Wanted: Readers

Only, not necessarily for the reason that popped into your mind. I have an idea, but it’s not something I can do. It’s something an author, any of us, cannot do. So? I’m looking for a few good readers…

There’s a crying need for book reviews. Yes, Amazon, but also no. Not Amazon. We need diversity, and putting up reviews on book sales sites is important. It’s also a fragile ecosystem. We’ve all heard the stories, if we haven’t experienced it ourselves, of the ‘Zon or social media or… deciding that this review, this post, this whatever opinion, is not worthy, and making it vanish. What is needed is something more durable.

I’ve been trying to coax my mother into blogging book reviews: she is a voracious reader, and has a blog, and it would be really helpful. Not to me, so much, as there’s an obvious bias! but to other authors out there. Besides which, it would be great if there were a site with reviewers that readers could build up a trust relationship with. Honest reviews, that could be relied on as indicators of ‘I’d like that, too!’ are a vital part of marketing, and it’s something money can’t buy.

Seriously, this is… does anyone know of a reliable book review site?

Crickets?

Yeah… there are review sites. I can name a couple offhand. One is… um, very much not my genre, the political tilt button started blaring a few years back, and now I don’t go there even though I used to visit just for the snark. But that odor of ‘political correctness’ pervaded their reviews, and I found I could no longer trust that they were putting forth an honest portrayal of a book, or if it was skewed towards activism. And I don’t care which side of the political spectrum you’re on. Activism in fiction is never fun reading.

Relying on word of mouth is a great way to find books. We’ve been doing that over in the Book Club with Spikes with recommendation threads, or folks just dropping in a link to something they read and enjoyed. And this is great, but it’s ephemeral and not at all publicly searchable. That’s why I’m thinking there needs to be a blog, or a website, for reviews. They don’t need to be long literary critiques (please, no…). They don’t need to be terribly witty (although funny is always good, snarky is good too) on days the reviewers aren’t up to that. I know readers are not writers, but some of them can be.

It’s nothing I can run myself. Terrible conflict of interest. But perhaps I can plant the seed that could grow into something wonderful.

Readers? Toss a coin to your authors?

29 comments

  1. I also used to do book reviews for one of those review sites – PODBRAM http://podbram.blogspot.com/
    but it looks like it has not been updated in six or seven years. The manager of the site did prescreening of indy books, and farmed out the reading and reviews to a pool of mostly other indy authors.
    For current discussion of books, and readers, and for plugs of indy author books, I do recommend the Sunday Morning Book Thread at Ace of Spades HQ. Discussions are free-ranging, and often top 500 comments of a morning. Just about all the books that I have purchased and read lately have been from reader recommends there. I’ve also gotten beta readers, and reviews from asking there.

    1. I’ll check that out. I was asked yesterday if it was still a thing.

      As for the defunct site, that seems to be the case for many of the old blogs. I’d love to see a revival of the indies.

    2. The comments at Ace of Spades are also a good source of non-fiction books for writing research. I remember finding good recommendations from the readers there for gunsmithing, rifles, and certain battles.

    1. Actually, I post on some topics in Goodreads what I am reading. Then I review books I like on my blog. Then I export them to three topics, one on livejournal and two on dreamwidth, and to Goodreads as well.

  2. I was a FAN before I was a WRITER, so I still do reviews on my blog site. I just have to be careful with ‘friends’ books’. I try not to show bias, but I also try not to let my habit of finding the nits to pick be the focus of the review either. It’s a balancing act. For the most part, I don’t review a book if it’s really bad, I just skip that one and go to the next book.

    My problem is that I don’t read fast enough (*stares stink-eye-edly at Cedar*) to get enough in for consistency. My goal for next year, however, is to read a book a week and do a review (good/bad/ugly) for each one… wish me luck!

    If you do run across a good site that consolidates reviews/blogs, please let me know!

    PS – shameful plug… my blog is wampuscatenterprises.wordpress.com for anyone interested… <<–delete that if you find it too distasteful, Cedar!

  3. I’ve published book reviews on our website although now I focus on films of Agatha Christie (for an upcoming book).
    Where my book reviews now go is to our Instagram account which very few people see.

    In my limited experience, Instagram encourages capsule reviews: there’s no space for anything in-depth. A picture of the book, a caption, a few hundred words. That’s it.

    Yet that works for some people!

    I participated in a reader/author panel at my local bookstore. The readers up on stage answered questions from the audience of authors.
    “Where do you get your book recommendations?”
    Overwhelmingly, the answer was word of mouth closely followed by Instagram and — God save us — TikTok. No one mentioned reviews.

    My guess is different readers find different books different ways so the more ways an author can spread the word, the better.

  4. I review non-fiction on my blog . . . because that’s all I’ve had time to read this year, it feels like! I’ve got a handful novels and anthologies that I started reading, and either had to put down because of Day Job or book-research demands, or that will require some alone time so people don’t get worried about my laughing aloud, or other emotional responses.

  5. I read a couple hundred books a year and at least the last few years review them all. Reviews are posted on my blog and on Goodreads. Up until this summer I was a top reviewer and vine reviewer on the big A top 100 Canada, 500 US and 1000 UK. Reviews going back to 1999, but they were all pulled.

    https://bootstrap-it.com/cancelled-by-amazon/

    I read almost anthing but a big focus if Catholic fiction and non-fiction. And some call me a compleationist, in that when I find an author I like I often read everything they published. And I love reviewing Anthologies and discovering new authors. Was how I encountered Cedar, discovered her in Cracked and have reviewed 5 more since then.

    Steven

      1. They gave several different reasons and I refuted them all. My last communication from them was the decision was final and they might not reply to any further attempts. My last 2 reviews that posted just before they were all blocked were:
        The Gunpowder Plot – Herbert Thurston SJ – CTS Onefifties Book 9
        https://www.bookreviewsandmore.ca/2021/09/the-gunpowder-plot-herbert-thurston-sj.html
        Old Men Don’t Walk to Egypt – Corinna Turner Friends in High Places Book 2 Saint Joseph
        https://www.bookreviewsandmore.ca/2021/08/old-men-dont-walk-to-egypt-corinna.html
        The Same were a couple of Catholic Fiction authors noticed a huge dip in the reviews they had. And I heard of at least 2 others who reviewed primarily Catholic books that all got yanked around the same time.

  6. The N3F Review of Books Incorporating Prose Bono published by the National Fantasy Fan Federation would be delighted to take all reviews of stfnal books. I cannot promise immortality, but The National Fantasy Fan Federation was founded in 1941 by the likes of Damon Knight, EE Smith, and Forey Ackerman, and has been around since.

    Oh, yes , you are all welcome to join and get all our magazines via email. Read more about us at http://TNFFF.org/

    Cedar is a member.

  7. Doesn’t the Bayou Renaissance Man (Pat) still do reviews? Although, I guess he does most of his on Amazon and Good Reads.

    1. Papa Pat currently lives east of the bayou, Peter Grant currently lives west of the bayou. Now, granted, I have not seen them together in a room at the same time, but I’m pretty sure they are different people. 😉

      1. Yup, I’m a different person than Peter Grant, and…I haven’t been able to write much of anything for the past year or so. I also haven’t been able to read much of anything for the past year or so.
        I was able to get SOME writing done, by launching Tiny Devotional a bit over a year ago. That’s 300 words per day, which is both a great discipline for efficiently word-ifying the chosen ideas, and also something I can do in an hour or two. That is only sputtering along now as well. I’ve reached out for help, in the form of accountability with that (since it’s my primary spiritual discipline, apart from not shooting people who bug me).
        My attention span USED to permit me to become immersed in the reading experience; and then, the need to proclaim the beauty of what I was reading had me cranking out a review every couple of days. Now
        We are trying now to find out why I can’t concentrate. I suspect it has something to do with my decision to reduce the amount of narcotics I take for pain, as that seems to have resulted in my being unable to sleep more than a couple of hours each night (if my FitBit is accurate, which I believe is the case). I have a sleep study scheduled in January.
        When I WAS reviewing regularly, the reviews were [posted on Amazon, Goodreads, my blog (Papa Pat Rambles) and on my Facebook page; sometimes in other Facebook groups as well. I also submitted reviews to George at N3F.
        I miss reviewing. I didn’t realize how much I miss it, until I paged back through my older work to see the last time I was generating copy. I discovered I had regularly been presented with gifts of amazing beauty in the things I read. It will be a lovely day for me when I can start again; let’s hope that is sooner, rather than later.

  8. I have a website, and would be happy to set up a group book review blog, and even promote it. I only have enough time to write maybe 1-2 a week, but would gladly give others the place to put their reviews.
    If interested, reply here, and we can work out the details.

  9. Smart Bitches Trashy Books used to do decent reviews on (mostly) romance novels, but they started plunging into wokes-ville a few years back, so I haven’t been there in awhile to see if they still do decent reviews, or if they continued their descent into politics-not-fiction-and-not-funny-anymore. (Their grade-F reviews tended to be extremely funny, especially if the reader actually slogged to the end of the book and took the bullet for the rest of us.)

    1. I remember a discussion there where the readers were annoyed that a heroine in a historical was angry that her husband expected his martial rights. Especially since she had plenty of other stuff to complain about. But she had married him of her own free will.

  10. Declan Finn and Robert Kroese (both of them SF/Adventure writers in their own rights, and as far as I can tell, both comfortably to Trump’s right, politically) host Upstream Reviews, and will often cover things on-sale-at-Amazon as a Deal Of The Day. In the past few weeks they’ve reviewed the latest Monster Hunter book by Larry Correia, the first of Fritz Lieber’s Nehwon (a.k.a. Fafhrd & Grey Mouser) books, in which F.L. names the Sword-and-Sorcery subgenre of Fantasy, and various in between.

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