The Problem With Honest Book Reviews From Book Bloggers

There´s a problem with honest book reviews from book bloggers. Did you know about that? Have you already figured out what the problem is? It´s tiny, almost miniscule microscopic, but it´s still there. I´m even positive this problem doesn´t even bother anyone, either.

Honesty. Probably one of the trickiest and most misunderstood word existing. We all want honesty but it´s often not accepted or appreciated, depending on the type of honesty that´s been given. Negative honesty is never welcomed. Positive honesty is always appreciated.

But what about the unnecessary type of honesty? Like- the mentioning of honesty in book reviews?

 

In the ever growing book industry, book bloggers / readers are confronted with writers from every bookish corner. We´ve got the indie writers, the self – published authors and the traditional published authors. And every single one of those writers, no matter the niche they occupy or the genre they write in,.. they all  need feedback ( as I´ve so cleverly mentioned in my post on 5 Reasons Why Book Reviews Are Important.) Feedback usually comes from readers. But that´s a whole other bedtime story for another night. ( and some day I will get to how opinions affect authors ) And they all want honest opinions. Okay, fair enough, right? Shouldn´t be that difficult to accomplish. In fact, this should be the easiest part of a book blogger´s job. Yet….. there´s a problem. A weird one.

 

Ever picked a review to read and noticed how those reviewers include a

“this is my honest opinion”

line? Whether that line is on the top of a review or skillfully weaved into a review… Reviewers often ( if not always ) add that line or use the words honest opinion.

Isn´t that just fabulous? Everyday, indecisive readers get to read an honest opinion on a book. If you take a few seconds to think about it… Mentioning  honesty isn´t really necessary because it should go without saying that the review on any book is honest. Why bother, otherwise, right?

But the word holds more power than one would think. Honesty. Because we get blindsided about the actual fact and meaning.

“Oh wow! We´re getting an honest opinion.”

When in reality, you´re getting one person´s point of view. It´s their honesty. No one elses. It´s not the honesty above all honesty.

It´s irrelivant to include “This is my honest opinion.” because I, myself, assume I´m getting an honest opinion anyway. That was my honest opinion right there.

But for a book blogger to include such info? Can someone see where I´m going with this? It´s confusing.

I have yet to come across a book blogger who went out of their way to lie in their reviews.

Okay – If we leave out the special people who review books they haven´t read ( yes, dear book – loving – Padawans. That´s a thing. And these people can be spotted easily ) then there´s no reason not to think a review isn´t always honest.

I agree with you all that this isn´t world shattering business but it´s still something to think about.

Dear book bloggers, why do you add that line? Is it because you want to prevent a war? Is it because maybe you feel better including the honesty disclaimer? Why do you do it, if you do it at all?

 

Maybe it´s because book bloggers have been asked by publishers or authors to include the honesty bit in reviews…. Which is fine. Doesn´t mean it makes more sense to me because ( see reasons above ) it still doesn´t make sense ( does this make sense?!).

So, there´s my answer to the problem. Including an honesty line doesn´t carry much meaning.

I would love to read your thoughts on the subject Honest Opinions In Reviews!<3

 

Thank you all for reading this blog post.

PS: In no way was I trying to be offensive to fellow book bloggers who include the honesty line in their reviews.

Much love,

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Why Star Ratings Are Frowned Upon

You´re probably thinking: “Wait. What? Star ratings for books are frowned upon?”

It´s true. The book universe has changed and with it the book ratings, as well.

Gone are the days where book bloggers express their powerful opinions in form of a skillful rant. Vanished are the times when people were brave enough to just say what they wanted, how they wanted ( in a respectful manner, of course ).

We´ve entered the age of warning labels and controlled speech. Because it´s not nice to say what´s really on your mind. Even if your opinion isn´t harmful… there´s always a little booger  someone who feels offended, mistreated or hurt.

These days, books have trigger warnings and reviews have no star ratings. Why? Well, I think it´s clear as to why certain books have warning labels. But why are reviewers ditching the star ratings? I´ve come up with a few ideas as to WHY.

  • They make no sense to the reviewer / they don´t believe in the system
  • They´re harmful and can influence a reader
  • They´re impolite

Yes. Book reviews with star ratings are frowned upon. But, says who? I could say say the people who´re over sensitive” but that would be hurtful of me. And I´m not out to point fingers at any particular group of emotionally charged people. Not today.

Some time a while back I´ve witnessed the slow death of the star ratings. Book bloggers started changing their review formats. Okay.

But what I also noticed was- Without the ratings I didn´t have a definite idea on what the reviewer was saying.

Because reviews have become modern riddles. “I loved everything about this book” and they go and leave a list of negatives “I didn´t really like this and that about this book.” All in one review without any type of rating or even a recommendation line.  And in the end, I´m sitting here wondering if the reviewer liked the book or not.

 

 

Aren´t reviews supposed to help a reader? Isn´t that why people search for book reviews ( or reviews for any product )? They want to read an opinion and see if that person would recommend a book or not. With an opinion consisting of 50% love gushing and 50% negative feedback… am I supposed to sniff out the 2, 3, or 4 stars on my own?

With that being said- Not all book reviews are confusing as hell. There are a few reviews without star ratings that give a clear idea on what the reviewer wants to say. Others, though? *  holding breath  *

So, why do reviewers frown upon star ratings?

I might lack the energy of doing a full blown research party on the topic but I don´t lack observation skills. And what I´ve observed is quite unsettling.

It´s not necessarily the reviewers fault that the star ratings have disappeared. It´s often times the combination of authors, trends and the reviewers.

In my almost 9 years of book blogging I´ve learned ( the hard way, mind you ) that many authors are slightly sensitive. One negative opinion could result in a public emotional outburst. Reviewers can be just as sensitive but on a different level ( that´s a new bedtime story I´ll tackle in the near future ).

This is something I´ve repeatedly seen in the almost 9 years of book blogging:

  • Author receives 1, 2, 3 star review
  • Author throws an online fit and even threatens to kick bloggers off their A – list / and will definitely avoid said bloggers and even warn others of a supposedly negative reviewer
  • Book blogger thinks of ways to express themselves and still stay in an author´s good graces
  • Book blogger decides to wash their opinions in unicorn glitter and ditch the star ratings
  • Author is confused about the positive & negative review ( because one little “I didn´t like..” will be seen as negative feedback ) but keeps book blogger on the A-list

 

Clever, right? * sigh * It´s not, really. It´s just a way to pacify a moody artist and still keep up a decent online reputation. This is a cycle among bloggers and authors ( not every blogger and author, mind you )

Star ratings only make sense when it´s a 3, 4 or 5 star rating. Anything below 3 stars is just not acceptable. Because why be THAT person and shit on something by giving it 1, 2 or possibly a negative 3 stars? Believe it or not… that´s how 1, 2 or even 3 star ratings are seen. As negative negativity no one wants. No one wants to be associated with negativity.

Living in the “Thou shalt not offend” era certainly makes reviews more interesting as well. Reviews have to be worded correctly, preferably without including a star rating or else….

It´s a trend. One that will hopefully pass soon because these neutral opinions aren´t really working. The reality is: We do not live in a world made of sugar. The key is to be respectful. If someone else can´t live with that then that´s for them to deal with.

I think what the real problem is ( and always will be )…

It´s about the product and not the person behind the product.

Authors fail to see that a reviewer´s opinion isn´t a personal attack just as reviewers fail to realize that they´re not going to hell if they just be more specific in their reviews.

And by specific I mean include either a definite opinion or re – include a star rating in their reviews.

So, like everything else in life, star rating – less reviews are a trend fired off by moody artists and careful book bloggers in a time of political correctness.

As for my own raw opinion on the subject: I like star ratings and like to include them in my reviews. I also highly appreciate reading reviews with star ratings because they help give that final conclusion on the reviewers thoughts. Stars ( doesn´t matter if 1 or 5 stars ) help me understand a reviewer. I also like to believe that my adding star ratings helps my followers.

NOTE: No trigger warning label needed for this post. This is an opinion friendly blog. All respectful opinions regarding the subject are welcomed and will be treated with the same respect in return. ❤ 


Do you agree? Or do you perhaps disagree? How about we agree to disagree? I would love to find out what you think about reviews without star ratings! Do they bother you not? Have you even noticed missing star ratings? Let´s chat. ❤  


Thank you so much for reading. ❤

Sending out much love and positive vibes,

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Book Spoilers – What Is A Spoiler? What´s Not A Spoiler?

WARNING: This article is about book spoilers. 

 

“Don´t spoil the story!”

“I don´t want to hear it!”

“Great. Now I don´t need to read the story because you spoiled it for me.” 

 

Book spoilers. There´s nothing more a reader hates. To have a story spoiled for them.

book spoiler

 

That´s a book spoiler. Pretty informative, right? You know exactly what a book spoiler is. But you don´t, really. Because book spoilers aren´t necessarily book spoilers.

Believe it or not- Readers have their own definition of a book spoiler.

But who get´s to decide what an actual book spoiler is, and what´s not? Is revealing an insignificant piece of info enough to be considered a spoiler? Is explaining a story a spoiler?

I think it´s obvious that revealing an end scene / the end of a book is considered a major spoiler. That´s just ruining it right on the spot.

But the rest? Who is the judge of what a true spoiler is or not?

If you want an answer from off the top of my head I´d say that it depends on the person / reader. Some readers don´t mind when a review reveals minor details and some go completely ballistic when a tiny bit of detail is mentioned. It´s a matter of opinion- Like everything else is.

I´ve been reading more often, than not, how readers don´t want to be spoiled. Something I completely understand and respect. But what I don´t understand is:

Why attempt to read a book review if you don´t want to be spoiled?

Has anyone ever thought of book spoilers as book teasers? Because book teasers are often included in reviews, too. Let´s see what the definition of a book teaser is:

book teaser

Oh-HO! This means a book spoiler isn´t actually any different from a book teaser. Technically- A book teaser is a spoiler. It reveals an aspect of a story others would have found out themselves, for sure.

Book teasers come in a few forms: Graphic quotes ( a line taken from said book included with a lovely fitting graphic), excerpts, or book teasers can be built in reviews ( 3 lines that are enough to tickle a reader but not enough to full spoil the story). Funnily enough- teasers ( in all their many forms) are excepted.  But it´s not okay to reveal a spoiler? I´m confused.

I´m a book blogger. That means, I read a book and then I write a review that´s hopefully helpful for those who are looking for their next read. I include the following in my reviews:

  • Title, author, special features in form of graphics ( e.g maps, book cover, gif )
  • Plot summaries ( If needed. Sometimes the synopsis, provided by the author / publisher, goes into great detail )
  • A one – liner ( One-liners can be used for quick social media posts that could hook a reader )
  • Including useful info   (Main characters. Were they credible? Which were my favorite characters. )
  • Personal experiences ( Was I able to relate to the characters? Did I experience a similar event as the characters?)
  • My opinion ( Did I like the book? What was my favorite / least favorite part/ scene?)
  • My recommendation ( Would I recommend said book? And to whom would I / would I not recommend said book?)

The above are what I try to include in all my reviews. Sometimes, a book doesn´t allow me to add all at. Sometimes emotions play a bigger role and over rule everything else. But one thing I try my best to do is: Not to reveal, what I think could be, spoilers.

That´s harder to accomplish than one would think.

When I write my reviews I take my time to think of what can be seen as a spoiler and what not. I read the book´s synopsis twice before adding a plot summary ( because who wants to repeat what´s already available, right?). I sit and wonder and ponder and break my little head over words and sentences. My biggest problem is not how to write a review- It´s about what information I can include to avoid someone telling me that my review contains spoilers.

 

These days, I feel like I should include a spoiler warning in all my reviews. You just never know who´s going to spot something they consider a spoiler. And I do add spoiling warnings.

I want my reviews to be read. I mean- That´s why I´m spending my free time writing and publishing them in the first place.

Other bloggers want the same thing- For readers to read their reviews.

How does a book blogger recommend a book without revealing a tiny, itsy bitsy piece of detail about a story? Because when I read a review where someone just repeats the synopsis and doesn´t give me something more, other than a “I really enjoyed this book / I loved this read.” then I will hop on to the next review that hopefully has something more convincing. I would rather read something I don´t already know. I need that little convincing push.

A book blogger not only writes a review. In that moment when a book blogger publishes their review they recommend a product. They want others to see WHY they´re recommending the product. They want you to know HOW they came to love / hate the product. They want you to find out WHAT is so special. No one wants to buy the whole cow, but everyone wants a taste of the milk first. They want to know if a product would be something they´d also like or dislike. If a review is so diplomatic and 100% neutral then I, as a reader, have no flipping clue what a book is about. In that moment, I don´t need to waste my time with a review and can stick to reading the synopsis until I turn blue and purple.

So, my question still stands: What is considered a book spoiler?

I´ve talked to alot of people and have learned that many despise any type of book spoiler. Which is fine. To each is their own, I say. But in that moment where you´re talking books with someone, face to face, who doesn´t like spoilers… you´re completely handicapped.

“Don´t spoil anything.” They say, often in a frantic, slightly louder voice. ( as if saying that in a normal tone wouldn´t work as well. Lol)

Well, if that doesn´t kill a conversation on the spot then I don´t what does. So you find other ways to try to convince your friend / family member / neighbor to buy the book that´s REALLY good.

“It´s a great book.” You say and you leave it at that because your hands are tied. Conversation = Over

On to the next subject which is usually food. * insert laugh*

Book conversations are safe when both parties have finished reading the same book. But, recommending a book is just as much fun as discussing the aftermath.

Personally, I don´t mind spoilers. I actually belong to those people who can listen to someone rave about a complete story in great detail and I´d STILL want to read the book.

I can literally hear you all holding your breath and see you shaking your heads now. But I truly don´t mind spoilers at all. Why? Because everyone perceives a story differently. Everyone explains a story differently. I might envision something entirely different.

For me, there are 3 different types of book spoilers:

  1. Minor Spoiler –  This is where a review adds a little more detail about the story than the synopsis has already revealed. A minor spoiler does not reveal the story.
  2. Random Opinion – This could be anything from quoting a piece of a dialogue to ranting about what a certain character has done to evoke stong feelings from a reader. Random opinions do not influence my book purchase.
  3. Major Spoiler- This is where something highly significant is revealed, such as: sickness/illness, plot twists / game changers, ending scene. Anything that can actually ruin a story for someone.

 

I understand the concept of spoiling. I also understand and respect others when I´m told not to spoil a book. I would never go against someone´s wishes.

There´s a fine way to avoid spoiling ANYTHING for ANYONE. It´s called “giving a spoiler warning” beforehand. Two words- that´s all it takes to make the world safe for spoiler haters. spoilers

That way, the person reviewing a book can always wash their hands in innocence. It takes a few sublte words to make a major impact on a bloggers reputation. Because no one likes to be thought of as the one who ALWAYS spoils.

So, after all that´s been said… I think it´s safe to say and to point out that whatever a reviewer does, it´s always wrong. Or always right ( depending on a person´s perspective).

This article is dedicated to those who hate spoilers and to those who spoil. You are both loved.

xxx

 

 

 

 

Authors and Social Media

Author´s and social media – One can´t really live without the other.

When an author starts out the first thing they need is to become a public figure. And what better way to become a name ( with or without a face) than on social media? There is no better way because, believe it or not… Social media is where half of the magic happens. Social media is, also, where an unimaginable amount of people spend a lot of their time.

And when an author is great at mingling with the common foot folk then social media is a blessing.

But have you ever stopped to think for a second about what exactly happens behind the scene´s? Does an author have to use all social media available for exposure? What does an author have to do in order to become known? Question after question….

The ugly truth is- Author´s cannot avoid social media. It´s nearly impossible. If they do try to avoid any social platform then there´s a high chance no one besides family and friends will ever get to read an author´s work.

Here are a few of the many places where author´s can hang out:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Personal Blog

Pinterest

Youtube

Meetup

etc.

There isn´t really an end to the profitable social media list. With time, each social media site will celebrate their highs and suffer from lows but that still doesn´t change the fact that they´re still necessary. Author´s need to be where the crowd is, right?

But, where, exactly, is the crowd?

I don´t have an aswer for that question. Rumor has it that it completely depends on the genre. Some say it´s better for a paranormal author to spend all their free time on Facebook, and others say Twitter is the place to be for romance writers.

Many authors swear on Instagram being fully Fantasy, Young Adult/New Adult…..

But that´s just absurd because

  1. There hasn´t been an actual study done on the topic.
  2. Social Media platforms are not bound to genres / books. They´re for everyone.

No one and nothing can support that rumor because it´s different for everyone. Every author, every reader has their own thoughts on what works where.

There´s no true formula on which social platform´s the best.

There are a few author superheroes that make us believe they have it all figured out, though. Maybe they do know a few tricks on how to work social platforms. Maybe they develop 8 arms when the moon hits it´s peak. ( Okay, okay. That was unnecessary. But I often can´t help what pops into my mind.)

Unless an author has a wonderful team of minions who´re willing to help, there´s no way an author is able to be everywhere, at the same time. Aside from the miracle worker authors- I´ve noticed not all authors use every platform available. They use what works for them the most.

Some authors focus on Facebook and Twitter. Some work the Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest mill.

Some even go through the efforts over at Youtube and upload book trailers, reading sessions, etc. Writers have become creative in alot of ways and it´s often really cool to witness.

My verdict on what social media is the best for authors is:

Everywhere! Meaning: Every platform is a good place for a writer because it doesn´t depend on where the most people are- It depends on which platform an author feels most comfortable with.

If Facebook works for an author- great.

Twitter? Sure!

Instagram? I´m on board with that.

The key isn´t to chase after the crowd. Author´s aren´t door to door salesmen. The key is getting the crowd´s attention.

Which brings me to my next point:

When a writer has their prefered social media platform where they´ve already grown roots.. It´s not wise to think all the work is done. Especially when the love gushing over a certain book has died down ( a painful fact author´s have to come to terms with ).

When the hype is gone, the fan base will cool down. Only a selected few hardcore book activists will stay. What then? Is it time for an author to move on and write something new? Perhaps it´s a better idea to stick with one book and find other ways to promote it? Maybe find more hardcore book activists?

This is where social media can be an author´s best friend.

Social-Media

 

Every platform is filled with book lovers from all corners of the book world. But what a few aren´t aware of is that Facebook and Co. are also filled with book clubs, book / author groups that offer wonderful extra´s for author´s and readers. Book people like to hide in groups where they can share their latest reads with fellow readers.

Let´s say the hype for an author´s book has died down. Comments slow down. Likes vanish. All the people who have been super supportive have disappeared into thin air. ( Don´t believe it doesn´t happen. It does. Every. Damn. Time. ) It´s a crucial moment. Even devastating because an author depends on likes, follows, shares, etc. Once the interaction slows or stops it can make authors doubt themselves and their abilities.

When that happens it´s time to take the next step. It doesn´t matter which step. It´s the action that matters. Preferably immediately.  If an author doesn´t take matters into their own hands then no one else will.

No matter how many blogs support a writer with posts and graphic quotes or honorable mentions…. Blogs and fans don´t own the author´s work, therefore, their hands are tied.

Of course, there are author´s who depend on blogs and fans to do all the dirty work promotion but that´s a different bedtime story for another night.

Author´s who want exposure and want their names to stay in people´s minds need to stay in the picture.

You cannot imagine how often I´ve seen certain books on social media. Sometimes it´s annoying when I see the same book over and over again ( especially after I´ve read it ) But that´s not the point. It´s the fact that the book is still around… even a year after publication date. Why is that?

Because author´s use their tools. They don´t fully rely on others to get the job done. They´re always on the look-out for new groups and games they can participate in so they can introduce their book to new readers. They collide with other authors.

They make it look like they never sleep.

It all ALWAYS boils down to the same point. Work the self-marketing mill as if it were your religion.

Social media is a warped place but it CAN be very useful for authors if they use their platforms well.

Get to know your social platforms. Learn to use them.

 

NOTE: This doesn´t just apply to authors. This article can be very helpful for book bloggers as well.