Sunday, July 24, 2011

ROW and How I Write Reviews...

First, just to get it out of the way, word count for Aeris is now at:  86,786.

A big topic of discussion, one that I've talked about many times, is reviewing.  More specifically, reviewing other authors and how I continue to do it, even though NOW I have my own books, that could be reviewed in return.  
I'm going to address that today and hold on, it will be a LONG entry. 

First, pretty much all my ratings and reviews are on Goodreads, so let's take a look at the Goodreads star key:
1 = Didn't like it
2 = It was okay
3 = I liked it
4 = I really liked it
5 = It was Amazing

I'm a generous reader, probably because I love to read and I'm always up for a good story.  A book has to be pretty bad for me to give it what would be considered a poor rating (2 stars or less).  Thus far, I have given two books a one star rating: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Alice in Wonderland.  There are 7 books on my 2 star list.  This is out of 156 books that I've taken the time to label as read and given a rating to.  (The actual number of books that I'd read before 2008, when I joined Goodreads, is in the thousands.  I've also read FAR more than 156 books since 2008, but I don't put every book I read on there, just books that I thought were worth talking about.)  I also want to point out, that I don't rate or review books I don't finish.

My percentages go like this: 1 star 1%, 2 star 7%, 3 star 17%, 4 star 33%, 5 star 40%.  So as you can see, most of the books I read I really liked or thought were amazing(73%)!  And those are honest ratings.  One of the reasons is because, by the ripe old age of 32, I've figured out what I like.  Which isn't to say I never try anything new, I just tend to read a lot of what I like.  I'm also pretty careful what I pick.  I don't usually pick up just any old book on the street.  I read reviews, I get recommendations, I take my time in getting to a book.  I read the cover blurb, I pick authors I've read before.  All these factors have led me to a mostly successful reading journey.

I think the confusion comes in when I give my reviews.  I give honest reviews.  Just because a book has a 4 star rating, doesn't mean I found it to be perfect.  Heck, even my 5 star reviews come with pros and cons.  That is just who I am.  I'm a reader, and there are always parts of a book I like and dislike.  I just try to give my honest opinion.

That is me, as a reader.  It's how I've always worked, as a reader.  Go back and look at my reviews by date.  I did it before, I do it now, and I will do it again.  So now we come to the nitty gritty.  

In December, I released a debut novel, Six Keys.  In April, I released the first book in a YA fantasy series, Compis (soon to be followed by Aeris, hopefully in Sept, but definitely next fall).  Now I'm an author too, and I'll be lying if I say that it hasn't effected my review style.  This blog is something I use, both as an author and a reader, so I post authory things and readery things on here.  I vent my frustrations about both on here.  I post a few reviews on here.

To answer the questions specifically:  I have yet to give an indie a poor review.  Not because I'm afraid that an author will give me a bad review in return -though several authors I know have that fear- but because thus far I've been fortunate to only read the good books.  But let me be CLEAR: I have not EVER been asked to give a book a review by another author (or publisher for that matter).  I would NEVER give a review to a book (any book) where I felt I had an obligation to an author or a publisher.  That would compromise the integrity of my reviews and my reading experience.

I've seen it both ways, to be frank.  There are book bloggers I've stopped reading because it's obvious they give good reviews to everything because they get free books out of it, from the publishers.  I'm also sad to say that I've seen "review" exchanges on some of the lesser known author boards.  I openly despise this practice and I think it's misleading to the people we share our reviews with.  I think of the people on Goodreads as my reader friends.  I give them reviews that I give my own family and friends.  I wouldn't lie to someone in my family about liking a book I didn't like, what would be the point?  Nor would I do that online.  Period.

On the opposite side of that, I have never and WILL NEVER ask another author to review my work as some kind of publicity or as a deal for both of us.  If someone enjoys my book, and takes the time to tell me, I encourage them to post their feedback online.  I never ASK authors to read my work, either.  Every single author who has read my books has done it because they chose to, without prompting, and generally it was to my pleasant surprise.  I don't expect it and I don't ask for it.  

I don't promote myself around author's pages.  I've never done a guest blog.  I've never asked someone to do a guest blog and I don't think I would.  This blog is about me, not anyone else.  Although, if George R. R. Martin emailed me and was like, "Hey, Kate, you have a seriously cool blog, can I post something on it?" I'd probably faint, squeal, and say "YES!!!" instantly. hahaha

Sometimes it IS uncomfortable for me to review on my blog, or on Goodreads, for that matter.  I have done two recent indie reviews, which were both 4 stars -indicating I really liked their books- where I had the authors comment on my reviews.  Which always make me blink, because I think, who in the heck cares what I have to say??  :)  Both of the authors were super cool -as most indies are- but it makes me dread the inevitable crap book I read.  Argh.  And like I said, I AM frank, probably to a fault, about what works for me and doesn't work for me in a book.  Even when I really like the book.  So I'm not sure how people feel about that.

As for my own reviews... well, I just look at authors who I consider to be far superior to me: George, Orson Scott Card, Barbara Kingsolver, Jane Austen... look at their reviews on Amazon. I'm bound to (and have gotten) some interesting commentary in my reviews.  Some of it make me glow with happiness and some makes me wilt.  I'm going to get my fair share of ones, twos, and threes.  Also, I'm a new author, so I have a lot of growing to do in my storymaking.  That can only come with time and experience.  Some of Tamora Pierce's early stuff, while among my favorites, are still pretty raw.  But that's okay.  Hopefully, along my journey as a writer, I will find my audience.  Those are the people I write for.  People like ME, who like strong female protagonists, love stories that take more than a minute to happen, non vampire, non love triangle, non first person present tense.  :)  

Not everyone will like what I write, it's a big world.  Heck, judging by my taste in books compared to others', there are a HELL of  LOT of people who will probably hate what I write.  Thems the breaks, kid.  The people who DO get what I write are the ones who make it worthwhile to me.  Because I think that's all writers really want —the chance to tell a story that other people will enjoy.  :)

And speaking of stories people enjoy, Smashwords is having a HUGE indie sale until the 31st of July.  I just picked up the rest of the Demon books by Penelope Fletcher FOR FREE(Also, quick note, just checked and Demon Girl is still free on Kindle, too.  So you can read the whole series)!!!  I urge you to get over to their site and get yourself some free goodness!!!  I also picked up another Stacey Wallace Benefiel(She calls herself S.W. Benefiel in that one) book, since I liked the last one.  Very exciting, indie readers!!!

Happy Reading!
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