How not to ask for a review

I thought this piece in today's New York Times magazine, in The Ethicist section by Kwame Anthony Appiah, is something all of us authors should think about. My husband pointed it out to me, and I totally agree. The Question More and more of my friends are self-publishing books; some I purchase just to support their writers. In this new situation, a dear old friend wants me to give him a five-star review on Amazon and post it on Facebook. I’ve seen a few pages of his book, and it’s a piece of self-indulgent drivel. I don’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings, but I don’t want to sell out either. What do you suggest? Name Withheld Appiah's Answer If you are such good friends, wouldn’t it be better to give him, gently, your opinion of some of the book’s weaknesses? Possibly without actually using the words “self-indulgent drivel”? Self-published books have taken a long dive since the days of Jane Austen, and the new ease of making them, in the digital era, has turned a river of putrefact … [Read more...]

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Reviews are powerful

Ever since my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, received its first review, I've felt how powerful reviews can be. Whether good or bad, what a reviewer says directly affects the author of the book reviewed and its salability. I found the following quote recently that I think all reviewers (besides book-review-editors) ought to think about when they write a book review: "Nearly every writer writes a book with a great amount of attention and intention and hopes and dreams. And it's important to take that effort seriously and to recognize that a book may have taken ten years of a writer's life, that the writer has put heart and soul into it. And it behooves us, as book-review-editors, to treat those books with the care and attention they deserve, and to give the writer that respect." - Pamela Paul, New York Times Book Review editor in a "Poets & Writers interview.  My Choices guest today, Nina Guilbeau, the author of God Doesn't Love Us All the Same, discusses her thoughts about … [Read more...]

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The importance of book reviews

I'm a firm believer that book reviews are important to authors and readers alike. Since writing and publishing my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, I'm forever asking my readers to please post a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Here's the link to the post I wrote about reviews last January. Sydney Avey, my guest today, writes why she thinks book reviews are important, and generously gives a few pointers to those of you who have never written a review before. Sydney is the author of the just released literary fiction book, The Lyre and the Lambs. I thank her so much for stopping by Choices on her WOW! Women on Writing book tour. The Importance of Book Reviews By Sydney Avey The Third Tuesday at Three Book Club in Angels Camp, California invited me to attend their September discussion of my debut novel, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter. We traded thoughts on the reader and the author experience, and I shared my feeling that a book is a collaborative effort between writer and reader. Boo … [Read more...]

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Five star review number 105

The 105th five star review arrived on my Amazon page on January 29. I was so impressed with what Stace of Australia wrote about Leaving the Hall Light On and her sensitivity to our son Paul's and our family's struggles, and the different ways people react to physical vs mental illnesses, I wanted to share it with your here. The gist is: mental illness is an illness just like a physical illness and needs to be recognized as such. "I really related to this book. Having experienced major depression I knew a lot of the scenarios and can imagine how Madeline's son Paul felt. How scared and alone he would have felt. This book is so heart felt and detailed. It's a real life experience that they can't take back but have learned so much from. I felt so sorry for Paul's family and friends. In some places in the book I felt angry with the parents for criticizing their son after he'd passed away, but at the same time I knew that they're hurting and angry that he left them. It hurts to hear … [Read more...]

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Book reviews matter

I’ve written about book reviews before. Frankly I wish they’d all go away. But since I’m an author I have to live with them. I also know that reviews matter. Good ones help sales. Bad ones hurt author’s egos. I reblogged a post about reviews from Kristen Lamb last June. She and I are on the same page about writing bad reviews. We just won’t. We know how much they hurt, and why hurt our author friends and colleagues? And, I’ve had some reviews of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On that were pretty ego-hurting. However, I’m fortunate that most been very positive. Like the one posted on Amazon yesterday. It is so in tune with my sentiments and what I wanted to get across in my book, I have to share it here. My only connection to the reviewer is she contacted me about how to get permission to use a Paul Simon song quote in her own book, and I gave her the information. When she told me she read my book, I asked if she’d write a review. Yesterday she contacted me again to tell me she … [Read more...]

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Mike O’Mary’s thoughts about book promotion

I couldn't leave my wonderful Dream of Things publisher, Mike O'Mary, out of my guest lineup. He has brought a whole new life to my book. His ideas for promotion have been priceless. I never would have known about most of this stuff had I gone on to self-publish after my first publisher went out of business. Please welcome Mike O'Mary and take lots of notes. Time and Commitment are Keys to Book Promotion by Mike O'Mary, My Dream of Things Publisher As the publisher of the trade paperback and e-book editions of Madeline Sharples’ Leaving the Hall LightOn, I’ve had the pleasure of working with someone who really “gets it” when it comes to what an author needs to do afterthe book is written. In fact, I’ve already told other authors about Madeline and encouraged them to follow her and learn from her example.When Madeline first contacted me about becoming her publisher, I was intrigued. The hard cover edition of her book had good reviews, but then her publisher went out of business. … [Read more...]

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Anybody else get a damaging and useless Amazon review?

I just have to write about this. I can’t help myself. Two days ago someone posted a 1-star review of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On up on Amazon. Here is what he or she said: “I stopped reading after 36 pages I really wanted to like this book. The premise was interesting, "A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide." But the author's discussion of bipolar disorder seemed more personal opinion than actual facts and not much was actually SAID in the first 36 pages despite countless little "stories" and two poems...Honestly it was a struggle to even get as far as I did.” Why would Amazon even allow this review to post? How could a review of 36 pages be valid and useful? I would think Amazon would want to interest people in buying their products rather than dissuading them. In allowing this review they do their company a huge disservice and of course make this author very angry. One of the people who commented on this review said: … [Read more...]

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Blatant bragging

This book is getting lots of kudos As of today my memoir has twenty-two reviews up on Amazon. Twenty are five-star, and even though they wrote terrific reviews, two people gave the book only four-stars. Really what’s up with that? But rather than complaining I’m just going to shout out Hip, Hip Hooray. I am just so thrilled with the response and with people’s reaction to the story and the writing in my book. Never in my wildest dreams did I think people would react so well to my words. A friend told me last night that she was just going to read my book to support me, and she found once she opened it she couldn’t put it down. She kept raving about it. Now I couldn’t ask for more than that. Plus, when I asked her to post a review, she posted almost immediately. That’s a true friend. I thank her so much. So, if you’re reading this and you’ve read my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, please post a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or … [Read more...]

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