#SATurday: Reviewing Novels as an Author

20 Jun

#SATurday: Reviewing Novels as an Author

Back in the day—way back when—Goodreads didn’t exist, and I’m pretty sure (maybe not) Amazon didn’t even have a rating system for books. It was just Barnes & Noble and Borders, but mainly Barnes & Noble for me (R.I.P. Borders). I’m talking about the mid-90s. I used to buy all of my books from the store. (Okay. So my mom used to buy all my books from the store.) There was no Kindle, and there weren’t many book blogs out there, and if there were, they definitely weren’t like they are today. I actually remember sitting at my Komodo computer and scrolling the Internet, hoping to find somewhere to review books and I couldn’t find a website.

So, I reviewed books on Microsoft PowerPoint. (Something I just had a conversation about with author, Jonas Lee, so I must mention him in this article for sparking this idea in me. Thanks, Jonas!) It’s been over a decade since my PowerPoint presentation days. (A presentation that I used to show every weekend to my stuffed animals. What can I say? I moved around a lot. My toys were my friends.) I no longer have that presentation, but I can still see it scrolling through The Magic Tree House series and W.I.T.C.H.—stars flying in and flying out, wicked thick fonts twinkling on the screen before dissipating off. Sometimes, I would get a cartoon sound to line up with everything. It was 90’s perfection.

I loved it. I loved it so much. But years would pass before I ever began to post book reviews again. Why? Well…it’s a bit complicated, but it mainly came down to being an author. Beginning in 2007, I no longer felt like I could review books. I knew exactly how much work went on behind the scenes, after all, and it felt like a conflict of interest to say anything at all. If it was a positive review, someone could think I was just saying that to suck up to another author. If it was a negative review, someone could think I was just trying to tear someone else’s work down. Reviewing novels became a lose-lose situation in my mind, so I stepped away from them.

You can also expect to see more photos like this from me.

You can also expect to see more photos like this from me.

But I missed reviewing books so much. And I’ve missed them for a long time. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop thinking that I took the wrong approach all those years back when I stepped away from something I love to do—sharing books with whoever was interested.

I’m not a picky reader. I often love everything I read. I can definitely see value in everything I read, and my tastes range from cheesy romances to dark, dystopian sci-fi. I love poetry and memoirs and young adult and even the occasional blush-worthy read. I love everything. I really do. What I read mainly comes down to my mood, but I’ve always enjoyed recommending reads to fellow readers based on what they love the most.

So, I’ve returned. Over the past two months, I’ve been reviewing and updating novels I’m currently reading on Goodreads. You’ll probably never see a 1 or 2 or even a 3 star review from me, but please don’t get me wrong. I just rarely dislike novels, and if I do dislike novels, I am more likely to put it down than to finish it, and I don’t feel right reviewing something if I don’t finish it. On top of that, I’ve been focusing on who I would specifically recommend the read too, and it’s been a lot of fun! I’ve been connecting with readers more, and I love talking to everyone about how they feel about novels or what novels they have on their TBR list. I finally feel like a reader again. I’ve always been reading, of course, but reading is always better when you’re reading with friends. (And I’m so glad I’ve found reading friends that aren’t stuffed animals.) So, you can expect more reviews from me on Goodreads. Feel free to tell me about what you’re reading too! I would love to hear your recommendations. Just comment below—::wink::—and we’ll start reading together soon.

~SAT

P.S. Don’t forget! Three paperbacks will be given away on Goodreads this Tuesday, June 23 (a.k.a. my 24th birthday. What better way to celebrate than by giving away book gifts?) Click here to enter! Expect even more prizes soon.

Our most recent contest via Twitter just ended today! Congrats goes out to Kathy-Lynn Cross, the winner of the signed bookmark! Follow her @KathyLynnCross today.

winner

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12 Responses to “#SATurday: Reviewing Novels as an Author”

  1. Nervous Nell Justice June 20, 2015 at 4:03 am #

    I love a lot of what I read too. Sometimes I feel like my ratings aren’t as good because I rarely leave a 2 or 3 star rating. I often think that if I leave a low rating on the book, then it was not necessarily the author’s fault but my difference of likes or dislikes.

  2. Charles Yallowitz June 20, 2015 at 6:40 am #

    I was never big into reviewing since I’m a slow reader and far too nice. I always try to find something to like in a book and, if I can’t, then I don’t review it. The mentality I use is that it simply wasn’t for me, but somebody else might like it. Guess I want to avoid any Internet fights that seem to crop up a lot these days.

    Do you find that getting back into reviewing is helping your own writing and perception of reviews that you receive?

    Also, W.I.T.C.H. sounds oddly familiar.

    • Shannon A Thompson June 20, 2015 at 9:44 am #

      I’ve always loved reviewing, but I always reviewed privately to my stuffed animals – which is kind of odd when I think about it. I think I was reviewing for myself, keeping a catalog of sorts. And I still sort of do that today. I write inside the books I buy, and my friends who borrow my books have often called me to talk about the notes and underlines and numbers I’ve left behind. (I leave a catalog of the notes in the beginning pages.) Not sure why I’ve done this, but I do. I understand avoiding Internet fights. I think that’s why I never got into reviewing on the Internet. I’ve been terrified at the thought. But I’ve found it to be quite the opposite so far. I feel like I’m connecting with my readers more. We have more to talk about than just my novels, and that makes me feel more like a friend than just an author. W.I.T.C.H. was a comic book and novel. It was turned into a TV show for a short period of time too.
      ~SAT

      • Charles Yallowitz June 20, 2015 at 10:54 am #

        Well, stuffed animals are always there to hear our thoughts without judging us. 😀 That’s really cool that you put notes in the books you buy. I had a friend who inserted folded post-it notes that you could unfold to see their thoughts on a section. I’m sensing that fights are rarer than one thinks. Gets tough to understand that since they get more attention than the non-dramatic reviewing. I remember stumbling onto the T.V. show now. Never found the comics in my area, but it was an interesting concept.

  3. flygirl140 June 20, 2015 at 7:53 am #

    Reviewing is what brought me to this WordPress family! I started reviewing to be a better reader and writer and because I was sick of how one sided so many reviews are on Goodreads. I’m doing a post this week about my review style! I’m glad to hear your getting back in to it!

    • Shannon A Thompson June 20, 2015 at 9:45 am #

      Yeah! I think all the book bloggers I’ve met is one of the main reasons I’ve been wanting to get back into it. I want to be able to talk to my readers about more than just my books and my writing tips. I want to talk to them about what we’re all reading, and it’s been a lot of fun so far!
      ~SAT

  4. Missouri Vaun June 20, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    I do the same thing. I never give 1, 2 or 3 stars on a review because if I don’t like the book I just don’t finish it. But if I do like it then I want to share it by giving it a good review. People are too critical sometimes. And we all bring our own biases to books. We should encourage each other in both reading and creating stories. I’ll check out your reviews!

    • Shannon A Thompson June 20, 2015 at 9:47 am #

      Agree! I try to always center my reviews around who I think will enjoy the novel the most. Thank you for reading and commenting.
      ~SAT

  5. W E Patterson June 26, 2015 at 9:40 am #

    Writing a book or two gives you an entirely different viewpoint when it comes to reading. When I pick up a book in a bookstore (when I can find a bookstore these days), I always think “this was someone’s life for nine, or ten months (or much longer)”. I have great respect for that.

    Right now, I am reading a non-fiction book titled “Sacred Journey to Atlantis” by Dr. Norma Milanovich and Jean Meltesen. I am reading it in preparation for my upcoming trip to Bimini in August.

  6. D K Powell July 7, 2015 at 8:50 am #

    I love reviewing books BECAUSE I’m a a writer and so know how much goes into them. But when I find one that really stinks, I tend to put it away and say nothing rather than destroy the author in a review. Thankfully, I’ve yet to be sent a reviewer’s copy for something I’ve hated so reviews I’m obliged to write have always at least had something nice to say 🙂

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  1. June’s Ketchup | Shannon A Thompson - June 29, 2015

    […] Reviewing Novels as an Author: It’s a lot more complicated than we admit. […]

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