Tips for the Bookish World: For Bloggers, Readers, and Authors

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hello, and welcome to Bookworm Mama! Today I have something very special for you...Tips for navigating this wonderful, yet sometimes daunting, bookish world that I have somehow found myself a part of. I took up reading again, and began reviewing books, the summer of 2014. When I first began I had NO idea what I was doing! I started looking up "How-To Write a Book Review", "What Makes a Good Book Blog", and so many other attempts at educating myself before I dove head first into this unknown world. While I have found many posts and sites to help encourage and direct writing a book review that is worthy of the book I am reviewing...There were many questions that I needed to find the answers for myself. Over the past six months I have compiled a list of topics that I feel aren't discussed enough in the bookish world. Not only for bloggers, but for readers and authors as well. I do not pretend to be perfect, or have all the answers, these are just a few of the things that I have learned (some the hard way) in the past couple of years reading, blogging, and observing this beautiful world of books. 

Accompanying this list are some rather appropriate clips and memes of The Doctor (In no particular order). If you are unfamiliar with Doctor Who, I do apologize. This is me, letting my geek show.

1. When writing a review on a retail site....please do NOT copy and paste the description of the book. I will never read a review if it starts with the exact description that I just read at the top of the page. If you can't come up with a whole paragraph, a simple "I enjoyed this book.", "This book is incredible, read it in one sitting.", would be so much better than repeating the description.
2. Writing critical reviews. This one gets under my skin somethin' fierce. I respect the fact that not everyone enjoys the same books. Sometimes it is hard to connect with the characters. Sometimes the storyline does not flow smoothly. There have also been times that I simply did not enjoy a book. However, as reviewers and more importantly as Christians, our job should be to encourage and help the author grow and improve. Words are powerful. We have the power to build up or to tear down. I am not saying we can ONLY post positive reviews. I am simply asking you to be KIND when you write a critical review. And ask yourself, "Am I honouring God with my words?"  

3. Do not give away spoilers! I always strive to keep my reviews spoiler free. When I have time I will write my own synopsis. However, I never give away more than what is revealed on the back of the book. Do not, I repeat DO NOT! give an overview of the ENTIRE book...If I want to know how it ends, I want to read the book for myself.

4. Include if you got the book for free. It is a $250 fee per site if you forget to include this disclaimer. Please don't open with that though, the short blurb you see of the beginning of a review should not be "I received a complimentary copy of this book." Your first lines should be engaging and grip the reader to want to finish reading your review. HOWEVER, I do not place the disclaimer it at the VERY end of my blog post. Just at the end of "My Thoughts". You want to make sure that it is still easily seen. See example HERE. Just to make sure my bases are covered, I include this disclaimer for the books that I have won as well.

5. When writing a book review, don't give a rating based on your experience with the retail site. Instead, focus on the product. If you had a bad experience with the retailer write a review in the appropriate location. Do not punish the author for things that are not in their control.

6. Do send book recommendations to people who you KNOW are interested in the genre/style/content of the book. We want to promote these books in a positive way and sending recommendations to everyone just because we can, could have a negative impact if that person has ZERO interest. Look on Goodreads or social media...what genres are they interested in? Do they read strictly Christian, or do they appreciate clean reads as well? Do they even enjoy fiction or are they a nonfiction reader? (This goes for authors seeking reviews as well.)

7. Do not base review on tiny typos or formatting mistakes. We are human, and sometimes here or there something gets skipped. If the book is simply unreadable due to the amount of errors, that is different.

8.Please, let's only rate books that we have actually read. Goodreads allows reviews and ratings to be made months before a book is available even to reviewers to read. I find this incredibly unfair. These authors haven't even finished writing the story and they are getting one and two star ratings.

9. This is a personal one and I don't expect everyone else to follow it, but...I NEVER read reviews of a book that I want to read or am about to read. I want a completely unbiased view of the book. Now, I have read reviews of books that are not on my radar, and they make me want to read a book. In fact Annie's review on Just Commonly of Rachel McMillan's book, The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder made me order the book that same day! Best decision I ever made! Also, I NEVER read reviews on consumer websites. (When I do, I regret it.) I am fiercely loyal to "my authors" and it irritates me when people give 1 and 2 star ratings for technical errors on the retailer's part or completely tear down the author(see points 5 and 2 respectively).

10. At the end of the day, it is not about the number of page views, comments, shares, or likes (although those are good)... It's about the people... Authors and readers alike. Helping the public and our friends connect with authors they would like. Building up and encouraging the authors. Letting them know that what they do is important. And that we truly appreciate all the sweat, blood, tears, and love that they pour into each and every book.

When all is said and done I hope that we all remember to respect each others opinions. We all have different tastes, because God made each one of us unique. Each author has their own writing style and every reader interprets those words on the page through their own filter. Please, above all, let's remember to honor God through what we do.

Bonus for Authors: As a book reviewer, I receive a fair amount of requests from authors asking for reviews. I thought I would add a few tips from my perspective regarding these requests. Please ask first. Do not just send the book(s) and say, "Thank you for your review". I know that for myself, I am literally "booked" months in advance for reviews. I am not the fastest reader either, so it is really hard to just squeeze in one more review. 
Please be aware of the type of books the reviewer reads. Please refer to point 6 above. I can not tell you how many times I have been asked to read books that are polar opposite of the books that I read.
Please be professional. Too many times I have received requests that consist strictly of the book blurb and "I can send you the digital book." No introduction, no indication they even know what kind of books I like, nothing. I try to maintain a professional demeanor when first interacting with ANYONE. As the relationship builds things become more casual. But first impressions are EVERYTHING! 
Please remember how much we value what you do! Without authors, the world would be a very dismal place indeed. Thank you for providing us with such wonderful books! I am honoured to be a part of this magical world of literature.

Many thanks to Carrie from Reading is my SuperPower and my dear friend Abi for being my sounding board for this list. Couldn't have done it without you ladies! And special thanks to my husband for proofing this post.
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