Reviewers on Reviewing

Book Review Basics:
The Reviewers Side of the Story

Featuring: Delonya Conyers, Kisha Green, Push Nevahda,
The Pathfinder, Shaheta Pickett, Joey Pinkney and QB Wells

PART 1 OF 2

by The Urban Book Source
December 2009

Why do you review books?
Shaheta Pickett Shaheta Pickett: To master my craft of writing. To get other authors perspectives. Writers tend to doubt their gift until another set of eyes have read it. It builds the writers motivation to write more. I think thats important.
QB Wells QB Wells: I review books because I love to read and write. I enjoy the process of writing reviews, even if the book was bad. To me, it's a challenge to find the good in the bad.
Joey Pinkney Joey Pinkney: I review books for three basic reasons: I love to read, love to write and love to share the books I come across with others who also enjoy books.
Push Nevahda Push Nevahda: Because I love reading, and I love sharing my reading experiences with interested folks.
The Pathfinder The Pathfinder: I love to read and write, it’s a passion, I love doing it!
Kisha Green Kisha Green: I review books because I enjoy reading and I like to share my opinion.
Delonya Conyers Delonya Conyers: I'm a book-a-holic and I truly enjoy sharing my opinion on books that I've read.
What is your reviewing process?
QB Wells QB Wells: First, I scan and preview the artwork and back description of the book. At the end of each chapter, I summarize and take note of any main characters, additions to the plot and questions that I may have about the story. If there is anything that sticks out, I make a note of it. By the end of the book, I’ve decided whether I’ve liked the book or not and I’ve decided the stance I will take with the review and why. 
Joey Pinkney Joey Pinkney: In the past, I read the whole book first, then wrote the review. I've lost so many great talking points and phrases that way. Now I start reading and as soon as I get a twinge of an idea, I start scribbling what jumps out at me. Once I'm finished with the book, I start typing all of the stuff I jotted down. Those ideas become the foundation of my review. That method keeps me from the dreaded situation of staring at a blank screen. From there, I write about the book and fill in the blanks. After that, I try to fact check, spell check and walk away from it.
The Pathfinder The Pathfinder: I read the book from beginning to end. I underline things that are relevant and list pages. After completing the book, I take my notes and begin writing, once I'm done with that I go over it at least twice, and then give it a spell and grammatical check and send it out.
Delonya Conyers Delonya Conyers: I don't write a review until I've completed the book. After closing the book I usually reflect upon it and then start typing my review.
Kisha Green Kisha Green: I read the book from beginning to end while keeping mental notes and then I type up my review.
Push Nevahda Push Nevahda: I read the book, take marginal notes and, by the middle of the book, I began to draft the intro of the book review.
What is a common problem in most of the books you read? How can the author correct it?
Joey Pinkney Joey Pinkney: The visible lack of good editing. When the author uses the word "bear" instead of "bare" or "pacific" instead of "specific", it shows that they didn't have a second set of eyes look at the work before publishing it. One or two times doesn't kill the book. Ten mistakes like that, or three in a row definitely makes the story start to feel like a losing effort.

The best way to correct that is pay for an editor that is actually an editor. A true editor is a person who loves words, grammar and the flow of the story and will protect a book from the destructive nature of its author's unintentional deviations from what's best for the reader. There are plenty people who parade as editors, but a real editor is hard to come by and is worth every penny.

The Pathfinder The Pathfinder: Authors tend to write under the assumption that many of their readers do not have common sense. I find that very disturbing and problematic. I’m not only a writer I’m a voracious reader as well and after getting to the point in say, chapter three, I feel there’s no need to mention it in chapter four and so on. Whenever, I come across this I feel as if the author is trying to take me back to kindergarten and that is my biggest problem!

A lot of authors should stop assuming that they are light years ahead of their readers when it comes to smarts, creativity, telling a story and subsequently believing that they must reinforce every detail of a particular outcome on every other page. I can’t say it enough, let’s not forget that art imitates life and vice versa.

QB Wells QB Wells: A common problem with most books I read was that they lacked overall attention to the writing craft. To be more specific, characterization, plot development and overall substance of the subjects being written were not diverse. Some of the books needed another few edits, but I understand that issue because I've had the issue myself. It is hard to find quality editors and as an author you want to get the work out.

To correct the problems is simple. Take your time, study the craft of writing, know your audience and read. Read a lot. And keep living, writing and searching for story lines that entertain, engage and shed light on some aspect of the urban experience. Then write what you know from the heart.

Shaheta Pickett Shaheta Pickett: The most common problem in most of the books I read is the storylines are always the same. There isn't enough imagination to the plots. For instance, most books have the same main character and same boyfriend that the world may fall in love with. The authors would benefit by reading other genres such as comtempory literature, mystery and some love stories. It ehances the imagination and draws a better picture for the audience.
Kisha Green Kisha Green: I find that editing is usually the common problem. This problem could be corrected if the author took more time to research what it is an editor truly does. And working closely with the editor instead of thinking the editor is some type of miracle worker of words.
Delonya Conyers Delonya Conyers: A common problem I find is typographical errors and in this age it's totally unacceptable. Typos detract way too much from a story. I think investing in quality editorial services is a wise and needed investment.
Push Nevahda Push Nevahda: Bad editing. Take the time to invest in a good editor.
Would you prefer a review with or without a star rating?
Joey Pinkney Joey Pinkney: Star ratings are important. They give, at a quick glance, the general feeling about a book. You can look at the star rating and see the context that the review will elaborate on. I would rather not use a star system because my view of the complexity of the book sometimes encompasses things that can't be confined within 5 stars. For instance, a book can score low on stars because of editing issues but be a tremendously great story that outshine the editing errors. I use stars because it is the standard, but I would rather you read the review to see what is up with my opinion of a book.
QB Wells QB Wells: Depends on the audience. Reviews should include a star rating. The star rating provides a method to compare books. There should be a concrete rating that shows how good a book is. Like a 5 is a classic etc. Otherwise reviewers might duck having to make a stance on a book. Readers need to know whether a book is classic or a dud.   
Kisha Green Kisha Green: I do not have a preference. I can usually tell, in the review, if the book was enjoyable by the reviewer's words that are used to describe the book.
Push Nevahda Push Nevahda: It doesn’t really matter to me. The message, opinion and/or critique will stand regardless. 
Delonya Conyers Delonya Conyers: Yes. A star rating helps to rate the book in its entirety.
Why do you think some book reviewing publications give the majority of their reviews 4 and 5 stars on a consistent basis?
Joey Pinkney Joey Pinkney: I think there are a lot of 4's and 5's floating around because there are so many good books out there. Most authors are smart, witty and are literate. We have such a wealth of great books and great experiences that I'm sure it's hard to give books low ratings. I don't want to feel like I have to start scoring people lower. That's why I don't like the star system. It's to vague and general. I would rather you read my review to see what makes a certain book work. You can't look at my star rating to base your decision to buy a book or not.
QB Wells QB Wells: My opinion is that most publications give 4 and 5 star reviews on a consistent rate because they want to keep good relationships with the publishers and authors that pay and support the publication. A lot of the publications are websites operated by book clubs and publishing companies. They are scared to tell the truth in fear they may have to back up their words or suffer onslaught from a mad author!
Kisha Green Kisha Green: I believe there are publications out there that constantly give 4 and 5 star reviews based on favoritism, and it has nothing to do with the author’s writing ability. I think that book reviews should be based on storyline, plot, editing, and etc. And not based on whether a person "re-tweets" everything he or she says or constantly interacting via comments on their social networking sites.
Push Nevahda Push Nevahda: Follow the money. Always. Some review publications receive substantial advertising dollars from authors, publishers, etc. Reviewers have gotten savvy with their promotional efforts by encouraging authors seeking reviews to buy an advertising package which includes a free book review. But, in actuality, the author is paying for a book review ... a good book review. That’s the game.
The Pathfinder The Pathfinder: To get a large number of authors to submit their books, where as with another publication that doesn't give out a lot of 4 and 5 stars consistently, unless the book is a great read, they would be reluctant to do so. Also, to get consumers/readers to purchase their products. Let’s not forget that people talk (word of mouth) hence, a lot of traffic will visit those sites.
Delonya Conyers Delonya Conyers: A lot of reviewers are afraid to give a less than favorable review for fear of alienating the author and no longer receiving books from the author or from a publication company. But it does take away form the authenticity of a reviewer because in all honesty what reviewer has never read a book that's less than a 4 or 5 star read?
Do you think authors should pay for book reviews?
Joey Pinkney Joey Pinkney: No and yes. I'll start with the "no" first because it's a shorter point. I don't think you should pay to get somebody's opinion of your book, even if the person is highly regarded in his profession. This is especially true if their opinion is not going to be seen by anybody but you and the reviewer.

Yes, you should pay for a book review if that review is going to be
seen by a lot of people. A book review is marketing like any other
avenue you take to promote your book. If you approach a well respected company/website for a book review, you're essentially asking for more than an opinion. You're looking for exposure that can lead to increased sales.

I've heard the argument that getting a free book and not paying shipping and handling should be compensation enough for the book reviewer. I believe that's true for book reviewers who only have to write a review and pass it on to a company/website to publish.

Kisha Green Kisha Green: I don't think that authors should pay for book reviews unless the review is offered in conjunction with other marketing and promotional services (i.e. radio interview, written review and/or featured on a website).
QB Wells QB Wells: Authors that write bad books should pay. A free book isn’t worth the time it takes to read and review a uninteresting book.
Push Nevahda Push Nevahda: No. It’s unethical. But it’s happening.
Delonya Conyers Delonya Conyers: Unequivocally No!
The Pathfinder The Pathfinder: No!
Within this year (2009), what were the absolute top 5 book titles you've read?
Shaheta Pickett Shaheta Pickett:
Forever My Lady by Jeff Rivera
Secret Society by Miasha
Lets Talk About Pep by Cheryl Denton
Straight to the Source by Rosaria Dawson
Dutch by Kwame Teague
Joey Pinkney Joey Pinkney:
Damaged Goods by Tyra Denine
No More Mr. Nice Guy by James E. Alston
Dancing With The Devil by Mark Curry
Everyday Life by M.G. Hardie
Good to the Last Drop by Elissa Gabrielle
Kisha Green Kisha Green:
The Ruthless Dictator by Rumont Tekay
And Even If I Did by Kisha Green
Like A Good Neighbor by Dwayne Murray Sr.
Friends Till The End by Jules Nin
Crime Pays by Tha Twinz
QB Wells QB Wells:
Officer Down by Mo Shines,
Shyt List by T. Styles
Crave All Lose All by Erick Gray
Tre Pound by Jordan Belcher
Question of Freedom by Reginald Dwayne Betts
Push Nevahda Push Nevahda:
Manjani by Freedom Speak Diaspora
Memoirs of a Bitch by Cecelia Robinson
Wrapped In Rainbows by Valerie Boyd
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
On The Road by Jack Keroauc
Delonya Conyers Delonya Conyers:
Strapped by Al Saadiq Banks
Trust No Man by Cash
Section 8 by K'wan
The People vs Cashmere by Karen Williams
Innocent by Leo Sullivan
The Pathfinder The Pathfinder:
Fair Game by The Pathfinder
Black Beans & Rice by Dena Tyson
Flowers Bed by Antoine "Inch" Thomas
Towards The Light by Savannah Jackson
The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
What makes a book classic?
Push Nevahda Push Nevahda: A classic is one that stands the test of time, crosses religious, racial, gender and socio-economic boundaries and has a solid spiritual/philosophical message, or at least puts forth an honest attempt to wrestle with human dilemmas and issues.
The Pathfinder The Pathfinder: A book with a great storyline and plot, originality, rich conflict, interesting and dynamic characters, wonderful dialogue. Characters we love, hate, and go through human emotions with, characters with relevance to our lives.
Delonya Conyers Delonya Conyers: Classic books have to be at the forefront of their perspective genres. Not only does it have to fully encompass all the elements specific to that genre but it also has to bring something fresh and new.  
Joey Pinkney Joey Pinkney: A book is a classic when a person from just about any socio-economic group can not deny the book's power and purpose. (I want to add, a perfectly edited book may not fit that description.)
Kisha Green Kisha Green: A book from beginning to end that doesn't disappoint a reader. A book that you can pick up ten years from now and still enjoy.

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Be sure to see part two
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Comments page 2 of 2:
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Kylia :
Posted 827 days ago
That's an inngeious way of thinking about it.
Cherlin :
Posted 1540 days ago
A pleasingly rational awnser. Good to hear from you.
lady t :
Posted 2685 days ago
I have to agree with @ I get money
reviewers are writers and most writers are authors so from our side first we were readers we give the best view because its not just one sided we the review is diff coming from writer because we know the rules of writing and once the rules and reading it come together gives you an unbiased result
Ollie Moss :
Posted 2687 days ago
Great insight on book reviews.
P.S.
Would any of you like to part with any of your top 5 books listed for 2009. If so please let me know. I am willing to pay for them.
ollimo91@aol.com
I Get Money :
Posted 2690 days ago
@Wondering, what is a "real" reviewer? Reviewers can be authors, authors can be reviewers; they all doing the same thing. I get what your asking. Sometimes an author can give the best review.
Wondering :
Posted 2690 days ago
How is this the reviewing side if the majority of the "reviewers" are authors? I've never heard of the majority of them as reviewers or authors. Where are the real reviewers?
Khaleelah Coast2coastreaders :
Posted 2694 days ago
All the reviewers gave good feedback to question ask.
 



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