Tag Archives: reviewing books

#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

The Controversy of Rating and Reviewing Novels

8 Mar

Readers and writers, please take a moment to read this anti-bullying petition that can help the reader-writer relationship as well as the book market:  Protect Amazon.com Users and Indie Publishing Authors from Bullying and Harassment by Removing Anonymity and Requiring Identity Verification for Reviewing and Forum ParticipationWe may not be able to stop all trolls, but we can and should take a stand against them. Let’s make the internet a more positive place for all.

Beyond that, I wanted to thank The Novel List for reading and reviewing Seconds Before Sunrise. “I was taken away by this new world Shannon A. Thomson created, and even when I put the book down, this world haunted my thoughts. It was addicting and ironic, haunting and mystical, hilarious and sophisticated. I cannot praise this author more for providing an unfamiliar perspective to YA fiction, and exploring new ideas that are clearly distinct and unique to her personality.” Read the full review here to find out what The Novel List never saw coming.

Last time, I wrote out a lot of tips for those readers who are starting up their own book blog. Today, I was going to discuss how to rate and review novels in the most appropriate way possible, but then I realized something: “appropriate” is very, VERY debatable. (We are not talking about the obvious ones: ex/ telling an author to go die. That is blatantly wrong. We are, instead, talking about review situations that are debatable.)

At first thought, it’s difficult to see how any controversy would come up during reviews, but here are just a few that I will be discussing:

  • Reviewing a novel one has not even read or only read a few pages of
  • Purposely reading a novel one knows they will hate
  • Judging a chronological series out of order

However, before we continue, I want to clarify that I am not encouraging reviewers to write reviews in any of these situations. I am also not discouraging them. Although I have my personal opinions about these situations, readers have the right to review novels at anytime for any reason. As a reader, I like to believe I am always respectable when I write a review. As an author, I would simply ask reviewers to clarify if these things happened during the reading process. (Ex/ stating you did not finish the book in the review.) The controversies below are not meant to hurt anyone. They are meant to remind ourselves to be positive no matter what. You do not have to respect someone’s opinion, but you should try to respect that they have the right to one.

1 STAR

1. Reviewing an unread novel

I’m starting with this one because it is the only one I will share my personal opinion on. Please, don’t. Just don’t. Even if your friend told you how horrible it was and you trust them, don’t. Even if you have seen the movie, don’t. Even if you hate things that author has previously written, don’t review their new pieces without reading it. Just don’t. I cannot even fathom a justification for reviewing a novel without picking it up at all. Other than simple hating, (like how readers did this to popular novels), I have seen this happen a lot when a novel challenges very personal issues, like politics, religion, or sex, but reviewing a novel you have not read is simply not appropriate. Finding a novel that you are willing to pick up is more important than tearing down novels you have never touched.

2. Reviewing an unfinished novel

This situation is a lot more understandable than the first one. The reader at least attempted to read the novel. In this case, a reviewer should state that they did not finish the piece, where they stopped, and/or why they shelved the novel. There are many reasons for dropping a novel, including lack of interest, annoyance with a character, or disagreeable prose. Explaining your reason will allow your review to still be helpful to potential readers. For instance, you could say, “This novel was too descriptive.” Even with a one-star, a reader who likes very descriptive prose will find this helpful.

3. Judging a chronological series out of order

I’ve seen it happen. Someone reads book three of a seven book series, realizes it, and still reviews it poorly anyway because they were confused. Of course they’re confused. They missed four books. That’s like watching the newest episode of The Walking Dead and expecting to understand everything. Some reviewers think this is okay because it will let potential readers know if the novels are stand alones, but if you’re going to review it out of order– just say you read it out of order.  (Fun fact: I accidentally read The Forest of Hands and Teeth and the Mediator series out of order, but I still loved them. However, I went back and read the beginning books before I ever wrote a review.)

two-star-rating

Beyond that, I wanted to include a shortened list of two more situations that I believe reviewers should state if their review was affected from them:

– If you hate or love a genre: picking up high fantasy when you hate everything fantasy means you know you will probably be rating a novel down. I encourage readers to try new genres, but if you know your tastes automatically affected your thoughts, just mention it. This will be helpful for readers, because it will show if that particular novel appeals to new readers of the genre.

– If any outside event affected your reading mood – We get it. We’re all human. Reading a novel on an airplane compared to reading in your comfy bed at home can affect how much you enjoy what you’re reading. If you’re in the middle of finals, stress could cause you to drop the book halfway through with no hard feelings against the book. You don’t have to tell us that you lost your job. Just state that if you think your sour mood might have affected your reading state. That’s much nicer than simply rating it one star without knowing for sure that it was the book or your feelings that week.

Basically, by keeping these situations in mind, readers can remind themselves that an author – who probably worked months if not years on a novel – is not being judged unfairly. While readers have the right to review a novel whenever and however they like, practicing mutual respect is vital in keeping a healthy reading environment. 

To conclude this piece, I want to share a wonderful quote that Ky Grabowski shared on her blog: “Write about the book you read – not the book you wish the author had written.”

~SAT

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Donate to ShannonAThompson.com

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