Saturday, August 21, 2010

Are you a Book Booster?

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

Thumbs-up-smiley-md Before Chapter & Hearse, the 4th Booktown Mystery, was published, I held a number of contests.  The prize(s)?  An ARC (Advance Review Copy) of Chapter & Hearse.  My publisher was very generous and gave me 20 copies of the book, 19 of which I gave away. 

Let's review what that ARC is all about:  ADVANCE REVIEW COPY.  What do you think that means?

It means the person who reads it receives the book knowing something is expected.

Oh, wait, you didn't get that part about REVIEWING the book?  And you didn't review the book you were dying to read?  The one you said you'd KILL to get your hands on?  (Pardon me, but you would not believe the begging that often goes on to get these suckers.)

Of the 19 I gave away, I've so far been told about/seen six reviews of the book.  Make no mistake, I have kept a list of who got the book.  Who do you think will get copies of my ARCs in the future?  Hmmm...let's see, by process of elimination . . . .

I'm sorry to sound so grumpy, but the other 13 ARCs should have gone to better homes.  I believed the people who got those books were sincere about writing a review.  I did NOT ask them for a positive review.  I asked them if they liked the book, to please review it.

I guess they didn't like the book.

Which brings me to my next point.  I got a note from a reader who's on the list to receive review copies of ALL of Berkley Prime Crime's books.  She asked me, "Is there a way I can get them to ONLY send the books I WANT to read?"

Uh, that would be no.  They have one little slip of a woman who does that job, plus has to do all the rest of the PR for about 100 authors.  Picking and choosing just the books this one potential reviewer MIGHT like to read is just one more thing she doesn't need to handle.

And the point of all this? 

Bookboostericon 2
 Are you a book booster?  Never heard of it?  It's something that the Killer Characters Blog is advocating.  Simply put, midlist authors only stay published if they sell books.  PERIOD.  Members of one of the reader lists I belong to were lamenting the fact that so many mystery series they LOVE have been canceled.  It did not occur to these nice ladies that the reason they were canceled wasn't because the authors were bored writing them, THEY DIDN'T SELL ENOUGH FOR THE PUBLISHER TO KEEP PUBLISHING THEM.

So please, check out the Killer Characters Book Booster page.  And the next time you lament that a favorite series has stopped being written remember just why that is.

P.S.  Four of my author friends have recently had their series canceled.  (And no, I'm not going to tell you which ones.)  I have a feeling that in about six months from now there'll be another post on that reader loop asking, "What ever happened to the ______________ series???"


Mary Jane Maffini said...

Go get 'em, Lorna! I think people will have a much clearer idea of how important reviews are now. You are a straight shooter and that's a good thing.


Charlotte Adams mysteries

The Littlest Thistle said...

Oh wow, I never even realised you could review books in advance, that would be an awesome thing to do, too bad the recipients didn't carry through for you though. Will check out the Killer Characters blog, but alas, since Borders went under, we don't get the same number of American crime book series in the UK. Maybe I'll need to start petitioning Waterstones, the biggest chain, when I find ones I like!

Bookwoman said...

Well said. I think readers sometimes forget that it's a give and take relationship between them and the author. If we want to keep reading our favorite authors we have to support them. I've been struggling to keep a book blog runnning. My problem is that I'm so busy reading I forget to blog. BUT, I always post a review of an ARC either on my blog, Amazon, or Goodreads and usually all three - oh and I also post on LibraryThing. Keep up the good work. I love the Booktown series.

Annette said...

Thanks for being so honest with us.

Linda McDonald said...

Thank you for the info Lorna. I will check out the Book Booster page. I can understand why you'd be grumpy about the ARCs not being reviewed by those who received them. I hope that the next time all your ARCs will have a review posted.

Nancy Barnes said...

I review every book I read, whether its an ARC or something I am reading for my own pleasure. Not all the reviews are good, but then not all books are good. But, as readers, I think if you promise to review something (especially if its an ARC) you should keep that promise.

mary kennedy said...

A guest speaker at Liberty States Fiction Writers Festival mentioned the same thing--whether or not a series is continued, depends on reader support. Without reader support, the series tanks and no new releases are issued. He also asked the people in the audience to please consider buying his book during the "launch" week (if they were planning to buy it anyway) because this would offer him a better chance of "making the lists." Velocity, he called it. Everyone seemed very interested to hear his comments on the publishing industry and the way readers can ensure that their favorite series will contine. No one was offended and they seemed happy to have this information.

Chèli said...

I review every book I read simply because that way I solidify it in my memory - the things I liked and the things I didn't like. I post my reviews on my book blog - http/;// - religiously. (I hope someone is reading) When I get an ARC or ER book it automatically moves to the top of my TBR pile unless I have contacted the publisher and told them that there will be a delay. I have one more ARC that I've received that was 5th in a series and I wanted to read the first 4 before that one. I told the publisher that there would be a few months before I reviewed it because I had gone to the book store and BOUGHT the first 4 to read. Guess they couldn't complain since it upped their sales. But to me, an ARC or ER is a contract with the sender for that review. Maybe you should ask for the book back?

Helen Kiker said...

I checked out the Killer Character Book Booster page. One of their suggestions was to ask the local library to order a copy of the book. I do that at my library every time I receive a free copy and often follow up with bbook requests for other titles in the series.

Helen Kiker

Vickie said...

I have just about stopped buying books by the 'big name' authors. I stick to mostly mid-list authors, though I will continue with Charlaine Harris, Kathy Reichs, Tess Geritssen, and a few others. The majority of Mt Git'r'Read is mid-list.
I review on my blog
and on my Shelfari,Goodreads,LibraryThing accounts.
I get a few ARCs when I apply for them at LibraryThing, rarely from Goodreads, and I won one from Cleo Coyle and then she asked if I'd like to review ROAST MORTEM. Heck yeah!
I love when the authors drop by my blog after seeing one of my blogs pop up on their searches. I know they are honkin' busy, but it's nice to see them when they get the chance.
I'll gladly be a reviewer for any ARC you'd like to send on....shamelessly fawning here....

Vickie said...

And I forgot to mention, CHAPTER AND HEARSE was on my August order to High Crimes Mystery Bookshop, sent out on Thursday....should be here any day now. I support mid-list authors and indie bookshops. pat..pat...pat...

Aimee said...

The way I see it is that it's the author's job to write the books. You sell the first book to me and I sell it and the subsequent books to other people. If I don't tell other people why I like it then ... how're they going to know what a real person thought of it.

Oh and while we're on the subject of reviews, a pet peeve: do not make your review a synopsis of the book. I can read that on the back or on the book's page on Amazon. Tell me why you liked it - are the characters well written, is it a deftly wound plot, are the descriptions so beautiful they make you weep ... what makes it something I'd want to read rather than another book..

Andrea C. said...

I didn't know regular people could get ARC books and review them...that would be soooo cool! I hope some more of those 19 folks do a review for you soon Lorna!

Nanc said...

I have found it incredibly interesting these past few weeks to read how a mid line author makes money and now how they keep their series afloat. I have always been an avid reader and within the last year have been delighted to actually have the chance to "talk" to some of my favorite authors via FB, blogs, etc. I am always so anxious to discuss the books I read and have blessed to have found an online book forum where each month we select a book to read and discuss together. I have also noticed it is the mid level authors who always "stop" by and add to our discussions while even though they have said "I'll be there' the big authors never show!!
Thank you for explaining how this all is eye opening. I have recently started my own little blog to fulfill my need to talk about books..and life. If I ever get any readers I will certainly be asking to review books ;-) Until that time my little reviews will continue on Amazon and most recently Goodreads.
Cheers and I can't wait to read this next book.

lavendersbluegreen said...

I recently received my first arc and it was specifically to be a reviewer for the author. When she gives me the go (bc book does not come out for almost a year) I cannot wait to review on Goodreads, Amazon and etc! The reviews are already writen! Then again I read a book a day. I just need to put the books down long enough to catch up to myself on Goodreads... At any rate I really believe that if we are priviledged enough to get an arc we should acknowledge it with thank-yous, a review that is honest and ultimately if we appreciate the book... our money to buy a copy!
So another one is on it's way from a different author and I just received a book to review... I plan on cracking it on a cross country trip I am taking this week! Yay!

Lorna Barrett said...

Thanks everyone for chiming in.

Nanc, how do you expect to find readers if you don't tell us what your blog name is and give the URL so we can find you!

Tell us, tell us! : )

Lover of Books said...

I actually have stopped reviewing books for now or take my time cause life is crazy wiht a 10month old and a 6 year old. I do write as much as I possibly can. I am hoping to finish up two books this month. We'll see.
My blog is

Lover of Books is what it is called hence my sign in. lol

Nikki-ann said...

That sucks. If I receive a free book (whether a review is expected or not), then I'll write a review on it and post it at my blog and etc.

Even if people don't like a book, I don't see why they can't write a review and constructively write why they didn't enjoy it. After all, publishers and writers need to know if there's something they can do better etc.

Good post.

jbstanley said...

Sometimes you've got to lay it all out. Thank you, Lorna! And I admire the reader response I see here. If only we could clone you folks!

Cricket said...

Wow, how can I get on the list to receive review copies of All the Berkley Prime Crimes books? I love to read. I just started on the Kate Collins Green House series in March after running into her at a book signing in Key West. (Thank goodness I went into that shop) Anyway, I bought the first in her series right then and had her sign it, when I got home I ordered the others in the series and am currently waiting her new one which is out on the 5th of October. I would of reviewed your book for you. I love reading, and appreciate the work authors put into their books. Feed back is the only way you all know if your grabbing our minds or not. Constructive reviews, even if it's just to say. Wow, I loved the book and thought the best part was (blank) that's not too much to ask from a reader that wanted a review copy!! Put me on your list I would love to review for you.

Debra said...

I recently downloaded Kindle to my itouch and Chapter and Hearse was my first purchase. I really love the setting and am looking forward to finishing it on the way to vacation in New England.