Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Month: June 2018

Chipping away at the TBR Tower

Actually only PART of
my TBR pile. It’s harder to
photograph a pile of e-books!

I recently tweeted a photo of my “TBR” pile . . . not “to be READ,” but “to be REVIEWED.”

I’d been giving my work area a far-too-long-delayed cleaning, in an attempt to regain (the illusion of) control over my collection of books. On an impulse, I started stacking up books I’d read but to the best of my recollection had not yet reviewed . . . oh, my. What a guilt-inducing exercise!

Why guilt-inducing? Because some of those books are Indie-published. Even for traditionally-published writers, their reviews play a part in their ranking on Amazon’s lists. And an Indie without very many reviews is in many ways INVISIBLE.

As Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant note in their indispensable Write. Publish. Repeat(white spine, middle of my pile; sorry, guys, soon, I promise!), “Regardless of whether your reviews make you feel good or bad, that’s not what matters in the big picture. Reviews mainly matter because they serve as social proof. The more reviews a book has, the more legitimate it will appear to people . . .” (italics are mine; p. 299 of the print version).

If someone reviewed a book, that is supposed to mean they read it (please DO read them! Anything else is fraudulent behavior that no one appreciates and many websites have effective means of punishing).

This meme goes around from time to time–and it’s as right-on as ever. Pass it on!

I have often held back from writing a review if I am critical of some aspect of the book, but (especially for Indies) I’m trying to mend my ways in that respect, at least on sites such as Amazon. That’s because even critical reviews are valuable. (I still prefer not to review books I just don’t like at all, on this blog)

Critical reviews are never fun for authors to get, but even if a certain percentage of those who read the book didn’t like it and say so in a review–they still were interested enough to read part or all of the book, and cared enough to write a review. Others might read what was meant to be a thumbs-down, and think, “hey, that sounds interesting!” (because not everything one person dislikes is “bad” to someone else).

Read it for 3D characters and nonstop adventure!

Let me give you a case in point. I double-checked my memory about several of the books in that pile (“did I really not write that review? I sure meant to!”). In the cross-checking I ran across a review by someone else for Remanenceby Jennifer Foehner Wells (I did review that one, thank you!! Also posted the review on this blog, which should tell you what I thought about it).

The guy (yes, it was a guy, but you guessed that, I bet) who wrote it criticized “the amount of time spent developing a touchy feely/romantic relationship between two main characters.”

This, of course, is one of the many things I love about Wells’s novels: three-dimensional characters who are more than just their job or their mission. They have personal lives and relationships (not all of them romantic) with other characters. Thus, this guy’s “I dislike this” review reflected an aspect I really liked, and (alongside all the reviews by folks who loved the book) might have induced me to read it, if I hadn’t already enthusiastically done so.

So go ahead and write those reviews. Take the time–especially if you liked the book, and double-especially if the author hasn’t garnered 1,000 reviews yet!

For an Indie (basing this guideline on Platt & Truant, again), 10 or more reviews are reasonable, but not stellar. More than 100 reviews means the author’s made a respectable showing, and might be worth a look from someone who’s not sure. More than 1,000 puts the writer in a much more impressive league, alongside bigger-name, more established writers. Every review is important, even if it isn’t the one that pushes the writer over a threshold, because every review gets them one step closer.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go write some book reviews . . . .

IMAGES: I took the photo of my own “TBR Tower.” If you wish to re-post it, please do so with an attribution to Jan S. Gephardt and a link back to this blog post. I found the “I support Indie Authors” meme on Jo March’s blog, via Pinterest. Thanks, Jo! The cover image for Jennifer Foehner Wells’s Remanence is from her website. The cover artwork is by Stephan MartiniereIf you haven’t yet read Remanence, you should buy it from Amazon and read it! Don’t miss the rest of the Confluence Series, either!

The difficulty with old ideas

The Artdog Quote of the Week

Whatever our field of endeavor, we must grapple with the fact that anything we have thought of, someone else has too. But did they come at the thought the same way we did? Can we go deeper, look closer, find a new way of looking at the situation?

Creativity is at the very core of problem-solving, because only a new, creative melding of previously un-connected ideas can solve our most intransigent problems (except for those whose solutions we’ve known all along, and been afraid to apply . . . ).

IMAGE: Many thanks to Brainy Quotes, for this thought from John Maynard Keynes.

I’m excited to announce . . .

The Artdog Image of Interest

Lynette M. Burrows has revealed the cover of her upcoming new book, My Soul to Keep, with cover and art direction by Elizabeth Leggett (see Wednesday’s post for developmental sketches).

This is the first time I’ve ever announced a friend’s newly-released book cover as my Image of Interest, but I really want anyone who follows this blog to know about her upcoming book!

I’ve known Lynette for–let’s just say a LONG time. We’ve been each others’ writing cheerleaders and critique buddies for ages, so I’ve watched this book evolve and played a part (one of many who did!) in helping her focus and craft it.

I can tell you this for sure: it’s a really good story! It’s a fast-paced thriller set in an alternate timeline, in which the US turned into a theocracy, never entered World War II, and the Nazis won in Europe. The action in this novel takes place in 1961 of this alternate timeline, and focuses on four strong women who are pivotal at a pivotal moment in US history.

There is much more detail about the book on Lynette’s website. It’s currently in production, and is scheduled to be released in August, 2018. I’d like to encourage you to sign up for her e-newsletter (you already signed up for mine, right?) so you’ll know as soon as it’s available!

IMAGE: Many thanks to Lynette M. Burrows, who provided this image for me to use on this post. Learn more about Lynette and her book on her website!

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