Wow! It has been an entire month since I started Books, Vertigo and Tea. For some that may not seem too long and in reality it isn’t. But I have acquired over 40 followers and met some wonder bloggers in this short time. It has been such a truly positive experience and added to my overall enjoyment of reading and writing. I am excited to see what the future holds for this blog and all of you. Thank you for making these first steps so wonderful!
This week I am mashing about the entire book review process and how you normally generate traffic to your own blogs. I have struggled lately and managed to hit several creativity barriers that have left me pondering how others handle hurdles as they present themselves. Below or several issues that can arise for myself, and I would love to share thoughts on how we handle them as reviewers.
Writing Negative Book Reviews
I have reviewed some great books since I launched Books, Vertigo and Tea:
I have been truly fortunate that I have yet to encounter a title I really disliked since I began posting reviews on this blog. I would consider a bad review to be 2 or fewer stars. I think that goes without saying. But it has had me thinking, how would I handle this? It is obviously truly important to be an honest critique. I want my viewers to read my reviews knowing that they are reading an honest and unbiased opinion. So how does one write a review when they did not enjoy the book? I have a few personal rules I try to follow:
- Never attack the author directly. Attacking it not critiquing.
- Remain honest even if it stings a bit. Keep your integrity intact.
- Try to start by pointing out a few positive aspects of the book (even it is the beautiful cover artwork or clever title), then discuss the negative aspects.
- End on a high note always. I mean always! While this may not have been a good title for you, suggest others you feel may enjoy the novel (i.e. I am not a fan of romance, so if I decide to review a romance novel and dislike it, I do not immediately assume that all fans of the genre will feel the same).
- Accept the fact that negative reviews are going to be hard to write. It happens and they may not be as well received as more positive reviews.
- Last but least expect some lash back. You may not enjoy a book that someone else loves. This can solicit upset comments or feedback at times. It is ok. A review should encourage all forms of discussion. Just keep it tactful.
Have you written many negative reviews? Do you have your own set of guidelines or individual thought process for these reviews? They are rough. They can take longer to write and are hard to publish at times. I would love to know how you handle this or whether you choose not to publish them. What happens if you are unable to complete a title? I have not encountered this yet, but since I announce my current reading, it could happen.
Reviews & Spoilers
Writing reviews without spoilers can be tricky! I really try to give a fair perspective of each book I review. I want to convey enough information and an opinion that will help fellow readers decide whether or not they should add titles to their TBR. What I do not want to do is over do it. I am not the author, so I should not be telling the story.
I have come across too many reviews where half-way through I am excited to snag a title, but then by the end I feel I have already read it. Bleh! It doesn’t work for me as a reader. I strongly dislike spoilers, and I only use the word strongly because I try to avoid saying “hate”. I don’t want to know what happens on a show or film before viewing it, so why would I want to know how a book ends or which character dies? Horrible..
I have found it challenging at times to commpose a review that feels complete and avoid spoilers. I have adapted several rules to assist me:
- Provide a synopsis you would expect to read on the back of the book (I still like to write my own). Keep it brief and remember it is okay to remain a bit abstract. It is an outline, but not the actual story. I notice that a lot of reviews will include the Goodreads.com synopsis and this works well.
- Review the key elements that make up the story without actually revealing what happens. I do this by addressing how well the characters and settings are developed. Are they credible?
- Discuss the author’s writing. Did you enjoy it? What are the strong points?
- Touch on the ending without exposing it. Were you left feeling satisfied? Do you feel like there might be a sequel? If there is, will you read it? Maybe you were disappointed?
- And finally, who would enjoy this book? Maybe fans of another title or certain genre. Make recommendations.
How do you prefer to write reviews when it comes to spoilers? Do you even consider them? I have noticed several bloggers will compose two reviews, one without spoilers and one with. I really enjoy this concept. If I have not read the title I can easily avoid unwanted details, but if I have then the review with spoilers is a great way to compare and trade thoughts! Will you still read a book if you feel you have encountered spoilers? How does this affect your experience not only as the reviewer, but the reader?
Creativity/Writers Block & Social Media Accounts
This is the hardest for me. I have experienced several episodes of creativity block since I began Books, Vertigo and Tea. I run several social media accounts connected to the blog so it is not always just writer’s block. Sometimes I spend days with zilch for inspiration on my Instagram account. It stinks. I see so many lovely and whimsical pictures, and I have zero ideas. Combine that with sub par photography skills and it can spell real trouble. We want to stay connected and keep followers interested, but I find the only thing I can do is walk away for a bit.
I have tried combing through photos online, tearing apart my bookshelf, small breaks, and even a walk when able to clear my head. Sometimes it just isn’t there. I see so many Bookstagrammers and bloggers who seem to have endless posts and ideas. So what is the secret? How do you stay inspired? Please tell me!!!!
Speaking of social media accounts. I have several. Many articles and much research before launching convinced me that I needed social media to succeed and reach others. It was a no brainer according to everyone! So it began. I launched Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and even adjusted my Goodreads account. I juggled and managed what felt like as many accounts as I have toes. Then for weeks, nothing happened.. And to be honest aside from a few Tumblr followers, my Bookstagram account is the only one that seems to receive any activity. I am completely aware that no success occurs overnight, and patience is required.
“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success. Napoleon Hill”
But it is hard. Sometimes we just want instant gratification. What do you mean no one liked my photo? I posted that an hour ago!! I just cannot help wondering if I am using the right platform and which ones are truly necessary. What time of day should I be posting. Are they being seen. Hashtag? Oh goodness..more googling. Did I use the right tag? It is a lot to absorb.
Are you using social media accounts, and if so which ones? How are you directing traffic to your blog and other accounts? What would you suggest to someone who is still learning the ropes.
Enough about the reviewing process for one week. We are half-way over the hill and I am looking forward to your comments and thoughts on the entire reviewing and blogging process. I hope everyone has a fantastic week!