Category

What It Takes

Five Things Authors Must Do From A Reader’s Point Of View

1. Respect your reader’s intelligence.

I am tired of books who spell EVERYTHING out instead of realizing the person reading the book has something of substance between her ears. Read this to see what I mean:

 

Terri spent most of the day cleaning. A clean house shows better than a dirty one. After last night’s storm, this hot, steamy, summer Georgia morning made cleaning even harder. There almost wasn’t enough time to clean up before her date with Jeff. She desperately needed to shower away all the sweat and grim typical to Georgia in the summer, the morning after a storm.

Now before you ask, I made up this passage, so please do not think it is from one of the books I have read for a review. Did you catch the issue? I think it is a very safe bet to assume your reader will know about summers in the south. If you don’t, let me fill you in, it’s hot and the morning after a nighttime storm it’s miserable.  Perhaps the reader has spent her whole life on Antarctica and has no knowledge of the weather patterns in the southern states. The author does have the responsibility to create a full experience for the reader. However, look closer at the passage:

After last night’s storm… summer Georgia morning… Georgia in the summer, the morning after a storm

We get it. It’s hot, it’s the morning after a storm, and it’s in Georgia.  Trust your reader to understand the first time she reads it. If this detail is important to the story, reiterate a different way, or better yet show the reader.

2. Know when to end your story.

I love stories. Trust me when I say that is not an exaggeration. I have withdraws when I don’t read for a few days. I actually get moody. Sometimes I feel depressed when I finish a book. If it is a series, I jump into the next book, but when that series ends- oh boy I may not be a very nice person (you could even call me that word that rhymes with ditch). However, all good things must come to an end. I can’t tell how YOU will know because it is YOUR story, but a hero doesn’t need to face obstacle after obstacle.

3. Interact with your readers socially.

Do you know why I review books? Yes, I get free books and that’s way cool. But I like working with the authors. It’s exciting to meet an author and help them promote their book. Many of the authors I work with are indie authors and they need all the help they can get. I see it like rooting for the little gal. I know these authors are busy. It takes less than a second to like a post. It takes about two minutes to share a post or respond to it. When an author responds to me socially, IT MAKES MY DAY. I totally geek out. I have printed screen shots of some of the interactions I’ve had.  See, every author has done the one thing I have been working towards- they have finished a book. I admire each author I’ve reviewed, interviewed, and spotlighted.

4. Don’t always use a thesaurus.

Read this:

Terri waltzed into the room wearing an accouterment made of dazzling baubles. Every fellow in the ostentatious room turned his craniumum to watch her flow down the staircase.

I understand not using the same old words over and over. However, it’s ok to just say:

Terri looked so hot as she walked down the stairs that every guy in the joint turned to watch her.

5. Use a professional editor.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is I cannot edit myself. When I read what I’ve written I see it the way it should be. Please pay for a good editor. Find one who will not only check grammar but will also make sure the main character stays blonde throughout the whole story. Read this and see if you can find the mistake.

Terri leaned in to talk to Jeff. The music loudly played, making it hard for any kind of polite coversation.

I’ll just share this to show you what I mean:

This post may make some mad. That’s not what I want. What I want is for every writer who dreamed of finishing a book to not only make it to THE END but to succeed.  So who am I to write this? I’m a reader who’s read over a hundred books last year and has read over fifty books so far this year. I’ve read multiple genres from both indie and traditionally published authors.  Books are who I am. They are in my blood.

What It Takes

So you think you like reading? You think you like books? Are you the kind of reader who goes through withdraws if you don’t read at least once a day? If you answered yes, then having a book blog might be a fun way for you to grow as a writer yourself, and to help all those authors you love.

It doesn’t take money. You could do this completely free. Check into blooger.com and wordpress.com. There are a lot of good blogs where the blogger uses all free resources. Paying a little money helps but it is not necessary at all. For this site, I paid for a wordpress.org site, my url, and the template I use. I also paid for a professional to design my logo. I spaced out these purchases so I didn’t have a huge chunk all at once. I’ll talk more about developing your blog in a later post. Today, I want to share how I connect with authors and how to develop relationships with them.

When I first started I reviewed books I had already read. I had no idea how to connect with authors and I suffered from a bit of intimidation. I found a site listing authors who want readers to review their books. (I tried to find it but I can’t so I don’t know if it is still around.) I found two books that looked interesting and sent in a request. I honestly didn’t expect much because I was just starting. The authors agreed and sent me their books. It was as cool as Christmas morning to a kid. Both of these authors contacted me directly. I read their books and then wrote reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and my blog. Then I took a bold step and asked them if I could do an interview. Again, I didn’t expect them to agree, but they did. Since then I have helped these two authors every chance I get. They are both wonderful ladies and I recommend both their books.

Then I listed my blog on the website The Book Blogger List. Once I did that, I had too many requests. If you list your blog on this site, make sure you are specific about your requirements. If you are not clear, you will be asked to read anything and everything. I try to get back with an author within 48 hours, but that doesn’t always happen. I keep a folder in my email labeled “Book Review Requests”.  When I have completed the review and it is posted, I move that email to a folder marked “Book Review Requests Completed”. I keep requests in that folder for about a month after it is posted just in case I need to get to it easily.

For me, it is easier to read books on my Kindle, so I always ask for .mobi files. I do not take epub or pdf anymore. At first, I didn’t ask for exactly what I wanted/needed and I had to convert files. If you need to do that, you Calibre. It’s a free software that will convert .epub but not .pdf. It’s also a good way to store any and all ebooks.  I can read books on my phone, my tablet, or my Kindle. For me, this is awesome because I never know when I might have a few free minutes I can read. I think authors are also more willing to give away free ebooks.

I also request books to review through NetGalley.  There are a lot of books here to read. I have been turned down though. So if you go through this website, don’t be upset if you request a book and the publisher/author says no. Just move on; don’t take it personally.

Book tour companies are another way of getting books to review. Be careful with this because it is easy to get overwhelmed with too many books. I only work with one tour company; The Audiobookworm. Jess is an awesome gal to work with. I like to listen to audiobooks when I exercise.

Big houses are hard to get free books from, but there are so many indie authors who write great books. For this reason, I read more indie books than big house books. I get to know the authors and work with them on a much more personal level. I now have some authors who just send me their books and/or arcs without me even asking. That makes me feel like a rock star every time that happens.

There is some professional protocol you need to follow if you want to develop a good rep for your blog.

  1. If you get a free book in exchange for a review, state that in your post and on your site.
  2. If you say you are going to review a book- review it. There have been a couple of times, books got lost in my tbr. I contacted the author each time, explained while the review was later than I had told them, then quickly got it done. That leads me to…
  3. Tell the author how long it will take you to read their book. Be realistic and then add two weeks to your turn around time. Let’s face it- life gets in the way.
  4. If you read a book, that is just horrible- let the author know before you post your review. No one likes a surprise like a bad review. Remember for many of these authors, their books are kindred to their souls. When they write a book and share it with the world, they open themselves and it is raw and personal for them.
  5. Post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. No matter how good your site, you will never have an audience as big as Amazon. So share your input so more readers will see the book. Again, state if you got a free book in exchange for a review.
  6. Don’t ask for money for your review. Just don’t. It’s tacky.

Authors need readers and readers need authors. A book blog is a great way to meet both these needs. I haven’t spent much time on SEO, mailing list, and audience development. I’m working on that over the next couple of months. I’m not for sure how much I am really helping my authors and I want to do more. For me, I’m not looking to make a lot of money with my blog. I have one affiliation account with audiobooks.com and I need to work it more. I try to make enough to pay for my own expenses. I’ve gone back and forth on trying to make more. I’ll be looking into that over the next couple of months too.

If you are a book blogger or looking to start one, comment below and let’s connect more.

 

 

 

 

What It Takes

I’ve been blogging about books since last summer. I had another blog before that but I was not very good about keeping up with it. Working on this has taught me a lot about the book industry and I’ve  learned a lot about myself and my in-real-life life. Each week I want to share something that helps me get done all that I want to get done. I want to take some time to start talking about my own writing. It is my hope that by this time next year I will have my own book to share with you and will be looking for people to review what I’ve written.

I don’t do mornings!

If you’ve looked at my bio page, you know I have two kids, a dog, and a husband. What you may not know is that I homeschool my two girls. They are currently in fifth and second grade. Homeschooling has been an even bigger adventure than blogging. I taught high school, middle school, and college for twelve years. I have two Master’s Degrees and I started working on my Doctorate. I have been in the classroom, the library, and the administration office. During my tenure, I saw just about every side of education and I saw how it was changing. The system itself is set up to encourage those who would succeed in any arena. But not everyone achieves her full potential in a public school system. I saw too many students, especially girls get lost.

My husband and I were married for twelve years before we decided to have children. When we made that leap, it was important to us that one of us stayed home. I don’t really remember how it came about that I was the one who did it. I guess, I just wanted it.

My girls are crazy.

Being a mother and especially a stay at home mother changed me more than I could have ever expected. Looking back, I don’t know that I would have made some of the same decisions. I can honestly say, though, that I am happy with how everything has worked out.

Most days are totally crazy. I often feel like I am being pulled behind a runaway horse.  Organization has been key to getting anything done. I’m still working on that area in my life. I go back and forth between keeping a paper journal/organizer and using an electronic one. Right now I am focusing on an electronic one because I’m trying to carry as small of a purse as possible. I use Google calendar. Each area of my life has a different “calendar” so it will show up in different colors allowing me to keep things separate. Here’s a look at my calendar:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Pink is for personal stuff
  • Purple is for things dealing with the AM Girls (August and Miranda, my daughters)
  • Green is for blogging and food planning.
  • Orange is for work/ writing.
  • Blue is for my husband (we share a portion of our calendars with each other for planning purposes).
  • Gray is for Nano stuff (when I participate).
  • Red is for gratitude. I started this in February and it works out very well. Each night I get a notification on my phone and I write something I’m grateful for each day in the notes section of this event.

I used a bullet journal last year and I liked it a lot, but I like colors and it took too long to get the right color marker out to use. I recommend a Bullet Journal if you are someone who likes to write things down.

What you can’t see in these pictures is the notes section for appointments. This is where I really organize my thoughts. For example, I work with Sherry Rentschler. I get a lot of emails from her and we talk about many different ideas. I have started keeping track of our conversations in my calendar. It has become a simplistic CRM program.

As my writing and business expand, this system may morph into something else. I’m working on a way to develop a tighter system for my writing so I give myself stricter deadlines and my work flows better. I will be adding those into my calendar.

Now here is the one thing you need to know. Does this always work? Am I always this organized? HECK NO! There are more days when this whole thing falls apart. However, this gives me something to strive towards. It is a goal. Each week gets better and better.