Rate and review call from authors everywhere!

Read a book recently? Do you, like me, LOVE books and stories?

If so, and you haven’t had the time to do this yet, go and rate the books you’ve enjoyed. It only takes a few seconds to do and, whether you realise it or not, it makes a difference.

These days, consumer-led assessment of quality affects everything – Tripadvisor is a brilliant example of this – and the publishing business is no different. Your rating of a book affects the purchasing choices of the people who come to a product after you. They’re much more likely to risk their hard-earned wages on something that other people have liked and rated before them.

Why is this important? Because it could mean the difference between an author staying an author or going back to her day job. This is as true for me as anyone else.

So, please, if you’ve got a spare moment, leave a rating of your favourite books and keep the people who write them in a job!

And, if you have several spare moments, go a step further and add a review to your rating. It all adds up to something.

Something wonderful.

On writers who write about writers and the writers, like me, who write about them.

Hoorah! A new book review!

It ought to be a fair appraisal, right? But so often it reads like more than that, like a judgement. There, I’ve said it.

Oh, look. Here’s another. And another. My Twitter feed, Facebook news feed and Goodreads homepage are choked with book reviews. Well, I’m a writer; what else should I expect given my sphere of contacts?

Book reviewing is a big thing now. It’s out there, everywhere, as it is for all products and services. But is it real reviewing or is it just saying something because someone put a platform there and having a voice is nice? Is it good reviewing or is just mud-slinging?

For me a considered, informative review ought to show an understanding of the difference between assessment and condemnation. Book bloggers tend to display this kind of understanding.

Oddly, it’s writers that very often don’t.

Perhaps, for someone who has only ever been a reader of books (as opposed to to someone who writes them as well) it’s alright to condemn a novel or a collection of stories. You’re a punter and other punters want to know what you think; it was ace/it was shit/I loved it/I hated it.

Take look at any title on a bookseller’s website or any title on Goodreads and it’s immediately clear that the combined summaries of the many have become a great barometer of the quality of a book – as they are of anything you can buy online.

For me, though, having written books for some years, reviewing another author’s work makes me uncomfortable, especially if I didn’t enjoy it. That’s why I almost never put pen to paper about a book I haven’t had a good experience with.

When I was co-running the Horror Reanimated blog, our policy when authors or publishers submitted books for appraisal was the same: we only reviewed the work that we felt deserved a bigger audience, books that really rocked our world.

Goodreads is one of those places where writers do review other writers – a lot. And, whilst there are clear guidelines for how reviews are written, I still think that writers should evaluate the efforts of others in their line of work with a little more thought, a little more awareness, a little more tact.

We are all, let’s face it, in the same business.

If you’re a writer, how often have you had this experience? You’re reading a book and you know darn fine that the author is light years beyond you in their skill with language and story-telling ability. And yet, their book just doesn’t quite do it for you. Or, worse, you abhorred or yawned through every page of it – except for those bits you just flat-out envied until you puked undiluted gall.

Been there? Well, for me this is a signal to either not review the book or to make it very clear that your review isn’t a raging ego-trip but just another opinion.

I recently read Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. I love Cormac McCarthy’s work – The Road is one of my all-time favourite reads – and I’m aware that he is a superior writer to me in every way. However, whilst the language and imagery in Blood Meridian were almost transcendental, after a while the story lost its power over me. I rated it four stars on Goodreads but there’s no way I’m going to review the book. Not a chance. I mean, I can’t even be sure how much of it I understood. 60 – 70%, perhaps? How could I possibly make a judgement about it?

Judgement comes from above; only it’s cheap bastard cousin opinion can come from below, so why pretend?

And, really, it ought to be exactly the same when you read a book you feel is inferior in every way to what you, as a writer, are capable of. You know how tough this job is. You know what people go through, not just to complete work in the first instance but then in trying to garner some recognition. Is this really the moment to rubbish someone? Just because they’ll never be in the same league as you?

These days, anyone can be a reviewer. Anyone can have the pleasure of making their judgement (or is it just an opinion…) public. As long as it’s honest and not rigged, that has to be a good thing, because it leads to a kind of democracy of discernment that anyone can access and subsequently base their buying decisions upon.

But back to writers appraising the work of their peers. What does this really contribute?

You could argue, I suppose, that inventors of vacuum cleaners would be the best-placed people to judge newly-invented vacuum cleaners just arriving on the market. But could we really trust them to be objective when, like all other vacuum cleaner inventors, what they really want is a bigger share of the market?

Hm.

Oh.

Personally speaking, I will continue to save my book reviews for those rare diamonds that really knock the stuffing out of me – in a good way.

Because, frankly, I need every ounce of writing energy that I can muster, not for flaunting an opinion – something anyone can do – but for the real deal; putting all I have into creating the kind of stories that no one else but me can tell and doing it to the best of my ability.

Giveaway results

winner-winner-chicken-dinnerWell, the Goodreads giveaways that spanned most of January and February are over.

Following half a day of printing and signing letters, personalising title pages and stuffing envelopes, all the prizes are now in the post.

*pats self on back*

I gave away: Continue reading

Give-away January!

I’m delighted to announce that all my proposed Goodreads give-aways have been approved.

This means that from the 11th to 24th of January I will be giving away six different titles, totalling 42 books! So entering means there’s a very good chance of winning something. Continue reading

New Year Giveaways

It’s 2017. Extraordinary. Astounding.

Or perhaps nothing more significant than flipping a page on a calendar…

Whatever the case, I’m celebrating by giving away a load of books on Goodreads this month. These are some of the titles I’m hoping to share:

MEATBlack FeathersGarbage ManSplintersclown-wars-toxicBlood Fugue

 

 

 

 

 

So, watch for updates and get ready to pounce – some of these will be signed, out-of-print copies. Meanwhile, wishing you every joy and fulfilment for what is bound to be a year to remember.

Goodreads giveaway – The Book of the Crowman

TheBookOfTheCrowman-300dpiThose astonishingly generous folk at Angry Robot Books are giving away 10 copies of The Book of the Crowman.

GIVING THEM AWAY.

Ten.

Are they mad or something?

And you don’t even have to answer a question or do a special dance or sing a song or anything. All you need to do is enter for a chance to win.

Insane, isn’t it? Where do they get these ideas from?

Anyway, good luck!

Skeleton Leaves by Helen Marshall

Skeleton Leaves: A CollectionSkeleton Leaves: A Collection by Helen Marshall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was extremely fortunate to receive a copy of this – one of only 150 printed – from Chris Roberts, the talented artist who illustrated it. It was signed both by him and the author, and that on its own makes it a unique and special book.

Marshall has an exquisite instinct for communicating imagery and uses it to convey one lingering impression after another. This is a very readable and affecting collection – and it stays with you, the surest sign of fine work.

The only shame is that I haven’t read J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan, the novel from which this tribe of poems takes much of its inspiration. And yet, despite that deficiency on my part, I think I picked up on a lot of the emotions the collection exposes.

Reading Skeleton Leaves prompted me to rethink what good poetry is: the sharing of secrets we already know.

Get yourself a copy before they’re all gone.

View all my reviews