Showing posts with label reviewing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reviewing. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

How Subjectivity Ruins Your Reviews | Book Blogging Tips (#54)

Reviewing is hard. Any blogger will be able to tell you that. 

Today we'll talk about a mistake that you'll find among veteran and rookie reviewers alike: being too subjective in your reviews and the effect this has on your readers.





Extreme subjectivity ruins most of my older reviews. 

Yes, reviewing is subjective by nature, but what I'm talking about is finding the balance between "this is a bad book" and "I didn't like this". I couldn't do that for a long time and I didn't see a need to do that for even longer. You absolutely non-negotiably need to do that though if you care for your audience and don't only do this for you. 

At the end of the day none of us are just reviewing for us, are we? 

I started out blogging to archive my thoughts for myself but since my blog has grown a bit, I grew more and more aware of the fact that there are a lot of people out there who come to me to find their next read or who absolutely trust my judgment. Chances are, it's the same for you.

You probably have a couple people out there who solely rely on you and your reviews to pick their next read. Writing books off immediately that are well-written with well-rounded characters and fantastic world building, simply because you didn't enjoy them for a very subjective irrelevant reason? That's selfish. Yes, it's your blog and all and you can do whatever you want; I'd never try to tell you any differently. Stop reading right here if don't tell me what to do is your takeaway from what I just said. Or read those paragraphs again.

If you cherish being a resource for people, it's important to also take into consideration that 

Your taste =/= an infallible indicator of quality, talent, or entertainment value.

To explain that I usually use books that provide excellent representation of marginalized identities. HOW TO MAKE A WISH by Ashley Herring Blake for example wasn't my thing personally, because I don't like sad, quiet contemporaries. Super subjective and tells you nothing about the quality of this book. It's just my two cents that couldn't be more irrelevant. HOW TO MAKE A WISH also had the first biracial character that I saw myself in. Like, ever. The first time I felt represented. I still gave the book five stars and I'd do it all over again, even though I didn't really enjoy it aside from the representation aspect. 

By being extremely subjective and giving books 1-3 star ratings left and right because you didn't enjoy them for an arbitrary irrelevant taste reason, you are possibly preventing readers from finding a read that will change their lives. People hardly ever read full reviews, and sometimes they pick books up solely because of the rating of their favorite blogger. Contributing to a negative rating (3 stars and below), will also make sure that less people who might be able to see themselves in this book will pick it up. That's on you. You contributed to that. This obviously transcends the issue of representation of marginalized identities. This is a lesson that definitely was the hardest for me personally. 

I do struggle to give books that I didn't care for five stars, and I do struggle sometimes to not just downrate something because I thought it was a terrible book, personally. But the people that I owe the most to are my readers, people like you who are here every week or even every day. And I hope that this helped you to understand that blogging and reviewing is about so much more than just you and your taste.

You're completely free to disagree with what I said, but truly, at some point, reviewing isn't about you anymore. Think of your audience. Especially the marginalized people. Cause if you don't care about them and are just doing this for you, why do you give them the option to follow? Why is your blog public?

What do you think of really subjective reviews?


More Book Blogging Tips on Reviewing

When is it okay to share your review of a DNF?

If you'd like advice on allyship and writing diversely, check out my Patreon.
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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mean Horror Book Reviews and Learning to Review Properly | YA Talk

I've been recently diving more into YA horror and noticed a pattern - no matter who wrote it, you'll see that ALL horror books have very low ratings and the most upvoted reviews are exclusively negative. 

If you're active over there you might also know that books usually have 4+ star ratings unless they're exceptionally horrendous or offensive (well, not always...). 


So I'm asking - why do we hate horror?

Seriously. I think this might be a reason why YA horror isn't taking off as a genre. I'm seeing reviewers give books one star ratings because they didn't scare them shitless, give books extremely negative ratings simply because they play into a cliche - you'll find the most unnecessary reasons over there. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, entitled to writing a scalding review, but it's fairly obvious that reviewers and bloggers are extra mean when it comes to horror. 

I get it, horror is an extremely subjective genre. Of course not everything will scare you, of course not everything will work out for you - but I feel like a huge part of learning how to review is to learn to appreciate craft and calm down a little about your own preferences. Just because a book didn't work for you you don't have to rate it one star. That's a rookie mistake. You have so much impact on authors' careers and doing that is almost always a bad idea. 

The problem with this behavior is that this is probably one of the leading reasons why there is so little horror on the market in the first place. Bad reviews, no recommendations, scalding comments from reviewers - all that leads to less sales, less buzz, and people being less interested in reading those books in the first place. I constantly hear people say they want more YA horror, I see bloggers and reviewers alike complain about the lack of horror - but then turn around to give every single horror book they read a scalding review because it wasn't the right kind for them. Again, I'm not saying you can't review horror books negatively. But this systematic pattern of being mean about horror books is such a frustrating thing to see for anyone who truly enjoys YA horror.

Keep in mind that the world doesn't revolve around you.

I've rated books I personally disliked and could hardly finish five stars before because they are extremely important books by marginalized writers about marginalized teens that have no representation on the market. It's incredibly important that you review with the thought in mind whether SOME of your readers might enjoy the book. That's just an example - I can't wrap my head around this that it seems like everyone is being extra harsh about all horror books on the market. And don't get me started on diverse horror books. Their ratings are even worse! You can't tell me that this is a coincidence.

I don't know, you guys. This just makes me sad. 

Contrary to popular belief, reviewing is a very difficult thing that demands a lot of responsibility and maturity. Seeing horror author after horror author have their book tanked because it didn't work for some people personally is just disheartening to see. I want more YA horror. I'm happy to read as many horror books as I can. But I don't know if we'll even get any more if this behavior continues.



Do you like YA Horror? What's your favorite read? Let's talk YA.



More on reviewing: 

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Review-Only Book Blogs and Why They Almost Never Work Out | Book Blogging Tips (#52)




Many bloggers I know started their blogs because they only wanted to share their reviews with other people, myself included. But is that actually a good idea?

My blog first and foremost was born because I wanted to share my reviews. But I had to learn the hard way that review-only blogs are not a thing and very likely never will be.



So why do review-only blogs not work?

  • People don't read reviews!
Seriously. Any and every blogger will tell you that their reviews get the least views out of all their posts. People don't read book blogs for the reviews only and if they do, you have to write extremely good reviews. Once you've established a significant following and people know who you are and care for your opinion, this might change. But to get there with a review only blog is a thing that I'm yet so see in the blogging world. 
  • Reviewing is a skill that you can't build in a year or less!
Everyone's early reviews are a mess. This is just a fact. Writing reviews on a blog is completely different from any other platform. Even if you've been writing reviews on tumblr or Goodreads or booklikes or wherever for YEARS, this doesn't count. 

Trust me, you still won't be up to book blog standard and you will go back and cringe at all these reviews. It will be even harder to attract readers with a review-only blog when your reviews clearly display all the signs of a blogging newbie.

A lot of bloggers who start up review-only blogs probably still make newbie mistakes and probably will for a long time. It took me at least a year of reviewing to write halfway decent reviews. No formatting, way too long reviews, repeating the plot instead of giving your opinion - basic stuff like that. That's something you can't immediately change when you notice you're doing it. You'll learn how to review through writing bad reviews at first, that's how it goes for everyone.

  • You have to make a name for yourself before people care about your opinion!
It's true that you can maybe fake your way to the top with a crappy blog if you advertise a lot and comment on 3280932893 blogs per day, but who has the time? Also you won't get any long-time readers from this, only follow-backs.

The thing is, nobody will listen to your rambles if you're the new kid on the block. You have to earn readers for your reviews. You have to post other super interesting things to get people interested in what you have to say, and you can only do that by posting something else than reviews.

  • Post-consistency is a thing for all blogs!
And if you only post reviews, you'll have to read a lot. I usually unsubscribe from blogs that don't post at LEAST weekly, I do prefer blogs that post 2 or 3 times a week in general. Unless you can't commit to read and write a review for at least one book per week, you're screwed.

...


Sure, at the end of the day, it's your blog and you can do whatever you want, but I can already tell you, either a year from now your blog will be gone. Sometimes listening to experienced bloggers is the best thing you can do, we've all learned from our mistakes, you don't need to repeat them and go through the same thing, do you? Trying to start a review-only blog is the hardest way to start out and it just never works out.

Did you start out as review-only?



More advice for newbie bloggers in my Book Blogging Tips series:

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Friday, March 3, 2017

How to Improve Your Feedback Ratio Quickly: #NetGalley Advice | Book Blogging Tips (#50)


It's recommended that you keep up a ratio of 80%, meaning that you have provided reviews for 80% of the titles you've been approved for. 


At first this may sound high and very unattainable but I have developed a fool-proof way to improve it.

When you just signed up for NetGalley it's super hard to even get approved for books. How do you get experience reviewing books when in order to get a track record you have to show a track record?

Easy: Read Now

Read Now is a section that I personally consider a gift from God. There are many books that are instantly accessible to anyone and everyone. You'd think that these are all terrible books that are poorly written, but no.These are all books that people want reviews for desperately and you'll even encounter the occasional well-known already published book there. CARRY ON by Rainbow Rowell was in that section a while ago.

If you shy away from the vast amount of indie books that are offered there - my personal advice is to head over to the graphic novels and comic section.

But why???? I don't even like graphic novels, I'm an adult sci-fi blog, what even

Here's the thing. You can read a graphic novel or comic within an hour tops, write up a review, and you're done. You can get your approval numbers up super quickly with those read now comics and nobody cares whether you usually review a different genre.

Another pro tip would be to start reviewing picture books. They're typically 250 words maximum, you go figure how quickly you can read and review these.

See, you're not really in the position yet to be picky. You just started. You gotta take what you can get.

Ughh, how long will it take until I can start requesting books I actually want to read? Do I have to read picture books for the rest of my life?

Fear not, gentle reader. I started requesting books from major publishers at about 25 approvals. You may start earlier but I guarantee you, the big five won't even touch you if you haven't reviewed and read more than 20 books.

MORE TIPS:
  • Books are "archived" after a certain time, meaning you can't download them anymore then. Typically you're expected to at least send over the feedback/review before the archive date. It's no harm if you do so after it's been archived, but people won't cheer on you if you do this either.
  • You can DNF a book. If you just don't like it, send over a note via the feedback option explaining why you don't want to read the book. Don't do this too often though and have valid reasons.
  • For the love of all that is holy, don't request more than 20 books at once. What if you get approved for all of them and they end up being due next week? Yikes!


If you have any more questions, feel free to ask!!

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Monday, December 19, 2016

When Authors Reply to Reviews and Why This is a Problem | #AuthorsBehavingBadly

I've talked about #AuthorsBehavingBadly on Social Media in general before, but replying to reviews is a whole different matter that absolutely deserves its own post in my opinion.
Many authors who have just had their first book published and are slowly getting their first reviews or are simply not very active and well-versed in book community etiquette, will probably end up doing this.

Not all authors who comment on reviews have a malicious intention and I'm going to start of talking about those authors that really -just didn't know- they aren't supposed to comment.


Scenario 1: You wrote a good review and the author is commenting to say something nice

Why it's not cool
While this is clearly just a nice gesture of the author, or at least meant as such, this is an invasion of safe space. Reviewers sort-of exist in this bubble universe of the book industry. Iit's absolutely okay to share a positive review of your book that you liked, that's what they're for after all - but oh boy, please, please don't comment. Not even to say thanks. Just don't. Tweet the review if you like, share the link if you like, we appreciate it, but please don't comment.

When it's okay
Should you have gotten tagged in the review, this is a whole other story.

See, it all comes down to consent. Reviewers aren't interested in discussions with authors unless they are actively seeking those out. I wouldn't be reviewing if any and every author commented on my reviews. It just doesn't feel safe, you're feeling obligated to be nicer than you usually would have, you're not really able to express your opinion without cringing at the thought of the author reading it - it's just a mess.

So unless you have been sent the review, your comment isn't wanted.

Scenario 2: You wrote a negative review and the author is going "um, actually" on you


Why it's not cool
This is probably the nightmare of every reviewer. Having to justify yourself to the artist. - I get it, your books are your babies and you poured your heart and soul into this, but welcome to the real world. People will dislike your work and it will happen frequently and this is a thing you have to be able to deal with professionally, else, you're probably not in the right industry. 

I'm sorry but this is just making thing unnecessarily hard for everyone. The reviewer's irritated, the author's probably angry, the possible readers are weirded out. Why would you want that?

When it's okay
No matter what the reviewer said and no matter how much you think they're wrong, doing this is never ever ever ever ever okay. Even if you are sent a review, bashing reviewers is a no no. 


"Okay, so you say this isn't good, but I'm still going to comment, I don't care. They're wrong, I'm going to call them out."

The thing is, I'm addressing this in the first place because it is a problem. Recently a dear friend of mine has quit blogging after an author with a medium-sized following decided to unleash their fury on them. 

  • Completely ignoring that this is cyberbullying - is that really the message you want to convey?
  • To have bloggers be scared to be scalded whenever they leave a negative review?
  • To make bloggers want to quit reviewing?
Time and time again I have to say that reviewers deserve respect, that we are a vital part of the publishing industry and that without us, many NYT-bestselling authors wouldn't be where they are right now.


So what have we learned?
  • Reviewers want their safe space and deserve their safe space
  • Respecting boundaries also includes biting your tongue when encountering negative reviews
  • Putting negativity into the world will probably come to bite you in the butt eventually. (RE: the stories of the cyberstalking/cyberbullying authors who aren't selling books anymore now, you know the ones)


How do you feel about authors replying to your reviews? 

Continue Reading...

Friday, November 11, 2016

More Generous Ratings For Indie Books? | Book Blogging Tips (#46)





I've noticed recently that I tend to give indie books better ratings than traditionally published ones. 

I wish I could say it wasn't intentional, but I think it is. Here's why I rate indie books more generously.


First, let me slam-dunk your prejudices in the trash. 
  • Quality is absolutely not an issue. If you think indie books are low quality, sorry, you just probably don't have a qualified opinion here. Of course, with EVERYONE being able to publish books these days, there's a fair share of bad writers. It's logical. But condemning everyone because of a handful of bad books you read is a little... narrow-minded. That's like saying I don't read Hachette books anymore because I didn't like the only 3 of their books that I've read. 
  • Because you don't hear about them, they're bad? Especially if you sign with a small publishing house or are self-published, there is near to no way to get the word out about your book the same way you'd be able to if you were published under the Big Five. 

TL; DR - here's why I rate indie books more generously than traditionally published books:

#5: Indie publishing is hard, competitive, and authors rely on reviews and ratings. 
A Big Five author won't give a rat's ass about my one star review, but bad reviews can crush indie authors' sales. Don't be unnecessarily mean. When in doubt, give one star more than fewer.

#4: Indie authors do their publicity themselves. 
Every review copy sent out goes out of their own pocket. Especially when you received a physical copy, that's the author straight up taking their own money, relying on your review. Writing a fair critique is the LEAST you can do.

#3: Collaboration with indie authors is more personal. 

Often the authors themselves reach out to me, asking me to review their book. If I'm going to write a bad review, I BETTER know what I'm talking about. I better have reasons for every single negative thing I say, because guess what - the author's at the other end of the receiving line and they sure as hell will realize when I'm being a dick for no reason.

Yeah, I have to admit, sometimes I'm a little hard on traditionally published authors and nitpicking a lot. Among other things, a reason for this is probably that I'm not face to face with the author.

#2: There are people who refuse reading indie books. 

A few bloggers I (used to) admire actually support this. Oddly enough, none of them has ever dared to state why. Let's prove em wrong.

#1: People think indie books are all shit. 

And honestly, if the one thing I can do to help ERASE this stupid, ignorant stigma, I'll do it via good reviews. I would never rate a book that's bad, positive just because it's indie, don't get me wrong - but I'll do my darn best to promote the crap out of every wonderful indie book I encounter.


Are you more generous with your indie ratings?

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Are you awkward about getting Review Requests from Authors? | Book Blogging Tips (#44)






Even though I don't really mean to be, I have to admit I'm super awkward about getting review requests by authors. This is 100% on me.

Most experiences I've made so far were delightful and I ended up liking most of the books that were offered to me by their authors.

But what if I hadn't?



WHAT IF I DON'T LIKE THE BOOK?!

How do I phrase politely that I absolutely hated your novel and wrote a 300 word review about how much I hated it? Even though I feel like my reviewing style is at that point where even negative criticism is phrased respectfully, I'm sure no author wants to read this about their book. And yea, indie authors read reviews. I know they do because I get reactions to the reviews from them once I have sent the links over...!

I still want to review books that are offered to me by the authors, I think it's a great opportunity and I like that they are so approachable, but sometimes I just wish there was more .... distance. I wish I didn't have to bite my nails feeling ashamed. I wish I would stare at my email account, just waiting for one author to absolutely flip out when I send over a bad review. That stuff happens. 

Last year an author actually tracked down someone who gave them a negative review and wrote an article in The Guardian about this, not seeing what's wrong with that. Since I read that article I've been extra picky with accepting books for review that weren't offered through a publishing house.

AM I SCARED OF AUTHORS?

Heck yea, I am. I'm scared of getting negative reviews, possibly managing to agitate a black sheep that turns out to be a psychopath. Things like this are known to happen. Remember that author who tracked down a reviewer and hit them over the head with a bottle? I'm flat out scared to get my face slashed by someone that didn't like my opinion. Is this far-fetched? Maybe

The thing is, while this probably, very likely *knock on wood* won't happen to me, there's always the possibility. The easiest solution would be to only work with big publishers then and completely cut off any contact with authors that isn't going through their publicists first. Well. I don't know if that really is a solution. 
  • I want to read indie books, 
  • I want to talk to authors, 
  • I want to see their reactions to nice reviews, 
... but there's always going to be this little voice inside my head that will tell me to keep this or that sentence out of my review.

It will tell me to censor my review a little more, which I definitely wouldn't have done if the book were offered to me through a publicist.

While I do know that not every author can afford a publicist and/or it doesn't make sense for everyone, sometimes I wish there was a puffer person. 


Am I weird or are you also awkward about getting review requests from authors?

Continue Reading...

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Read Only Popular Newly-Released Books? NAH! Reasons to Read Backlist Books




In the blogosphere you'll often notice that many bloggers seem to only be reviewing popular books. There are many reasons for that, free review copies, the hype around those books, or simply just seeing them in a bookstore and being unable to resist. 

Whichever reasons you may have for predominantly reading new books, allow me to introduce another concept: b a c k l i s t books.

What's a backlist book?

A backlist book is a book that has been out for quite some time. It's typically not promoted as much anymore, and probably not hyped as much anymore.

But won't reviewing "old" books impact my views negatively?

I mean, it's no secret that reviews aren't necessarily the way to go if you care a LOT about your views and only want to post stuff that will possibly blow up and go viral. Whether you review backlist or frontlist books, you won't get a lot views either way. 

But the thing is, not all bloggers are always on the lookout for the newest books. And bloggers aren't your only readers anyway, there are lots of people who read book blogs but don't blog themselves. And they won't have the faintest idea what you recently got in your inbox, what book just got sent out to reviewers and is everything everyone is reading. 

From experience, my own and that of others, I know that most people either go for reviews of 

a) books they have read                   or                      b) books they have heard a lot about. 

And either can be backlist or frontlist. It really, really, really doesn't matter to your readers what you review. If you are still skeptical, go for backlist books that have a lot of reviews and generally have been popular.

But why should I even read them?

Because it helps the authors and publishers tremendously! And we all should generally just stop always chasing the newest hit, this is super boring, don't you think? 
  • Imagine a world in which authors only get buzz in the first year that their book is out. 
  • Imagine a world in which you can't be a successful author unless you put out a new book every year. 
Sounds boring, doesn't it.

Backlist books don't bite, I don't get why this is even an issue I have to address. Do you purposely walk past book stores and not buy what's on sale unless it's a brand new book? C'mon. Stop this. Review backlist and frontlist, guys. 

Do you read backlist or frontlist books or a mix of both?

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Why Book Bloggers Don't Reply To Your Review Requests and How to Fix It





Again, it is time for another "I'm so upset about the sheer volume of ridiculous emails in my inbox that I write a post about it".

This time in the only form people seeking reviews seem to be able to read: Bullet points.

Again, this is mostly directed at inexperienced authors. Please, if you're reading this, take my advice. it works wonders.

I don't know how often I've said it, but the #1 remedy is always reading a review policy. I have specific instructions in mine, and if you're not following them, I'm not even opening your email. Be respectful.


Addressing

OKAY
  • "Hi/Hey/Howdy/(greeting of choice)/ Dear [Name]"
  • "Hi/Hey/Howdy/(greeting of choice)/ Dear [Blog Name]"

NOT OKAY
  • "Hi/Hey/Howdy/(greeting of choice)"

Why: If you're not even bothering to write my name, pretty sure it's a mass email. Delete.

First Line

OKAY
  • [jumps right to pitch]
  • Personalization
  • Tell me why *I* am the right blog for this

Why: I like a good personalization. If you show me you read my blog, reference one of my tweets/interests, you've already got a foot in the door. Even if your book isn't for me, chances are I might give you some helpful feedback. Make me feel special and I'll be nice to you. It's okay if you jump right to the pitch as well if you can't think of anything.

NOT OKAY
  • "I know you don't like this genre"
  • [pitch for a genre I don't read]
  • "I know you don't read this, but"
  • "I know you receive many submissions/are you so busy, but"
  • I'm a big fan of your blog (Note: almost always a lie, I react allergic to it at this point)

Why: Lies are never good. Just say nothing instead of lying. Don't try to guilt-trip me into reading something, and don't try to talk me into trying a genre that I don't want to read. You'll fail.

Negotiating

OKAY
  • I'm offering you a free copy for review

NOT OKAY
  • I'm offering you a free copy for review on the following sites:
  • I'm offering you a free copy, if
  • If you're not interested, can you promote my book anyway

Why: Book bloggers know what they're doing. You come across as patronizing. We're not going to change our habits because of you. Who do you think you are to even suggest that? Delete.


After You Sent the Book

OKAY
  • asking whether I received the book

NOT OKAY
  • reminding me of the launch date
  • giving me a deadline à la "have you read it yet, if not read it by"
  • asking me how much I read
  • asking me when I'll post the review
  • following up in any form whatsoever

Why: Chill out. Your book will be read if I said that it would be. The only thing you'll achieve is that I won't ever work with you again. Maybe decide to not even read the book and cancel our whole arrangement because you're annoying to work with.


Tips:
  • Don't listen to any tips you get from people who aren't bloggers and reviewers
  • Don't listen to any tips you get from people who have successfully spammed their way into getting a lot of reviews
  • Read review policies (!!!!)
  • Personalize your requests and pick the bloggers you target carefully
  • Read review policies


Authors: If you have any more questions, there's an option to submit a comment anonymously. 

Bloggers: Any pet peeves to add?

Continue Reading...

Saturday, July 23, 2016

When You Have to Write a Negative Review | Book Blogging Etiquette (#4)




Opinions are a difficult matter on the internet. Sometimes you encounter more troll and hateful comments than genuine ones. People often use the anonimity of the internet to show the worst of themselves.

Especially as a book blogger, you may find yourself in a situation where you don't like something everyone likes. 




Of course you are free to share your opinion and tell people why you don't like a popular book. The key here is to put emphasis on the why:
  • Reasons: 
Always give reasons why you don't like something. Don't just express your hate with mean gifs and insults. Be professional about it and just state in a neutral voice why you're not a fan. Never insult. Neither the fans, nor the author. Words are your friend here, show that you have an education.

  • Voice: 
Again, no insults.You're going to want to write a review that shows constructive criticism. If you can't be constructive, simply be polite.

  • Other Perspectives: 
What I like to do before I'm typing up a ranty review is to think about the people who love this book. Maybe you're not the target audience, maybe you have a history with disliking that special genre, or you're just not in the mood for this. Don't demonize a book just because you weren't feeling it.

Think long and hard before you publish a negative review that might affect other people and keep them from buying the book. Is your hate justified? Is this an offensive book or do you just not like it because it doesn't fit your taste? There's a huge difference between the two. Do your best to judge which case you're dealing with.


But what about Goodreads reviews? 

Don't take Goodreads as an example, this is the worst thing you can do as an independent blogger. Goodreads may be a critique platform in theory, but in reality it's just a way for people who hate something equally to huddle and say mean things. You'll quickly notice that the most popular and most liked reviews there are the ones involving the meanest gifs and the rudest remarks. 

The question then is - should you follow that example to gain more success more quickly? 

The short answer is me screaming no with a megaphone.

The long answer is that you always have to keep in mind that the author might be reading this. I don't understand why this is so difficult for some people to grasp, but it takes an insane amount of work to write, edit, and get a book published. That's accomplishment on its own.

We as readers just feel responsible for providing helpful feedback if we decide to share our opinion on public platforms. Imagine if the author were reading that you called them an absolute retard for writing a book that should be used as toilet paper instead (someone actually said this on Goodreads). 

I'm not saying you're not allowed to rant, to express your disappointment over a book that didn't live up to your expectations. Of course you are allowed to voice your opinion, but please, please don't write any feedback that you couldn't deal with yourself. 

Ask yourself: if someone wrote this about your book - how would you react?


How do you handle writing bad reviews? Do you publish them at all?




More Etiquette:

You might want to check out my Book Blogging Tips series:


Continue Reading...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

I Lose Interest in Books When Everybody's Reading Them



I wonder if it's only me. 

This whole hating-popular-things thing started on tumblr. There are certain books that are insanely popular there and that everyone seems to love.

Fan casts, fan edits, reviews, my entire dash is filled with posts about those books and every other day someone tells me that I just have to read those books finally.

But will I? I haven't read them and with every post I see about those books, with every person that tells me I should read them already, I start to hate these books a little more. 

The second I see something all over every blog, I'm not intrigued, I'm more annoyed, actually. 

Popular = Bad?

Of course not all books that are popular will be books that you'll consider good, but then again, not all books that are popular are automatically bad books.

Obviously, with a lot of people telling you to buy a book because it's good you might get the impression that you're missing out on some top quality stuff. But for me that's hardly ever the case. All books that I've read just because I had people bombarding me with messages, telling me to read them, turned out to be nothing like I expected.

Too high expectations are dooming every book before you even read a single page. Thus, popular books have it even harder for a super picky person like me. This has nothing to do with the quality of the books. The more popular and praised it is, the more likely I am to be disappointed and absolutely angry after reading a book when it didn't live up to my very high expectations.

Don't Tell Me What To Read!

I find the thought of everyone liking something already when I'm just discovering it very annoying. I know this is a terrible attitude and I'm missing out on many books, but I like feeling like I'm one of the first people to discover a new gem in my genre of choice. I don't want to feel like one of the millions of fans of a new book, I want to be among the first thousand, maybe. It's weird.

I think the bottom line is that I'm just a closet hipster.

Especially as a blogger, I want to be on top of things. I want to discover great books as soon as I can get my hands on them. It's virtually impossible though. There are so many books being released every month, every year, that you can impossibly read them all. If you can, you probably have superpowers.

And honestly? It shouldn't matter. It shouldn't matter whether you're keeping up with all new releases or whether you're still catching up on books that have been released 4 years ago, or whether you simply couldn't care less about new releases and read what you want. At the end of the day everyone should read whatever they want, whenever they want. 


Are you a closet hipster, too, or am I just weird?

Continue Reading...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Is Sharing Your Negative Reviews Mean?





I absolutely hate disliking things. Whenever I start a new book, I sincerely hope that this is my new favorite read and that I'll give it a 5 star review. 

But unfortunately, that's just not the case. 

There are more books that I end up disliking than there are new favorite books and that's perfectly okay.

When it comes to sharing posts though, I'm suddenly shy to promote one or even zero star reviews. It just doesn't feel right to go around basically screaming: HEY I didn't like this, listen to me talk about how I hated this for 300 words!!! 


Are negative reviews mean?

There are definitely different ways to write reviews. I like to think that I have a respectful way of talking about books I didn't like (at least I developed that after two years of blogging). Of course there are reviewers who make everything sound mean and whose negative reviews read like hate mail.

What makes a review mean?
  • insults of any sort (whether it's towards the author, the characters, the writing)
  • cursing 
  • telling other people not to buy this
  • confusing personal taste as an indicator for the quality of the work 
I completely understand that you sometimes get carried away and just can't help yourself but be a little annoyed with a book. Especially with books that turned out to disappoint. But really, making the author feel bad about their work isn't really the answer here (some authors DO read reviews!!).

What about sharing negative reviews?

Okay, so you read a book, you didn't like it, and you wrote a review about it that isn't mean at all. 
It's just negative because you didn't like the book. It would probably still offend and hurt the author despite being written respectfully and constructively, simply because it's a one or zero star -kinda deal. 


What do you do with this now? Do you publish it? Is that mean? 

Or are you just sharing your opinion (which you have every right to) ? 

Continue Reading...

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Not Reviewing Review Copies? How to Make All Bloggers Look Bad




A discussion I witnessed recently made me think about this. As bloggers we have the privilege of being able to read books for free - as long as we provide a review in return.

Something a fellow blogger said irked me instantly, I'm just going to paraphrase. 

They said that it's okay to request books and not read them (specifically ARCs), because it's usually just a case of getting overwhelmed. 

I'm very, very, very iffy about stuff like this. I take blogging super seriously and really try to keep deadlines in check almost obsessively (which I don't recommend, it's really stressful).

...

I do get that especially when you just start to get review copies, you get super excited and accidentally request more than you can read. Of course that's not a deadly sin, it's okay and I'm sure it happened to a lot of people out there. 

I'm not upset about people who didn't expect to actually get review copies and requested too many and got approved for too many either. 

Who REALLY upsets me are the people who keep on requesting ridiculous amounts of review copies and just collect them. Simply for display or whatever and don't review them. 

Here's why this upsets me:
  • It's rude. 
  • It's a virtual contract. (Most publishers won't work with you anymore if you have a history of doing this btw)
  • It's harmful to the industry. You might think that the big publishers won't be hurt by a couple of people not reviewing - but most big publishers only send out ARCs, which are specifically printed for reviewing purposes and cost a lot more to print, AND are only printed in limited quantities.
  • (The purpose of giving out an ARC and not a finished copy is to get the review before the book is published. If you end up posting the review late or not at all, the resources were wasted on you)
  • There are bloggers out there who would have given their left leg for reading the ARC/review copy you just ignore.
  • It's even worse if you do this to indie authors and small publishers, because the money for printing them is literally going out of their own pockets. 
  • Did I say it's rude?
I don't understand how anyone could justify having 30+ ARCs dating back a couple of months and not having reviewed them. I don't understand how anyone could have a huge pile of review copies dating back YEARS and not have reviewed them. I just don't get it and I think there should be consequences for people who do this. It's so rude and disrespectful. It makes all bloggers look bad, especially because a lot of times it's the big bloggers with a huge reach who think their fame makes it okay for them to do this. 

Of course, not everyone who does this is aware of how much damage they're doing, but after all we're basically offering a marketing service. Even if you're just blogging as a hobby, you're working with people who actually get paid to do their job and I sincerely doubt that you would do this in a professional environment. 

Why is it so widely accepted (apparently) to keep on requesting stuff you won't read in the first place? I don't know. I just think that we should all be collectively very thankful for having the opportunity to read books for free and not exploit it out of greed. 


Continue Reading...

Sunday, May 8, 2016

I Only Read Negative Reviews on Goodreads



I've been trying to observe the way I pick which reviews to read for a while now and I noticed that I have a pattern. 




Every single time I'm reading a book, regardless of whether I'm currently liking it or absolutely hating it, I head over to Goodreads and check out the one star reviews.

Sure, especially on Goodreads people are insanely disrespectful, nitpicky, and sometimes downright offensive. But there's a reason why the negative reviews are usually the ones with the most likes and why people like me go for them purposely.

What's so interesting about negative reviews?

They're funny. Even if I like a book it's just hilarious to me to see people freak out about little things, sometimes add 400 gifs of people throwing tables.

They point out the flaws others are afraid to admit. Of course some negative reviews on Goodreads are just crap and unnecessary nitpicking, but I noticed that only the negative reviews actually depict things that don't quite work in the novels they're critiquing. 

Too positive reviews don't intrigue me at all. Mostly it's just flailing and telling me how awesome the book is without actually saying what it is that makes the book good.

Negative reviews use proof. Whether it'll be quotes or retelling a specific moment in the book that just doesn't make sense. I'm a factual person and a simple "THIS IS THE BEST BOOK I'VE EVER READ GO READ IT" doesn't really do anything for me.

Does this mean people should start being more picky and rude and rate stuff more harshly for success?

No, absolutely not!!!! While I do enjoy negative reviews, I don't like bullying. It's basically what many many Goodreads reviewers do, bully authors because they don't like their books. A big amount of those negative reviews make me cringe and ask myself whether any of these people is actually aware that authors do read reviews sometimes.


Do you read positive or negative reviews on Goodreads?
Do you even filter by rating?

Continue Reading...

Monday, May 2, 2016

What to write in your #NetGalley profile | How to Be Badass on #NetGalley






So, I've been on NetGalley for a while and I decided that I know what I'm doing well enough to give advice.

So here's what you do when you start out:



It's so important that you fill in your profile.
This is first thing people see of you when you request a book.
Make sure you:
  • add a profile picture
  • add a bio
  • add a description
  • tell everyone how awesome you are and don't be shy!! (this doesn't mean exaggerating, no lies here, people will actually check everything and if you lie, you're not going to get approved for anything ever)

But what the heck am I supposed to put into the bio? 

I got you.

It's a simple formula:

1. Thanking the publisher for considering you because you're polite and professional.

2. Introducing your blog in one or two sentences. 
Example: "My blog X is a YA books only blog. I post discussions and review books. I like this and that genre the best."

3. Introducing your schedule so the publisher knows when to expect a review. 
Example: "I review 10 books a week and read about 6 books a week."

4. Adding a fancy sentence if you have cool other platforms. 
Example: "I am an Amazon Top 100 reviewer / I have a billion friends on Goodreads / I have an instagram with a million followers."

5. Adding the link to your blog and your email address.

6. Copying your blog statistics.

Example:

STATS
- X reviews published since X
- Daily views: 
- Monthly views:
- Unique Visitors per month: 
- Total views: 

FOLLOWERS
- via Google Friend Connect: 
- via Bloglovin: 
- via Twitter:  (@username)
- via tumblr: (username)
- via Google +: 
- via Goodreads: X friends + Y following reviews
- via (other platform that I do not use): 

Total reach: ~ X


MORE  TIPS:

It's super important to add as much detail as possible but not to ramble. 500 words is the absolute maximum, nobody will read your life story here. Stick to the basics, stick to the stuff that's relevant for the publisher. If you won blog awards (not those tag award things!), add them. Add everything that proves that you're a successful blogger!

Make sure to regularly update your statistics - at least a month. Even if they go down, always be honest!

If you have any more questions feel free to ask!


Continue Reading...

Sunday, April 24, 2016

6 Reasons Why You Got Declined to Review A Book on #NetGalley and How to Fix This | Emergency Help






So I finally started using NetGalley a couple of months ago, and I am absolutely addicted to this site. 

I love the convenience of ordering review copies without having to write up pesky emails and talking to actual people *yuck*


But sometimes NetGalley decides to break all our hearts by declining us for review copies. And I say US because I am fairly certain this doesn't only happen to me but to a lot of people, even bloggers that have been blogging for longer than I have and have biiiiiiiiig blogs with lots of followers. Shocking but true

I don't know about you guys, but my heart breaks a little every time I apply to review a book I want to read very badly and THEN, a couple of days later, I get declined. I did some research (lots of research) and tried to find out why publishers and authors sometimes decline us poor reviewers who are just trying their best and just want to read books. 

Here are the most common reasons to get declined (according to the internet people)

#1: Wrong Continent/ Region

Next to some books there are little icons of countries or continents. Some publishers only have a license to give out review copies in a special region. They politely say "users from X preferred" instead of "Don't even think about requesting this book if you're not from X"

PRO TIP: Do gamble on this. Sometimes it really does mean preferred and not exclusively for X region people. Request that book!

#2: Catastrophic Feedback Rate 

When you click on your profile it says how many books you have been approved for and how many books you've sent feedback for (meaning reviews or a note why you didn't review it). Publishers see this. A feedback rate of 80% is recommended and yeah... stick to that. Try to keep it at 80% or more at all times.

PRO TIP: Don't request any more books if your rate is below 80%. Publishers do also see how many books you have been declined for and will be like "hmmm, if they got declined 60 times out of 70 there's probably a reason, let's decline them."

#3: You Mainly Review a Different Genre

If you run a book blog dedicated to crime books, why did you just request a young adult romance? Publishers do check out your blog and your preferences. You have to keep in mind what audience your blog caters to.

PRO TIP: If you really want the book, gamble on this. Request it, especially with small publishers you might have luck.


#4: Your Bio is Horrible

You have to have statistics in your bio and you have to have a profile picture, and you have to say a little about yourself. If you didn't bother filling it in, there's the reason why you get declined.

PRO TIP: Check the publishers preferences to get an idea about what people want to see.


#5: You're too late

Believe it or not, there is a limited amount of ecopies available.

PRO TIP: Request books as quickly as you know you want to read them and have the time to read them!!!

#6: Too few followers

Even though everyone says that followings don't matter, on NetGalley they absolutely do. Many big publishers state clearly that there is no chance you even get a shot at reviewing their books if you don't have more than 1,000 followers and long-windedly explain how they know it's a lot and not fair to everyone, but they're in the business of selling books. We get it.

A way to find out whether you're just wasting your time requesting a book from a publisher is to just click on their name next to the book title and click on their approval preferences.

PRO TIP: Don't gamble on this. If you have fewer than 1,000 followers and the preference states clearly that you have no chance, don't even try.


One last PRO TIP:

Don't get discouraged if you got declined for a book. It happens to the best of us. Just request another to numb the pain!


Have you gotten declined before? How do you deal with the pain?

Continue Reading...

Friday, April 1, 2016

When is it okay to share your review of a DNF?






Even if we don't like to admit it, we've all not finished a book and still written a review on it.

Whether you just skipped the last 5 pages or the last 50, it does happen sometimes. But the question is, is that okay? 





The biggest argument against this that I've heard is that

"Books can have a sudden plot twist that changes everything and make you suddenly super interested in it again"

To me this does sound more like wishful thinking than a common thing that actually happens. When I get to the point that I'm DNF-ing or at least contemplating it, the last thing I want to do is "give the book another chance".

When I DNF, it's probably for a very good reason. That might be the writing isn't for me, the book is full of characters with questionable moral choices (that rather seem like the author trying to preach their own values), or it's just not a genre I'm not interested in.

Some books do turn around within the last couple of pages, but this has only ever happened to me a handful of times and never with a book that I was intentionally going to DNF. If you've written reviews for a while, you'll get a feeling for what works or what doesn't. You'll know your own taste and be able to judge a book very quickly.

I can tell by page 10 whether a book will be something I like or not. Regardless, I always give books 50 pages before I DNF. 

Is it justified to still write a review if you DNF like that? 

If it's a review copy, I would never do that, I'd rather contact the person I'm working with and tell them the book is not for me. I wouldn't feel comfortable writing a review for something I didn't read and 50 pages aren't nearly enough to justify a negative review.

Especially for unknown authors with few reviews for their books, that's just not something that I'd feel comfortable doing. At the end of the day, I want to help authors out and talk about books with other readers and writing a review for something that I didn't /really/ read is doing more harm than benefit in my opinion. 

So I was talking about review copies before, but what about reading books in your free time, do you DNF silently and still write a review for it? If nobody would ever find out, would you do it?


DNF reviews? Yay or nay?

Continue Reading...
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