– 3 February 2019
How did you get started? I’ve had authors who misunderstood me contact back for feedback, and I’ve let them know with details. I’m not going into details on that worst case, but it was bad, and I hope that person someday comes to terms with what happened. Polishing your book should happen on all pages, and yes, a writer should hook their reader’s attention. “I never had a beta reader” or “No one ever read the book, I trust my manuscript, and I know it’s perfect.”
It hurts because I know they trust their manuscript, but no one was there to tell them they hadn’t fixed the spelling of “Doge” when it was supposed to be “Dog.” Or, in one case, it was literally a transfer error from PDF to Kindle, and the words glued themselves together and needed a lot of fixing. Though, to be fair, I never used to care one bit about grammar or spelling. I looked at Meta-Critic and Rotten Tomatoes meta-data scoring first to get an idea of how they correspond the stars or tomatoes in that case, to the points. Ask the tired soccer mom who is at the Starbucks on her Kindle relaxing between pickups what she thinks about the books she reads. I do, and I’m so grateful for them. The publishing industry, and I mean the big publishers not the indie publishers, spend a lot of money to filter things already, and I’m sure they have think tanks and go-to people to tell them what they want to know in specifically worded questions. Whether we are reading fiction or non-fiction, the place our minds go is somewhere we want them to be, not somewhere we did not ask to journey. I’m not doing reviews for people who cannot profit from them, and I know nothing of film work to judge if it’s good or bad.
I look for what catches my eyes as an average consumer, because I know I’m not the only consumer who looks for these things. We’re seeing lots of statistics that say reading as a pastime is dying – do you think that’s the case? Anything 350 pages on, takes me 2 to 3 days. I think anyone who feels that online publishing is a slush pile, is out of touch with digital marketing and how consumers want to receive media. Specifically, series that end on cliffhangers but did not answer the questions in the novel that were brought up for that specific novel drive me batty. It is very tough to put a star average on a subjective opinion, so I wanted to look at it from a more logical and linear point of view and use points to make the determination on stars. My advice, take a pulse check on the people and ask them what they like. December I did a #DecemberToRemember where I reviewed 31 books in 31 days and covered short stories, to big novels to a very cool satire pamphlet. What are you looking for? I initially got a Kindle because I ran out of bookshelf room, and space for a new shelf. Those are examples of who I review for, and I’m sure they have a lot to say about what is good or bad in their points of view. I’m fairly certain, I’m not the only one who feels that way either, it’s that “Fooled me once” scenario. So, here’s how it breaks down:
01 – 29 points is a 1-star review ⭐
30 – 69 points is a 2-star review ⭐⭐
70 – 79 points is a 3-star review ⭐⭐⭐
80 – 89 points is a 4-star review ⭐⭐⭐⭐
90 -100 points is a 5-star review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Looking at the previously mentioned situation where the plot’s good, and the characters are detailed, but the grammar and spelling were atrocious, that could still get a 90 in points. While I totally understand the whole “Grab the reader’s attention” situation, I disagree with such emphasis on only five pages. Others love my style and ask for a review. It’s humbling, but so appreciated. I know I don’t like doing that. I try not to criticize the person’s art so much as how it’s presented on the page. When a writer spends all of their time working to perfect those five pages and not the rest of the book with that same polish, it’s frustrating to the reader. About Reading
We talk a lot about writing here on the blog, and possibly not enough about reading, which is after all why we’re all here. Most of my reviews are mobi and e-reader copies because that’s the format I enjoy most. Under no circumstances to ‘argue’ with the reviewer – would you agree with that? I get these ideas based on Twitter conversations and discussions with authors, and basically, that’s how I got started in the first place. I sit with my notebook at my side, and I read, but take notes as I go. Do you have any ideas or comments on how the industry can ‘filter’ good from bad, aside from reviews? At the same time, if there are great characters and plot, I want to celebrate that as well and point out what I enjoyed. End of Interview:
To read Mrs Y’s reviews, visit Mrs Y. If you cannot afford an editor, get on NaNoWriMo.org and find someone to help you with your revision. Some don’t like my style and never reply back. I have done a great deal to learn from that experience on my end. Additionally, there are times I write drafting notes on my computer as I read especially if I notice something frequently as I go. I don’t often see the people’s reactions to it. It’s not right from a reading sense, and it’s a bit unfair from a consumer purchasing sense. I wrote my novel’s rough draft, and it gave me insight on the writing end of reviewing. Mrs Y. Also, as a result of this, I took November off from doing reviews. Don’t be so anxious to get it reviewed and published if you have no idea how other people are going to take the book you are sending out. I’m not sure, because I think I’m too close to the writer’s end of things to see the change. But, how can they filter it? How long does it take you to get through, say, an eighty thousand-word book? I work for those shelf lovers or Kindle adorers. What advice could you give to authors looking to get their books reviewed? For me, it’s easier to carry my Kindle than it would be to have a shelf of books I’d have to pack up. I also believe that the e-copies of books should have as much love as the ones that are printed, so I look for issues that happen in e-copies. February, I’m doing #StayClassyFeb where I am reviewing old public domain classic books. I also saw on Twitter that most of the Indie writers there write reviews for the books they read to help others. I also think that how-to books and cookbooks do not get enough love. Most of the time that would take me about a day to a day and a half as it’s about 250 – 300 pages depending on the layout. But, I’ve also had the worst case scenario happen as well, and that was terrible. I generally out of my own personal reading outside of the review work I do, do not read the next in a series if the first one ended like that, because I don’t want to waste money for another scenario like that. Please keep up with editing and revising the novel after that though, your future fan base will thank you for it. Is there anything you will not review? One of the writers I Tweet with often, informed me that I’m very tough, but I obviously care for the readers and the writers which is why I do this. When I do that, I also check formats to be sure the errors translate on more than one copy. I do not make highlights on Kindle because sometimes Goodreads broadcasts it and I don’t want to have some out of context piece of what I’m reading up for everyone to see and get confused about. I look for what catches my eyes as an average consumer, because I know I’m not the only consumer who looks for these things. However, I try to limit that list so as to be fair to everyone. Yeah, fan fiction and screen treatments. Even before I reviewed, I was into the Indie books because the Indies were where I’d find what I wanted to read and not what someone thought I should read based on trends. Or, if you’re very brave and want to know why he picked what he did to read, ask the dad at the McDonalds who has kids running around the play yard and his weathered paperback what he thinks. For me, if a book is over 69 points out of 100, it means it’s got all the base level things needed for a good and average book. Now, I point it out because I know so many consumers of novels do especially the avid readers who are glued to their shelves and love the written word. Reviews Books. The world that we live in is difficult at times, and that’s not including newsworthy issues or stories of trauma. Ending a book just to end it in order to have someone buy the next book to get the answer, isn’t right. How would you feel? I will never ever charge for a review, and I will never force someone to endure my opinion if it isn’t one they respect or like from a stylistic point. How did you come up with your rating system, and could you explain more about the rating system? I also don’t put any caveats on what someone needs to read to relax. Imagine having a slice of pie, and the first five bites are the best thing you ever ate, but after that fifth bite, you’re eating mud. I note page numbers or location numbers in my kindle and anything that catches my attention. Agents typically request only the first five pages of a novel; what do you think about that? I couldn’t agree more with that. I have no English degree nor am I a grammar expert, but if it’s really bad where I can tell there is a problem, I note it. There are times after I’m done the reading I go back and re-read what’s in my notes to verify it, and often that means I’m noting it as an example for the review. But it just depends on the issues with the book, how often they happen, and how much of an impact it had to the overall story. I know that for me, I’ve always respected the Indies, and I’m glad they accept me enough to be in their Twitter-space. If a book hasn’t grabbed you by the first five pages, do you put it down? Go to indie bookshops and ask the people who are sitting in the armchairs with a stack of books beside them. If a book has a great plot, great characters, but the grammar is less than perfect, how do you deal with that? Because most people I know or knew when I was working in my old office building, was glued to a Kindle and not reading a physical book. I get a lot of love on Twitter as well for what I do. The problem with some writers is they take that literally and incorrectly focus on just those five pages. You may not get a lot of good feedback at all if you skip this step. There is a massive difference between a cliffhanger and ending the book too early to answer the questions that were raised. Whether you are building a shelf or making cupcakes, you did it to be happy and bring some happiness to you. I’m giving them as much attention as I would anyone indie and that way people can see what my style is for the things they also have likely read. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) People use that kind of reading to make tangible enjoyment in their lives. About Writing
What are the most common mistakes that you see authors making? After streamlining everything, I started back up in December. It’s why I make sure if someone is kind enough to ask me to review their book that I ask them to read my other reviews. And vice versa, let’s say the book is beautifully spelled and the grammar is perfect, but it has some issues with plot or ending, well it could also get a 90. I’m not sure aside from asking actual avid readers what they like. I wanted to write a novel, but I realized that the best way to know what was popular and popular to write was to read. Thank you for asking because I take great pride in my scoring system. My advice to authors on getting a ‘bad’ review (hasten to add that might mean a perfectly honest, well written, fair review – just bad from the author’s point of view) is to take what you can from it and move on. I’m not ashamed of it, nor will I make apologies for it. I also critique for e-reader enthusiasts because I know they want to know how it looks on their Kindles as well. That one, however, I didn’t post it on anything, I gave the writer my notes, and I let them know where the trouble was. The ones I notice that get the lower scores tend to be the writers who email me or who have told me on Twitter. George RR Martin wrote cliffhangers in his books, such as Jon Snow getting stabbed in the back, but he also took the time to solidify the points in the stories so that those stories were complete. A new shelf holds books, and cupcakes are delicious, so we should read those books more. If it’s faster to type than writing it, and other times if I’m not by my computer I write it in the notebook. Aside from spelling, grammar or the normal things that others note, I feel that series stories are becoming a cliché. Why? About Publishing
What do you think of the oft-quoted comment that the “slush-pile has moved online”? I know that might seem harsh, but I do that because people want to buy books that they can read comfortably. I think people need times of escapism. It’s up to me to purchase what I want to read, and just because I found it online does not mean it’s close to such a description as “Slush pile.” People who believe that e-reader copies and the world of digital libraries are lesser than a physical one, need to understand that not everyone sees it in that light. Why do you think people love reading? I know it seems confusing, but it’s not. I personally love mystery and puzzle type novels, and short stories especially. Of course, there are things I will read and review, but I don’t necessarily enjoy reading those things in my spare time. Do you get readers emailing you and thanking you for a review? We’re told that the first page, paragraph, chapter, is absolutely key in making or breaking a book. So, after a couple of books, I realized I could help the Indie writers I spoke to every day on Twitter, learn the craft of writing from my reading, and help the literary community. I note it down in my review, both things the positive and the grammar issues. I like to get feedback from people on Twitter as to what to read out of my own personal requests. I have a pretty decent process that works very well for me. Make sure you had a couple of beta readers look at it first. Do you think attitudes are changing with respect to indie or self-published titles? Some folks it’s very gripping thrillers, others, it’s YA or Fantasy novels to take them out of reality. With that information and some feedback from my earlier reviews, I revised my website, scoring system, and style. Reading takes us from all of that and transports us to a different mindset. Initially, I wasn’t great with the conversions of points to stars, but after a few revisions, I have it down to a science of sorts. How do you review a book? Is it a read first, and then make notes, or do you make notes as you go along?