May 18, 2014

In Which I Share Some Wisdom

As of today, I've been reviewing books for exactly one year.  Yay for exciting milestones!  So, since I'm such an old pro now (total sarcasm there, in case you couldn't tell), I've decided to share what I've learned about requesting and reviewing books and running a book blog.
  • You need to have at least one social media account where you can link your posts.  I personally think Twitter is the best option, but Tumblr and a Facebook page just for your blog work nicely, too.  Wherever you can get the word out about your posts is a good option.
  • There is no right or wrong way of reviewing.  I'm really good at compartmentalizing what I liked, what I didn't like, and what was objectionable content.  Others are better at writing a general review that talks about the book's themes more than specific moments.  Maybe you can write a super long review, or maybe you're better at summing up your thoughts in one paragraph.  Maybe you like including a star rating, or maybe you don't.  It's all up to you.
  • Tagging authors in your reviews is a tricky business.  My take on it is, if your review is positive, tag the author.  It's then up to them to read it and take your criticism without causing problems.  I generally don't share reviews with them if my rating is less than 3.5 stars because I know, as a writer, those are the reviews that would hurt my self-esteem.  Besides, we often talk about, in the blogger community, how reviews are for readers, not the authors.
  • Your post count is important, yes, but only do what's comfortable for you. I know I'm pretty fortunate because my schedule is fairly open.  I have lots of time for blogging, and I get my posts scheduled months in advance.  So if you only have time for 2-3 posts a week, that's okay.  Don't push yourself to churn out more posts; it will make you resent blogging so much it'll become a chore instead of a fun activity.
  • The goal of a review is to critique the book, not the author.  We have to remember that they're human beings, too, and they personally don't deserve harsh judgment, even if their books and writing do.
  • ARCs are a tricky business, too.  It can be hard to watch bloggers get the really awesome ARCs (such as anything that comes in, awesome packaging, i.e. The Winner's Curse and Dorothy Must Die) when you're too new to get them or your request was declined.  It can be hard to be continually declined for e-galleys on Edelweiss and NetGalley (trust me, I know the feeling).  But eventually, you'll have reviewed books long enough that publishers will approve your requests.  And don't forget - you can always review books you buy and get from the library.  That's what I did when I started out.  Just don't bother publishers and authors by begging for ARCs; request them professionally, and if you don't hear back, it's best to send just one follow-up email after a couple weeks.  Also, don't let ARC envy consume you.
  • Reviews will generally be your least-popular posts.  I'm not sure why, there's really no science to posting and getting tons of views, but a lot of bloggers comment that they don't get a lot of views/comments on their reviews.  That is really no fun, because reviews are the main part of our business.  I'm not sure if it's because people prefer discussion posts where they can chime in.  I know I personally only read reviews for books I'm interested in or have read.  And I'll try to comment on all reviews I've read (especially if I've read the book), but I don't always have the time to do that.
I've probably learned a lot more than just those seven things, but I think those are some of the most important pieces of advice. 

2 comments:

  1. Ohh, you have good points here. I recently had to review a book and I knew the author was going to read it. It was veryyyyy hard. Also, what exactly are ARCs? I know they're advanced reader copies, but I'm kind of confused about the need to request them and stuff like that. Can you maybe send me some details or information about it through email? I think you have my address, but if you need it, just let me know. Thanks!

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    1. This is my post about ARCs: http://bookworm716.blogspot.com/2014/04/arcs-not-geometry-term.html.

      It depends on how long you've been book blogging/reviewing books when it comes to requesting ARCs. I joined NetGalley right away, Edelweiss six months later, and just started requesting from publishers. I'm honestly not the best source to ask, but if you google requesting ARCs, you'll probably find some of the best posts.

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