Note: The event will end on the 8th not the 7th.
First up author Kate Douglas!
Is there something specific you look for in a review? If so what?
When I read reviews for other authors’ books, I look for a tight, well-written synopsis that tells me what the story is about and gives me a feel for the author’s voice. I pay more attention to that than to the opinion part of a review, because reviews can be so subjective, and the reviewer’s opinion might not represent my reaction to the same story.
A good example would be some of the reader reviews that showed up for my first Wolf Tales book on Amazon. It was so “over the top” sexy, that I think it shocked a lot of readers who got more than they expected, so they wrote a lot of one star reviews where readers complained about all the graphic sex. Rather than hurt sales, Wolf Tales sold out and went into reprints the month it released. Obviously, a lot of readers wanted that explicit sex.
If you send your books to a book review blog, is there something specific you look for when you’re looking at their blog?
Easy to read, for one thing. I can’t read a black background with white writing—it hurts my eyes, and I’d never send a book to one set up in a manner that’s difficult to read. I like a site that’s not too busy, that’s easy to negotiate. I spend twelve or more hours a day on my computer writing—I don’t have time to have to search for something on a website or blog.
The ability to write a good review is important. You wouldn’t believe how many reviews I get that are so poorly written I can’t even pull a quote from them. I would never use a poorly written review to promote my books, and there’s nothing more infuriating than a grammatically incorrect review that trashes my book. My reaction is generally along the lines of, “This reviewer can’t even write a proper sentence and she’s saying my books suck? I don’t think so...”
What type of review do you like best: short or long?
I prefer a shorter review with a tight synopsis of the story.
What do you think about spoilers in reviews?
Intentional spoilers in reviews are inexcusable. I have asked more than one reviewer to remove spoilers, and generally reviewers have been terrific about it. I don’t think it’s done maliciously—it’s just that what seems like an important spoiler to the author may not be as important to the reviewer. However, I was really pleased at how few reviews gave away the death of a character in Wolf Tales 10. I had let my readers know I was killing off a packmate and gave them the option of finding out who it was in advance of the book’s release or not. A lot of readers wanted to know so they wouldn’t get a nasty surprise, but others were just the opposite. Only one review that I can think of had a spoiler before the book released, and the reviewer removed the character’s name at my request.
Now let’s talk about rating systems. On a scale of 1-5 stars, what would be your opinion of the ratings? Starting with the lowest at one first.
1. Wall-banger. Not worth the trip to the store to buy the book.
2. Issues that interfere with the story—read it only if you’ve got a lot of free time.
3. Okay but not great. An acceptable read that could have been better.
4. A good book. Well-written and definitely one you’ll enjoy.
5. Gets a place on the keeper shelf. Good enough to keep you thinking about the story, the characters and probably wanting to reread it immediately—and wondering when the author’s next book is coming.
What do you think about sexual ratings? Some reviewers use them.
I like them—especially with books like my Wolf Tales, which are so sexy that some readers really do find them offensive. I like the fact the back of each book has a warning: This is a really hot book. (Sexually explicit) When someone reads one and complains about the sex, I can merely remind them that they were warned! Romantic Times book reviews has a good sexual rating system: Scorcher, Hot, Mild, etc.
It’s important to define your ratings, since every reader sees the sex in books differently.
What do reviewers do that irks you the most?
· Reviewing books without reading them, something that’s obvious in their lack of understanding of the story. Happens more often than you realize.
· Not proof-reading their reviews—especially frustrating if it’s a good review, because as an author, you want to promote the book with positive reviews, but personally there’s no way I’d send anyone to a site with a great review of my book that’s full of mistakes.
· Selling ARCs (advance reader copies) on eBay or uploading electronic files to pirate sites—and yes, it does happen.
What do you think about awards given to books by a review blogger?
If the blog site owner chooses the awards, it’s great, but if they require readers to vote, then they’re just popularity contests where authors are expected to go out and beg for votes. I won’t vote for a book I haven’t read and I won’t ask for votes from people who haven’t read my books, so I tend to ignore award contests held at review sites. To be honest, my schedule is so busy I just don’t have time worry about things like that. But yes, if it’s something done entirely by the blogger or their reviewers, then it’s very cool.
As readers/reviewers we love book giveaways. How do you feel about them?
I love to give away books. I get a lot of author copies from my publisher for just that purpose, and I buy more on my own to give as prizes. The more of my books that are in the hands of Internet savvy readers, the more chance that they’ll be mentioned on-line or recommended on GoodReads or other sites. I want readers to have my books in their hands—I’m confident enough in my ability to tell a good story, that I figure those readers will keep coming back for more.
I give away books on my newsletter each month and whenever I blog—you should see my postage bill, especially since I will send anywhere in the world. I also give away stuffed animals—I had plush wolves for Wolf Tales and now I’ve got adorable little dogs that look like Bumper, my pit bull/poodle cross from the DemonSlayers series.
What would be your best piece of advice for a book blogger/reviewer?
Avoid snark. Even if it’s a really bad book, think of the author’s feelings when you’re writing the review. There are some reviewers out there who seem to take such great glee in tearing a book to shreds that it moves beyond the book and becomes a personal attack against the author. That’s not professional. It’s perfectly acceptable to not like a book—we all have different tastes and requirements in what we want to read—but a review can be negative without being nasty.
And I can’t emphasize this enough: proof read. Look for errors in your own writing before you take it upon yourself to critique someone else’s work.
Is there anything else you like to add?
Actually, there is. I’ve gotten some terribly negative reviews over the years, and I really do treasure the ones where the reviewer carefully pointed out the weaknesses in a particular book—things I’d totally missed in the writing process. I don’t think there’s an author out there who doesn’t take a well-written yet negative review and dissect it in order to see where they can improve on the next book, so if you don’t like a book, don’t hesitate to give a good, honest review and say you don’t like it. But, be prepared to back up your claim with solid reasons.
Some of my beta readers are reviewers (they no longer review my books) who pointed out things I could have done better. I value their input so much that I now have them reading for me BEFORE the book goes to my editor! A good, critical reader is hard to find!