I met Sharon on Twitter, having been introduced online by a mutual friend, the lovely Mel Sherratt. We have three things in common (although this may turn into the Spanish inquisition if we’re not careful), our name, a certain town in Dorset, and our love of books. Oh yes, and Mel of course, so that’s four (I told you it would turn into the Spanish Inquisition). So, there was no way we weren’t going to hit it off! Sharon is super-busy at the moment – not only does she run Jera’s Jamboree but she also runs a book tour service, Fiction Addiction, and also holds down a day job, so I was thrilled that she took some time out to talk to me about her blogging habits. Here’s what she had to say:
Name your top 5 peeves from author review requests.
SORRY SHARON, CAN ONLY THINK OF THREE!
Top of the list has to be authors using the contact form on my blog to request a review, despite my Review Policy page saying I am not accepting reviews unless I already have a blogging relationship with you. This either tells me that my Review Policy isn’t being read, or that it’s being ignored. Don’t get me wrong, authors are more than welcome to either guest, be interviewed or use my blog for promotional material (which I make clear on the Review Policy). I am more than happy to promote indie as well as published authors. At the last count in February I had 49 paperbacks and 59 on my Kindle on my tbr (some are bought!) and with the best will in the world …
Linked to that, I always respond to requests via the contact form politely saying unable to review but welcome to guest etc … and a lot of the time I receive no reply at all. These authors are not doing themselves any favours for future writing projects. This is NOT the way to build professional networking relationships based on give and take, mutual sharing.
Another peeve is when an author follows me on Twitter and they immediately tweet me requesting a review. They haven’t taken the time to interact or get to know me at all. Again, it’s all to do with courtesy. You wouldn’t go up to someone, say in a coffee shop, and ask them to review your book. Just because we’re sharing the same ‘space’ or in the same network, it doesn’t mean that basic manners have no value. Yes I say in my profile that I’m an avid reader … it also says my family and pets are important to me and I love my job in education J
The same genre can encompass many different types of story – for example, fantasy ranges from Terry Pratchett to Twilight and everything in between. How hard is it to remain objective in your review if a feature of a book doesn’t float your boat? Say you get a fantasy about unicorns and unicorns are just not your bag, how does that influence your opinion?
All reviews are subjective. Anyone who says they have written an objective review is not telling the truth. We bring our own life experiences to reading and relate to characters and plot (no matter the genre or if they are mythical creatures) through that coloured lens. It’s interesting to read reviews of the same book because they are personal. If I don’t connect with a story I will spend time thinking about why and even if I can’t quite put my finger on it, I will say in my review that I found it difficult and link to other positive reviews so that readers of my review have a balance. For example my review of Seducing Ingrid Bergman.
What are your feelings on the growing army of indie authors? How does the quality of their work hold up against traditionally published? Do you accept reviews from both and what would it take to change your mind on your current policy?
One of my favourite authors is local indie Shalini Boland. I think as readers, if we don’t read indie then we are missing out on the richness and variety that is available to us. The changes in publishing have meant some published authors have gone indie. There are other authors who are not prepared to wait it out to go the traditional publishing route who self publish. All of my experiences with indie have been positive. I have to admit that I was really surprised to see on an Amazon US forum that indie authors were taking a bashing! The books I’ve read have been edited well, formatted, have strong plots, great main and satellite characters. Styles of writing have engaged my imagination and I’ve wanted to read more by the same author. I’m looking forward to taking part in Say It With Books Indie-Self Published Author Event in June! I’m hosting a guest post and an interview (I would also have reviewed if my tbr wasn’t so huge).
Describe your reviewing schedule. How many hours do you put in a week/ day? How does this impact on other aspects of your life?
I can’t remember a time when I haven’t had a book on the go (well before my blogging days). I read between 1-2 hours a day when it’s term time and longer in the holidays. I make notes while reading of either basic info, info I know I will include in my review, a sentence that I particularly like because it has had an effect on me and my personal thoughts. This makes reading a book longer but it means my review is exactly how I want it to be. It takes me a minimum of 2 hours to write a review. I review at least one book at week, sometimes two and if I’m catching up in the holidays then three or four! I’ve read for so long though that it has very little impact on my life now as it’s such an integral part of it.
What started you book blogging? What makes you continue to do it?
I started book blogging to share a love of words. I think the main thing that makes me continue (apart from my addiction to the worlds I can explore without leaving my chair) is the fabulous book blogging community that I’m a part of. I’ve met a couple of blogging friends in real time which has been amazing. From a shared love of reading, bonds of friendships are formed. It’s a sense of belonging and the support nearly everyone gives each other. You just can’t beat it!
You can follow Sharon on Twitter or check out Jera’s Jamboree for all the latest book news, info and reviews. You can also like Jera’s Jamboree on Facebook. Tomorrow will be the turn of lovely Liz from Liz Loves Books to share her thoughts.