Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

When is it Okay to Talk About Sequel Spoilers? | Book Blogging Etiquette (#10)



Don't you just love getting your favorite book series spoiled? 

Fortunately this hasn't happened to me in a while but I'm very much not looking forward to this happening anytime soon.







Be gentle on your readers- especially on social media.

Whenever I'm talking about a sequel I always assume that someone out there who has an eye on my social media is still planning to read the first one. Even if that book came out in, say, 2005. There is no expiration date on reading and if something isn't so popular that it's pretty much general pop culture knowledge by now (for example Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker's father), you really shouldn't ruin someone's day by talking about spoilers without labeling them. Anywhere.

The thing is, I try to be as inclusive with my blog as I possibly can. I want backlist and frontlist readers to have a great time here, I want to provide as much of a variety in terms of the books that I review and the content I provide as I can. Same goes for my social media. It's only logical then to also take into consideration that there will be readers out there who are planning on reading the first book to sequel you're talking about.

Very often I hear from people who read my blog that my review made them interested in reading a specific book. And that often happens with sequels, too. I like to think that the people who read my blog also care about my opinion on things and that I to some degree am able to influence their decision whether to read a book or not. And blatantly spoilering left and right on social media and blog, knowing that there are possible readers and fans of a series or book I've already read out there is just a no no.

You're ruining everyone's online experience by doing that. Especially when we're talking about social media where you can't mark spoilers appropriately and by default end up spoilering someone if you talk about it openly.

What about reviews?

Of course, sequel reviews are completely out of the picture here. If you're purposely clicking on a review of a sequel, that's your own fault for getting spoilered. I personally find that it's nearly impossible to write a high quality review for a sequel without spoiling anything about the first book. I'm usually still trying to keep the worst spoilers to myself if no necessary, but usually it's fair game to spoil in sequel reviews in my opinion.

(It should go without saying that unlabeled spoilers have no business in a review of a standalone or first in a series, by the way, that's why I'm not even addressing this. NEVER do this.)

So how do I prevent this whole mess?

Simple. By labeling your spoilers. Don't be a meanie and mark your spoilers.



What's the last book that somebody spoiled for you?




More Book Blogging Etiquette:


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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

Continue Reading...

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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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?




Continue Reading...

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: 

Continue Reading...

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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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? 

Continue Reading...

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?

Continue Reading...

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?

Continue Reading...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

No Comments on Book Reviews? | Book Blogging Tips (#42)




What I've noticed recently is that book reviews generally seem to get less reader interaction in form of comments. 

And I wonder why, because reviews tend to be the one thing I focus most on when I'm checking out a new blog. 


I personally read other blogs mostly for the reviews, but I figured maybe that's not what everyone seems to be interested in.

So I did a little digging, observed my own commenting habits, and tried to find out why people tend to comment less on book reviews than on other posts


1) People like to share their opinion

You'd think this would go towards the "reasons why people comment on reviews" pile, but it doesn't. Not everyone will read or even think about reading the same books as you. While I do follow many, many, and almost exclusively YA book blogs, there are maybe only two people whose tastes mesh very nicely with mine. 

If your readers haven't read the book - they can't share their opinion of it, so no comments on that!

2) Reviews are longer than most other posts

Everyone has their own way of writing reviews, but I noticed that people tend to write too much rather than too little. If I see a brick wall of a review in front of me, I sometimes just close the window and don't read it, even if I was interested in that blogger's opinion in the first place. I usually just zone out after a certain length and just skim the review. If I have skimmed the whole thing, I don't feel comfortable commenting.

3) Formatting is everything - you can lose a lot of readers over this

The only thing that's worse than having a 2500 word review is a poorly formatted 2500 word review. I do know some bloggers who do this only with their reviews but format everything nicely. If you post reviews like these, it's even less likely to get comments. 


Should we just stop writing reviews then? Nobody reads them anyways...

There are so many factors that can impact whether I read a review in the first place and whether I'll comment. Even if there's a perfectly formatted, wonderful short review of a book that I have read by someone that I trust - I don't think this would be a 100% guarantee that I'll comment. And you want to know why? Because I'm scared to disagree. 

Sometimes I don't like a book and I still keep reading reviews of it to see if I'm the only one, but I don't want a fight.

There'll always be books that people like or dislike, and there'll always be people who defend said book to their dying breath. I think maybe that might be the reason why there are usually so few comments on book reviews. People don't necessarily agree and don't want to start a fight. Maybe this, or they just don't read them.

Regardless, I'll still keep writing reviews. Will you?

Continue Reading...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Is Sharing Your Negative Reviews Mean?





I absolutely hate disliking things. Whenever I start a new book, I sincerely hope that this is my new favorite read and that I'll give it a 5 star review. 

But unfortunately, that's just not the case. 

There are more books that I end up disliking than there are new favorite books and that's perfectly okay.

When it comes to sharing posts though, I'm suddenly shy to promote one or even zero star reviews. It just doesn't feel right to go around basically screaming: HEY I didn't like this, listen to me talk about how I hated this for 300 words!!! 


Are negative reviews mean?

There are definitely different ways to write reviews. I like to think that I have a respectful way of talking about books I didn't like (at least I developed that after two years of blogging). Of course there are reviewers who make everything sound mean and whose negative reviews read like hate mail.

What makes a review mean?
  • insults of any sort (whether it's towards the author, the characters, the writing)
  • cursing 
  • telling other people not to buy this
  • confusing personal taste as an indicator for the quality of the work 
I completely understand that you sometimes get carried away and just can't help yourself but be a little annoyed with a book. Especially with books that turned out to disappoint. But really, making the author feel bad about their work isn't really the answer here (some authors DO read reviews!!).

What about sharing negative reviews?

Okay, so you read a book, you didn't like it, and you wrote a review about it that isn't mean at all. 
It's just negative because you didn't like the book. It would probably still offend and hurt the author despite being written respectfully and constructively, simply because it's a one or zero star -kinda deal. 


What do you do with this now? Do you publish it? Is that mean? 

Or are you just sharing your opinion (which you have every right to) ? 

Continue Reading...

Sunday, May 8, 2016

I Only Read Negative Reviews on Goodreads



I've been trying to observe the way I pick which reviews to read for a while now and I noticed that I have a pattern. 




Every single time I'm reading a book, regardless of whether I'm currently liking it or absolutely hating it, I head over to Goodreads and check out the one star reviews.

Sure, especially on Goodreads people are insanely disrespectful, nitpicky, and sometimes downright offensive. But there's a reason why the negative reviews are usually the ones with the most likes and why people like me go for them purposely.

What's so interesting about negative reviews?

They're funny. Even if I like a book it's just hilarious to me to see people freak out about little things, sometimes add 400 gifs of people throwing tables.

They point out the flaws others are afraid to admit. Of course some negative reviews on Goodreads are just crap and unnecessary nitpicking, but I noticed that only the negative reviews actually depict things that don't quite work in the novels they're critiquing. 

Too positive reviews don't intrigue me at all. Mostly it's just flailing and telling me how awesome the book is without actually saying what it is that makes the book good.

Negative reviews use proof. Whether it'll be quotes or retelling a specific moment in the book that just doesn't make sense. I'm a factual person and a simple "THIS IS THE BEST BOOK I'VE EVER READ GO READ IT" doesn't really do anything for me.

Does this mean people should start being more picky and rude and rate stuff more harshly for success?

No, absolutely not!!!! While I do enjoy negative reviews, I don't like bullying. It's basically what many many Goodreads reviewers do, bully authors because they don't like their books. A big amount of those negative reviews make me cringe and ask myself whether any of these people is actually aware that authors do read reviews sometimes.


Do you read positive or negative reviews on Goodreads?
Do you even filter by rating?

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Friday, April 1, 2016

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






Even if we don't like to admit it, we've all not finished a book and still written a review on it.

Whether you just skipped the last 5 pages or the last 50, it does happen sometimes. But the question is, is that okay? 





The biggest argument against this that I've heard is that

"Books can have a sudden plot twist that changes everything and make you suddenly super interested in it again"

To me this does sound more like wishful thinking than a common thing that actually happens. When I get to the point that I'm DNF-ing or at least contemplating it, the last thing I want to do is "give the book another chance".

When I DNF, it's probably for a very good reason. That might be the writing isn't for me, the book is full of characters with questionable moral choices (that rather seem like the author trying to preach their own values), or it's just not a genre I'm not interested in.

Some books do turn around within the last couple of pages, but this has only ever happened to me a handful of times and never with a book that I was intentionally going to DNF. If you've written reviews for a while, you'll get a feeling for what works or what doesn't. You'll know your own taste and be able to judge a book very quickly.

I can tell by page 10 whether a book will be something I like or not. Regardless, I always give books 50 pages before I DNF. 

Is it justified to still write a review if you DNF like that? 

If it's a review copy, I would never do that, I'd rather contact the person I'm working with and tell them the book is not for me. I wouldn't feel comfortable writing a review for something I didn't read and 50 pages aren't nearly enough to justify a negative review.

Especially for unknown authors with few reviews for their books, that's just not something that I'd feel comfortable doing. At the end of the day, I want to help authors out and talk about books with other readers and writing a review for something that I didn't /really/ read is doing more harm than benefit in my opinion. 

So I was talking about review copies before, but what about reading books in your free time, do you DNF silently and still write a review for it? If nobody would ever find out, would you do it?


DNF reviews? Yay or nay?

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Why You Should Never Ever Take Review Inspiration From Goodreads | Book Blogging Tips (#34)




As a blogger, you probably also have a Goodreads account. Goodreads is a community where you can share reviews, book recommendations, and the like with your friends and discuss the latest books you read.

A huge part of the website is the review section. Anyone and everyone can publish reviews, sharing their opinion with the whole world. 

There are absolutely no rules, and this is exactly why the worst thing an aspiring blogger can do, is to copy-and-paste their super popular Goodreads reviews onto a blog.



The Difference Between Reviewing on Goodreads and Independently

Most reviews on Goodreads are angry rants. The more you write about why you hate a book, the more likes you're going to get from similar-minded people. While I'm a-ok with expressing a negative opinion, it always always always depends on the tone. On Goodreads, people can vote on your review. The more likes and comments it has, the more likely it is to get around and be seen by a lot of people. Logically, the reviews that are shared a lot are the ones that polarize. 

Consequentially - what do people do when they want to get famous on Goodreads? Write controversial reviews, mostly involving swear words, GIFs, quotes, and anything to support your negative or positive opinion. 

If you're reviewing on a blog, your focus isn't on the looks of the review, but the content. At least it should be. Of course you're supposed to have a certain common theme and aesthetic to your reviews, but it's all about your opinion.
On Goodreads, it's all about attention, getting comments and likes, and ideally also ridiculing the author. 

Why Goodreads-Reviewing Is Terrible 

On Goodreads you won't only find a lot readers, but also authors.
Many popular and famous authors do have a Goodreads account, so there's a chance that they'll read what you have written. Most popular Goodreads Reviewers don't have independent blogs and strictly stick to the website. But I've seen a few people try to transition with those hate-filled and flat out mean reviews you'll find on the site.

If you don't know what I mean by goodreads-reviewing, here's a review from a very popular Goodreads reviewer for Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein


[Source]


Imagine being the author and having to read that your book made someone want to gouge their eyes out. So much work from a copious amount of people goes into writing a book. If you're going to review it, don't do it like this. It's insanely disrespectful, childish, and mean.

As an aspiring blogger, I can just urge you to aim for the highest level of professionalism you can, while staying true to yourself. Don't look at Goodreads and try to write your reviews like the popular people on there. 


What's Your Opinion on Goodreads-

Reviewing?


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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Mistakes To Avoid When Pitching Your Book To Book Bloggers | Book Blogging Tips (#33)




I've been blogging for more than a year now. When you've been around for some time, authors and publishers will start approaching you.

The majority of requests I get are from self-published authors or authors that are published in small presses. 

I compiled a little list of things to do if you're looking to get your book reviewed by book bloggers.

Here are my tips for anyone looking to promote their book with the help of bloggers:



1. Not reading the review policy

Look at it like this: You want something from us.
Reading a book is time-consuming, writing a review can take up to two hours, sometimes even more. We aren't getting paid for reviewing. The least you can do is read the entire policy so you know whether you're wasting someone's time.

Pay attention to the blogger's preferences and follow instructions. Most bloggers even state specifically what the subject headline has to say and can tell when you haven't read the policy. Think of it as a business relation. Mutual respect is very important.

2. Pitching books out of the reviewer's comfort zone

Most bloggers state clearly in their policy what they want to read about and what they don't want to read about. Whether it's preferred genres, topics that they aren't interested in - again, read the policy so your request won't be deleted and ignored. Trust me, bloggers rarely take a chance on books they aren't interested in.

3. Following up

Some bloggers reply to every request, some don't.
If someone declines your request, don't send another the week after that with a stronger query. We are not literary agents. We don't make money off this, most people blog for their entertainment only. If the blogger wasn't interested in your book the first try, another pitch will only end up in the spam folder.

4. No personalization

It makes me smile when I can see in the pitch that the author/publisher really wants me to review their book and not just sends requests to every blogger they can find.
There is nothing wrong with looking for exposure, but I don't want to feel like number 3273 on your list of bloggers to pitch. Mention my name, mention books I recently read and liked and you've got a foot in the door already. But please, don't lie about reading my blog. Yes, I can tell when you're lying.


5. Being unprofessional

This includes:

  • snarky responses / insults if the blogger declines
  • offers of compensation (money, gift cards etc.)
  • persistently repitching your book
  • spam 
  • not following instructions in the review policy
  • pitching when the blogger is closed for review requests


Like this you'll make sure the blogger won't ever buy/read a book that you've written.


Bloggers: Have you any more tips on mistakes to avoid?


Come back next Thursday for another Book Blogging Tips post!


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Thursday, December 10, 2015

How to Deal With DNFs | Book Blogging Tips (#29)


We've all had it and we all dread it. DNF-ing a book is probably one of the worst things to happen to a book blogger. 

But sometimes you just don't want to finish a book and that's perfectly okay. 

What is a DNF?
A DNF is a book you did not finish for what reason ever.



Why It's Okay
Not all books are for everyone. 
You have to think like this: If you're forcing yourself to finish every single book you start, you'll miss out on a lot of great books while you're stuck reading the shitty ones. Life is too short to torture yourself with bad literature. Don't feel bad because your taste doesn't match with every single thing you read.

I've even DNF-ed books and afterwards went on to ask a friend who read it about what happened next. If you simply don't feel like the writing clicks with you - don't read it. You're under no obligation to finish any book.

When to DNF
  • You don't have any enthusiasm left for the book, you're dreading every page you have to read. When is it over again?
  • You dislike the characters so much that you've just stopped caring about their journey
  • The author pulls an unforgiveable faux-pas
  • The plot is too graphic, too emotional, too violent etc. for your taste
  • Poor langugae makes you have to guess what the author is trying to tell you
  • Copy cats: Haven't you seen this somewhere else? 

As you see, there are millions of reasons to DNF a book. If yours is not on this list I'm not even surprised. You can DNF for thousands of reasons and every single one is a justified and perfectly okay reason to.

What if it's an ARC?

Actually, most publishers I've worked with state in a the package leaflet that it's okay if you dislike a book. You don't even have to DNF it- if you flat out change your mind about wanting to read a review copy , you should send your contact an email. 

Most publishers are very considerate. You can even send the copy to another blogger for review and inform your industry contact. You don't even have to be specific as to why you didn't want to read the review copy after all. Just be respectful and state that the book wasn't for you.

With review copies though I have a minimum of 50 pages for every book to get me hooked. Don't DNF if you've only read ten pages, especially not with review copies, that's just disrespectful. 


How do you handle DNFs?

Continue Reading...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

How To Queue Posts Months in Advance | Book Blogging Tips (#26)



I was actually asked to share my take on the topic with you guys, because I mentioned in one my previous BBT posts how heavily queued my blog is.

To me, queuing is essential if you want to publish nice content frequently. Here some tips on how I manage to keep on queuing.



1. Use Your Creative Highs

Sometimes you will feel like blogging and sometimes you won't. The key is to notice when you feel like writing and to write the heck out of it. Write until you feel like puking at the thought of writing another post. 
I've actually written twenty posts in a day before, just because I forced myself to keep on doing it. You'd be surprised how fun it is to and how satisfying it is to see the number of your queued posts rising up!

2. Have Set Content 

If you know what your blog is supposed to be about it will get way easier to queue in advance. Reviews are obviously excluded from this. Find a set schedule for every day of the week, or just every week.
Based on memes, an example schedule for bloggers that aspire to post every day would be this:

  • Monday: What are you reading? or Mailbox Monday 
  • Tuesday: Teaser Tuesday or Top Ten Tuesday
  • Wednesday: Wishlist Wednesday or Waiting on Wednesday
  • Thursday: Freebie
  • Friday: The Friday 56 or Friday Finds
  • Saturday: Original (personal post or own feature)
  • Sunday: Sunday Salon or Weekly Wrap Up

As you see, if you're a friend of them there are memes for every day of the week. A great source to find more memes is the Book Blog Meme Directory.

3. Launch Your Own Memes/Original Content


Since I started Book Blogging Tips, I noticed that it gets way easier to schedule stuff in advance. Sometimes when I'm writing up a post, an idea for another one just pops into my head. Having your own feature will surely inspire you to make a lot of posts at once. It's also extremely satisfying when the first people start linking to your posts.


Beware: Don't copy other people's stuff, give it a new name and pretend it's your own content. Especially with memes you can easily slip into the direction of plagiarism and this isn't good for your reputation and it will cost you a lot of readers.

Also, it's illegal. So stay away from that. Your own ideas are way better than the copied content anyways.

4. Reviews: Write Them Immediately


I know this can get super tiring and it's annoying and sometimes you don't even feel like writing a review. Believe me, I know.
You just have to go through it, because:

  1. Your thoughts are fresh when you just finished the book
  2. You won't remember as many details in two days time
  3. Depending on the book you may have even forgotten about it altogether!
..and we don't want that. A great idea is to read other people's reviews on Goodreads if you don't feel like you have anything to say. You'll quickly notice that you agree or disagree and there you go - your first thoughts are waiting to be put on paper. It's not a shame if you only write half a review, you can still write the rest a few days later, it's just important to get the first draft done.


What are your tips on queuing posts in advance?

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