So it’s the writers turn to vote. Writers how important do you think reviews are?
Readers – how do reviews influence you?
A Literary Legacy
At the end of November 2019 my father passed away after a long illness. When discussing what to put in the Eulogy with my sisters we all agreed on the legacy he’d left us – a legacy far more valuable and less easy to quantify than money or a house. A love of reading and storytelling.
Dad left school at 16 with a basic education – he was, apparently, rubbish at art, woodwork and behaving himself but excelled at English, maths and history. He was a born storyteller. Times were different then, and even had he wanted to continue in education it would have not been possible financially. He joined the army at 19, was wounded in action and left partially sighted after being hit by a roadside bomb. (Not much changes in war).
Despite this he still loved to read – mostly westerns and historical books – but struggled with the print size to the end of his days. Both parents encouraged us to read, and both read avidly. Often the sitting room would be filled with people – noses buried in books and there were always books in the house. A trip to the local library was a treat.
Dad told stories about runaway pork pies and mischievous sausages, not to mention household implements which rose up against their masters. I vividly remember the wicked saucepan that hit its owner when it was replaced, and a hosepipe that went on the rampage. All told with my father’s wicked wit and gleaming eyes.
He loved poetry, particularly Kipling, and even a week before his death was able to recite one of his favourites word perfectly (even though his memory was going, he was confused about most things, in pain and on a whole raft of meds). His whole face was aglow when he spoke poetry.
Cargoes – by John Masefield was one of his favourites. The first verses would be read with wonder and then the final verse – well that was read very fast and loud. Reflecting the beauty of the old, fine ships and the somewhat less elegant British ships…
Of all the things Daddy gave us – love, a sense of humour, a belief in ourselves, not taking crap from anyone, to me the love of the written word was the finest – and the most ensuring.
I’m a writer and a poet, both my nieces write, my sister teaches English and drama, and the other sister is an artist and loves history. We all love books, and have FAR too many in the house. The love of reading and storytelling will live on, and so it should. Storytelling is what makes us human, and it brings us freedom, adventure and emotion.
Thanks Dad, we will miss you.
This is one of Dad’s (and my) favourite poems Twenty Bridges from Tower to Kew
Reviews – do they influence you?
I ran a poll similar to this a while ago but I am interested to know if your views have changed.
How influential are book reviews to you? There are some folks who say they will not buy a book with negative reviews (of course that’s relative – what constitutes a ‘negative’ rating? 1 star out of 5? 2? 3?). Some people read reviews to look for opinions similar to their own. There are people who never read reviews. And everything in between.
Personally, I will review a book I read, but not every book – I don’t have the time – and if I really can’t think of anything beyond a line or two then it probably isn’t worth it. I am contrary – I usually don’t read the reviews before I buy. Usually. Unless it’s only got a couple of 1 stars. What appeals to me in a book is rather genre dependent – so it can be hard to judge one against another.
The poll runs for 1 week – and I will report on the findings afterwards. Get voting peeps.
Readers – How do you find your books?
As an author I am intrigued to know how readers tend to find most of their books? How do you know a particular book is out there? After all, you could spend the rest of your life scrolling through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, I-books or where ever and still not find all the books.
As a reader, I tend to find books via Facebook these days, or knowing the genre and hopping about on Amazon until I find something which takes my fancy (actually I do that FAR too much – which is why I have a humongous to-be-read list). Occasionally I’ll read recommended books, or see something in a bookshop (yes I still go to ‘real bookshops now and then).
I’ve been told Twitter is the best way. So is Facebook. Pinterest. Linked In. Tumblr. Reddit. Goodreads. Blogs. All of these. None of these.
Go for it and answer the poll. There are no wrong answers.
My Favourite Genre is…..
I love fantasy, science fiction, true crime, historical (non fic), classics, gothic horror and books about language and words. I’d be interested to see what my readers prefer. In fact I’ll make you a deal – whatever wins I’ll read a book from that category for my next read and review it – even if it’s not within my usual genre.
Forthcoming Features and Poll
1000 posts! Blogging and its merits
This is the 1001st post on this blog. Hurrah! OK, so I know some folks post way more than that, and I don’t post every day but when I began the blog I wasn’t even sure it would last ten posts. New content is welcome, and followers don’t want the same old articles, or hear moaning every day – that is what Facebook is for…
I try and keep a mix, and hence the gaps. Also some days there is simply not enough useful content. I am sure most of you don’t give a damn I wrote 200 words, or saw a squirrel in the garden, or had a cold. I don’t know – do you?
So what’s happened over the last thousand posts:
Author interviews – many, many author interviews from a whole range of folks in a whole range of countries, writing a whole range of genres – fantasy, historical, science fiction, biography, books for kids, LGBTQ fiction, paranormal, romance, poets, black fiction, erotica, literary fiction and multi-genre.
Character interviews – I must say these are my favourite interviews. We’ve met gods, demons, vampires, demi-gods, an undead horse, heroes, villains, animals, men, women, gay folks, straight folks, folks who aren’t sure/bothered about that sort of thing, aliens, royalty, slaves and more.
Cover artists, narrators, editors and, of course, readers.
I’ve posted guides to Self-Pubbing on KDP and audio books; reviews; text speech and the evolution of language; the challenges facing authors and readers who have lost, or are losing, their sight; course reviews (historical fantasy, magic in medieval Europe, writing, social media marketing, Roman history); articles about how useful reviews are (or not); Hell Week promoting the Perseid Press Heroes in Hell series (look out for Hell Week 2017; Monsters and Myth; Greek Mythology; the influence of Fantasy in our society; Guest posts about research; important military anniversaries; Thunderclap. And information and news about my own books.
Blogging has brought me friends, useful contacts, a wider pool of resources (very useful – it’s amazing what you learn whilst looking for other things), and led me to look at articles I wouldn’t else have found. Blogging has taught me the uses of social media. Not to mention the wide and supportive network of indie authors out there, the challenges we face and the joys and successes of writing and publishing. It can be daunting and lonely, especially when new to the arena, but the world of social media, is large indeed. And blogging can bring promotion, laughs, support, information, advice and a field as wide as the world if used correctly. It’s also a good diary, a good way of processing thoughts and organising things (unless you’re me) and a good sounding board.
Yippee for blogs! May there be many more posts to come.
Reader Interview – Melanie Fraser
Welcome to Melanie Fraser
Where are you from? Born in South Africa but have lived in the UK since the age of 10.
Please tell us a little about yourself. I’m an Actress (and former singer and dancer) and performed in theatre, TV and film for several decades. I started my professional training aged 5 in Cape Town before moving to England. I have a recording studio in a peaceful part of the Isle of Wight where I record voice-overs and narrate and produce audiobooks.
I have two pet rabbits and also enjoy jazz music and reading – mostly historical espionage and crime thrillers.
On average how many books do you read in a month? Oh, usually one and a bit as I read fiction and non-fiction although I don’t get much time to read so it takes a while to complete a book.
Where is your favourite place to read? At night at bedtime!
What genres do you prefer and why? Do you have any genres you avoid? My favourite genre is espionage (love the mystery and intrigue)
Other favourites are historical fiction and non-fiction (one learns so much about the world’s past events – if only history lessons had been so interesting)
Crime/thrillers I enjoy too as I like to guess whodunnit and enjoy the suspense.
Why are books important to you and what does reading bring to your life? Those with non-fiction elements are the most important. Reading is my special treat at the end of the day.
Do you have a favourite book or author, why do you think you like this book/author so much? I have many favourite books and authors – too many to mention here. However, the following are some of them:
Rachel’s Shoe by Peter Lihou
Rachel’s mother’s ingenuity in protecting her daughter and Rachel’s admirable strength of character in dodging her former captors had me hooked.
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
The graphic detail of the killer’s methods and the pursuit of the Illuminati were compelling.
Birth of An Assassin by Rik Stone
Great atmosphere and descriptions of the terrain as a backdrop to Jez’s dangerous challenges – one of the best books I’ve found so far.
I also love the styles of authors, Simon Sebag Montefiore and BenMacintyre.
What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks or paper books? Would you care to expand on this? I prefer hard copy as I like the feel of a book. However, e-books are convenient for downloading and as one can increase the font size, that helps too.
How do you usually find the books you read? For example: recommendations from friends, promotion on social networks, your local library, following authors you already know? I browse bookshops and charity shops as well as finding them on Amazon and Goodreads – the latter through information in groups. Once I find an author whose style I really like, I follow their upcoming books. Recently though, I found Ted Allbeury’s “The Twentieth Day of January” after hearing about it on BBC Radio 4 and loved it.
When choosing a book what makes you stop and give it a second look? What makes you turn away? The blurb will attract me if it is a subject that intrigues me. Then the first page has to capture my interest for me to continue to read it. The cover isn’t vital but it helps if it is suitable for the story.
What makes me turn away is if there are glaring grammatical and editing errors – I feel this is insulting to the reader and shows sloppiness and a lack of professionalism. If the book doesn’t capture my interest on the first page – as mentioned above – or the writing is clumsy, I move on.
Do you read reviews by others and if so do they influence your choice? Yes I do read reviews but usually after reading a book as I prefer not to be influenced by anyone.
Do you “judge a book by its cover?” No. Often a cover can be ghastly but the writing is superb and vice versa. The writing is much more important to me.
What do you think is the most important aspect of a book for you? Plot, world-building, strong characters etc.? What turns you off? Short sentences, good grammar and spelling and excellent research are vital as well as the plot and believable characters. I like a good pace to the book. Too much description hinders pace and can be monotonous which would definitely put me off.
Does the behaviour of an author affect your choice to read one of their books?No, I don’t think so.
What are your views on authors commenting on reviews on sites such as Goodreads? I think it’s fine for other people’s books but I don’t think authors should give ratings or reviews for their own books – that’s bizarre.
If you had to pick three favourite books to take to a desert island what would they be? I’d say the three I listed above! Although I’m currently reading a wonderful book which meets all the criteria I mentioned above called “Beneath Sunless Waves” by Stephen Makk so If I could squeeze in another one, that would be great!
Do you think bricks and mortar bookshops are in decline? Hopefully not. I’m sure there will always be a need for actual books for us in venues.
Reader Interview – Victoria Zigler #Reading #interviews
I don’t often do reader interviews these days, but it’s great to be offering this. As an author readers are vitally important – they are our customers, our critics and our audience. Many authors are avid readers, but of course, not all readers are authors.
Words are power, they are knowledge and they are freedom. Readers play an important role in the life of books and words, for without readers books would sit unread, unloved and unknown. What makes a good book, or for that matter a bad one? Why do people read and how do they find their books?
Welcome to Victoria Zigler (or Tori, if you prefer).
Where are you from? I’m originally from South-West Wales, UK, and was born and raised in the shadow of the Black Mountains… Well, other than a short time in my teens when I lived on the South-East coast of England, and again later in my teens when I lived in Canada for six months. But these days I live on the South-East coast of England, UK… Yes, the same part of it where I lived in my teens.
Please tell us a little about yourself. I’m a bookaholic. Seriously! I’ve loved to read since I learned how, and been writing almost as long. If I’m not either reading or writing, chances are I’m either spending time with my hubby and pets, dabbling in one of the other activities that sometimes manage to capture my attention for a while, such as watching movies, listening to music, playing roleplaying games (like Dungeons & Dragons, and that kind of thing) or doing crafts. Either that or it’s because I’m sorting emails, putting in an appearance on social media sites, pretending to work while really playing Scrabble or Solitaire on my computer, or it’s because I still haven’t managed to get a house elf and am therefore forced to worry about things like housework and household errands.
Oh, yeah, I’m also completely blind, having lost my sight to Congenital Glaucoma.
On average how many books do you read in a month? Judging by the 317 book total for 2016, I read on average something like 26 books a month. Of course, that varies, since some years I read more than the 317, other years I read less. Basically, it depends on how long the books I’m reading at the time are, and what else is going on in my life that may cut in to my reading time.
Where is your favourite place to read? I’ll happily read anywhere, but most of my reading is done in my bedroom, which is where my stereo is, and where my Kindle spends most of its time.
What genres do you prefer and why? Do you have any genres you avoid? My favourite genre is fantasy, because anything can happen in it, and I enjoy the experience of being carried off to magical lands. I’ll read almost anything though, regardless of genre or age range. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s a children’s book or an adult book, or if it’s a fairy tale or a historical romance. As long as it’s not Christian fiction, chances are I’ll give it a go. I tend to be more concerned with whether the story appeals to me, rather than what genre it falls under. Like I said though, the exception is Christian fiction. That’s the only genre I completely steer away from.
Why are books important to you and what does reading bring to your life? Reading offers me an escape from reality when I don’t want to face it. It also allows me to see the world in a way I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. Not to mention, reading is one of the few areas where I’m not at a disadvantage from others due to my lack of sight; reading is one of the few activities where being blind doesn’t change the amount of information I absorb from the experience compared to a sighted person.
Do you have a favourite book or author, why do you think you like this book/author so much? To be honest, I have several favourite authors and books, and we’d be here all day if I listed them all in this interview. Besides, my favourites depend on my mood to some extent. Although, having said that, I fell in love with Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “A Little Princess” when I first read it as a child of maybe ten or so, and have adored the book ever since. I don’t know what it is about the book, but it’s always my go to book when someone says I absolutely have to pick a favourite.
What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks or paper books? Would you care to expand on this? Most of my books are eBooks, because they’re cheaper than audiobooks, and easier to get hold of and store than Braille books. Of course, with my lack of sight, reading a physical book is only possible if it’s in Braille, otherwise I’d be perfectly happy to read my books in any format. I literally only stopped reading paperback and hardback books when I couldn’t see to do so any more.
How do you usually find the books you read? For example: recommendations from friends, promotion on social networks, your local library, following authors you already know? Mostly it’s either from following authors I already know and love, or getting recommendations from friends or family members. Other times it’s from someone randomly buying me a book they think I’ll like, from seeing a movie and learning it’s based on a book, or from being bored and typing random keywords into the search box of online bookstores or Goodreads.
When choosing a book what makes you stop and give it a second look? What makes you turn away? It’s usually the title that I pay attention to first. Sighted people may judge a book based on the cover, I do so based on a title. If the title gets my attention, I’ll check out the book blurb. If the blurb makes it sound like something I might enjoy reading, I’ll give it a go. At least, I will as long as the blurb isn’t filled with typos and things; I’m always reluctant to read a book if the author can’t even make sure there are no editing issues in their blurb.
Do you read reviews by others and if so do they influence your choice? I pay attention to reviews of family and friends on Goodreads, because I like to know what my family and friends have been reading. When it comes to choosing a book to read though, I only sometimes glance through reviews, especially if they’re by people I know, but only usually if the book has already captured my attention, and I’m already thinking of reading it anyway. Bad reviews don’t generally stop me buying a book, unless the bad reviews are because of poor editing, in which case I’ll think twice about reading something, and be reluctant to do so.
What do you think is the most important aspect of a book for you? Plot, world-building, strong characters etc.? What turns you off? All those things are important, and it depends on the book in question to which matters most to me when I’m reading it. Things that turn me off though are poorly edited books, and excessive use of curse words in inappropriate situations. When it comes to the editing, I can let some mistakes slip by, since I do appreciate that even the best editors can miss things, but when there’s a mistake every other word – or it feels like there is – it stops me enjoying the book. When it comes to the curse words, it’s not that I’m prudish or anything, it’s just that some people seem to use curse words excessively, in situations where people wouldn’t normally swear, or just to save themselves the trouble of thinking of better replacement words. There are also times when it feels like the curse words were only added to make up the word count. While I can accept the use of curse words in some books… Especially during steamy scenes in books of an adult nature… Excessive and inappropriate use of them seriously irritates me, and the use of them at all in books aimed at middle grade readers or younger is entirely unacceptable to me.
If you are a reviewer why do you review? I write reviews to help other readers decide if an author’s book is worth reading, and to help out other authors looking for some attention for their books. I admit some of my reviews are vague, and most of them are really short, but at least I do them.
If you’re wondering, I post my reviews on Goodreads, as well as in a monthly review round-up post I do on my blog, and sometimes post reviews on Smashwords too (the latter only being if I got the book via Smashwords, of course). I’ve also done reviews on Amazon and Audible on request.
What factors are important in a review? This is a tough one. If I enjoyed a book enough that I gave it the full five stars, I feel just a few words saying how awesome it was is enough (though I’ll expand on that if I’m dealing with a review request, or feel there’s something I want to specifically compliment). If I gave it less, I feel it’s important to explain what stopped me giving it the full five stars. Beyond that, I think it varies from book to book. Although, it is often helpful to say something about the quality of the writing and world building, and the believability of the characters, I think.
Do you think it is appropriate to discuss author behaviour in a review? No. Reviews are about the books, not the author’s behaviour.
What are your views on paid for reviews? I don’t agree with them. By all means give someone a free copy in exchange for an honest review, but I don’t think you should pay them to review your book. I’ve never been paid for a review, and never expected to be. I mean, I’ve been given free copies of books in exchange for reviews, and there are a couple of authors who regularly send me advanced review copies of their books because they know I’ll want to read their books anyway, and have learned that sending me copies in exchange for my review will get their books bumped to the top of my to-read pile. But, as I said, I’ve never been paid for a review. I’d also like to stress that any review I write in exchange for a free book is an honest one, based on my own personal opinion, and nothing else.
Some readers believe all 4 and 5-star reviews on a book must be fake. What are your thoughts on this? Some people just like to find a reason to criticize others, and whether or not some books have all four and five-star reviews that are genuine or fake is just another example of this. Sure, it’s possible that some of those reviews might be fake. But for the most part I don’t think they are, and don’t think it’s fair to assume they are. For the most part those books are just examples of authors who did a great job in producing a book worthy of high praise. If people can’t see that, then they’re obviously blinder than I am. Either that, or they’re the kinds of people who only feel pleasure when saying or doing things to hurt others, in which case I feel sorry for them, because it must be a lonely existence only feeling pleasure when causing others pain.
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