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typing-clipart-typing-on-computerI’m humbled and thrilled to receive my first 5 star review for The King’s Consort-The Louise Rasmussen Story.

When a reader takes the time to write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or their blog, they are not only reaching out to other readers, they are reaching out to the author. After countless hours, months, years, the writer sits on the edge of his/her seat, waiting to see if anyone out there actually enjoys the story, as they’ve told it. We are anxious mother hens, hovering over our chick, pushing it forward, clucking away, and full of nervous excitement.

Reviews also affect the discoverability of a writer’s work on on-line venues, and in bricks-and-mortar stores. Just like word-of-mouth, it helps spread the word about a new release, or a book that’s been around a while. Places like Amazon use something called algorithms to help place the book in line with others of it’s kind, and rise it in the ranks of scores of other books. The more reviews a book gets, the higher up the line it rises, thereby making it easier for potential readers to discover. No one seems to know exactly how these algorithms work, but it is vital to the success of a book, and of course, to the writer and publisher.

When considering a new book, I know I check the reviews first, just like I do when considering whether or not to book a hotel. It isn’t that I rely on that information only when buying a book, but when I see a pattern (positive or negative), it sways my decision-making. I combine that information with my opinion of the cover art and back cover blurb, and if I like what I see, I’ll lay my money down.

Reviews may also help bookstores decide which books they give valuable shelf space to. Their business is to sell books, so it makes sense that a bookstore is going to want to place books that are more likely to sell.

Finally, (honest) reviews help the writer determine whether or not they’ve hit their mark with the story. It gives us much needed feedback, and feeds the fires of inspiration to keep us moving ahead with the next book, and the next, and the next.

shout-outBut how do you write a review? Honestly, it’s easy. Once you’ve finished reading a book, go to Amazon and set up your (free) account (most countries have their own Amazon sites). Next, search for the title or author, and click on that book. This brings you to the book’s sales page. Just below the author’s name you’ll see a series of five stars. Beside that you’ll see a line that states how many reviews that particular book has. Click on that, and it’ll bring you to a new page that gives all the reviews that book has received to date. Beside the star review, you’ll see an area that says “Write a customer review”. Click on that and follow the prompts. If you’ve read a book on a Kindle or via Kindle app, at the end of the book you’ll be taken to a “review” page, so this is where you can easily leave a review. Amazon, and other e-venues, is trying to make this really easy for readers, because they know how valuable your feedback is.

As for the portion where you can leave a comment, it can be as long or as brief as you like. Read through a few others on that book or any others to get an idea. It doesn’t have to be brilliant. It doesn’t have to be perfectly worded. It just has to be honest. Typically, it’s helpful to explain what you liked (or didn’t like) about the book. In some cases you can give a brief synopsis (no spoilers though, please), or not, and a recommendation, such as “I’d highly recommend this book to other lovers of _____.”

Once you’ve submitted your review, Amazon will notify you that it has been accepted, and what’s really cool, is that if your review proves helpful to another reader, you’ll receive an email notification to tell you.

On behalf of all writers out there, and for me, thank you for your incredible support. It means more to us than you know!

Finally, do you read reviews before purchasing? If so, tell us why. If not, share your reasons.

 

 

 

 

 

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Moving on Up

Moving on Up

 

 

 

 

We’re moving again. Even though I tell myself before, during, and immediately after every move that I’ll never do it again, life gets in the way and I find myself packing boxes and going through a surprising accumulation of stuff. It’s a tremendous chore to pack, sift through, and unpack everything you own, but it can also be a good thing.

First there’s the feeling of a new start that is inherent with any move. It can also be one of the most stressful situations we can be in – up there with divorce, change of jobs or schools, marriage, and new babies. But life is constantly changing. We’re forced to either accept the tides of change, or get sucked under. Personally, I like the opportunities that moving brings with it (I guess that’s why I keep doing it). While I’m grumbling about all the work it is to move, I try to focus on what’s ahead. I imagine my new home, and in my head I decorate to my heart’s content. I place furniture in different rooms, paint walls, hang pictures, and visualize how it will all look. I talk about it at length to my husband, and make long lists of what to keep and what to toss. It’s exhausting, but also strangely liberating. It’s personal world-building in the very truest sense.

Inspiration Moves Us

Inspiration Moves Us

Writing is the ultimate in world-building though. We’re literally crafting characters, worlds, situations, and outcomes out of the ether. Our job is to make the reader enjoy the journey and be able to make sense of the world we’ve created. Even the most outlandish fantasy stories must contain key elements of grounding for the reader to hold on to. If the writer fails in that, they’ve lost the reader, because he or she can only go by what’s written in front of them. They can’t see inside the writer’s head for the details that failed to make it to the page. If something is jarring or seems completely out of place, the writer risks upsetting the dear reader to the point where they close the book and become dissatisfied and distrustful of the writer.

Writers are entrusted with a great deal of responsibility. Not only do characters need to have substance and value, but consideration must be paid to things like time, place, costuming, language, point-of-view, and what characters see, smell, hear, and touch. Be careful of the info drop though, since no reader wants to slog through pages and pages of description before getting to the good stuff – action and dialogue. It’s a careful balance, but when achieved, brings the reader right into the heart of the story. They’re right there chasing the bad guys, or up in the rigging fighting (or being) pirates, or falling deeply in love. The reader is taken out of his/her everyday life and given a chance to be someone they aren’t and explore places they may never see. That’s what they pay for. They buy a book in hopes that it will transport them. World-building is complex, but must appear seamless for it to come to life.

Like moving to a new home, the first page of a book is a brand new start. A new adventure. As a writer, you determine where you’re taking the reader. You get to decorate to your heart’s content, and when it comes time to edit, well, it’s like down-sizing; you take away the things you know you aren’t going to need, and even get rid of things you once loved, but no longer have a place for in your new home. You build a new world full of hope and promise, and is a reflection of the story you are telling yourself and visitors. Welcome readers to your book like you would to your home. If you’ve done your job, they’ll return for another visit.

Friends

Friends

 

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