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Saturday Series On Reviews # 5: with guest post by Elaine Raco Chase

Saturday Series On Reviews # 5: with guest post by Elaine Raco Chase

So far I’ve covered what a review is, what you need to know to review, what reviews can mean to authors, and just what sort of effort you should invest when you are looking for a reviewer to help you make choices when buying a book.  Today I want to talk about how you (yes- you, anyone really) can write a review.  There is no magic potion, and there are no ‘must follow’ rules.  But, I do have some hints that will help you start to find your own voice when writing reviews: whether you want to review full time, part time or just when the mood strikes.

Reviewing, like any sort of writing, improves with practice.  My first reviews – were, from a technical standpoint, HORRIBLE.  But, as I continued working at them, being sure to learn what people want to know about, and how to get the important points for me about a book into a review that wasn’t too long, the reviews improved too.

And that is the key: you want to always keep learning from and reading other reviewers.  I am, in no way, suggesting that you copy another reviewer, but you can see how someone else formats their reviews, or makes it useful.   I do not (and will not) address the use of *gif files or photos in a review : words should be ALL that you need or use in a review.  Want to do that on your own site, your own blog – go for it.  But a review site should be words, not flashing photos and distractions.  

So – let’s get started.    What is important to you when you read a book?   Here’s the list of ‘important points’ that I try to address in all of my reviews

Story
Did I believe it
Did I understand it
Was the narration clear and easy to follow
Did it feel ‘real” or possible
Did I hate putting it down

Characters
Could I understand them
Did they make sense – were they whole people or just a filler
Did their conversations make sense
Would I want to know them

Writing

Is the writing clear and error free (grammar, spelling)
Is the author overly reliant on ‘tricks’
Is there something ‘unique’ to the characters – does the story feel fresh
Does the story drag or seem to lose a point

Ephemera
if the story is one of a series – were you able to understand it if you hadn’t read any others in the series
is the book formatted properly or are there large formatting issues
Is there a cliffhanger (note – cliffhanger is when the major story conflict is NOT resolved but stops just before a must know answer to make the book feel like there was resolution.  NOT to be confused with leaving room open for additional story, character development, growth)
Does the sex / action / murder feel as it if belongs, or was it just stuffed in there to solve a loose end
Did you enjoy the story after you finished it, would you read another by the same author

You have to work out what your most important elements of a book are, and how you want to present that.  Once you know what things you want to know about a book before you start writing a review – you are more than halfway complete.  Really – you are.

Reviews – an author perspective by Elaine Raco Chase
It’s been said before and I will say it again – a book is an author’s ‘baby.’ And what parent wants to hear: “he’s adorable, but look at the size of those ears.”As an author I am more than willing to accept the following constructive criticism:

• typos/misspellings (I’ve seen them in hardcover bestsellers and I had a team of 8 readers go over one of my books and we all missed the same 5 typos including my favorite: her hand covered his fish….yup should have been fist.
• Grammar errors – well…I will take another look but I, as many writers do, run it thru 2 grammar checkers…often the vernacular is the way to go. And I was labeled the “Queen of the Sentence Fragment” by my editors at Dell & Pocket Books – but they never fixed any of them.
• A sentence that makes no sense – I’m not sure readers know that an ebook goes from a .doc file to a mobi file or an html file or an epub file and sometimes there are glitches and sometimes something can get lost in ‘translation.’ So I will always go back and check to see if the ‘scrambler’ hit.

What I don’t think is appropriate and to me is just bullying:

• I hate your cover and I didn’t read the book so I gave it 1 star
• I hate this type of genre, so I never read the book, and I gave it 1 star
• Any type of review that states: I never read it; I never finished it; I never …….
• Attacking the author just because you can – it’s a power trip in the age of instants – anyone can instantly write a review and tweet it out and post it all over social media. On one site – a group of reviewers created lists like: authors who should be raped; authors who should go to prison; authors who should be hung…..really!
• And for heaven’s sake if you don’t like a certain genre – then don’t buy the book and give it a nasty review that starts out with: “I hate romance so I hated this book.”

I, like almost every author I know, strive to create characters that are so real, readers think they can look them up on 411 and give them a call. To give a reader great dialogue, compelling descriptions, emotions that grab and won’t let go.

If you remember my characters and my book long after you read it – then I’ve done my job.

I don’t mind reading reviews that say: “I wish it was longer” or “I wanted to know more about the other characters” and that’s why I only gave it 4 stars instead of 5.

I’m a reader as well as an author – and I’ve read my share of OMG how is this a bestseller novel? But I have never left that as a review.

As readers we all have our likes and dislikes but that shouldn’t be the end all – if the book is not your cuppa – then just don’t leave a review!

About Elaine Raco Chase

I write sassy, sexy, LOL contemporary romance novels. Often they start with “love at first sight” (a few of my friends write “love at first bite!”) I was thrilled read some wonderful stats: Match.com – 59% of men believe in love at first sight!
Prevention Mag. says 60% of Americans believe in love at first sight!
Prevention also noted that women see brooding men as significantly more
sexually attractive than happy guys! Is this the “bad-boy?”

I was never sure of “love at first sight” until my dad told me he fell for my mom as he watched her chase her dog down the street! I told him that was the silliest thing I ever heard they hadn’t even said a word to each other! He winked and said “sometimes you just know”…they were married for 57 years. Hubby and I are headed for 43 years this October: he said it was “lust at first sight” – yeah! That works too!

So let’s say “attraction” at first sight and then what reviewers call the “slow burn” are the core of my contemporary romantic comedies. Some more erotic than others, but all with characters that are so believable they’ve received fan mail!

Her bestselling romance novels: Rules of the Game, Dare the Devil, Double Occupancy, Lady Be Bad, Calculated Risk, Video Vixen, Designing Woman and Special Delivery are on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, Itunes, Blio, Sony, XinXii, and All Romance. All have been updated and expanded.

When she’s not writing, or rewriting, Elaine also hosts a weekly radio show on Thursdays 8PM EST: Author’s Corner at Triangle Variety Radio.



Next week: actually writing a review including some tips for writing negative reviews