Reading is a personal thing – no two people choose books in the same way and often, two people will read very different things even though the words on the page never change. This is a matter of taste. There is no rule as to what makes a book good or bad, it’s simply subjective.
Writing reviews is sorta like reading books. Some people look for certain things that turned them off, others look for things that turned them on. As a reviewer I write about whatever the hell I want. I’m not real consistent. One book I might summarize the plot and then give a few sentences on characters and other books I hardly mention the plot at all, I only want to talk about the characters.
I like all different kinds of novels and just because this book is one way, doesn’t mean I’ll like the next book that comes along that has a similar style. In fact, it’s sorta hard to put into words because mostly people like books because of the way the story makes them feel. They might get lost in the setting, or the action, or the romance… something about a well-loved book will trigger feelings in the reader that they find enjoyable. Even horror readers – they like that thrill of being scared out of their mind.
So as an author – a good review from my perspective, touches on how the book made the reader feel. Sometimes as a reader I don’t particularly care to write that deep about a book – even if I loved it, but that review is probably not going to be memorable if the author ever reads it. If you’re a serious book blogger, you’d probably like to have your reviews taken seriously. You do this by articulating the reasons you liked a book and the best reviews have emotion in them, just like the best books. (in my opinion)
If you hate a book, they try and figure out why. This writer sucks is not really a good reason. Yeah, maybe they do suck. Hell, maybe almost everyone thinks they suck, but it’s not in any way helpful to state that. No reader will take that review seriously because it offers up no information. If the review states – slow plot, all they did was ride on a bus or drive in a car the entire time, well, that’s something better than this book sucked. If you’re gonna leave a bad review, then make it count.
Some people use gifs and images to illustrate how they feel – and as an author I love this! It makes me happy. But as a reviewer, eh, I’m not into hunting down emotional gifs, even though I know I’d make the author happy if I added one.
I never write bad reviews, even if I wanted to because I know that author personally and I think she’s a total bitch, or they just suck at storytelling, I just don’t do it. It’s bad business for me as an author – my books can be one-starred by anyone who passes by. So it makes no sense for me to purposefully antagonize other authors. But more importantly, it makes me look bad as a blogger.
Because authors keep lists. Just like there are lists for bad authors, authors have lists of bad bloggers. They just stay very, very private.
Some people like to poke fun – and we’ve all done that. There are some really stupid, stupid books out there, just like there are some really stupid, stupid movies, and weird shit trying to pass as art. And most people can get away with just saying what’s on their mind about a particular book, song, movie, or sculpture… because no one cares what they think.
But book bloggers actually have an opportunity to matter in the publishing business. Your opinion counts. Authors love to hear your opinion, but only if it’s reasonable. And by reasonable, I don’t mean favorable. Just reasonable.
And part of a blogger’s responsibility – especially if you have access to free book on Netgalley and other places like that – is to try and ask for books that really suit them when they take on reviews. No one wants to read a boring book so it’s so much better to eliminate the bad books before you even start reading. How do you know if it’s bad? Well, Amazon has samples. If the book’s not out yet, that’s harder, you have to take a chance. But at least makes sure the book is in your usual genre.
Lots of authors are starting to put warning labels on their books these days to try and dissuade readers. I do this, especially for my SF. It’s not happy shit, so if you read my romances, which follow the rules of romance, and then you read my SF expecting the same thing… you’re gonna hate my book. I’d like to avoid that one-star review because you didn’t understand what this book was about. I’d like to prevent readers who will not like my book from ever buying it, and I’d like to draw out those who find dark and violent SF to be their cup of tea.
So in my blogger opinion, it’s my job to refrain from accepting books that I won’t be able to give a positive review to. Not everyone thinks this way, obviously. Some people will read just about anything. But I won’t. I’m pretty busy, I have a lot of personal books I’d like to read, so why take on a review for a blog tour that doesn’t excite me? I just stopped doing it and life is a lot easier.
I think this was the lesson that took me the longest to learn this year. How to stop myself from signing up for a tour or accepting a book to review just because I was asked to do it. But once I started being more selective in what I was reading for the blog, I got a lot more satisfaction out of the tours I did sign up for.
Which leads me to tour companies. I don’t work with a whole lot to be honest. I mostly look for tours and blitzes from Xpresso and YA Bound because this blog is about new adult books and they do a lot of NA books. Sometimes I’ll pick up a trendy book from ATOMR tours or a SF, fantasy, or dystopian from Itching for Books or Rockstar. But I mostly take blitzes with giveaways, cover reveals for friends, ones made by certain cover designers (like Regina Wamba from Mae I Design, she’s awesome) and a few others if I’ve enjoyed the author in the past. And every so often I’ll accept one from an email inquiry. I do look at all the requests, but I have learned to only take what I like and leave the rest alone. It’s nothing personal if you’re an author or a tour host, I just gravitate to what catches my eye.
Welp – that’s all I got to say about book blogging. 😉 I hope you stick with me for another year. I never thought I’d make it to this anniversary, so we’ll see if I make it to year two. As long as it stays fun, I’ll keep doing it.
And since I have you here – I have this cover reveal coming up on October 14th… 😉 All my SF Junco books are getting new covers to get ready for the release of the last book in this series in December. They are very pretty, I promise–and it will have a $15 Gift card GIVEAWAY attached! See, I practice what I preach.
So if you want to help me out, sign up for the reveal through Xpresso.