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Guest Post: Gaele from I am, Indeed

July 23, 2013

Gaele, a reader of independent books was kind enough to write a really interesting guest post for our blog about what reading and reviewing for Indie authors is like. Enjoy!

“We read to know that we are not alone.” — C.S. Lewis

This is one of the first quotes that I ever found that spoke to my thoughts in a complete and succinct way.  When people ask why I read books, they might as well ask why I breathe: books are an integral part of my existence.  I started reading and sharing the title I just finished when I was very young, and never really stopped, although the circles that I share information with has grown substantially.  I now consider myself a “professional reader”: not because I get paid for the time and effort (because I don’t) but because I am truly working every day to read and provide the best review possible for every book I encounter.  We edit, we rewrite, we talk to others who have book blogging experience and ask about books, how to phrase things: every time a review posts we hope it will be well received.   We care.  You want ‘professional readers’ to review your book, most of us provide information that will help other readers decide to read it as well.

The explosion of the eBook market and self-publishing has exponentially increased the pool of titles available to read and review.  I decided to focus on the Independent market specifically because I was seeing many lamentations about the difficulty in finding reviewers for their titles.  With over 17 MILLION individual titles on Amazon alone: it is no wonder marketing and getting the word out on a title is difficult.  The reality of the fact is this: traditional publishers with deep pockets, promotional budgets and marketing teams are options for a very few.  Most will jump on an author after they have a proven grassroots movement: not everyone who writes a book will make a living doing just that. This is not to say that there aren’t some authors who have everything – clean style, effective characterization, emotional pull, great ideas and world building, and a story that keeps you engaged.  But they need help being seen.  And that is where I and other professional reader/reviewers come into the scene.

To that end, most professional reader/reviewers will maintain a good/bad/good approach when drafting their reviews.  This means that we comment to the good parts: unique storyline, emotional conviction, character voicing and dialog, world-building.  We will use examples that detail the positive comments. We then will discuss what may not have worked for us – using examples that show anyone who encounters the review where they found the problem.  Each one of us is fully aware of our own prejudices and dislikes, and we are also aware that someone may read the book specifically for the issue we detailed.  People are funny like that.  But, it is important to example issues that you encounter. Personally I try to end a review with another positive note, find a reason why someone should read the book, what kept me reading the book despite the issues I found.    Understand that not everyone will love every book, but most of the professional reader / reviewers that I know really do want to provide a review that makes sense, and that a reader can use to make a choice to purchase and read.

As a reader, you can use a reviewer’s input to make your decision to purchase or investigate an author that is new to you.  One of the great things about the online book sellers is that most will allow you to sample the first few pages of a book. After you’ve tried that, look at the reviews.  Find a review that mentions and speaks to elements in a book that are important to you.  Read more than just one or two reviews – I always read the lowest rated reviews, and a couple in the middle to see what people think.  I discount all reviews that are summaries of storyline and those that don’t mention the quality of the book in any way: character development, plotting, pacing, dialogue, romance, action, or mystery.  I look for reviews that speak TO encourage you to read a book by providing both positive and negative information in a way that is helpful in making a decision.  Most of all, when you read the book description or sample a passage, it should excite you: you should want to read the book and want to enjoy it. If it doesn’t grab you by the throat and demand that you read it tonight – that most probably is not the book for you at that moment.  Tomorrow may be different, but today, when you are making the purchase, if you are not excited TO read the book, the book will not display its treasures to you.

~Gaele  I am, Indeed

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3 Comments
  1. what a fantastic interview and insight! I am so glad I met Gaele – especially with her insight in reviewing audio books!

  2. Gaele, what a wonderful post! You can easily call yourself a professional reviewer because you’re so good at what you do. We are dependent on readers/reviewers, like you, who help us get the word out about our books. Thank you for all that you do!

  3. Great read! thanks for the insight.

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