Tag Archives: book covers

#MondayBlogs: Life as a Book Bloggin’ Reviewer

13 Jul

Intro:

One of the best parts of being an author is meeting and speaking with readers. Among the readers who help authors the most are the wonderful book bloggers. Without them, we wouldn’t be the wonderful and supportive community of writers and readers we are today. That’s why I’m proud to share today’s post about bloggers. Kristine Schwartz is the writer behind the infamous book blog, The Schwartz Reviews, and today, she shares all that goes on behind the scenes in this loyal writing community. Let’s welcome her!

Life as a Book Bloggin’ Reviewer by Kristine Schwartz

So, as the title of this post suggests, I am a book blogging reviewer. I review books. Lots and lots of books. I consider it my day job, as I am one of the lucky ones who is also a stay at home parent. So, when Shannon Thompson put out a status update looking for guest posts I started thinking about all of the wonderful things that I could write. As a blogger, that is the other half of my job. I say job, but I do not really get paid… unless you count the piles of free books I acquire, which I do. I do count those as payment. Plus it is always such a great way to find new authors that just wow your boots off (or how does that saying go again?). So, without further ado, I bring to you my life as a book blogger!

Photo provided by Kristine

Photo provided by Kristine

What is amazing about my ‘Job’

FREE BOOKS! Ahem. I mean the free books are obviously a bonus. However, a book blogger is not for the faint of heart. I mean, you probably will not pass out or anything by anything that I do BUT it does require a TON of your undivided attention. Plus, despite what some may think, you will not hit it off right out of the gate. It takes a lot of work to gather a following, a lot of work developing your talent as a blogger. I am not even sure that I have completely hit it off yet; however, I am getting close to where I want to be as a blogger. Years later and hundreds of posts in, I’m beginning to get the hang of this book bloggin’ business.

A book blogger is an author’s best friend.

Ok, so free books are at the top of the list of what is amazing about book blogging. What is next? In my opinion, the relationships you create with authors that you fall for. Sure, there are many authors that just come and go, but the ones that affect you the most are the ones that you begin to chit chat with on a regular basis. The ones on your Facebook, the ones you work with behind the scenes on their newest works, and the ones you spread the word about on more than one occasion. I absolutely love it when I begin to consider an author my friend. Yea yea, a Facebook friend, but they mean so much more to me as a reader than just a number in a list. I begin to want what is best for them and become available to them at any time. What? They need a review of their latest book? Sure, I will put this book down for you right now! What? A cover reveal? I need that on my blog! Let me Facebook that, tweet it, and Instagram it! The relationships you develop with the authors that you love and are lucky enough to meet through your blog, priceless.

I get to work with authors on cover reveals, guest posts, interviews, and giveaways! I absolutely love interviewing authors and finding out all the in’s and out’s of their writing habits and styles. I also think it is fabulous to see all the amazing covers before anyone else. I mean, sharing their amazing covers with all of the readers, yes that is what I meant…

What is hard about my ‘Job’

Emails. That is the hardest part about being a book blogger. I currently have… let me check… almost four hundred emails in my account waiting for attention. Why is this hard? Because I hate the fact that I cannot answer them all. I do not want to leave anyone behind. I want to help everyone. I want to reply to everyone. But realistically, it is impossible. So it hurts my heart that some authors who have worked so hard on their novels will not get a reply from me. When the whole point of my blogging is to help as many authors as I can. I even have several members of my family working behind the scenes with me, reading and reviewing books so that I can help more authors. Yet, so many are left waiting, for an email that just will not come because I am swamped. It is the absolute worst part of being a book blogger. Feeling as though I am letting people down. I just have to remember that I am doing the best that I can, and that I am helping as many authors as possible. That has to count for something right?

Another hard part would be the social media. I am more of a behind the scenes person myself. I like to read and write my reviews. However, to be a successful blogger you need to keep up with all of the social media. And well, I find that it just takes away from my reading time. That is not good. Not when I try to average 2-4 books a week. So keeping up with Twitter and Instagram are hard for me. Facebook is my main social network platform that I maintain, and even that gets difficult at times. I cannot help it! I am usually reading an interesting book! And you know how it is…You know how it is, right?

I guess I have to put this here as well, boring books. Yes, such a thing exists. I find it quite difficult when I accept a novel for review, only to find that the novel is incredibly hard to read. Like, all I want to do is put it down. However, if I accept a novel for review, well, I give it my best. I will read it, and review it objectively. It is my ‘job’ after all. For example, I once read a novel about constipation that turned into diarrhea… enough said, right?

Book covers, they will get me every time…

How I started out: 

This is easy. I started out on Goodreads. I honestly suggest that if you have the desire to start a book blog that you begin on Goodreads. Why? Because that is the best site to begin meeting authors, other reviewers, and start your reviewing career. Start with the books you have recently read, rate them out of five stars, and then write a review. Find your style. Then, when you are ready, you can create your blog. I suggest BlogSpot because it is super easy to use and maintain. You can even use Goodreads to begin announcing your book blog. Remember, a blog takes a lot of work to maintain. This is exactly how I began.

Remember, a blog takes a lot of work to maintain.

A day in the life of a book blogger: 

Ok, so let’s begin when my blogging day begins and ends.

Are you ready to be impressed? Bored? A little of both maybe? I start by reading…for hours! Sometimes, I forget to eat. Others, I have a hard time keeping my attention on the novel in hand (damn those boring books, eh?). I attempt to read for 4-5 hours a day. Yes, that long! Then, my housewife duties begin…Don’t worry, I only waste an hour or two on these 😉

Then, I attempt to do my social media connections for an hour a night. Setting up posts for timed postings. I also attempt to write articles for my blog for an hour a night. Plus, whenever there is time in the evening…I have my nose stuck in a book (or game, Xbox is my second passion and I am LadyRPG009 on live 😉

I also spend quite a lot of time on the phone during the day. Connecting with various family members who have novels on the go for my review blog. I pressure them to hurry up, take notes, and read read read! I am a hard arse I guess. But hey, it gets the job done… most of the time anyway.

Running a Blog: 

The main part of running a blog is design. Design of your blog. Design of your posts. Design of your images. Design of your layout…you get the point.

Once design is finished, content. I have spent a lot of time lately working out some content kinks. Design flaws. I absolutely love the way of my posts now. My review format works wonderful for me, and I love it because it is unique to my site. Unique to my name. And it holds everything that I believe is important to a review. I will not get into exactly my format, as it can be found completely on my “How Books are Rated” page. I give out stars in my own five star rating system. I also format my reviews so that everything is labeled perfectly and a reader can see what they deem important right away. BAM! Done to perfection…in my eyes anyway J

I also offer editing…why? Because I am an avid reader who has done her research properly and knows the rules of the English language. And because one of my greatest book peeves is reading a novel that has not been perfected for the reader. Ugh! Please, before publication, just perfect it… Even a little. It is greatly appreciated. I even include a perfection star in my rating system for this purpose. I would even go so far as to say that it is my GREATEST BOOK PEEVE!

Ok, so after editing, which is an amazing service (every author that has used my service has told me this), I mainly run reviews. I attempt to have a review posted at least twice a week. Sometimes that is just not feasible as some books are quite large. Therefore, when that happens, I attempt to post articles. Posts written by yours truly. Or posts written by authors, interviews, or cover reveals. I am also starting to put up some giveaways. I have several planned for the summer that will rock your socks off (THAT IS the saying!).

Honestly, book blogging is a blast! If you can do it…Do it! It is sooooo worth it. Yes, it is a ton of work. Yes, it is a commitment, but it is a lot of fun and so very rewarding. I, honestly, wish that I had started doing it sooner. Really.

Bio:

Kristine Schwartz from The Schwartz Reviews leads an extremely busy life. She is first, a mother of four young children aged seven to ten. Two beautiful boys to protect her younger twin daughters. Living with four children is only half her work however; she also has a home and husband to maintain. She has studied Economics and Accounting. She has also made a home 800kms away from where she was born and raised. Leaving London, Ontario behind for the country life of the Quebec province. She spends her day’s home arguing with her cat, Joseph, and reading or writing for her blog. Her evenings are spent running around like a chicken with its head cut off while she cleans, cooks, and bathes her small baseball team of children. Playdates, and homework, and of course, reading whenever she finds the time.

Where You Can Find Me:

The BlogFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Email: theschwartzreviews@gmail.com

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#WW I Avoided Certain Books. Here’s Why.

3 Jun

#WW I Avoided Certain Books. Here’s Why.

Right now, I’m basically reading all the novels I’ve avoided over the past year or so. Why did I avoid these reads? I can honestly just guess—since it’s difficult to remember—but I thought it’d make for an interesting topic.

The first novel I picked up was The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. I already finished and reviewed it on Goodreads. Five fantastic alien stars. (No kidding.) I could barely put it down, and it kept me up way too late at night . . . which caused me to have some awesome (and wicked) alien dreams. That being said, I definitely reflected on why I avoided this phenomenal YA novel. My best friend and her husband recommended it to me first, and I often love their suggestions. In fact, I exchange nerd-dom news with them on a regular basis. So why did I immediately shut down The 5th Wave? It was everything I’ve ever enjoyed before: thrilling science-fiction with an underlining mystery in the midst of survival. And there’s a teddy bear. Who doesn’t love teddy bears?

This is Kiki, judging me for not reading The 5th Wave sooner.

This is Kiki, judging me for not reading The 5th Wave sooner.

I pondered my avoidance for a while for two reasons:

  1. I would hate to see this “avoidance” turn into a weird reading habit, which then causes me to miss out on some of my favorite reads of the year (like in this case.)
  2. I’m an author. I want to understand this from a psychology standpoint for my own novels. Was it the cover? Could this be avoided for readers looking at my books? Was it the back cover? Was it the main character’s name? Etc. And being an author made me HATE the possibility of being a judgmental reader, a.k.a. a book snob. That’s not me. So what’s going on?

I literally made a list of possibilities. (Literally. I love lists . . . and psychoanalyzing myself.) And I was brutally honest with myself.

At first, I thought it might have been because the protagonist’s name is Cassie, and my best friend’s name (yes, the one I mentioned above) is Cassie. Maybe it was too weird for me. (What author can avoid this?) But then I realized that couldn’t have been the case, because I read this entire 500-page novel in a few nights, and I never pictured my friend shooting a M16 at her enemies. They even have different hair colors. So . . . it wasn’t that. And it wasn’t the cover, because I actually kind of like how different the cover is, borderline thriller (which the novel is), mixed with an almost sepia-like glow in a forest. (Basically, if there were a pretty girl in a dress on the cover, it would not have made sense. At all.) My problem wasn’t the language or the violence either. I loved both. And the title didn’t confuse me, and the concept didn’t . . . wait. The concept.

So, the concept is where I saw myself stumble. (And you might want to read the synopsis just so you get what I’m talking about.) But the back of the book explains that this novel is about aliens taking over in a variety of “waves” (ex. The 1st Wave is an electromagnetic impulse, so we can’t use our technology.) Now, we’re waiting for The 5th Wave.

Why did this bother me? It sounds AWESOME.

Well, that’s what I had to figure out, and I did. Although it might be strange to some, I started with “why did I pick it up this time?” I thought starting in the NOW would help me figure out the THEN. And it did.

I recently watched Star-Crossed, a CW show about aliens that evidentially got canceled. (A fact I did not know while watching it on Netflix.) And even though Star-Crossed and The 5th Wave are VERY different, I was dying for another alien story. So then it occurred to me. When was the last time I actually READ an alien story?

This was difficult for me . . . which is strange because I read a lot . . . so I then realized I avoid alien books altogether . . . which was strange because I grew up around tons of alien books and intergalactic travel novels in my house because my mom was a trekky and overall book junkie.

And it hit me.

I’ve probably avoided alien novels since my mom died . . . back when I was eleven. Not entirely of course. But most of the time. Even though I love them, I think subconsciously aliens might have been “too close”—a topic that brought back too many memories. And while that sounds sad and all, (I get it. It was for me.) I think I overcame this psychological subconscious avoidance of alien books just by reading The 5th Wave. This novel solved a problem I never even knew I had.

Isn’t that amazing?

Books truly affect our lives in ways we can’t even begin to understand, and I like to believe that’s because reading falls along the lines of love. You can’t explain it, but it shapes you. And that’s why I’m picking up even more novels that I’ve avoided for one reason or another along the way.

Who knows? It could be the most impactful read of my life.

~SAT

On a fun side note, my recent vlog on my YouTube channel, Coffee & Cats, covered The 5th Wave, including the upcoming film adaptation, and a movie recommendation similar to it while you wait.

Guest Post: So You Want To Make A Book Cover

4 Oct

Shannon here for one second: I spend a lot of time talking with authors and reading their blogs. Because of this, I often come across some great information that I think you guys will like, and this is one of those gems I had to share. This post is written by Alianne Donnellya published and self-published author of paranormal and fantasy romance novels, and it’s all about creating your book covers, efficiently and effectively. (Speaking of which, the cover for Seconds Before Sunrise is in the works) Enjoy!

Admittedly, I haven’t been doing this very long, but in the last two years or so, I have learned a great deal, most of which I have condensed here for your viewing pleasure. This is something everyone who wants to embark on the arduous journey of creating cover art should know and be aware of.

1. Know Your Tools. Microsoft Paint does not count as a tool. To truly make a presentable (read: marketable) cover, you need to use what the pros use. If you can’t shell out $800 for Photoshop software (and, let’s face it, who can these days?) then GIMP is your next best option. It is free, open source, and, in my humble opinion, much easier to use. Still not a breeze, though. Expect to put a lot of hours into this project. Download yours today at http://www.GIMP.org

2. Stock Up On Essentials. Think of your cover as a new recipe you are cooking up. Here are your necessary ingredients:

– Stock Images (sxc.hu, morguefile.com, fotolia.com, istockphoto.com, etc.)

– Fonts (dafont.com, fonts2u.com, fontfreak.com, 1001freefonts.com, etc.)

– Textures (optional)

– Patterns (optional)

– Scripts (optional)

Sometimes a good stock image and a pretty font is sufficient. Other times you need to play around a little more. But no matter what you use or how much, always, always, always check the licenses and use agreements. If you’re not sure if you can use something, ask. Better be safe than sued out of your home and hearth by an artist scorned.

3. Learn To Love Your Size. And by that I mean industry standards for cover image sizing, of course. The size of your cover will dictate the size of the stock images you need. You need an image large and detailed enough to look great as a thumbnail as well as a full screen shot on an iPad. For eBooks, expect to make something at least 1,000 pixels wide at the absolute minimum. Bigger is better. For print book covers, ask for a template. Printers have very specific in terms of what has to go where. Be aware of them and follow the rules.  

 

And lastly…

 

4. Learn From The Masters. I’m not saying copy a design exactly. That would be wrong and ultimately not worth it—you want your book to stand out. I’m saying spend some time on research. Look for covers you like. Study them. Look at the details and try to figure out how they were achieved. Mix and match and play around. You can take a shadowing skill from here, a special font from there, a texturing idea from somewhere else, and create something brand new and beautiful, and all your own.

And whatever you do, don’t forget to have fun!

 

Good Luck!SONY DSC

Alianne Donnelly is a published and self-published author of paranormal and fantasy romance novels. When she’s not at her society-prescribed 9-5, she is diligently working on her next masterpiece and/or tinkering with another graphic to outdo the last one. Or possibly Facebook. Most days all three at the same time. Her books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and anywhere else eBooks are sold. Check out her latest release and other shenanigans at http://aliannedonnelly.com or like her page at http://www.facebook.com/alydonnelly

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