Monday, August 9, 2010

Why a blog? And an FAQ answer...

A question came up at Mobile Read asking me why I am blogging these reviews instead of simply posting them at Smashwords. Here was my reply:

1) Smashwords is a huge site to browse and not all the books have reviews (in fact, most of them do not). I wanted to create a convenient aggregator of ONLY books with reviews to narrow the field and make people feel less like they are wading through the world's biggest slushpile. I am in essence creating a curated sub-collection of only reviewed books.

2) Many of the reviews on Smashwords that do exist are not detailed, objective or critical. I am aiming to write 'proper' reviews, not just one-liners, shills or only positive comments. I am doing this to help *customers* buy and choose books, so I am not interested on posting reviews just because I know an author or have any stake in the books myself.

3) Doing it as a blog allows people to immediately see if there is new content by subscribing to an RSS feed. Smashwords does not have an RSS feed for new reviews. And, as I said, a lot of the reviews on Smashwords, when they do exist, are not helpful. And a lot of readers feel frustrated with having to wade through the massive, massive slog that is Smashwords just to find a few books that do have reviews or are of acceptable quality.

4) Other efforts I have seen to 'promote' indie authors are pretty much vehicles for self-promotion. My blog is different because I do personally read and review every book (i.e. I don't just post press releases) and because I am not affiliated with any authors.

I appreciate that Smashwords does offer the capability to leave reviews, and I do plan to leave a rating and short comment for every book I read. But my goal is to separate out the books I review, not to just have them exist as part of this larger set. I am creating a curated collection of books I have personally reviewed.

Now, on to one other FAQ-ish matter, there have been a few authors who have left comments saying 'I appreciate you may not post this since you moderate the comments, but can I send you a code for my book?' Yes, you can, and I will happily read it if it interests me. But please do not be offended if I say 'no thanks' should the summary twig my radar that your book might not be my style, and please do not get impatient of the review takes some time appearing. I have a massive TBR pile and am just dipping in and choosing what strikes my mood. It may take some time before I get to everything!

And finally, if you are an author and you do want to comment on any of the posts here, please be respectful that this blog is not a venue for self-promotion. A sig line indicating that you have a book yourself is fine, but the content of your comment should be about the review in question (for example, if you too read the book and have something to say about it) and not about your own book. Comments such as 'great review, love your blog, and check out my book, here is the link' will not be posted :) I am trying to strike a fair balance here---I am all for promoting the indie cause, but the purpose behind the Smashwords pledge is to honestly review a sample of the Smashwords collection as one reader to another. It's for the readers, in other words. Have a sig line if you want to, but please show respect and do not engage in author promos here. If you want to send a press release or promo to me personally, you may do so, as I outlined above.


Lexi said...

Jane Smith is doing something a little similar in her blog 'The Self Publishing Review' - but she stops reading at the fifteenth typo or after five bad pages.

Are you committed to reading the whole book before reviewing it? Suppose the book turns out to be very hard going...I have real problems reading something I'm not enjoying.

Ficbot said...

Yes, I will read the whole book---if I don't, I will say so in the post and use the review to explain why I did not finish :)

RaggBoy said...

Well, I'm torn between dismay at having another another worthy blog to keep up with and delight at finding a place w/reviews I'm likely to trust and agree with.

Having followed a link from my daily visit to Teleread, reading your FAQs, and downloading a sample of 'Radium Halos', I purchased it and bookmarked your blog.

I also did a quick scan of your purchased books "Favorite" and "Great" and was surprised that not only had I not read most of them but had never even heard of them! Thought it odd because I'm an avid review reader. I'm guessing the reason being if you listed your preferred genres in order of preference mine would be about the same but in a different order.

I'll just blink past your, umm, pink background!