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Archived Author Help > How do you all read, review, and write?

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Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger) (sammydogs) | 973 comments Hi All,
Annie's recent thread has prompted me to ask this question to this particular group of authors and readers. How do you all manage your time in working on your own books along with reading and reviewing other authors' books? I ask because I got myself into a predicament. I signed up for R2R's for authors in other groups and know I cannot do that anymore, as it cuts into my writing time. I will meet my current commitments, as I won't go back on my word. When I do read, I want to read and review books from independent authors in this group. I apologize if I've purchased your book and did not add it to my "To Read" list here. I forgot about that last weekend and tried my best to update my list, but am sure I missed a few. So I'm looking to see how you all manage it. Do you not read at all or read an hour a day while you're writing? All methods and suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

message 2: by Jane (last edited Jul 08, 2016 11:09PM) (new)

Jane Blythe | 112 comments Hi Sue, I very rarely read for fun anymore, I usually end up with a huge pile of books from favourite authors at the end of the year and take them with me when I spend time on holidays at the beach after Christmas, I'm too busy and prefer to spend my time writing, although if I didn't have to work a day job that would probably change and I would spend a little time each day reading!

In terms of reviewing I usually do it in groups, so in between writing books I'll read and review several books before getting back into writing my next book. At the moment I have about 6 books from a couple of months ago that I still haven't gotten to as medical issues (cancer, surgery and then infections) have really messed up my plans so far this year!

But probably you need to find a system that works for you and only review what you feel you can easily manage without taking away too much of your own time. And from experience try to review books from genres you like (obviously if you like everything then its not an issue) rather than just anything, I have taken on books outside my preferred genres and some of those books were quite a chore to read and review, and I never want reading to be a chore!

Hope that helps a little!

Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger) (sammydogs) | 973 comments Hi Jane,
Oh, goodness, I'm so sorry about your serious health issues! I will keep you in my prayers. Please take care of yourself first!
Your comment does help. Thank you.
Hugs, Sue

message 4: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments I can't answer that really because I have set my writing aside for too long. I was lucky to write 350 words and that was not every day. However, what I do is when I absolutely cannot concentrate I take a book and read. Else, I sit and TRY to write something.

As for reviewing, I just can't read a book without leaving a review. That's the way I am. So I will continue to review but I may just not read as many books as I used to. Lately, I've been a little more choosy and stopped reading a few books after a chapter or two. Not that the books were not good but rather because well...too many books to read and not enough time so I have decided to be more choosy. (But I think I said that already.) :P

Like you, I have many books on my iPad that I haven't added to my to read list. I simply forgot and well, it would take time to verify if I did or not so if I notice it I may fix it but else...that doesn't mean I won't read the books. I go by what's on my iPad and rarely check my to-read list :/

message 5: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments Hey Jane,
Sorry to hear about your cancer. (Cancer is a bitch!!) I hope the operation was successful and the treatment is going well (or went well). My thoughts are with you.
Big hugs!

message 6: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4353 comments Mod
Writing comes first. Always. Always. Always. I base my writing time and reading time on how big and intense the project is I'm working on.

I'm not sure what R2R is, to be honest.

When I do have time to read, hopefully around September I'll have some time again, I split between the authors here in this group, favorite authors who have influenced me over the years and trying out new authors (trad and Indie, but not necessarily from this group).

But, writing comes first. Always. Always. Always.

To be frank, I don't pay attention to the "to read" thing. I don't use it and I don't look to see who is listed on any of my books "to read" lists, so if you have any of my books, no apology is necessary. Read them when you're ready and in the mood. But, don't let them get in the way of your writing.

message 7: by Anna (last edited Jul 09, 2016 03:39AM) (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 552 comments I'd like to agree with Dwayne and say that writing comes first but life gets in the way of making that happen always.

Writing gets priority.

Reading is squeezed into half an hour before bedtime (when my brain probably couldn't write sensibly anyway). However, reading takes over if I'm travelling on a plane, train, and I've always got my Kindle in my bag ready to whip out when I'm kept waiting for anything. Having the Kindle 'at-the-ready' is key and part of my commitment to reading.

Reviewing, I always review a book after I've read it unless I am unable to give it sufficient positive points. I'm never going to give a first time Indie author a bad review - that's too crushing. The market will probably sort out the best from the awful and he/she doesn't need another author to put the boot in. I don't do review swaps, or give promises to review. I'm happier with that.

I don't even attempt to keep up with putting to-be-reads on Goodreads - there's just a long list in my Kindle and books on my bookshelves at home. It's a real shame that I don't say which books I've read or about to read and so on. But that would eat into writing time. So something has to go!

I hope all our comments help, Sue.

Tara Woods Turner Jane
Hugs to you!!

- Be upfront with authors about your timeframe. They really appreciate that. I tell them when they can expect a review, giving myself plenty of time, and I give them permission and encouragement to drop me a quick reminder if I haven't posted the review yet. It works well for me.
- If it suits you listen to books while you're exercising or doing chores. You can squeeze in more books this way.
- Listen to your own biorhtyms. I found that I write most late nights and mornings but in the afternoon and early evening I can't string a sentence together - so that's when I read/review.
- Keep a list of what you need to review/read along with the date you accepted the task. You will be sure to do them in the right order and for some people it is gratifying to check things off a list.
- Remember: 70% writing time and 30% writing related activities time :)

message 9: by Eva (new)

Eva Pasco (evapasco) | 90 comments I rarely read for recreation. I found I had to put the pedal to the metal and shun social media for awhile to focus on writing and completing my novel. Now, I'm back in the social media saddle. I don't bite off more than I can chew as far as reading and reviewing, though I've got two to tend. I don't like dispensing advice, but as to how I handle the demands--put my own projects first. May you straddle the balancing act.

message 10: by E.M. (new)

E.M. Swift-Hook | 41 comments I find it really sad, reading this thread, how many of us feel we can no longer read for the pleasure of it.

Surely that is one of the main motivations for any writer taking up the pen for the first time - the enchantment we have all felt from reading a book - and it seems a terrible price to pay if becoming an author means having to lose the simple delight, awe, wonder and joy gained from reading a good book.

For myself, such reading is still an essential - both as an inspiration and as relaxation. I believe I would not write as well as I do if I lost that.

However, maybe it could be possible to combine review reading with reading for pleasure and so take less time from writing overall - choose books to review for others on the same basis as choosing books to read for pleasure.

So perhaps my suggested answer on getting the balance in this is to - as far as possible - be selective on what you read to review then that becomes as much a part of your leisure time as your work time. Not always possible, but a good aim and one I shall try for.

message 11: by Rachael (last edited Jul 09, 2016 06:56AM) (new)

Rachael Eyre (rachaeleyre) | 194 comments Reading was my first love; I'd be dismayed if I couldn't find time for it any more. I read for an hour at lunchtime and squeeze in a few clandestine hours here and there - often when I should be writing!

I love writing reviews but tend only to do it if the book has touched me in some way. If it was simply okay I'll leave a star rating.

message 12: by L.F. (new)

L.F. Falconer | 63 comments I don't review everything I read. If I read something purely for pleasure and feel motivated enough to leave a short review, I will do so. If I do R2R, I find I read much differently, and it does take away from the pleasure aspect. I always honor my commitment to those, whether I enjoy the book or not and try to leave a fair review.

I do spend more time reading than actually writing, but don't look at reading as taking away from my writing time. Reading helps inspire and spark my creative worms which then somehow eat their way into my work when I return to writing.

message 13: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4353 comments Mod
Anna wrote: "I'd like to agree with Dwayne and say that writing comes first but life gets in the way of making that happen always."

Right. I should modify that. Between reading and writing, writing comes first. But, yes. When stacked against the rest of life, it's down about four pegs, after God, my wife and the better paying job. I wish I could put writing before my other job, but I can't.

message 14: by April (new)

April Wilson (aprilwilson) Sue (Dog Mom) wrote: "Hi All,
Annie's recent thread has prompted me to ask this question to this particular group of authors and readers. How do you all manage your time in working on your own books along with reading a..."

Prioritize. For me, it's:

1. Write
2. Read my genre for personal enjoyment (I think reading is the BEST single exercise one can do to improve her writing). I read every single day, as much as my schedule allows. From learning, I hone my instincts on what to do, and more importantly, what NOT to do as a writer.
3. I don't review. I leave that to the reviewers - there are many of those. Reviewing will eat up your time like nothing else. Leave it to the dedicated reviewers.


message 15: by Jane (new)

Jane Jago | 888 comments Okay. My two pennorth.

I have only had the time to write fiction since I retired. Before that the 60 hour weeks made it just a pipe dream. So basically I only wrote stuff I was getting paid for. I know that I have to be realistic about my chances of making a glittering career as an author having started so late. But that's just how my cookie has crumbled.

Basically when I was a wage slave I could use my precious (as in precious little) free time reading or writing. I chose to read because I couldn't imagine life without the sheer joy of reading books. Still can't.

The upside of having had a pressure cooker deadline driven job is that I learned to manage my time really well and I can write or read in short bursts if life gets in the way.

I rarely review, feeling myself probably poorly qualified and being selfish enough to resent the time spent so doing.

I felt so sad for people who said they felt they could no longer read for pleasure. Please folks don't spread yourselves so thin.

One must extract joy from life or else why.

message 16: by E.M. (new)

E.M. Swift-Hook | 41 comments April wrote: "Read my genre for personal enjoyment (I think reading is the BEST single exercise one can do to improve her writing)."


April wrote: "I don't review. I leave that to the reviewers - there are many of those."

I think the main reason the whole review thing is even a question for so many indie authors is that we all need to have reviews so our potential readers can have some idea of the book and we all want to help and support each other as well. Once established as an author I can see it is less of an issue. Finding people to give reviews without some kind of reciprocity is not always easy - any and all ideas welcome.

message 17: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
I review everything I read now, though admitedly, I am a slow reader. I see people say if they're reading a r2r it becomes a chore. This is why I only read books that catch my interest. Unlike most of you, I have a ton of free time, and I fill it with reading, writing, and storytelling of all kinds.

Reading is smething I can't live without. Ever since the first day I learned to read, I've had a book in my hand. If I have any talent as a writer, I need to thank the authors I read more than the teachers who taught me. I admit I was a handful in school, but in all honesty, none of the teachers even tried.

I did not come to enjoy writing until I was 30. In fact, if it weren't for a hurt back that keeps me from doing the job I loved, I probably still wouldn't know the joy. And now that I am enjoying it, I get much more pleasure from reading. Learning to craft stories has made other stories a greater pleasure.

As for reviews, mine are different than others. Basically it boils down to if I liked it, if the world rules aren't bent too much, and how the images came across in my head. For instance: the last book I read was Melissa's book The Toymaker. I loved the book, full of imagination and adventure. Inside my head I felt like I was watching a top notch animated classic from Studio Ghibli(sp?) it was wonderfully written.

Oh, I apmost forgot. This statement does not represent the whole of SIA, but I believe as an author, you should be leaving reviews. I understand the reasons not to, but if you yourself seek out reviews, yet refuse to leave your own, I see that as hypocritical. As I said, does not represent SIA on the whole

Tldr:Read and write because you want to. Doing things that take the fun away makes what you are doing become a chore. Stick to genres you like, and have fun with it.

message 18: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) For me, it's pretty simple. Writing is my job. Reading is what I do for fun. Reviewing is a courtesy I extend if I enjoyed a book.

Writing comes first, but I don't believe in stressing myself out over a job (which is why I left the corporate world), so if it isn't flowing, I might pick up a book and read for a while just to let my own brain recharge. Obviously, other life obligations are going to get in the way (as noted by the fact that I'm a few books behind in my Goodreads challenge).

That being said, I do not review on request. I can't. I refuse to lie and I refuse to give a bad review (for those who would argue that this is its own form of dishonesty, I am protecting myself and it is not my job to tell another author what they did wrong). Reviews don't carry anywhere near as much weight as most authors think.

message 19: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) E.M. wrote: "I find it really sad, reading this thread, how many of us feel we can no longer read for the pleasure of it.

Surely that is one of the main motivations for any writer taking up the pen for the fir..."

I absolutely agree with you. Reading has always been my preferd entertainment and it was reading that inspired me to write in the first place.

message 20: by Ken (last edited Jul 09, 2016 09:25AM) (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) I try to read authors who are better than I am, and who write the type of books I like to write, in order to improve my own writing. I will almost always leave a review, good or bad, for established authors, and I'll leave a good review for the indie authors whose books I like. I do read a lot of indie books, but not all of them are my type of read, so it would be unfair to leave a bad review just because it wasn't the type of story I like.

message 21: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1126 comments To do all 3, it's time management and keep reviews short.

message 22: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 611 comments It's a good question :). I am reading a few books now that I intend to review, only because I am done writing my current book and waiting for it to come back from the formatters. I will take another break from reading when I get started on writing my next book.

I think that writing should take priority, if you are able. But sometimes the ideas are just not coming or you can't figure out how to start the next chapter...this is a good time to take a break from it, and during these breaks, it is possible to read.

A review takes me less than 5 minutes to write and post to goodreads and amazon. I just say what I think of the book, and move on :).

Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger) (sammydogs) | 973 comments Wow, thank you all so much for your taking the time to respond with such great advice.

I see the mistake I made in overextending myself on the Read To Review (sorry Dwayne) books I signed up for in wanting to help other authors. A few were given to me by the authors, and some I bought myself. I will not sign up for any more of those. I'm not a pro reviewer anyway.

I will write what is bursting to get out of my head onto paper. I will complete my Read to Review commitments. Most are done, I have a list somewhere. I will read what I want and what I like and leave reviews on those books. I do want to read your books, too. As long as I don't drink water while reading Dwayne's books, I'll be fine.

Thank you all a thousand times. I was feeling guilty because in wanting to be an Indie author, I also want to help others. I can still do that, but writing should be my priority. If I ever want to publish my books, I need to manage my time appropriately. I have to keep telling myself that's not being selfish.

Thank you everyone for helping me put this in perspective.
Hugs to All, Sue

message 24: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 552 comments You're very welcome, Sue, we writers like writing!

message 25: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Siegrist (amandasiegrist) | 190 comments I love to read. Sometimes I just don't feel like writing and I pick up a book. Or it's the other way around. I jump back and forth a lot between reading and writing. They are both equally important to me:). It boils down to my mood.

I don't always leave a review. I've gotten in the habit of leaving a star rating on goodreads, but not always a review to go along with it. Sometimes I just don't have much to say about a book and I don't want to force anything out that sounds fake.

I haven't read a book in a few days, it might be time to pick one up. I can't go very long without reading...writing as well:)

message 26: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4353 comments Mod
Sue (Dog Mom) wrote: "I see the mistake I made in overextending myself on the Read To Review (sorry Dwayne)..."

Don't be. Abbreviations have always confused me. While the rest of the world uses them constantly and with ease, I'm forever scratching my head wondering what all of it means. Thanks for clearing that up.

Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger) (sammydogs) | 973 comments Dwayne, I'm still learning them too. At first it was like learning a new language. Some had my eyes popping out of my head. : )

message 28: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 611 comments I had to google HEA after seeing it on this forum a billion times.

Happily Ever After. :)

message 29: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Marie wrote: "I had to google HEA after seeing it on this forum a billion times.

Happily Ever After. :)"

It will always be Home Eater's Association to me. ;p

message 30: by J C (new)

J C Steel (jcsteel) Sue (Dog Mom) wrote: "Hi All,
Annie's recent thread has prompted me to ask this question to this particular group of authors and readers. How do you all manage your time in working on your own books along with reading a..."

Hello Sue,

So I may be a little crazy, but here's my schedule. I read to review (run a website for it these days, as well as reviewing for several free review sites on a volunteer basis) and I write and edit my own sci-fi and edit occasionally for other people. I also read for fun.

It helps that I have a lunchbreak at work, and a commute that works out to about an hour each way, so this is how I work it.

I only accept review books in genres I like, and I keep a DNF policy so if I get something I really can't read, I can stop, and I've had a lot of good books through my website, so a lot of my review books do actualy fall under reading for fun.

I read on my lunchbreak, and on my commute. I can read an average-length novel in about 3 hours, which helps. In the evenings, when I have energy left over, I write / edit my work. I'm a sorry excuse for a writer - I don't set word goals, and if I don't feel like writing, I don't. However, when I do feel like it, I write for hours straight, so it usually equals out.

On the weekends, I catch up on my reviews, and set my website to kick them put on the web during the week. If I'm feeling exceptionally motivated, I catch up on my social media.

Because lit screens late at night keep me awake, I keep bedside reading for my favourite paperbacks, or any new stuff I find in bookstores (because as well as being a sloppy excuse for a writer, I have no self-control around bookstores).

If I land an editing job, that eats my evenings and weekends until it's done and reviews get put on hold. Most people are very good about occasionaly delays.

It's a little crazy, but I have a moderately dead-end admin job, and without the chance to read and write, I'd be in line for one of those long-sleeved whte jackets, so slightly crazy free time, oddly enough, keeps my head on straight. More or less ;)

Hope this helps!

Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger) (sammydogs) | 973 comments Marie - I wondered for a long time what that meant. I actually thought it had something to do with the environment! Then I had to see it spelled out in order to finally understand.

Christine - I thought it was something like Homeland Environmentally Approved. Oye!

J.C. - I thought I was a fast reader, but not nearly as fast as you! Gosh! : )

message 32: by Ken (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) Dwayne wrote: "Don't be. Abbreviations have always confused me. While the rest of the world uses th..."

The other day I received a message that asked me, in part, if I liked LitRPG. I got the "Lit" part, but for the rest I could only respond WTF.

message 33: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments Role Playing Game?

message 34: by Ken (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) Could be, now that you mentioned it. Could also be Retirement Pension Guarantee, but I doubt it.

message 35: by Charles (last edited Jul 10, 2016 06:31AM) (new)

Charles Hash | 1054 comments I do what I can, when I can. If I don't have the energy, I don't try to fake it or force it.

I read every night before I go to sleep, and save reviews up for when I'm feeling more inspired, and write a slew of them at once.

My writing happens when it has to.

Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger) (sammydogs) | 973 comments Ken wrote: "The other day I received a message that asked me, in part, if I liked LitRPG. I got the "Lit" part, but for the rest I could only respond WTF..."

Now THAT one I understand. : )

Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger) (sammydogs) | 973 comments Several people here have mentioned reading before going to sleep. I do that, too. It actually relaxes me and makes me tired. Plus like others have stated, I'm not able to write well that late... actually early in the morning. I usually get to bed at 3 AM. I think I should try to change that, too.

message 38: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) | 629 comments @Miss Sue: My apologies for coming so darn late to the party. Hmm...

Personally, I function best when I'm on the cusp of burning out. Otherwise, I end up with too much pent-up energy and nowhere to direct it, which just makes me frustrated. Plus, I feel too unproductive.

So I choose to read and write and write extra stuff and do interviews and podcasts and forget where the heck I am most of the time. And yeah, most people tell me to slow down, relax, whatevs. But I know I'd be miserable that way, so I just nod, smile and keep doing my own thing my own way, ya know?

Soooo, I reckon you just have to discover your own balance and find your sweet spot. Just make sure you're happy. I think it's incredibly kind of you to help so many authors BUT remember to take care of yourself, ma'am. RnRing is a gift you chose to bestow, never ever an obligation that you must uphold. Believe me, I'm all for giving back and paying it forward, but there is a limit for sure.

You are an author. Many readers await your book. Imho, if you "owe" anyone at all, it's them. Just my wacky 2 cents, of course.


message 39: by Marguerite (new)

Marguerite Mooers (margueritemooers) | 16 comments I do read for pleasure and I'm very picky about what I read. I think it is important as a writer to read, you can learn so much about how other people handle character, plot, etc. Having said that, I have to admit that the two books I agreed to review I had to tell the authors that I couldn't review them. If I feel that the book has serious flaws (in one case grammar, in the second case, a book without any dialogue) I try to politely say I can't do it. Reviewing a book is a favor to another writer. If you can't do it, just say so.
I agree with those people who posted that writing comes first. I just joined a group where you write 750 words a day. It has been really good for me. Just to get your typewriter going and put those words down, starts the juices flowing. If You are a writer, you need to write. And you need to read the books you love, the books that make you say to yourself, 'I want to write a book like that.'

Sam (Rescue Dog Mom, Writer, Hugger) (sammydogs) | 973 comments Marguerite, I agree I need to read the genre in which I write to stay up on current trends. For example, many contemporary romance novels written in the 80's contain "insta-love," another term I learned that makes readers gag and roll their eyes today.

Annie, Thank you for your kind words. I know I need to find the correct balance of helping myself and others. First thing is I need to change my sleep schedule. I have nothing against vampires, I just don't think their schedule is working for me.

It's a personal balance. Like Dwayne stated, there's God, spouse, dogs, and sometimes other things that come before writing, reading, and reviewing.

Thank you all again everyone for helping me with this issue. I have some changes to make.
Hugs to All, Sue

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