Friday, March 24, 2017

Ask a Blogger - A New Feature for SOS Aloha

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I am starting a new feature here at SOS Aloha - Ask a Blogger! Authors (and readers) often ask me about reviews, blogging, conventions, etc. So now I am accepting questions ... and will offer answers from a variety of experts, including other readers. 

I kick off this column with my thoughts on book reviews ....



... I believe there are NO rules!  Reviews are readers' thoughts ... and rules do not apply.  I would edit the above meme's title as "Suggestions for Book Readers".   

Thanks to Alethea Kontis for prompting this discussion. Here is my favorite part of her bio,

Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea currently lives and writes on the Space Coast of Florida. She makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie. Find out more about Princess Alethea and the magic, wonderful world in which she lives here: patreon.com/princessalethea.


Baklava - yum! 

Let's chat about the "rules":

1.  You do not have to have purchased a book on Amazon to leave a review there.  

From Amazon (link),

Important: Before you can post a review, you need to have an Amazon.com account that has successfully been charged for the purchase of a physical or digital item. Free digital downloads don't qualify.  

You don't need to have purchased the product you're reviewing. 

Hence, once you purchase something from Amazon, you have an account.  Once you have an account, you can leave reviews on anything.  

For convenience, I post book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

Where do you post reviews? 

2.  You do not have to read the whole book to leave a review.

But I believe the reader should be forthcoming - if a reader doesn't finish the book, offer a brief explanation in the review. For example, 

I brought this book with me on a cruise.  I loved the first few chapters, then left the book by the pool. I enjoyed the book enough to find it again and finish that story!

I've read half of the book - but life gets in the way of finishing it. The characters make me laugh but the pacing is slow.  Still, I plan to finish it as soon as my schedule lightens up.

I read the first chapter of this book and realized it is not for me. It might be for someone else, but I would like to move on to another book.

What do you think about a reader leaving a review before finishing the book?

3.  Reviews can be simple - yes!   THEY DON'T EVEN HAVE TO BE SPELLED CORRECTLY - no!  

Take the time to use Spell Check so the review, no matter how brief, looks like it was written by a literate person.  

What do you think about spelling in reviews?

4. Authors need reviews on Amazon.

It is not the reader's job to promote the author.  I don't like this pressure from authors.  If a book delivers, readers will organically promote it.  

That being said, I encourage readers to leave reviews at their convenience as a means to support authors. 

Exception: If a reader signed up for a blog tour with specific dates, then, yes, a reader should post a review as specified. 

Even then, authors should not hound readers who are not paid to review - a free book is not payment.

What are your thoughts on what authors expect from readers?

5.  Algorithms are not reading or grading your reviews.  

I don't believe authors should discuss algorithms with readers. It suggests a whiff of manipulation when reviews should be organic. Interaction between readers and authors should be focused on the emotional experience, not the book sale.  

Readers and authors, I welcome your feedback! What are your suggestions for reviews?  What encourages you to leave a review ... and what discourages you from leaving a review?  I am giving away a book choice to one randomly selected commenter (authors, I will assume you are not participating in the giveaway). Comments are open through Sunday, March 26, 10 pm in Baltimore. I'll post the winner on Monday, March 27.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

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30 comments:

  1. I have left reviews on Amazon. I've never left a bad one though. I figure there's something out there for everyone and just because I didn't care for it doesn't mean someone else will feel the same. I never take a book or enter a contest that stipulates I review it. If I'm lucky enough to get a book for free, I just can't give it a bad review and I have to be honest. I usually only read reviews for authors I've never read before and take some with a grain of salt lol. And I would hope things are spelled correctly. I also don't like anonymous reviews - especially one stars. I recently read one that wasn't even about the right story!!!

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    1. I don't leave "negative" reviews either. If I didn't the book, then I simply do not leave a review.

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  2. I've never written a review. Always felt I wouldn't be able to summarize the story that's concise and helpful.

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    1. I understand your reluctance - that's how I felt before I gave it a try. I also believe readers are not "required" to leave reviews if they bought the book or borrowed from the library.

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  3. I do review a book from time to time. It's usually just a few sentences. I mostly just say what I liked about a book.

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  4. Please please please let us know when if the book is written in 1st person or 3rd person point of view. I do not read first person point of view!

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    1. In the past I have written reviews and I can tell you it is no easy.

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    2. Aloha, Dani! Great suggestion about 1st versus 3rd person. I agree that writing reviews can be a challenge.

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  5. I haven't left a review in awhile. I appreciate the rules above. When I read a book that hits it out of the ballpark for me I worry I won't be able to do it justice. Thanks for posting & your thoughts on reviewing.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

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    1. Aloha, Carol. As I wrote above, I understand your reluctance. You can always just rate it with a star. Any review is acceptable ... but simply enjoying the book is too.

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  6. I always leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and I always write what I feel whether it's good or bad. I have leave bad reviews already because I think it's my right to write what did not connect me to the book and point out my reasons. That said, when a book hooks me I do leave superb reviews because I know fully well it's so good that I must rave about it

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    1. Aloha, Natasha. I admire that you have confidence in posting your thoughts, whether or not it is a "positive" or "negative" review. I enjoy reading a variety of reviews!

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  7. A great list! I review on Goodreads and try remember to leave one on Amazon as well. Books I receive through the bookblog I help at get my reviews posted there. I typically purchase my books from bookstores, local or B&N, so I forget to go to Amazon...even though my author friends have let me know how important this is. I need to get better!!

    I love this new post theme and I'm looking forward to seeing what questions you get!

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  8. The only thing I would add is that three stars is not bad in a review. I've had several authors ask me why I didn't like a book and I have it 3 stars on Audible. To me, that means it's average; and let's face it, most of us are average and what's wrong with that?

    I exclusively listen to audiobooks these days (over 100/year), so it's hard to leave a review when audiobooks are unavailable for one of favorite authors.

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    1. Yes! The starred system reflects a variety of emotional responses to a book.

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  9. My biggest pet peeve are the reviews that summarize the story. I can read the back blurb if I wanted that!! DON'T give me the story - I want to hear if it affected your emotions, if you laughed, if there were too many characters, if the story flowed well, etc. I try to put all of that in my reviews.
    What I don't understand is why Amazon makes it such a game: how many reviews, how many 5 stars, when reviews are posted. Seriously, I just want to be able to read reviews and see if the book is for me.
    If I don't know the author I will read reviews and then the sneak peak Amazon gives you of the first chapter. That way I can find out if I like the author's voice. I like reading the low star reviews because sometimes they will make me WANT to read a book. If the book touched a nerve in someone then that usually means it is emotional and will give me a good read!
    I like your #5. I feel Amazon has made the relationship between authors and readers not friendly anymore. I think authors have to try too hard to get reviews that they miss the actual talking with readers about the story itself and just getting to know readers. I feel bad for the authors! Why can't reading and writing books just be a most enjoyable experience with no strings attached?

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    1. Yes! I understand the need for authors to "play the game" ... but that is a game between authors and Amazon, not authors and readers.

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    2. I also agree that recapping in the review is redundant.

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  10. Thanks for this information! I sometimes do reviews but only brief ones! I don't want to give up plot lines, etc.

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    1. Brief reviews are good ... and appreciated!

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  11. I don't do reviews
    Kimh

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    1. I certainly appreciate that you comment on my blog!

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  12. I enjoy writing reviews. I am starting my own blog and I liked what you said.

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  13. I left a street teams when the author wanted to manipulate reviews. I didn't turn her in to Amazon.

    denise

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    1. Aloha, Denise. I am saddened that you had that experience - I think some authors loose sight of what reading is all about - a personal experience.

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  14. Aloha, Kim! I thought your post was very thought-provoking. I love reading the different ways people write reviews although I don't enjoy those that give the entire story. Once I am told everything that is going to happen, why read the story? I have the hardest time writing reviews for books I didn't like, especially since I know the things that bug me may not be an issue with someone else. I think an important thing for those writing reviews to remember is that there is no need to be mean with your comments!

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    1. Aloha, E.L.F.! You raise good points about being honest but being polite. While I am not comfortable writing a review for a book I did not enjoy, I do appreciate the opportunity to read a wide variety of reviews for books I am considering.

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  15. Hi there. You know I write reviews :) I'm actually behind with my reviews. I write them, good or bad. Negative reviews are actually much harder to write, but I think they either help a reader to make an informed choice or will help the author to maybe fix an issue. I like looking at the low ratings. If the reviewer mentions something that I cannot stand, then I don’t have to bother with the book, but if it’s something that doesn’t bother me, then I will likely enjoy the book. And, yes, First Person vs Third Person in a blurb should be a must. I never buy without a sample, because I don’t know how many times I thought something sounded good and then it was written in First Person. I do not enjoy First Person.

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