As with many of the bloggers I’ve got to know this year, I met Amy through Twitter. She’s still at school herself (one of the actual young adults that read young adult!). She’s enthusiastic and passionate about literature and throws herself into any event wholeheartedly. Not only that, but she’s a Whovian, so that makes her pretty cool in my eyes! This is what Amy had to say in response to my questions about her reviewing habits:
Name your top 5 peeves from author review requests
Well, I’ve not had issues with review requests before but it’d annoy me if:
1) I know it sounds silly but if I was led into thinking I was reading a rough length of say 200 pages & it was much out I’d be annoyed. I like to know the length of the novel, I can research but they should know I care about length 😛
2) Their request was too wordy & had no pictures. They may not have a cover yet but if they have no images related to the request they shouldn’t write it as a block of text which makes no sense to me (maybe they could just make it short, sweet & not peeve me off- who cares about professionalism… much!?). If I have to use a dictionary to understand the email how will I understand their novel?
3) For some reason they haven’t told me their book title. Just requesting a review of ‘a book’ is silly… I’d probably be tempted to reply something like ‘I am interested, can I please review [insert book on TBR I don’t own]?’
4) They had too high expectations. If they told me something like, “X has 95% 5* reviews, I have spent X hours on this novel & I expect you to read it in [short space of time] & enjoy it!’ then I’d delete it. They didn’t say I had to 5* it but I’d infer it if I’m honest & the time you spent on it? Crikey. I don’t need to feel bad if I don’t like it because X amount of time was spent on it. Therefore I must read it in X amount of time? Ooh, and if I don’t enjoy it you’re the last person I want to tell.
5) They had no social networking at all (or didn’t let me know they have). No twitter, no goodreads, no nothing… So, I have to email them about their book? There’s nothing quick about that! I love to let authors know what I think as I’m reading basically… If I can’t do that my experience doesn’t always feel “wholesome”. Depends on other things too…
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?
I think this would definitely influence my opinion but to what extent… That I’m not sure of. I think it’s important to note I am a very selective reader. I tend to do my research & hopefully it would avoid issues like this. Believe me- I’d rather say ‘No’ to a review request! Sometimes there’s not a lot of info out there but taking chances are fine. I would personally mention in my review that it was more of taking a chance than usual. The rule of thumb is honesty. No exceptions, at least not in the book blogger type I come under 😉 Gosh… that sounded weird. Going back to the point, I will mention those features & how they affected me, what I thought of them & explain them so others can make up their own mind. The reasons I, hypothetically & using your example, didn’t like unicorns might be the reasons someone else loves them! Every opinion is influenced by something- be it the horns of the animal or something much bigger which you just want to hint at. I’ve seen this & seen reviewers being attacked for it; there’s definitely good reasons to not leave negative reviews but as I’ve said I’m honest & that means sharing a mix of negative, and positive (mostly, I hope), opinions. On genres, on features, on book covers… Whatever!
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?
…This is an absolutely great topic. Why? I don’t think anyone is yet to fully understand it. I don’t mean why there’s a growing army of indie authors. That’s obvious. Firstly, we all have our own opinions on indie’s & mine is that they’re great. There are indie books which may not have been published otherwise but would’ve deserved readers… and they got them! It’s not hypothetical anymore. It’s not an author’s dream anymore. Don’t you love the feeling that this can be a reality? Authors can do whatever they like with their stories, they don’t have to sell their rights (nor their royalties like they are nothing- which they’re not *cough* publishers *cough*). Hence why indie’s exist. They want to have their book in their own hands… And hopefully have fingerprints of readers, not of the publishing “let’s make money out of this!” variety, in said book.
I don’t think my review policy will ever change because of the aforementioned. I know there’s likely to be low quality indie books and they give the community it’s bad name. But who’s to say everything traditionally published I’ve read is high quality? It’s not. Negative reviews don’t just exist for indie’s. Unfortunately they often have more effect on Indie’s; people are more like to believe thoughtless negative reviews, not of the more helpful negative type, for indie’s because a publisher didn’t buy said book. Do they read the reviews that accompany 1*, 2* or maybe even 3* ratings or do they decide not to read it because it’s indie? I will never entirely know, as I said! I’d like to think nobody assumes that because publishers didn’t take it on & put hard work into it that the author didn’t either. But is that the nastier side of the reality I described?… It’s not all a bed of roses which is why I respect indie’s and will happily review their books in addition to the fair number of traditionally published books I read.
Describe your reviewing schedule. How many hours do you put in a week/ day? How does this impact on other aspects of your life?
It’s hard to stick a numerical figure on to that. I could put a figure that says something like:
That’s proper descriptive, alright? 😛 I don’t have a reviewing schedule or a schedule for any part of my blogging, really. I never blog on a Sunday, that includes writing posts, posting my posts then & much more of my online activity. It’s my cut down day. You’d think, and so would my parents, that my cut down day would be during the week. And in a way, I have one then. But only from recently- rehearsals in the choir I’m in have been more frequent & that’s every Wednesday now, at least! So, I love that. I love blogging too but I cut down when I want to do something else I love- like my Art (which is mainly homework to be fair, so time-consuming), singing or spending time with family (that’s on Sunday, and it’s not just with my parents… it’s the wider family). That means I don’t blog as much as some but I never expected to be a 24/7 blogger. I never expected to blog as much as I do, even, though! And I didn’t expect to say ‘Huh?’ to this question until you asked it. Sure, it takes up quite a bit of time. I post 1 or 2 reviews a week; not just reviews though! Each review takes me on average 1-2 hours. Closer to 2 often :L It doesn’t sound a lot but I have to make time for other posts, other contact with authors (though reading their books? That’s one of the best!) & of course the reading! It sounds obvious, or maybe odd… To me they are the elements of blogging that I can think of from the top of my head.
What started you book blogging? What makes you continue to do it?
I say the same thing for starting it every time (sorry). I was inspired by Vlogging. I don’t mean I vlogged but I used to watch just vloggers until I stopped off at booktubers (yes, vloggers but bookish ones who basically video what I blog now). Lots had goodreads & I’d been a referral from google many a time. I always googled bookish things and it’d direct me there even for quotes! I didn’t realize much about it until I signed up, followed these vloggers, started reviewing, doing other stuff & ended up finding out about the non-video equivalent. I liked those reviews too and the blogs were a good idea so… hey, presto! I wish I could say a certain blogger did but really it was a journey which took months & eventually I blogged myself, not understanding quite the size of the community just knowing that I’d seen some pop up here & there. Now I know the truth 😉 Now I know the truth I can’t go completely. I can cut down, even if it’s not for long at all. I have to be here at least some of the time having these great experiences. The great experiences making connections with authors, bloggers & helping others to make them where I can. I’m quite a small (not just height-wise) blogger but that’s not what matters. It’s not stats alone that drive me, it’s you guys! The fabulous community which I am going to give a… WAIT FOR IT! *Big Hug*
Yup, it’s all about the hugs *giggles* Oh, don’t forget the cookies… We make, and eat, some great cookies in my blogging group, Blogger Lift. Yay for us! Thanks for having me here today (: I’ve really enjoyed answering these epic, ramble-provoking questions Sharon!
You can find Amy on her wonderfully vibrant and enthusiastic blog here… Or follow her on Twitter
Tomorrow is Friday *cue wild cheers* so there will be a break from the blogging feature to find out what’s in my earholes. Who knows what musical treasure you we’ll dig up? But worry not, there will be more book blogger musings on Saturday 🙂