Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday Morning Musings: Book Reviews

Frank Henry, c. 1918
My grandfather used to scan the sky for weather changes, the way dark clouds might hug the horizon or riffles suggest a coming storm. 

He was a cowboy, well used to what could happen if he were out checking fence on horseback, miles from shelter.

My most physical labor is keyboarding. I glance at the sky occasionally, when deciding which shoes to wear if it's raining or when to time that dash to the supermarket or those walks in my suburban neighborhood.

As a self-published writer, I confront daily that challenge to balance writing with marketing. Two weeks ago, I signed up for an online marketing class and have been inundated by e-mailed workshops, marketing tips for writers, and exhortations. I should have seen that coming.

My mantra? Divide and conquer. Pick one or two marketing suggestions each week. Try them. See what worked. Rinse and repeat. For the coming week, my focus will be on reviews. 

Why write a review or ask for one? 

Apparently people are swayed by reviews. Most of the time, I read the blurb, jump to scanning the writer's storytelling skills inside the book (whether picking up that book physically or online), and then make a decision. My husband is guided by all those "best of . . . " and reads literary fiction. I read everything else.

But I do subscribe to several e-mails (including from my local library) that send me suggested titles to read in historical fiction. 

Last week's e-mail brought an invitation to vote in this year's "Best Blog Review Blog Award" competition. 

Some 25 blogs and websites were suggested as this year's best. I read through these blogs, considering content, sophistication of setup (some were formal websites; others were rolling blogs), genres covered (and likely audience), clarity of instructions on subbing for reviews, and relevance to my writing. 

And despite that avalanche of incoming e-mail, I found a few new sites to subscribe to and added three more books to my TBR list.

What's next? My goals currently include writing at least one review a month, preferably for an indie or self-published writer. This week, I'm also going to request a review for my books from two of my favorite sites. And, yes, I voted. Will you?  

Have you ever asked someone to write a review? Or written a review -- for an indie writer? Was this difficult? 

Here's my favorite meme of the week from Steven Malone's Google+ site along with a link to this neat article (also from Steven) on "Book Reviews: A Casual Readers' Guide to Reviewing." Anthony Eichenlaub will have you laughing and rethinking how you write reviews.

If you would like to review any one of my books, send me an e-mail letting me know which one, and I'll send you an e-book!  Make it a good week.