Today I turned 70. I have been pondering for weeks about why 69 doesn’t sound old but 70 does. It’s a mind thing – an anniversary, so to speak. Most people have at least one year set in our minds as a turning point. This morning, I woke up with an idea. (My good ideas usually arrive as I wake in the morning with a fresh mind.)
A week ago I started a to-do list and it was so long that I got depressed and pushed it aside. I mentioned my disappointment on Facebook and got some positive suggestions. (This is one of the things I love about Facebook, btw.) Among those suggestions was a shorter list for that day or that week, as well as a list of blessings. I decided to merge some of the suggestions and, what better day than my 70th birthday – a turning point in my life?
Instead of making a to-do list and scratching things off; why not make two columns? Why not list what needs to be done and move it to the accomplished list when it is done. Add to that list; things I have done for others and things I have done for myself. But this isn’t all about me. Family members can see what needs to be done and when they finish something, they can move it to the accomplished list and initial it.
Turning 70 isn’t an end-of-life event. It has the potential of any other year in my life. I can haul out the rocking chair and look at my life as spent, or I can set new and improved goals based on the wisdom I gained in 70 years. The choice is mine.
After “Night Dreams,” I was hooked on this writer. Kia Heavey has a way of sucking you into the character. “Underlake” is a young adult book, but don’t let that discourage you “old” adults. Regardless of your age, this book is hard to put down. I didn’t simply see Katie. I was Katie for a while – young, confused and vulnerable. There is enough hypocrisy and double standards in life and media to confuse a kid when their parents are stellar examples. But parents are merely imperfect people – flawed, like Katie’s mother.
Torn from her trendy friends in the big city, Katie reluctantly spends the summer with her mother in a remote house by a peculiar lake. She is discovering something about herself when she meets a nice boy who is unlike anyone she has ever known. The boy has a dark cold secret that she will eventually share with him. That secret will change her life forever.
I love the way Kia Heavey can twist a book in the middle without tearing it apart. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for something different.
Why Reviews Are Important To Writers
The purpose of a review is supposed to be to help readers, but many people don’t write reviews because they either don’t know how, or think their opinion isn’t important. It is true that if you love a book, the next person might hate it. The fact is, reviews are probably more important to the writer than they are to the reader.
For an undiscovered writer, getting reviews is a little like getting your first job. To get the job, you need experience, but to get experience, you need to get a job. It’s the same for writers. To get readers, writers need reviews, but to get the reviews, the writer has to have readers.
So, why are reviews so important? Other than the obvious reason that people are cautious about test driving new writers, lots of good reviews encourage publishers to promote the authors – especially Amazon.
I’ve made a resolution to read and review more books this year.
When to Write a Bad Review
I don’t write bad reviews. Writers put a lot of time and effort into writing a book. Who am I to say this book is not good? I can only know that I don’t like it. I don’t like to read reviews where people are ripping apart a writer, either. It makes me want to cringe, even if I’m not the writer.
If everyone reviewed only the books they liked, bad reviews would be unnecessary. No reviews would mean the book isn’t well received. Unfortunately, the author would have no way of knowing what was wrong.
So, if I don’t write bad reviews, how do I help the writer improve? I write a good review if I see potential. I can always highlight the good points. If a writer has potential, there are always good points. Then I can simply say that I would like to see more of or less of whatever it was that tempted me to write a bad review. I could also say that I saw potential and would be revisiting this author to see how they progressed. I could leave my name and a link to reach me. If they want more information, I’m available - just the facts and that done respectfully. Offending a writer has no purpose.
How to write a simple review:
Writing an editor’s review is a daunting task for the writer. They have to know their audience and how to reach them. They have to convert a mountain of information into a brief synopsis that intrigues the writer to buy the book.
The editor already did that in the process of publishing the book. All the reader needs to do is express their personal experience. There is nothing wrong with “I really enjoyed this book” or “well written. I couldn’t put it down.” The fact is, some of the shortest reviews are the most effective. I don’t know about everyone else, but I rarely read a long review.
Assuming a person would like to say a little more, but doesn’t know how, here is an outline that might help.
What did you like about the book?
Did you learn something from it? Was it hard to put down? Did you relate to one of the characters?
Why would you recommend this book?
Was it well researched and informative? Was it memorable – you kept thinking about it long after you finished it? Did it leave you feeling empowered, peaceful, inspired?
What was your personal take on it?
Regardless of the overall message the author intended, readers often see things that have a specific importance to them because of an individual perspective, or something that is happening in their life at the time. This should always be identified as personal opinion.
Would you look for more books by this author?
Give twelve writers the same plot and you will have twelve unique stories. While authors may write in multiple genres and from different perspectives and point of views, they tend to have the same style throughout their books. What is it that you liked about this writer’s style? It doesn’t have to be earth shattering. It can be something as simple as, because it was clean, or made you laugh.
The important thing is that you review the book – and that the review is respectful. There is no set length for a reader review. Every review is important.
Where and when do I write a review?
Here’s a simple 7 step method to submitting a review on Amazon.
1.Log into your Amazon Account and search for the book title and author you want to review.
2. Click on the title and go to the page with the book description and opportunity to purchase.
3. Beside the stars is a link that shows how many reviews there are. Click on it.
4. Scroll down and click on the button that says “Write a Customer Review.”
5. How is this author’s writing? (Poor, Okay, Good, Great)
6. Answer all the questions, give it however many stars you think it deserves and then write your review.
7. Click Submit button.
That’s it. Very simple and takes only a few minutes. It means so much to the writer, so give the writer a little boost.
Don’t forget the free read sites. Often new writers get started that way. There are places like www.publicbookshelf.com and www.freeonlinenovels.com that offer entire books to read free online. I have a free read site www.deartales.com where many of my books can be read free. All of these sites have places where readers can leave comments or reviews. Mine even have polls.
Free reads give readers the opportunity to check out new writers. On some of my stories, I have had over a hundred thousand visits. Often people read my books free online and then buy a copy of the books. If you like to read, give these undiscovered writers a chance, and be sure to leave a comment. Your thoughts can make an author’s day.
I just realized that I posted my April Book Review in the wrong blog. Thank goodness I have all my mistakes taken care of for the year now. Here is my April blog:
Not everyone gets the novelette/novella purpose, but T. L. Knighton certainly did with his book, "After The Blast." The synopsis looked interesting, so I bought a kindle copy with the intent of reading a few pages. I figured if I liked the writing style, I'd read it in my free time. Good luck on that idea. A few pages led to another chapter and the next thing I knew the hours had flown by and I had completed the book. I was scolding myself for not getting anything done, but I was doing it with a satisfied grin on my face.
I could relate to Jason in this post apocalyptic story. As a victim of "The Little Red Hen Syndrome" personality myself, I could imagine making the decision that no one else was doing anything, so I'd best figure on doing the job alone. Jason's reaction to the situation was not only believable, but also underlined the fact that we never know what we are capable of until we are put to task. At one point I actually stopped and mathematically calculated the possibility of one of Jason's accomplishments. It would have been a real push, but Jason was motivated enough to make it possible.
Knighton didn't get sidetracked with details, yet his story contained all the pertinent facts. It is a gripping story that entertains for a few hours and leaves you feeling like the story is finished, yet pondering all the possibilities later. Knighton captures the good, the bad and the inevitable ugly part of human nature without getting bogged down with gory details. "After The Blast" was an entertaining and well written read that I recommend for anyone from young adult up.
I watched a video where a reader said she never gave 5 stars on a book. That's interesting. So she's down to a choice of 4 stars before she begins? On my free read website where readers have a choice of rating 1-5, one reader commented that she wished there was a 10. So, how reliable are reader reviews, and exactly what do they mean? I think that question is a little like asking "how long is a string?" The possibilities are endless.
My free read website originally had a question in the Guest Book that asked the reader to rate the book on a scale of 1-10. I wound up adding "with 10 being the best" because I had readers making comments that indicated they loved the book and then rating it 1. Obviously, to them, one was the best score. But it isn't simply confusion in the way things are worded. Sometimes readers expound on how much they enjoyed the book and then give it a rating of 7. They often write nothing in the comments to indicate what they did or didn't like.
I eventually changed my rating system so that I would have a running total instead of having to do the math myself. I used a web poll tool, altering it to include ratings for my books. 5 = Excellent, 4 = good, 3 = Okay, 2 = disappointing and 1 = Offensive. On my sweet romance story, "To Thine Own Self," 110 readers voted. 71 rated the book Excellent and 20 rated it Good. Two were disappointed and a whopping 10 found it offensive. There were no comments, so I assume they were actually simply giving it a 1. I can't imagine anything in that book that could be considered offensive. I corrected my poll to read 1 = Poor. If they find it offensive, they can leave a remark. In the years my free read site has been in existence, only one reader has ever left a comment indicating they were offended by a book. That reader wrote that since I obviously knew nothing about adoption, I shouldn't be writing about it. (We adopted our youngest son.) Like anyone else, sometimes readers can be wrong.
My estimate is that about 12 out of every 100 readers will take the time to comment. I have found on my website that the response rate is much higher if readers need only click on a box. Since the 5 star rating system tells me so little, and my own definitions of those ratings make the system restrictive, I plan to go back to my 10 point system. A possibility of 10 points gives the reader a broader base to average out a story using their own rules. My 10-point system won't mean anything to Amazon, but I think it will tell me a lot more than the 5 star system. Getting reader response is more valuable to me than a high score anyway. I will place the poll at the end of the story instead of on the first page so that readers are only prompted after they have actually read the book. A guest book will give them the opportunity to elaborate if they wish, and a review page will give prospective readers an opportunity to explore the opinions of others.
Now, to update all those web pages!