Category Archives: authors

About Those Book Reviews

More of What Readers Need to Know

Reader

via Flickr Laury Rouzé

I posted about this before, but today I read an article in the ACFW newsletter that I think might  best help explain to readers why posting book reviews is critical to authors. I’m reposting here with permission. If you, too, think it’s helpful, please share.

Reader’s review provides at least 4 key benefits for a book and its author via @acfw & @cynthiaruchti Click To Tweet

ACFW Tidbits

by Cynthia Ruchti 

Do you write book reviews? Some say a reader’s review provides at least four key benefits for a book and its author:

1.     Credibility. When publishers, retailers, libraries, and prospective readers see a large number of reviews for a book, they know the book has drawn a measure of attention.

2.     Visibility. Algorithms of online retailers like cbd.combn.com, and amazon.com dictate that books with large numbers of positive reviews will obtain a more prominent visual presence on their sites.
3.     Quote resource. Many authors share snippets of a positive review to help others get a feel for the book’s tone, theme, or impact.
4.     Persuasiveness. Reviews can entice prospective readers, retailers, and libraries to purchase books they might have bypassed without the review.

via Flickr GotCredit

via Flickr GotCredit

If you’re a published author, you’ve no doubt seen both beneficial and what might be construed as harmful reviews. You may have asked others to post a review for your book. Have you also provided a guideline for the kind of review that would be most helpful? Consider using these tips when writing reviews or when inviting others to review a book for you:

·      For a blog or online retail review, if the teaser for the book or the book’s back cover copy is already part of the blog or book information visible to those who will read your review, there’s no need to repeat that information. An online review is not a book report. It’s a reaction to the story and its impact.

·      Resist the temptation to reveal any element about the plot or characters that will spoil the book for other readers. Few things make an author cringe more than having a reviewer give away an important plot point that took two-thirds of the book to set up.
·      Keep it as short as you can and still communicate what you need to or are compelled to say.
·      Don’t change your review in response to what others have said about the book. Be genuine. But do skim other posted reviews to ensure you’re not merely repeating what has already been said. Your review will be most meaningful if it adds another dimension to the reviews’ “discussion” about the book’s merits.
photo by denise carbonell

photo by denise carbonell

·      Limit your comments about the story to the story. If your book was damaged in shipping, or you never have liked that genre (and still don’t), or if page 211 was missing in your copy, or the margins on the Kindle version were messed up, that’s not a review of the book. Those comments need to be directed elsewhere.

·      Watch carefully for what the stars mean. Don’t inadvertently give a book a one-star rating because you think that means it’s a top-notch book, first place on your bookshelf. Take time to make sure you’re communicating accurately.
·      Don’t forget to include a review on Goodreads.comand FictionFinder.com.
Thanks to Cynthia Ruchti acfwrelations@acfw.com for allowing me to reprint this.

What Readers Don’t Know

photo by Paul Bence

photo by Paul Bence

If Readers Aren’t Authors

They may not know this stuff. It’s perfectly understandable. You read your favorite author’s books, and that’s enough, right? It might be enough, unless your favorite author is not very well known and you are hoping he or she will write more books. In that case, you as a reader can influence whether or not your favorite author keeps publishing. How? By writing reviews.How Readers Can Influence What Books Are Published. Click To Tweet

Amazon Has Rules

And most people know nothing about them. But when you think about it, it makes sense. Amazon wants to recommend books that customers are likely to purchase. A book with one or two reviews, in their opinion, is not likely to be that book. So they recommend books that others have liked. How do they know what people like? By the reviews, of course.

I recently read a blog post that sums it up very well. The author of the post, George McVey, points out some of these Amazon rules:

I bet you didn’t know that after an author gets 25 reviews on Amazon, the company begins to include them in their “Also bought” and “you might like this” lists. This increases that books visibility on Amazon and helps put the book in front of more potential readers. That helps to boost sales.

When a book gets 50 or more reviews, Amazon highlights that book for spotlight positions in its monthly newsletter. This put’s the authors book in front of literally hundreds of thousands of potential readers. This can mean a huge boost in sales for your favorite author.

photo: Enokson

photo: Enokson

More Rules

photo by Michael Stout

photo by Michael Stout

 

Also in that post, he points out something I bet you didn’t know (I didn’t either.)

…leave a well-written review…because of a new app that came out recently called “Fakespot”. This app claims to be able to tell you how many reviews of a certain book or product are fake. By that they mean not posted by customers but by friends, relatives of authors or are bought reviews. How they determine if a review is fake is based on the quality of the review.

Readers Do Read Reviews

You’ve probably read reviews before deciding to purchase a book (or other products, for that matter.) So you already know the influence reviews can have. A number of bad reviews, and you don’t purchase. But more good reviews than bad, and–this is really important–a number of honest, well-written, and complete reviews go a long way toward influencing whether or not you will buy something.

For more subway shots, please see my subway set: www.flickr.com/photos/pamhule/sets/72157623210921064/ © 2010 Jens Schott Knudsen | blog.pamhule.com

For more subway shots, please see my subway set: www.flickr.com/photos/pamhule/sets/72157623210921064/
© 2010 Jens Schott Knudsen | blog.pamhule.com

How To Make An Author Happy #readers #writers #authors Click To Tweet

If you need some pointers about how to write a review that will be helpful to your favorite writer, be sure to check out McVey’s post. And please, leave those reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and also other sites such as Barnes & Noble.

Make An Author Happy

Sofia Wins The Clash!

Sofia's Tune by Cindy Thomson
Conqueror ButtonThanks to all of you who voted. I understand the competition was fierce. But since it was a competition between books, it was friendly. I think the other books had some great covers and are worthy of checking out.

Here is the link to the announcement.

Why a Competition?

The winner gets free exposure on several blogs, and hopefully new readers will discover the book. There is literally an ocean of new books published every year, so it’s hard to get noticed. As an author, nothing makes me sadder than to write a book no one knows about. I encourage people, whenever they find an author they enjoy reading, to write a review for Amazon, Goodreads, and Barne & Noble. And to tell their friends.

Thank You!

For voting and for reading! I write my stories for YOU!

A New Place to Meet Authors

The Ides of Books-author meet and greetThe Ides of Books

It’s a Facebook group that has a party every 15th of the month. How cool is that? You can interact with the authors, read excerpts, and even get a free PDF that contains the first chapters of the featured authors’ books.

Here are two links for you.

The Facebook Group page

This Sunday’s Party Event Page

I’ll Be There!

I’ll be interacting off and on, but I’m on the group page today (Thursday, Nov.12) and I’ll be chatting live and doing giveaways (yep, free stuff!) this Sunday, Nov. 15, from 4-5PM EST. I hope you can make it, but if not come next month on the 15th!

My Pet Peeve About Other Writers

This Embarrasses Me About Other Writers

It’s gotten to the point that I can’t ignore it. One of these days I just might say something, but so far I haven’t figured out how to say it. So for now, I’ll just explain here on my blog.Find out what I dislike about some fellow authors. #bookrant #authors Click To Tweet

Cindy Thomson's author tableEvery time I go to an event where there are multiple authors there is at least one who hard sells his/her book by telling potential readers that theirs is “a really, really good book.” That “all the reviews have been stellar.” That “everyone who reads it absolutely loves it.” And especially embarrassing, “I guarantee that you are really going to love it.”

Reading is Subjective

Gaelic proverb

On the wall of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, Edinburgh. Photo by Beth

The truth is there is no one book EVERYONE will love. Do you love every book your friend loves? Do you share the same reading tastes as your boss? Have you ever had a hard time figuring out why a certain novel is so popular when you didn’t care for it at all?

I’m guessing you said yes, you have experienced that. So who would actually believe what that author is saying about her own book? Probably no one. She is making herself look foolish or at best, completely ignorant. You might say she was boastful or even arrogant. In any case, as a fellow author sitting nearby, I feel embarrassed.

But it Works!

Read books!If your goal is simply to sell books and bring  home some cash, then yes, it does seem to work. I see authors that run after readers and give their own works high praise sell more books than those of us who don’t do that. I don’t know why people buy. Maybe they believe her, or maybe they are trying to be nice. After all that small talk they feel like they can’t walk away. I don’t know.

Maybe this is the reason that bookstore signings don’t work. The reason people see an author at a table and refuse to make eye contact.

I’d Rather Reach the RIGHT Readership

I’ve worked hard on my books. I want the people I wrote them for to actually read them. I was once at a book festival where an author seated next to me told my husband, “I don’t care if people read my books or not. I just want them to buy them.” Ack! Why bother writing the thing then? I guess I just won’t understand some people. EVER!

Author Cindy Thomson's complaint about the overly aggressive author sales pitch. Click To Tweet

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy ThomsonTwo young girls stopped at my table last Saturday. They picked up Grace’s Pictures and Annie’s Stories and read the back covers. They said, “This sounds interesting. I don’t think I’d read it but it sounds like something my grandma would like.” Did I argue with them? Did I tell them, “I guarantee that if you buy this you will absolutely love it!” No. I think they are probably right. They said they enjoy fast faced, adventure-like stories. I suggested Brigid of Ireland, but I did not press them. One took a picture of the book cover with her phone. We talked a bit about reading preferences. Why force a book on someone if that person is not your target audience?

Every Writer is in Love With Their Book

It’s true. We all want the whole world to love our stories. But it’s not going to happen. If an author says everyone who has read their book has loved it (and I’ve heard that claim more times than I can count!) it’s a lie. Maybe the author believes it, but it’s still a lie. If every Amazon review is five stars, something is wrong. It’s not honest. There have been people who have hated my books. I’m not sure why they had a such strong reaction, but they did. Thankfully, many more loved them, but reading is subjective. We like different things. It’s how God made us!

Let the Readers Speak

5 star review for Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson

Annie’s Stories

That’s what I prefer to do. I may not sell a ton of books at multi-author events, but I will not pressure anyone into buying a copy. I just won’t. That’s not who I am. Okay, rant over. Thanks for listening!

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth–a stranger, and not your own lips. –Proverbs 27:2 NRSV

 

Writers Are Unique People

Just in case you didn’t know that, I’ll tell you a story to illustrate what I mean.

Mentoring Mentor mug

There are mentors for all kinds of occupations, and what my county does with high school students I think is tremendous. Even before they get to college students are able to get some real life experiences to find out if they would like to work in a certain career. They’ve been doing this for years. I didn’t know anything about it until a few months ago when a gifted coordinator (that’s her actual title) from a local school district contacted me and asked me to mentor a high school senior. I really enjoyed doing this since I’ve mentored students online for several years and I used to teach. I’ve also had a couple of college interns. But in this program, I was somewhat of an anomaly, because Bethany is as well. If you assumed I was the only author mentoring a student in the program, you would be correct. (But I didn’t care.)

A Writer Must Write

No matter how difficult the path is (and it is difficult, make no mistake), no matter how unsure the possibility of financial gain, a true writer must write. If someone can choose another career, he or she must do so. Because if you feel like you have a choice, you may not make it as a writer. It takes dedication. It takes perseverance. It requires hours and hours of working alone. It requires being able to hold up under a cloud of rejection. Sure, lots of writers work in other occupations, but if you want to write you simply must have the drive to do it. You can’t NOT do it. A writing career is not for the “take it or leave it” personality type. If you do not possess this drive, then do something else because nothing you write will impact readers. And that’s what all readers want–to be heard.

Unique, Meaning Not The Same as Everyone Else

Bethany could not think of another career she’d like to explore. Writing was it for her. So her counselor had no choice but to seek out a published author for her to mentor under.

At the end of the mentorship the programs holds a luncheon to honor the mentors and to show off the students’ final projects. The other mentors present were professionals such as veterinarians, nurses, politicians. They seated me at a table between a forensic scientist and an aerospace engineer. Seriously. The brain power at the table was overwhelming. How could a novelist not find that amusing, and a bit intriguing at the same time.

Mentor student Bethany

Bethany Garrison, my student, with her mentorship project

The head of the program (the gifted coordinator) admitted at the beginning that we would have to be creative. I have no office. I have no procedures to observe or patients to work on or clients to see. And of course, Bethany and I were creative. We talked a lot about writing career choices. We visited a publisher and spoke with some editors. We chatted with my literary agent. She joined my writers meeting one Saturday. And in the end she was the only student who chose the option of making a scrapbook for her project. Very creative, I thought. Yes, she still wants to be a writer. (Despite the reality check I was honor bound to present. Few are able to make a living at being a novelist.) She has no choice but to write, really, because she has that peculiar writer’s virus–a gene, a brain that simply must write or have no rest. (Hmm, I wonder what the genetics researcher would think of that? Yep, that person was a mentor too!)

The World Needs More Good Writers

Just as much as scientists and engineers. Sure, there are tons of books out there. Plenty of people fancy themselves writers but then never put in the work required to produce high quality books. We don’t need more of those kinds of people. But we do need more books that are so well done that they inspire us to become better people. Bethany strives for excellence. I’m sure she’ll find it. It might be a long time before another high school student requests a writer as a mentor. We are different and not many can understand us. (We really do hear voices in our heads!) But I sincerely hope they invite me to mentor again. It was refreshing to see the author gene alive and growing.

Best wishes to all the young writers out there. Take up your pens and follow your heart!

Macy Day Parade

Guest Post by Tamera Kraft

I will be guest posting over at Tamera’s blog today. Please click here.

Macy's Thanksgiving

Photo by gigi_nyc

Macy Day Parade has become a tradition on Thanksgiving Day. My earliest memories of Thanksgiving were watching the parade and waiting for Santa to appear. Every child in my school knew that the real Santa was the one who appeared in the parade. But did you know that when the Macy Day Parade first started in 1924, it took place on Christmas Day? Store workers dressed as clowns, cowboys, and other characters and walked the entire six miles hike from Herald Square to Harlem. Professional bands and the Central Park Zoo along with their animals joined them in the parade. Santa rode into Herald Square at the end as he has every year since.

The parade was meant to bring attention to the Macy’s Store in downtown New York City, and it worked. The first year, 250,000 people showed up. After that, it was an annual event in the city that continued to grow even during the Depression. The first radio broadcast of the parade was made in 1932, and the first TV broadcast was made as early as 1938.

Balloons have been a part of the parade, almost since the beginning. In 1927, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company from Akron premiered their first parade balloon, Felix the Cat, but he wasn’t filled with helium until the next year. In the early years, people didn’t bother to deflate the balloons. They would release them into the air with an address attached. Rarely were the balloons returned. Mickey Mouse made his debut in the 1934 parade, and Bullwinkle first appeared in 1961. Today over a dozen large balloons are in the parade.

Floats were in the first parade and also had a large part over the years. Floats were still drawn by horses until 1939. Snoopy holds the record for the most floats. More than thirty parade floats are now featured in the parade.

The Macy’s Day Parade, although very popular in New York City, gained popularity throughout the nation after the movie, Miracle on 34th Street, was released in 1946. In Miracle on 34th street, the real Santa Claus steps in to replace a drunk Santa and decides to be Macy’s Store Santa to help fight commercialism.

But the Macy’s Day Parade didn’t always have smooth sailing. In 1942 through 1944, the parade was cancelled because rubber and helium were needed for the war effort. After the assassination of President Kennedy, the parade went on as scheduled to boost the morale of the nation. In 1971, heavy rains forced the parade to ground all balloons.

Today, over 8,000 people participate in the Macy’s Day Parade and over 3.5 million are expected to attend. It has become, not just a New York City Thanksgiving tradition, but a tradition for all of the United States of America.

Author Tamera Lynn KraftTamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She is married to the love of her life, has two grown children, and lives in Akron, Ohio.

Tamera is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She has curriculum published and is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.

You can contact Tamera online at these sites.

Word Sharpeners Blog: http://tameralynnkraft.com

Revival Fire For Kids Blog: http://revivalfire4kids.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TameraLynnKraft

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tamerakraft

Tamera’s Latest BookA Christmas Promise by Tamera Lynn Kraft

A Christmas Promise:

A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.

Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

Available at these online stores:

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GM59GN4/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

Pelican Book Group

http://pelicanbookgroup.com/ec/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=37_47&products_id=512

Christian Books.com

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=48711EB&item_code=WW&netp_id=1206746&event=ESRCG&view=details

Farewell to the Christian Writers Guild

Mentoring with the Christian Writers Guild

Christian Writers GuildI began mentoring the Guild several years ago, starting with the Pages program for kids when it was first introduced. I was thrilled to be included, and as a former teacher I loved that it gave me the chance to teach again. Over the years the Guild asked me to include Squires (for teens), several of the short adult courses, and in the last year the adult courses referred to as Apprentice and Journeyman Fiction. I also did a couple of critiques, attended the Writing for the Soul conference to take appointments as a mentor, and judged the first round of The First Novel Contest for several years. Besides my students, which I enjoyed walking through these courses, I met other mentors and employees of the Guild that I count among my friends. Wonderful people.

Jerry JenkinsJerry Jenkins

I heard Jerry relate his reasons for buying the Guild in 2001 many times at conferences and meetings we had in Colorado. He believed (and I’m sure he still does) that Christian writers ought be just as good or better than mainstream writers. We should represent Christ by writing with excellence. And to this end he wanted to train Christian writers and the Guild was the way to do that, a means to give back. He gave of his time and his resources. If anyone thinks it was a money maker, they’re wrong.

Anyone who has witnessed his “thick-skinned critiques” understands how much he cared about teaching writers. He even chose carefully each mentor and employee of the Guild. But as time marched on, he wanted to focus on his family and his own novel writing. The time had come to close the doors. Some have reported that he did this “suddenly” but that’s not true. The man doesn’t make impulsive decisions. Not that I’ve witnessed anyway. It was a process.

One thing I learned over the years about the man is that he’s a perfectionist, but a kind one. Did you know he wears an atomic watch so that he’ll always know the exact time? When we had mentor meetings he used it to make sure we started each session on time. So it makes sense that he is now personally making sure the students and members currently enrolled in the Guild finish and receive all they’ve been promised. And the mentors still get paid for the work they have left to do. He is honorable. Make no mistake.

Endings and Beginnings

I hate saying good-bye to an organization that has done so much so well. But an ending creates the opportunity for something else to commence. I am open to that. I’ll be mentoring in other ways, including offering short critiques that interested writers can sign up for right here on my site. But I’m still just a wee bit sad.

What endings have you experienced that ended up opening new doors? Please share!

Loving Books That Read to Me!

Audiobooks to Love

Audiobooks, a blog post by Cindy Thomson

Photo by Sascha Kohlmann

I get my reading done in several ways. I’m not one of those that proclaim ebooks as the only way to go these days or one of those who insist on having a real paper book in their hands. I do it all, including audio, because they each offer their own conveniences. Long car trips call for audiobooks, especially if I’m driving. But I also like to listen while I do the laundry or clean the house or take a walk. You would be surprised how much time there is to read if you take advantage of every opportunity.

Narrators, the Good and the Bad

The quality of audiobooks vary, but I get mine from the library so I don’t mind giving up on them if I don’t care for either the book itself or the narration. Recently I gave up on one because I liked neither. The narrator was so sing-song sweet it made me nauseous. I dislike when the narrator swallows loudly on tape or forgets which character he is voicing and gets it mixed up. Just my own personal pet peeves.

The All-Girl FillingHowever, some are wonderful. Like Fannie Flagg. Oh. My. Goodness. You have to listen to her and her southern drawl. Another author narrator I thought did an excellent job is James Rubart. Some folks just have the voice for it. (Not me!)

I have listened to enough Irish books that I began to recognize the narrator. She has just enough Irish lilt to her voice to add flavor but not so much that we Americans can’t understand her. Her name is Sile Bermingham (Sile is pronounced Sheila.) She narrated Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd and some Maeve Binchy books.

I think Adam Verner does a wonderful job with Stephen Lawhead’s novels. He’s done other work too, but Lawhead is my experience with him. Nice, non irritating voice. Want to have a listen?

Top Honors: My Favorite Narration So Far

Goes to….

The Help by Kathryn Stockett.The Help Different voices for different characters. It was like listening to a play. Of course, it’s a wonderful book as well.

What’s your favorite audiobook?

4 Reasons I Love Book Festivals

Cindy Thomson, Sandy Hart, Books by the Banks

Me with friend and fellow author Sandy Hart who came to see me at Books By The Banks in Cincinnati.

1. A Book Festival is About Readers

It’s not about the authors, regardless of how it might seem. Book festivals are an opportunity for readers to meet authors and ask questions. And boy do readers have questions. I absolutely love that! Everything from why did you write this book to what did you learn while researching this story?

2. It’s a Celebration of Books!

Everyone comes to learn, to gather, to shop for gifts, and they are all there because of books! Children’s books, young adult books, fiction, non fiction, art books, illustrated books, wee books and heavy coffee table books. Librarians, artists, and writers. It’s an atmosphere charged with creativity.

3. I Get Away From My Desk

Cindy Thomson at Books By The Banks in Cincinnati

I was asked to describe myself in one word.

Writing is for the most part a solitary undertaking. Getting out and talking to readers energizes me for the long hours ahead. If I know who I’m writing for, that people are actually enjoying my tales, I feel better about getting writer’s cramp and drinking so much tea while I work. (Well, okay, indulging in so much chocolate too. It’s a necessity.)

4. New Readers are Introduced to My Characters

It’s hard to get noticed these days in the vast ocean of books out there. Going to a book festival enables me to say, hey, here are some new stories you might want to try, to people who might not otherwise run across them. It’s marketing, yes, but for me it’s mostly sharing. Some are not interested, and that’s fine. At least we got to exchange smiles.

What About You? Have you been to a book festival? Which one? What did you like about it? If not, would you consider it sometime? (Just Google book festivals in your area or ask your local librarian where they are.)