Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Teen Titans and Book Reviews

A couple days ago I was watching Teen Titans Go with my kids. In this particular episode Raven (one of the characters who is usually portrayed as intelligent and dark) introduces the rest of the Titans to reading. They fall in love with reading and want more. So they ask her what they should do next. She says they should start a book club and discuss their books. So they start a club and discuss their books and how much they loved their books.

A couple minutes into the meeting Raven says it’s  not enough to share how much they like their books. They need to go deeper. How? they ask. She starts with her own book by saying the premise of the book was unbelievable and goes on for a minute breaking her book down into tiny increments, dissecting each scene and word.

The Titans stare at her in horror. “You just took the fun out of reading!” they shout.

And that’s what I found interesting. I don’t think books were meant to be taken apart and each little section scrutinized and reviewed. Books are meant to be read as a whole. Enjoyed. Read and understood in their full context.

Sometimes I can’t articulate why I liked or didn’t like a book. I just know I liked it and it made me think. Or I didn’t like it because it left a bad feeling behind. Perhaps that is one reason I don’t like writing reviews (for the most part). Because I feel like I need to take the book apart and say why I did or didn’t like the book. Bleh.

I’ve seen reviews where the book is scrutinized down to its very words. I’ve even known people who read with a pad and pen next to them so they can take notes. I don’t think fiction was meant to be read like this. How do you get into the story when you’re constantly taking notes? Perhaps that’s just me.

The episode ends when the Titans read a mystical book that lets loose evil magic that feeds off their imagination. In order to stop the book, they start reviewing the book, talking about its premise and using big words. In essence, they are shutting off their imagination so they can trap the magic back inside the book.

Ironic, isn’t it?

For those who are curious, the episode is called Books.


Marketing for Writers on a Dime

First, my philosophy in marketing is how effective is whatever I’m doing compared to the time/money I have to put in? As a mother of four kids and the wife of a pastor, I have limited time to use toward my writing and marketing. So unless it guarantees a big return, I am reluctant to do something that requires a lot of time.

Same with money. My family just came off of being unemployed for a year and we are currently recovering from that. And as a small indie publisher, I have very limited resources from my publisher. Not that I’m complaining, I absolutely love Marcher Lord Press and there are some benefits you get with going with an indie publisher vs a traditional publisher (that will be a topic for another time ;)). Lastly, I see marketing as a small, step by step, reader by reader process. If I gain even one more reader through my endeavors, then I see that as a win.

So here is what I have done that has required little time and money:
-I started a blog 2 years ago (and here it is :)). I love blogging and so it’s not a hard thing for me to do. I blog about anything and everything on my heart and am not afraid to bring up sticky issues like what does a person do when they have lost their faith or how to deal with bitterness. Through my blog I have found a small readership who isn’t just writers. They appreciate my candid approach to faith and that readership has transferred over to my book.

-Build a relationship with the people you interact with on Facebook, don’t just talk about your writing life. Most of the people in your life do not understand the writer’s life nor do they really care. But when you are a real person with kids who do funny things or issues you are passionate about, you build ties with readers.

-Send arcs 3-4 months in advance to some big review places like Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, even Locus magazine. I sent to about 10-12 places and only heard from 2. But that was 2 more than I had the day before :).

-I chose not to do endorsements. At the time I was getting ready for my book release, I was also getting a house ready for the market and moving across states. Since endorsements have never influenced my choice in books, it wasn’t high on my priority list. And I didn’t really know anyone personally to ask, except one friend. She had just signed a contract for 2 books (hurrah!) and was honest and said she didn’t have the time, which was fine by me.

-Reviewers: I’m still learning this aspect of marketing. I do a lot of research into a reviewer before I ask them to review. I see what their site is like, do they like my kind of book, do they post their reviews in other places besides their blog? I know traditional publishers can send out a lot, but since every review book I send out comes out of my own pocket, I am selective on who I give one to.

-How to find reviewers: I just spent yesterday looking up quite a few of them. I looked over amazon’s top 150 reviewers, saw who reviewed my kind of book and sent them a nice, polite email with a request for a review. I also see who is reviewing my peers’ books and see if they would review mine. I have already received responses, all positive, and half of them said they would review.

-Always be respectful and polite. For one thing, you are an example of Christ to whoever you interact with (for the Christian writer). Secondly, it might win you a review. I had someone respond yesterday that they were so impressed that I actually took the time to look at their blog and read their posts that even though she was bogged down, she was going to make a spot and do a review for me.

-Be a part of Goodreads. I had never heard of this site before, but it is a great place to interact with your readers. Also check out Shelfari.

-Do a book giveaway with Goodreads. I am finding that a giveaway gives your book great exposure and it’s free advertisement! And it’s going on right now, so if you’re interested, here is the link: Goodreads book giveaway

-Book trailers. Not everyone likes them, but some people do. And it might bring them one step closer to purchasing your book. If you have a mac, it comes with iMovie. That is how I made mine: Daughter of Light Book Trailer

-I have not done a blog tour, but thinking about it.

-Remember, you can’t do everything or you’ll go crazy (not to mention not have time to write!). Do what you are good at. I don’t twitter or do pininterest because I don’t know how or have the time to keep either updated. I’m good at FB and so that is what I do for now.

– And lastly, remember God might have different plans for your book than you do. Keep your priorities straight: God, spouse, family, then writing. Sure, there are seasons when writing needs to take a front seat (like that dash to the release date), but it shouldn’t stay there. Be who you are suppose to be, have eyes open and ready for opportunities, and give your writing and marketing to God.

When you think you did it all yourself, you take the glory away from God. But when you give your marketing to God’s control, He might surprise you and in the end, all you can say is “God did it, not me!”