Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Salon: Reading/Blogging Resolutions

In 2008, I began cataloging (in a spread sheet) each book I received to review. That was a considerable improvement over what I'd done the year before--nothing until October when I began writing them down in a word document. But I have plans to improve even more in 2009. I've decided to add a few columns. One thing that I think will be helpful to me (and thus to you later on down the road) is to enter in which month a book is set to be released. That way, I can better prioritize my reading and try to post in a more effective way--better timing is what I'm trying to say in a very long-winded way.

In some of my posts this year, I began entering tags for authors and titles. For example, "A" Authors, "A" Titles, etc. I think I'll keep this up next year and try to do it on every post. It may or may not be helpful to the average reader. But I know there are readers out there doing the A to Z challenge.

I also thought about adding a tag for publishers. One of the things I'm horribly guilty of is not mentioning the publishers. I typically don't include that information in each post. And on top of that, I rarely get around to emailing publishers links of my reviews. My thinking is that if I tag each book with its publisher, then sooner or later I'll be able to give publishers what they want. Whether I think to send links once a day or once a week or once a month or whatever.

Ratings. In 2008, I tried having a rating system. And it worked in a very limited and clunky way. But it's still so subjective. You can't really please anyone. I had a few people irritated with me that I'd marked their favorite book a three--how dare I?--no matter that I'd posted that a three was a good mark in my book. I guess you can't erase the Amazon mindset, huh? Anyway, I wasn't consistent in doing it. And I think I'll leave it off completely in 2009.

In 2008, I started keeping track of almost every book I'd read. It was all behind the scenes. You won't see the results until the end of the year when my "Books Read in 2008" publishes automatically. I liked it. It was helpful. I'm wondering if it wouldn't be more helpful if I did it on a monthly basis. What do you think? I know some bloggers--one of my favorites--does a month-in-review post. I'm thinking 2009 I might do the same...

This past year I began keeping track of my favorite 'first' sentences and publishing them once a month. I don't know if you loved that...or not...but I really enjoy it. I'm definitely going to try to keep that up in 2009.

I do have a question--a semi-question at least--should I write down all the first sentences of the books I read. Should that information be a part of every post? Or only if it's really great? I know that I'm curious as a would-be-potential reader what the first sentence/first few sentences are like. Sometimes that's enough of a hook to draw me in. But I also know that if I don't start off doing it, or if I get lazy about doing it, then it would be a real pain to backtrack and fill in later. So it's all or nothing.

Another semi-question. In 2007, I had posts--sometimes every month, sometimes every other month--that announced some of the new releases available that month. Mini-wish-lists to make readers drool over the possibilities. Should I add that back in for 2009? Would that be helpful to anyone? Or not?

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

13 comments:

Beth F 9:48 AM  

Wow Becky. Lots of questions. And I've never been know to be silent! So I'll answer what I can.

I like rating systems. I use school grades. And while I can't really tell you the difference between B- and C+, I think it's a more flexible system that a straight 1-5.

I like a monthly wrap-up because my eyes start glazing over after the first 25 books or so in a long list.

First sentences: more impact if you provide only the really great ones.

New releases are a good idea. Not everyone has access to that information. Best to do it at a regular interval (every other Tuesday, on the 5th of every month, whatever) so that interested readers can look for it.

That's all I can think of at the moment.

debnance 11:46 AM  

I vote yes for posting new releases and yes for posting a monthly reading list.

Tarie 12:39 PM  

Hi, Becky! I think including the first line of every book you review and posting mini-wish-lists every month are great ideas. :o)

Amanda 2:06 PM  

Becky,

I love the idea of a to-be-released feature each month. I, like a lot of us that review books as ARCs, often know that titles are upcoming, but I typically forget the publishing month. I think that would be very helpful to a lot of us!

As for ratings, I'm definitely with you on leaving them off. I gave up on the ratings after only doing it for a couple of months. Too many people take it personally and really, if they read your review, they'll gather whether you enjoyed it or not.

I think I am going to also be posting a "month-in-review" feature in 2009. It's a lot of fun to see what different bloggers read that month, rather than just a list of everything at the end of the year. I might even go as far as to separate it into categories...imagine that! Organization!

Melissa 3:06 PM  

Monthly what's new post = good.

First sentences = good. Agree with Beth that only the best first sentences work best.

Publisher info = good. (I need to be better about this myself.)

You're amazingly organized. Impressive. :)

Nymeth 3:10 PM  

I like both first sentences and the idea of posts with new releases. Though the latter would probably be a danger to my own wishlist :P

I agree with you about ratings. I just can't use them.

Serena 4:20 PM  

Wow, that is a lot of organization. I can't say that I have the discipline to go this far. But as long as it works for you I say go for it.

Darcie 4:22 PM  

Please keep the rating system!! I have found a lot of good YA books that you have recommended. Although I agree that if people read the entire post people will know but they won't know books that you loved more than others. And I know for me some months I only read the posts with the great ratings because my time to blog is so little.

I think a monthly post of the books that you loved that month would be awesome...and I like the idea of new releases too. There are several authors I now follow because of your reviews!!

Renay 8:05 PM  

I tried to have rating systems, too, but in the end I failed to understand how they were useful. I don't blame you for leaving them off!

It would be awesome to see you integrate the new releases! I'd definitely use it. Fantasy Book Critic has something similar for SF/F and I end up stalking his journal around the beginning of the month just so I won't miss it. >.>

Kerrie 9:22 PM  

Becky, I post my reviews on my blog and I do put ratings on the books. I write a review for everything I read.
I also post my reviews on Library Thing.
I created another blog to list all my reviews in rating order.

Anonymous,  3:52 AM  

Becky - I've quite recently discovered your blog and I enjoy it a lot; I really love how ambitious you are, and that you have so many ideas! Good luck!

As for ratings, they can be fun, but I understand that you left off - it is, as you say, so subjective - and some books may be obvious, but others may be difficult to rate - I love this book, not as much as X, but more than Y - then what? And if it is any comfort, three is a good rating in my book too! Four is very, very good and five excellent... But I like the way you review, you say what you think/feel and are very fair; I don't think ratings are necessary and if people will misunderstand, then what's the use anyway?

I think you should include the first sentences you spontaneously feel like including - either because you really like them, or because you want to give a taste of the style/flavour of the book. If you feel you _have to_ include them every time, it might start feeling like a bore - and don't do anything that takes away the joy of it for you! :) L.

samantha.1020 5:02 PM  

I love, love, love end of the month posts. I would really enjoy reading posts like these. I would be interested in reading first sentences but only if it isn't a pain for you. No matter what I am usually more interested in a reader's thoughts on a book and that is why I read the reviews.

Natasha @ Maw Books 10:31 PM  

I don't rate books and therefore don't really look at them on other blogs. There's isn't a universal standard and so it's hard to remember on each blog whether a five is good or just in the middle.

I like first lines. I also like month in review posts. I do this myself and it keeps me way organized. And I if people just glance over everything else that month, they'll most likely look at that one to see what they missed.

You've inspired me to start a better record system come 2009. I like your ideas!

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I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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