Tag Archives: book reviews

This Read an eBook Week…


Trevor’s Song

This is Read an eBook Week over at Smashwords. It’s the tenth annual Read an eBook Week, in fact, and I believe I’ve had a book or more enrolled every year since the first.

I’ve given away a lot of books during Read an eBook Week. Hundreds, thousands… honestly, I don’t really keep count.

You can get your hands on my books this Read an eBook Week, of course.

But I actually don’t want to talk about my own books, or promote myself. Not this week. (My books are old, after all, and even in ten years, society has shifted quite a bit and I don’t even know if they hold up anymore. I’m still proud of them, though.)

Rather, let’s talk about you, and three actions you can take this Read an eBook Week.
1. Browse Smashwords. Set your erotic filters and browse away. Find new authors, new books, new genres and subject matter. This is a great time to expand your reading horizons, so go for it.

2. Read something. If it’s stuff that’s been sitting on your ereader for a long time, if it’s the new stuff you’re finding… it doesn’t matter. Just read.

3. Write reviews. Leave them at GoodReads. Go back to the book’s page at Smashwords. Got a blog? Leave them there. Got a friend with a blog? Another option. I am also always glad to post thoughtful, constructive reviews and essays about books you’ve read here. And, of course, if you need help with a review or an essay about a book you’ve read, holler. I charge a minimal fee, and you’ll get more than the cost is worth.

Yes, that’s it! Find a book. Read a book. Review a book.

It has been proven over and over and over and over and over and over again that word of mouth recommendations are the best way to sell books. Reviews often fall into this category, because it means people are talking about someone’s book.

So talk about someone’s book.

We know there are algorithms that will prop up a book when it gets a new, or many, or a set number of reviews. So YOUR review has a very good chance of resonating and helping an author. Yes, even if it’s a negative review! (Remember, reading is subjective. I mean, I have met people who don’t loathe Moby Dick.)

And it’s not like you paid money for these books. Most of them over at Smashwords, as part of Read an eBook Week, are free.

That means leaving a review is an easy way to say thanks. To show appreciation for an author’s hard work, even if it wasn’t work that you loved. To help a very small business owner have a little bit better shot at success… and that, right there, is reason enough.

We’re one reading/writing/publishing community. If we don’t take care of each other, who will?


Introducing Jett Ostra


One of the hardest parts of running West of Mars is that at the end of the day, I’m tired. I’ve been playing with words all day long, so the last thing I want to do is sit and read yet more words. Now that my Internal Editor has been given full rein (reign? It fits!) all day, it doesn’t turn off so easily just because I’m reading a book. An already-published book.

But you guys know my passion for Rock Fiction, and you know that I’m an expert in the genre.

I couldn’t let that go to waste.

So … I took on an underling. A woman who loves Rock Fiction as much as I do, and one who is glad to learn at my knee about the intricacies of this genre.

Meet Jett Ostra.


Don’t worry. That’s not her real name. But these are her real words:

The deal is that I work with some pretty high-faluting people, and my bosses don’t want me to put myself out there and be visible to the world for who I am. I ask those people for money and favors and things like that; the official name is corporate development, but the jist is that I gotta keep up appearances.

But I love to read and I love to talk about books, and I don’t like to varnish the truth, unless I’m at work. I swear, some days, it’s all I can do to smile and keep schmoozing.

So don’t expect that here. I’m going to tell you what I think and if that hurts your feelings, too bad. Susan told me when she hired me that she wanted to see the same perceptions and hard truths that were in the sample I gave her. So that’s what you’re going to get.

Let’s all welcome Jett, shall we? Her reviews will appear periodically.

And if you’d like to query her, do it through me (Susan) and I’ll pass the request along. She’s keeping it to Rock Fiction for now, and believe me, I’m fast on the delete button. I’ve been deluged of late with review requests, zero of which have been Rock Fiction. Anyone know what’s up with that?

ROCK FICTION, folks. That’s what gets reviewed here.


New Rock Fiction review


After reading about it at Dear Author, I HAD to get my hands on Kimberly Lang’s The Downfall of a Good Girl.


Click on through to read my review.


Derogatory Self-Publishing Thoughts


Okay, so that’s a heck of an incendiary headline up there. I did that on purpose; I want you guys to be reading what I have to say.

You know I work for The World’s Toughest Book Critics. I am a paid reviewer for them, and they assign me to read indie books, or self-published books, or whatever term you want to use for books NOT put out by an organized business such as Harper Collins, Penguin, and the like. Not even books from places like Coffee House Press or The Mysterious Press. You know: us people who are riding the wave of the Kindle, the Nook, and the iPad.

The books submitted to The World’s Toughest Book Critics that find their way to me are submitted along with money from the author to the reviewing source.

We can argue the value of a paid review until the cows come home. But I’d like to point something out: the big publishers have the finances to help fund these book review sources via advertising. We indies usually don’t have a couple hundred — or more — to throw into an ad that may or may not sell books. (Better to give that kind of money to a good editor or…)

The review sites need to find a way to replace the lost revenue, after all. And so, the paid review was born. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, or so the thinking goes. The site or publication (or, in today’s world, both) doesn’t take a hit in their revenue stream. The author hopefully gets to brag about their really good review from The World’s Toughest Book Critics, or the World’s Oldest Review Publication, or The Librarian’s Favorite Review Source.

Notice what I said there, about the author? HOPEFULLY.

That’s because of the 20 or so books I’ve read for TWTBC, I’ve been lukewarm, at best, about three of them. The most recent book WOULD have been fantastic if it had been copy edited by someone with a clue and an eye for more than their bank account. (Yeah, I’m talking to you, lady, who thinks it’s fine to add an apostrophe s to a plural in one line, but not when the same word, still a plural, appears on the next.)

Now, take a step back and pretend you’re a famous author of the best-selling variety, and some journalist has called you up and asked for a quote about the self-publishing phenomenon overtaking the world. And you go to those review sites and look a few over before answering and … all you see is negativity. Why on earth would you NOT say you think all that’s coming out is garbage? Those reviews you just read… they didn’t exactly give you the warm fuzzies.

I’m not advocating that us reviewers change our policies and stop telling the truth. Not at all.

You guys know where I’m going… I’m issuing a challenge to us writers. Improve our craft. Expand our storytelling. Find the right editors to work with. Don’t be in such a rush to get something on the market that you become one of those authors who gets an e-mail from a book blogger, saying, “I’d have loved to have read this like I said I was going to, but the typos are so bad, I can’t.” — and then the author says, “I know, but I wanted to get this on the market and start making money.”

Up your game, folks, and there won’t be a reason for anyone to put us down anymore.