I like to be thrown right into the story. Drop me right into the action. Get my heart pounding right away. Scare the mess out of me.
Jessica – 2 July 2017
How did you get started?
Around last year, I was really stressed out with my doctorate program and all of the things that I had to get ready for coming up on the research stage. I scheduled my work and did what I had to do for my classes and then I bought a lot of books; mainly mysteries, thrillers, and a little romance, in order to de-stress myself. After reading them, I posted reviews and then started to share them. I’ve always enjoyed reading and sharing a good book so I thought I’d start my own blog.
How do you review a book? Is it a read first, and then make notes, or do you make notes as you go along?
I read and make notes as I go along. In my notes, I have questions or thoughts about where I think the story will go. As I read, very often, it changes and my questions get answered. It’s like putting together a puzzle.
What are you looking for?
In terms of books, I look for a good story with relatable characters and interesting dialogue.
If a book has a great plot, great characters, but the grammar is less than perfect, how do you deal with that?
If the grammar problems are sporadic, I don’t worry too much about it, but if it’s a recurring problem throughout the story, it distracts me from the story. Not much, but it does and I have to mention it.
How long does it take you to get through, say, an eighty thousand-word book?
I’d say about a couple of months maximum. I read as much as possible, but often, life gets in the way of my favorite books.
How did you come up with your rating system, and could you explain more about the rating system?
I got my main rating system, 1 through 5 stars, from Book Depository, NetGalley, Amazon, Goodreads and other websites. The books that I read and review, I also review on these websites and also where I purchase. So its easier to transfer between my blog and the purchasing sites.
What advice could you give to authors looking to get their books reviewed?
Just reach out. Reviewers, especially myself, are always looking for books. I personally love self-published authors and I’ll review them any chance I get. So just ask and ask politely and be courteous.
Do you get readers emailing you and thanking you for a review?
I have so far and it feels good to be able to give feedback and have that feedback be appreciated.
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. Under no circumstances to ‘argue’ with the reviewer – would you agree with that?
I would definitely agree with that. Just take the feedback and apply it to your next work. And also, an author should understand that just because I or another reviewer may not have liked it, that doesn’t mean that someone else won’t like it.
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. Why do you think people love reading? We’re seeing lots of statistics that say reading as a pastime is dying – do you think that’s the case?
I think that people love reading because you have the opportunity to escape to another world for a while. It isn’t dying, especially not in this day and age. It has evolved as people can go and get a physical book, listen to a book, or read one on their phone. The market has changed. There are multiple outlets to get your favorite book and people are taking advantage. I believe they want that time to pull back and regroup before reentering their real world.
What are the most common mistakes that you see authors making?
It sometimes description and dialogue, too much or too little of both or, with dialogue, not necessarily varied enough to distinguish one character from another.
We’re told that the first page, paragraph, chapter, is absolutely key in making or breaking a book. Agents typically request only the first five pages of a novel; what do you think about that? If a book hasn’t grabbed you by the first five pages, do you put it down?
For me, I like to be grabbed by the first line. If a book doesn’t start with action, it’s hard for me to continue. I like to be thrown right into the story. Drop me right into the action. Get my heart pounding right away. Scare the mess out of me. When a book does that, I’m hooked. It’s hard to get me out of it.
Is there anything you will not review?
The only thing I don’t review is erotica that is just the action of sex and no story. I’m a fan of the erotica genre, but it has to have other elements such as mystery, within the story. Don’t just give me the bedroom scene and then leave. Woo me to want to go there with you.
What do you think of the oft-quoted comment that the “slush-pile has moved online”?
To a certain degree, its true. Self-publishing is very much like traditional publishing. You’ll find good books and you’ll find bad ones. I’ve read awful books from big five publishers and great ones from self-published authors. And that’s all readers really care about: quality and a good story. Often, good stories have been passed over by big five publishers in favor of big names who aren’t the best writers. So in that sense, I’d agree. Self-publishing cuts through the bureaucracy and gives the written work directly to the people that really matter: the readers.
Do you think attitudes are changing with respect to indie or self-published titles?
I certainly hope so. I’m tired of hearing certain reviewers and bloggers say that they will not review indie or self-published just because they found a few that they don’t like in that arena. I think that is the stupidest thing ever. Would you not read another traditionally published book if you read some that you didn’t like? No, you would not. You would suck it up, get yourself another book, and hope for the best. Fortunately, I haven’t encountered many that say things like that, so I think attitudes are changing.
Do you have any ideas or comments on how the industry can ‘filter’ good from bad, aside from reviews?
Outside of reviews, the best thing is to dive into those first few pages. If you’re grabbed, give it a shot and keep going.
End of Interview.
Read Jessica’s reviews at Forward Scribes.