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Discuss Other Stuff Here... > Ask Skye a Review Question:

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message 1: by Barbara, Founder and Moderator (new)

Barbara (lv2scpbk) | 1256 comments Mod
Skye has been doing reviews for more than 10 yrs. If you have questions for her, you can ask them here. Please comment your thoughts as well on the topics. Open discussions welcome.


message 2: by Barbara, Founder and Moderator (new)

Barbara (lv2scpbk) | 1256 comments Mod
My first question is in two parts...

1. Do you feel people read reviews?

2. Do you feel the reviews help the author, publisher, or the person reading the book more?


message 3: by Correen (new)

Correen (corrmorr) | 25 comments When you review a book, what aspects most often command your attention, e.g. style, storyline, devices, character development, symbolism, structure, originality...?


message 4: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Eisenmeier (carpelibrumbooks) | 41 comments How can I find your blog, Skye?


message 5: by Skye (new)

Skye | 193 comments Melissa, www.DogEvals.BlogSpot.com
I have written it for 3 years and it is mostly dog book reviews. For December I do the Twelve Dog Days of Christmas with one day for best leashes, one day for best collars, one day for best toys, one day for Best of 2015, etc. That is my website.
My blog has also been around for 3 years on http://patch.com/users/skye-anderson
Right now I have just done or are posting 5 days of dog poop and I have a couple more to add to it.
I do mostly dog memoirs and training books but sometimes kid books and bestsellers.
Thanks!


message 6: by Skye (new)

Skye | 193 comments Correen wrote: "When you review a book, what aspects most often command your attention, e.g. style, storyline, devices, character development, symbolism, structure, originality...?"

Sounds like you were an English major! Your question fits fiction rather than non-fiction. I guess three things: copy editing, knowledge (if non-fiction) and magic! Several books are out in the past few years about military dogs. Some seem to read like reports (good structure but contrived) while others are mesmerizing and really grab you so you can't put it down - I call these, 24-hour books!

If I don't like a book, I will summarize it and usually the author can't tell the difference!

I could never be an English major so I don't write English major reviews. I write for the average person who may not know about theme, style, etc.

Storyline and originality aren't too important to me. Style is - I guess that is what I call magic. It is something you can't put your finger on or say in words but I tried, above.

Just like when I advise college students. I say to find a professor you think is magnetic and take all his courses. You will learn more than from someone whose teaching style you don't like.

When I teach or have a dog training class, I like to make it fun and break it down into minute steps to ensure success. In Thailand, it was called Sanuk - Fun. If my classes are fun, they will come. If they come, they will learn.

I also have reviews on GoodReads but am behind in posting them.


message 7: by Skye (new)

Skye | 193 comments Skye wrote: "Correen wrote: "When you review a book, what aspects most often command your attention, e.g. style, storyline, devices, character development, symbolism, structure, originality...?"

Sounds like yo..."


And if I find an author I like, I tend to read other books of his. Usually I like them as well. Sometimes, an author will have only one good book in him.


message 8: by Correen (new)

Correen (corrmorr) | 25 comments Skye wrote: "Skye wrote: "Correen wrote: "When you review a book, what aspects most often command your attention, e.g. style, storyline, devices, character development, symbolism, structure, originality...?"

S..."


I am not an English major but agree, I did sound like one. Should have researched you before commenting -- sorry. Style, structure, content, and pizazz sound good to me. Thank you.


message 9: by Skye (new)

Skye | 193 comments No, your post was fine! English majors are great - I just couldn't be one! I have taken a couple of English courses recently and learned about 7 different things - style, them, etc. I will use them as a back-up if I don't know how to tackle a specific review!


message 10: by Skye (new)

Skye | 193 comments Ah, pizzaz is better than magic! Thanks.


message 11: by Skye (new)

Skye | 193 comments Barb wrote: "My first question is in two parts...

1. Do you feel people read reviews?

Let me throw this back to you all Do you read reviews?

I try to make mine helpful, thought-provoking. I tell something about the book - if I told too much, it would be a book report or summary rather than a reivew. And I also relay something about the style, the writing ability of the author. This analysis sets a review apart from a report.

There are not books on how to review - I know. I looked.

I spend a lot of time. I read the book with a highlighter and pen and this takes a few hours. I dog-ear pages - on top for good stuff and on the bottom for errors. A good book writes its own review as I read the book, so I have to jot hings down as I read.

When I first started over 10 years ago, I would also read other books for fun. Now I hardly ever do - but I will read a non-dog book and write a short review on it. I can't help myself.

My professional organization does have 2 pages of guidelines for their reviews - word count, say something about the author's expertise, are there any books out there on the same subject, etc.

So, do people read reviews? I think reviews are the one piece of writing that people feel OK to skim and not finish. So, I try to make my reviews entertaining so they will be read in their entirety. I even have on my to-do list to analyze reviews in the Washington Post, but it's been on my list for a few years now.

I think, just like movies, people read reviews to find out what the book is about. The book jacket may be so filled with adjectives that no information is given by other famous authors and their quotes. Or a lot of quote from reviewers and organizations that say things like - stupendous, mesmerizing, not to be missed.

I try to say at least something I didn't like or something that was weak in the book, even if I received it from the publisher/author. If the book was really bad, ah, that is for another question!

I don't read reviews. I want to but I feel if I do, it will flavor what I say so I tell myself that I will read others' after I finish. And then I don't care!

So, do you read reviews and why?



message 12: by Skye (new)

Skye | 193 comments Barb wrote: "My first question is in two parts...

2. Do you feel the reviews help the author, publisher, or the person reading the book more?"


I think reviews tell people a bit, what the book is about. More than the advertising can.

A review is (free) advertising. Some of the review organizations charge for a review and if the author doesn't like it, it doesn't get on the org's webpage or magazine. Just like there is a fee for entering competitions like DWAA and the smaller ones (I don't know about the Oscars or Pulitzers or the big ones). So, some people think that awards from unknown organizations or competitions are still great - or worthless because they were bought.

Generally an author or publisher submits 2 copies (plus a fee) with no expections that the review will appear in the publication (unless there is a fee). Sometimes a review will appear years later. I was once assigned a very late book and contacted the author who didn't want a review, thought it would be worthless. When I told the reviewing organization, I was told to never contact an author again.

A couple of books from friends/colleagues were so bad, I could only summarize. I do think they are great for having put so much time and effort into it, though. A couple of books are so bad, I haven't figured out how to review them or tell the author.

And I have disagreed with best-sellera. I think, didn't the other reviewers read the book? Can they not tell good writing from bad?

Part of it all is the subject though. if your book is the first on the subject, it doesn't have to be all that good. Just like anything, you have to find your niche and it has to be fairly empty.

Reviews are visibility. The more, the better. Even if bad. However, people will see a bad movie but won't finish a bad book. But is it necessary to get people to see a movie more than once? Read a book more than once? (if so, it is a classic, like To Kill a Mockingbird).

Reviews need to be out there in quantity, hopefully in quality, and hopefully readably short. Mine tend to be too long, perhaps, which is why I write short paragraphs and use heading to enhance readabiltiy. I also try to sneak in some sarcasm or a play on words.

So, who does a review help? Reader, publisher and author - all three. Reviews help to sell books. The more reviews, the more books sold.

And, of course, you all know that editors wield a lot of power and ability to change the ending, select the photographs and event the title!

On the whole, a review is cheap. Send a reviewer a book that costs 20$ and wait. You may have to get back to the reviewer who has a backlog but there is also value in reviewing old books. Your review will stand out and give life. And, after the bookstores and libraries, there are other bookstores and still librarires and online sales.

Self-publishing - a different story.


message 13: by Barbara, Founder and Moderator (new)

Barbara (lv2scpbk) | 1256 comments Mod
Skye wrote: "So, do you read reviews and why? ..."

Yes, I do. I read them sometimes to decide if I really want to read something if I'm questioning it. I like to read reviews that has more in it other than what's in the description.

I especially read reviews if I'm researching a book for our Inspirational book group which meets in person. Sometimes there isn't enough about it on the cover and you just can't get a feel for it. But, there's always or usually a review that gives you more of the story line.

I've been doing reviews mostly on Goodreads here myself but not as a professional reviewer. I read books I think I will enjoy and not just to read it to give it a review.

I get some people reviewing my reviews who give me a it's helpful thumbs up, and others don't. You never know I guess what will be helpful to someone.

But, on another note, if I feel I'm going to really like a book then I don't read reviews till I'm done posting mine. I don't want to read theirs to interfere with what I want to say.


message 14: by Barbara, Founder and Moderator (last edited Aug 09, 2015 06:06AM) (new)

Barbara (lv2scpbk) | 1256 comments Mod
Skye wrote: "Barb wrote: "My first question is in two parts...

2. Do you feel the reviews help the author, publisher, or the person reading the book more?"

I was once assigned a very late book and contacted the author who didn't want a review, thought it would be worthless. When I told the reviewing organization, I was told to never contact an author again. ..."


Did they tell you why you weren't to contact an author? I've contacted several authors for our book group to do phone conversations. I know that's different though than what you're talking about.

A couple of books from friends/colleagues were so bad, I could only summarize. I do think they are great for having put so much time and effort into it, though. A couple of books are so bad, I haven't figured out how to review them or tell the author. ..."
As a reviewer though, don't you feel you should be totally honest and not sugar coat it so to speak? I mean that's why I read reviews from other people is to get feedback on the book. I don't want to read reviews that don't put it out there where a book is bad.

And I have disagreed with best-sellera. I think, didn't the other reviewers read the book? Can they not tell good writing from bad?..." I have disagreed with best seller books also. Sometimes I think how awful if they give a good review, or visa-versa. I think we all have our own personal taste though. I also think sometimes this holds true if the book has a good writer. If the writing was good, then it comes down to the subject of the reader.

Part of it all is the subject though. if your book is the first on the subject, it doesn't have to be all that good. Just like anything, you have to find your niche and it has to be fairly empty.
Sometimes the first book though sets the tone on whether or not readers will come back to that author. I think if the book is non-fiction than they have to know their stuff and what they're talking about. I like a author who does good research. I've found a few who really delves into doing extensive research to know the subject of what their talking about whether fiction or non-fiction. I like that in a book.

Read a book more than once?
I rarely read a book more than once. There's so many books out there that I want to read something I haven't read.

Reviews need to be out there in quantity, hopefully in quality, and .... I also try to sneak in some sarcasm or a play on words...." Do you feel the readers "get" your sarcasm or play on words?

Self-publishing - a different story. ..."
Speaking of self-publishing...how do you feel about self-publishing? Do you feel people read self publishers or shy away from them?


message 15: by Skye (new)

Skye | 193 comments Barb wrote: "Skye wrote: "So, do you read reviews and why? ..."

Yes, I do. I read them sometimes to decide if I really want to read something if I'm questioning it. I like to read reviews that has more in it o..."


Barb, you might like Ricochet and My Boy, Ben. Both are inspirational, faith-driven books. I did not mention that in my reviews, however.


message 16: by Barbara, Founder and Moderator (new)

Barbara (lv2scpbk) | 1256 comments Mod
Skye wrote: "Barb wrote: "Skye wrote: "So, do you read reviews and why? ..."

Yes, I do. I read them sometimes to decide if I really want to read something if I'm questioning it. I like to read reviews that has..."


Thanks Skye I'll check them out. I like your website by the way.


message 17: by Skye (new)

Skye | 193 comments Barb wrote: "Skye wrote: "Barb wrote: "My first question is in two parts...

I was told not to contact the author because my professional organization receives books to review and assigns them to one of us. I guess the whole process is supposed to be objective. A couple of times I have purchased or otherwise gotten the book and offered to review it for my orgn and that was OK because they had been sent it. Generally, publishers send copies to orgn's in hopes they will review it. When I am sent copies, I am usually contacted first to see if I will review it.



message 18: by Skye (new)

Skye | 193 comments Barb wrote: "Skye wrote: "Barb wrote: "My first question is in two parts...

Should a reviewer be totally honest and not sugar-coat a review? There was a heated discussion about this on another GoodReads forum I am on. I have always been conflicted about this. It depends on how I got the book - from a libe, purchased from a bookstore or used bookstore or from my organization - yes I am totally honest. If I get the book from someone I know and it's good, no issue there. If it is not good, I will summarize the book (not review it) and try to sneak in a couple of ironic/sarcastic remarks. And there are some that are so bad that I just can't review them. Many reviewers simply review only the good books and don't review the ones they don't think are good. I received one in January that I just haven't gotten up the courage to tell the author she needs an editor - badly.

Movie reviewers who give a negative review will get people to read their reviews even if bad and people will go see even a bad movie because they might disagree. A reviewer is only one person, but an experienced person. And I will see any movie with Julia Roberts in it! or Jake Gyllenhall. or Sandra Bullock.

Again, even a bad book took a lot of time and effort. The purpose of a review is to sell the book and even a negative review can sell if only for a person to disagree.

I am not totally logical and organized on this topic. Sorry.

And self-published books are a whole 'nother story.



message 19: by Skye (new)

Skye | 193 comments Let's tackle self-publishing in a few days. Not enough time right now.


message 20: by Skye (new)

Skye | 193 comments And Barb, even if you don't read a book more than once, you remember the great ones I bet! I used to say that a good movie is one that I can't stop thinking about and replaying in my mind.

You like a book whose author has done a great deal of research. The current book, Deployment, short stories about guys in Iraq - each of the dozen stories is about a different rank, a different location, a different situation. Yes, the author was over there but he also had to put himself in the place of many many others. And do a ton of interviews. And yet, many of the stories are too raw for me (and I was in Afghanistan!) As they say, the only one who gets the whole story about a war is not the one who is in it but the one who is thousands of miles away and watches the news. Those of us in it, only get our little view of the war. I am a bit uncertain about the new wave of books soon to come out about AFG because chances are that I didn't live their experiences. . . .


message 21: by Skye (new)

Skye | 193 comments And I have no idea what my readers think about my reviews. The only feedback I get are from you all and from others on GRs. From friends who may see my first review in a publication and just want to tell me they noticed. I have heard a few people who get the book based on my review but a list of the best dog books of 2015, with a few sentences about each, may be better. (I do that, too.) But I can't read all the dog books in a given year.

I encourage you all to look at the nominations for DWAA, Dog Writers Assn of America (dogwriters.org I think). Anyone can nominate their own work, pay 15$ and send in a couple of copies but it is mostly the same people. I have sometimes told an excellent about DWAA and the competition, though. The three that you see in each of the 40 categories are the ones with the most votes. (I will be on the judging panel this year.)


message 22: by Skye (new)

Skye | 193 comments Ah, I finally have time to spew forth on self-published books and I have found the topic location again.

Some authors go first to publishers and after a certain number of rejections, decide to self-publish. Some start with self-publishing and then a publishing house takes over! So it can go either way.

As a general rule, however, I have been disappointed in self-published book because they have not been through a good editor and the typos and poor layout decisions grab my eye too much.

Years ago, before we could pay to self-publish, authors had to start their own publishing companies. Three very very successful dog authors come to mind: Nicole Wilde, Dr. Patricia McConnell and Karen Pryor. Other successes include Sue Sternberg and Ali Brown. All these are dog trainers extraordinaire.

Gee, I guess I didn't have as much to say about self-publishing as I thought.

What is your experience?


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