Mesadallas mentioned in a comment to the last post that she had not been aware of the Dear Author site and asked for recommendations for review sites other than there, Goodreads (isn’t Goodreads all reader reviews, as opposed to “a reviewer”?), and All About Romance. If anyone has recommendations for her, please say.
Before the Dear Author review, I had been going to make a post about reviews anyway, so here goes.
I think I’ve mentioned in the past that for years my attitude towards reviews has been that if something gets a good review, I won’t like it. That came from the days when my exposure to reviews was in places like Newsweek and Time. Others probably have the experience of seeing these because the magazines are left in the lunchroom at work or at the doctor’s or dentist’s office (although I don’t even know if these magazines have book reviews any more — it’s been years since I read one). My opinion of those reviews hasn’t changed. They’re usually by some literary elitist who thinks the purpose of a book is edification of the unwashed masses, not enjoyment.
When I became a internet junkie, though, it never occurred to me to look for book review blogs. Believe it or not, my first exposure to such a blog was when Red Adept picked up Rottweiler Rescue early on and reviewed it. Her review gave the book and me (it was the first one I published, remember) a big boost. (Red does not review romance. I understand some of her reviewers now do occasionally.) Even after that, I never sent that book or the romances around the review blogs the way other indies did. (I did send a copy of Rott Rescue to an online Rottweiler magazine.) Fear of rejection? Laziness? I don’t know, but the fact is the supposed Queen of the Spammers never did much promotion except putting her books in the indie threads on the Amazon, Mobile Read, and Kindle Boards forums, putting a link in her signature when she posted in other threads, and answering an occasional “looking for a book that…”
Then Eyes and Sing were reviewed by Kristie(J) and The Maldivian Book Reviewer. Sing was reviewed by All About Romance, and of course now Eyes has been reviewed by Dear Author. The effect that had was to make me go to those sites, see them, and start reading reviews of books other than mine. For starters, when you go to the sites, there are all the covers in a pretty decent size looking enticing. I must confess some of those naked chests — oh my.
As I’ve also posted before, I tend to be a pretty slap happy reader. I never kept lists of books I read, much less with ratings. I relied on my memory that I could pick up a book, read the first couple of pages and tell if I’d ever read it before. In bookstores, cover blurbs and flyleafs either drew me in enough to get me to page through and read a bit and decide or they didn’t. On Amazon it was descriptions and reader reviews. Authors just became favorites when I read a couple of books by them and started recognizing the name.
To be honest, I still can’t understand the posts I see in the forums saying, I can’t decide whether or not to try such and such a book, what do you think I should do? Why not read the description, the ebook sample, or the Look Inside thing on Amazon and decide. I understand not wanting to waste the money for a hard cover or trade paperback if the book doesn’t suit, but there are a lot of ways to try something out before buying these days.
However, I admit that seeing all these interesting reviews on the blog sites has me figuring even for someone like me, they could be helpful. For starters they make me aware of books I wouldn’t come across on my own. Then if I can figure out an author is a favorite after several books I like in a row, I should be able to tell if a reviewer is in sync the same way by paying attention to how many times that person’s opinion is kind sorta in line with mine. My results have been mixed so far, but I haven’t been at it long enough to have tried enough books by any single reviewer to be sure. Even on romance review blogs, the books reviewed cover a larger range than what I read. For instance, a contemporary has to sound really super before I’ll give it a look, although I now realize I read quite a few authors considered contemporary romance authors and never thought of them as romance authors. Paranormal out. Books that mix romance with other genres out. Kinky stuff out.
So I can’t give mesadallas many recommendations. I know of Smart Bitches, but I confess they seem a little too smart[ass] for me. Someone sent me to the Coffee Time Romance site recently. Blogs I recently referenced like Rose Gordon’s and Alain Gomez’s are indie author blogs that also do reviews. Someone looking for short stories in the romance genre would do well to keep an eye on Alain’s blog, I think. Short stories are her specialty.
So anyone with other suggestions, please let us know.