By Naomi Leadbeater/ From time to time, I read books. Who knew? 😛
This time, I’m reading Untimed by Andy Gavin, perhaps aptly named as I was planning to post the review yesterday, but due to unforeseen events (read: Dodge meet Ram meets my car) I clearly didn’t get it done. This post will also be a review about how to review, and why it is so important for authors to get book reviews.
From time to time, I also do this weird thing called reviewing books. Many of you probably wonder why I do it so much. Part of the reason I do it is just to spread good karma and help out Indie authors. Most of the books I review are not traditionally published and not backed by huge publishing houses. Let’s face it, Poe and King don’t need more sales—but those real life authors trying to make it right now? Which is why I’m so happy to have received a review copy of Untimed and am more than happy to share my experience with you.
There are also often prizes available for promotions the authors or someone like Novel Publicity are hosting. I can’t win the Novel Publicity prizes anymore 🙁 as I’m now one of their marketing assistants 😀 but I do still get Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of books, and that was one of the reasons I signed up to do reviews in the first place.
Reviewing is also a great way to keep in practice writing. It also makes writing my own work that much more enjoyable when I get to it, and I feel like I’ve learned something from reading other author’s work.
There was a link up there about reviewing books; the article is fantastic and has some really great points in it. It also has a lovely list to fast-track your way to writing a review or at least organize your thoughts more coherently. I’ve included the short list below, and while I don’t follow it exactly (most of the time), there are a log of great jumping off points there.
1. Provide a synopsis
2. Don’t give anything away
3. Talk about the key characters
4. Analyze the deeper meaning—sometimes there isn’t one, but usually there is. You can read any of my reviews of children’s literature if you don’t believe me.
5. Keep your balance—don’t be to gushy (I fail at this a lot) and don’t be too negative.
6. Ask questions—I don’t always do this, not because I can’t think of any, but because I forget. I should really post this list somewhere special 😛
7. Provide links—Give the reader somewhere to go for more information. Link to the author’s site, the book sale page on Amazon, an interview the author did about the book, something to do with the book’s setting or theme—whatever—just link! Links also help with your SEO, which brings more traffic to your blog.
8. Introduce the author
9. Bring your own unique flair—ummm, well, I’m pretty good at that I think. My own flair includes Star Trek references (galore), Philosocat and his many friends, and sometimes food.
(short list from this post on the Novel Publicity Blog)
What if, though, you don’t like the book?
Rather than analyze the deeper meaning, I’m going to leave you with a series of pondering points after I briefly explain what to do if you really don’t like a book, but have to do a review.
First, while YOU may not like it, that doesn’t mean that other people won’t. Even if a book wasn’t my style—often it’s because it’s not an audience I’m really part of or it just wasn’t aimed at me or it’s badly written or horribly edited—I attempt to find something in the story to identify with. I still mention the places a story can improve (like a good edit, etc.) but I’m not mean about it. (At least I don’t think so?) Sometimes, if you’ve promised a post, and not necessarily a review, you can get away with having the author guest blog or do an interview. Like I said before, not all books are for every single person—almost all of them have something worthy of praise.
Writing is hard, and it’s emotional, and it’s a life-long pursuit. Authors deserve good karma and lots of support. They pour out their souls (I know, I write), and it can be a really scary and awfully exposing thing to do.
Naomi Leadbeater lives in the middle of the continent, on the snowy plains of Manitoba. She is a blogger, writer, artist and musician. She found Novel Publicity just over a year ago, and has made it her online habitat every since–now she works for NP as a marketing assistant. You can find her on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, and Google +, as well as a few other places if you dig deep enough into the interwebs. You can also email her at [email protected].