We as writers can learn from all book reviews, the good ones, the bad ones and even the ugly ones.
Today I have the pleasure of talking to a woman who knows good books and isn't afraid to talk about them.
Orsayor Simmons of The Book Referees calls it like she sees it. (Yes, I stole her tag line. LOL)
She spoke to me about books and reviews as well as a secret project.
When did you decide to start reviewing books?
2008 - I wrote my first “review” on Amazon after reading a Carl Weber book. That book was so good – I couldn’t keep it to myself. It wasn’t until 2010 when I started Book Referees and the rest is history.
What is the worst way an author can try to get you to do a review?
The worse way an author can try to get a review from me is to friend me on Facebook – then start sending me purchase links to their book(s).
Of the books you’ve reviewed, what are your top five favorites?
Only 5? I will list the first 5 books that pop in my head…
- All of Brian W. Smith books (even the 3.5 star review)
- Dream Girl Awakened – Stacy Campbell
- Diary of A Stalker – Electa Rome Parks
- Parallel Pasts – Julia Blues
- Homecoming Weekend – Curtis Bunn
Has an author ever thanked you for a bad review?
Yes! I was actually surprised when it first happened because I’m used to authors reacting in a negative way. I have the utmost respect for authors who can take constructive criticism.
What advice do you have to people who want to get into reviewing books?
1. Create your own style. There’s nothing worse than seeing another reviewer copy another’s reviewer style.
2. Do it for the love of reading. If you are doing it only to become friends with authors - then you have already failed.
3. Be Honest – Don’t let your personal feeling interfere with your ratings. If the author gets mad at you for a low rating – that’s their problem not yours.
4. Review with Respect – If you didn’t like the book – there’s no need to insult the book or the author. There’s always a way to voice your opinion respectfully.
5. Grammar Check – There’s nothing worse than a book reviewer that doesn’t know how to spell or use their grammar correctly.
6. Stay Humble – Check your EGO at the door.
What’s your favorite genre?
I read it all.
Have one of your favorite authors ever disappointed you with a book?
Wow! The word disappoint is such a harsh word. LOL! I will say this… Yes! There have been a book or two from my favorite authors that have made me give them the side eye.
What are the things you look for when you review a book?
The first thing I look at is the book cover & title. No disrespect to anyone, but I refuse to review books on my blog with nudity or the word BITCH/HOE/SLUT on the cover. When reviewing books I look for elements I think every good book should have: vivid settings, fresh plot/storyline, story structure, dialogue, character development, and proper grammar. (She did tell me that a parody of Gone Girl, titled Gone Bitch, might make it on the web site!)
Is there a proper way to write a review and what is it?
Start with a couple of sentences describing what the book is about
Discuss what you particularly liked/disliked about the book
Summarize your review
Refrain from being harsh in your reviews. (ex: This book sucked... )
Don't be afraid to add your personality to your reviews.
Edit your reviews (How can you tell someone about their book - if you can't spell or compose a simple sentence)
Limit/Avoid Spoilers (Don't mention anything more than what the synopsis says - these days synopsis give away a lot of the book. Just be careful not to give away any key points)
You read a lot; do you ever plan to write a book?
I’m working on something. This project is very close to my heart, so I won’t share it with a soul. Not yet anyway!