Welcome to our Spotlight On week here at the Daily Dose. It occurred to me during a conversation with Lesa Trapp on The Odd Mind radio show last week that we don’t always give reviewers credit. Sure we hear the crazy stories when authors go nuts at their reviewers, we also hear about reviewers that don’t post anything but positive reviews which means if they won’t post about you — well then it must not be positive.
Spotlight On is about hearing from the reviewer. Today, we shine the spotlight on Sabrina from Cheeky Reads! Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. I think we focus so much on authors that sometimes we forget that reviewers are people too. You spend a lot of time, you read a lot of books and you’re the front lines of the audience.
Thanks for inviting me to share my thoughts on romance books today! Reading is my passion and there’s nothing I love more than to talk to other readers and authors.
How important is the blurb of a book to your impression of a book? What about the cover?
As my very southern mother used to love to say, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It’s a cliche, but for good reason. A books cover and back blurb is usually the first, and sometimes only, chance to capture a reader’s attention.
That said, I’ve read some really awful books that had fantastic covers! The same is true of books that have just so-so covers – some have been extremely well-written. Over the past few years I’ve been pleased to notice that many of the small press publishers are investing in higher quality covers.
I try to make it a point to read the blurb of a book, even if the cover doesn’t particularly catch my eye. One thing that does get my attention is the title. To me, that’s a huge first impression moment and its important to get it right!
Obviously it’s easy to review a book you like, but how do you handle books that don’t appeal?
Oh wow, great question! I actually find it’s sometimes harder to write the review on books I loved! I get all worried and angsty about doing the book justice and making sure I convey why it was a perfect book to me. And that’s the thing about book reviews, and why I think all the blogs out there are great – it let’s you find a reviewer who likes the same type of writing, characters, etc that you do. I really suggest readers follow quite a few blogs until they discover who really “gets” their reading preferences.
Has an author ever lashed out at you for a review?
I’ve been extremely lucky that I’ve never had a writer lash out at me. In fact, I had the greatest thing happen just last week. An author whose book I’d given a 4 Heart Review to, mentioned my review on her blog and that she had carried it around in her purse for 2 weeks!
Now, the review mentioned that I loved the book, but it also talked about what kept the book from being great. I was worried that she might have taken offense at the critical parts of my review, but instead she loved my honesty.
I consider the reviews as my honest opinion as a passionate romance reader. If I reward a book with a 4 Heart rating, you can be sure that I’m going to tell you what it was missing!
When you read, do you find yourself mentally writing a review or does that process begin after you’ve finished the story?
I read for pure pleasure. I’m a little greedy that way! In fact, I’ve been called a “genre whore” for my love of any and all well-written romances. Really though, I think its very important to approach the book the same way any reader would. My reviews need to reflect my real experience with the book, and I couldn’t do that if I was looking for mistakes as I read.
Do you prejudge a book, i.e. it’s by an author you liked or didn’t like previously?
I will admit I do have a few auto-buy authors, but sometimes that works against them if my expectations are too high! It is hard to try an author a second time if you really didn’t like their previous work, but sometimes you are pleasantly surprised.
Nothing makes me happier than to find a new author who can make me laugh out loud or tear up. I really do like reading all genres, but I adore a sassy, CHEEKY heroine! I recently read Victoria Dahl’s Start Me Up and couldn’t put it down – I went and bought her entire backlist!
Have you found that your reviews influence readers?
The reason I created Cheeky Reads was to create a place for me to interact with other romance readers and talk about the books we love and hate. I’ve had countless readers say they were adding a book to their buy list, or comment that they read something because I recommended it. It makes me feel like we are all friends sitting in a coffee shop sharing recommendations!
In my real life, I don’t have any die-hard romance reading friends, so I was hoping to find that online. My husband likes to call my site “putting your evil reading powers to good use.” I read like a speed demon so it seemed a natural fit to do a review site.
As a reviewer, if you could get authors to do one thing for you, what would it be?
Introduce yourself! Seriously, I love to meet new authors and learn about their work. My other big request would be to remember that reviewers get lots of requests, so make sure you contact them well in advance of your book releasing if you want a review. Oh, and keep your website updated with book covers and upcoming releases!
Please be sure to give me a little plug for your review site!
Thanks for having me here today! I hope you’ll drop by and check out Cheeky Reads for some great upcoming guest authors and lots of giveaways! Oh – and I’m one of the test drivers for the Smart Bitches Trashy Books Sony Reader test drive. So, if you’re interested in my ups and downs with the Sony ereader be sure to stop by!