked reviews there are the ones involving the meanest gifs and the rudest remarks. 

The question then is - should you follow that example to gain more success more quickly? 

The short answer is me screaming no with a megaphone.

The long answer is that you always have to keep in mind that the author might be reading this. I don't understand why this is so difficult for some people to grasp, but it takes an insane amount of work to write, edit, and get a book published. That's accomplishment on its own.

We as readers just feel responsible for providing helpful feedback if we decide to share our opinion on public platforms. Imagine if the author were reading that you called them an absolute retard for writing a book that should be used as toilet paper instead (someone actually said this on Goodreads). 

I'm not saying you're not allowed to rant, to express your disappointment over a book that didn't live up to your expectations. Of course you are allowed to voice your opinion, but please, please don't write any feedback that you couldn't deal with yourself. 

Ask yourself: if someone wrote this about your book - how would you react?


How do you handle writing bad reviews? Do you publish them at all?




More Etiquette:

You might want to check out my Book Blogging Tips series:


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Saturday, June 25, 2016

I Lose Interest in Books When Everybody's Reading Them



I wonder if it's only me. 

This whole hating-popular-things thing started on tumblr. There are certain books that are insanely popular there and that everyone seems to love.

Fan casts, fan edits, reviews, my entire dash is filled with posts about those books and every other day someone tells me that I just have to read those books finally.

But will I? I haven't read them and with every post I see about those books, with every person that tells me I should read them already, I start to hate these books a little more. 

The second I see something all over every blog, I'm not intrigued, I'm more annoyed, actually. 

Popular = Bad?

Of course not all books that are popular will be books that you'll consider good, but then again, not all books that are popular are automatically bad books.

Obviously, with a lot of people telling you to buy a book because it's good you might get the impression that you're missing out on some top quality stuff. But for me that's hardly ever the case. All books that I've read just because I had people bombarding me with messages, telling me to read them, turned out to be nothing like I expected.

Too high expectations are dooming every book before you even read a single page. Thus, popular books have it even harder for a super picky person like me. This has nothing to do with the quality of the books. The more popular and praised it is, the more likely I am to be disappointed and absolutely angry after reading a book when it didn't live up to my very high expectations.

Don't Tell Me What To Read!

I find the thought of everyone liking something already when I'm just discovering it very annoying. I know this is a terrible attitude and I'm missing out on many books, but I like feeling like I'm one of the first people to discover a new gem in my genre of choice. I don't want to feel like one of the millions of fans of a new book, I want to be among the first thousand, maybe. It's weird.

I think the bottom line is that I'm just a closet hipster.

Especially as a blogger, I want to be on top of things. I want to discover great books as soon as I can get my hands on them. It's virtually impossible though. There are so many books being released every month, every year, that you can impossibly read them all. If you can, you probably have superpowers.

And honestly? It shouldn't matter. It shouldn't matter whether you're keeping up with all new releases or whether you're still catching up on books that have been released 4 years ago, or whether you simply couldn't care less about new releases and read what you want. At the end of the day everyone should read whatever they want, whenever they want. 


Are you a closet hipster, too, or am I just weird?

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