Sunday, July 22, 2012

Why Natalie Star is PISSED



For this week's post on the Master Koda Virtual Blog Tour, I have the YA novelist, Natalie Star, and she has a rant in response to a blogger's rant. And wow, I have to say, I agree with a lot she says. Welcome, Natalie, and take it away.

"I read a blog by Ritesh Kala on Alexia’s Chronicles and decided to write this blog following his, hence the title and the subject of bloggers, authors and review requests. I wanted to write about this very issue during the release of my debut young adult novel, The Keeper.  I decided against it for many reasons. But now after reading Ritesh’s experience, I think it’s time to share mine. People will never know unless we share.
My YA paranormal romance came out the first week of January. My plan was to have a couple of reviews up before it went on sale so people could gage whether or not they wanted to purchase it. The month before the release there were some really wacky format issues with the ARC; therefore it wasn’t ready for my publisher to send out to reviewers until after release day.
As soon as I had my hands on the corrected ARC I began my journey to find bloggers to review my eBook. That journey was disheartening. I emailed over one hundred and fifty blogs. I heard back from a dozen and only a few could actually review it for me. This is when I found out that the young adult genre is saturated with writers looking to be reviewed. It wasn’t just me.
*Ritesh said his will be a three part series (at least) on the subject. I would love to retort each of his blogs (in a good happy fun way, Ritesh is one of the good guys). So I will be waiting on his second blog for a rebuttal. To read his blog, here is the link: http://alexiachronicles.blogspot.in/2012/07/i-am-blogger-and-i-am-pissed-1.html.

1.      Read the review policy: I do! Every last word. And let me tell you - some bloggers can get real wordy. I understand the need to give some of the info you do, but sometimes what you’re telling us isn’t important, and has no bearing on the fact that I want you to review my book. So short and simple should be the motto. The best review policy I read said: Hello, my name is… this is what I read… this is what I won’t read… in addition to hardcopies, these are the formats I accept… my turnaround time is… and this is how to contact me. ß That info right there is what I seek. Nothing more. When reading an official review policy, I really don’t care about the specific classes you’re taking, or what days they are on and what time you attend them, or that you need to visit your grandmother on Sundays, (friend me on facebook we can chat about that kind of stuff there), or don’t tell me the bad experiences you had with a certain genre… Oh, and reviewers when you list your genres, please be educated in what they are. I had people read my blurb and excerpt and say “I don’t review that kind of stuff.” when they plainly listed my genre on their page. These are all real things that I came across. I kid you not.  I think to make things easier you can indicate right off if your blog site reviews eBooks or Indie books. That’s where the masses are coming from. That would be awesome! Then we don’t have to comb through the jibber jabber to find that info in the last line of a three page policy where it says “Sorry, no eBooks (or no Indies)”. This is frustrating beyond words.

2.      Draft personal review requests: I do! When I can readily find the bloggers name. I don’t have time to read the “about me” section in addition to reading three page policies while searching through 150+ blogs. In my experience with this, I sort of shy away from using a name unless it’s clearly listed on the policy page. I ran into issues with several bloggers saying “That isn’t my name!”…  Well, when you are a chick and your blog has a feminine name attached to it, and the contact email has that same name involved. I assume that’s your name. Not the name of your niece, your daughter, or your dog (all true stories)! Really, how could I know that? I’m not a mind reader.

3.      Don’t attach your books with your review requests: I don’t! (I actually have my publisher, Decadent Publishing send out the requested format directly to the reviewer). I would never. That’s presumptuous on the author’s part, and kind of pushy.

4.       Don’t assume your book is the best thing since sliced cheese:  I don’t! But I am guilty in saying, “According to your review policy and your requested genre’s I think you might enjoy my story.” And I haven’t said that often, only in the ones that give off a certain vibe.

5.      Not giving out review copies: for free, and sending out a purchase link for the reviewer to buy the copy. Heck no! I would never do that. In my opinion, no one should charge on either side of the coin. I think that the reviewer is being rewarded by receiving the book for free, and the author is being rewarded back with a review. That’s just how I see it.
 Author’s, blogger’s, how do you feel about the topics above?
I can’t wait to see what Ritesh brings up next. I have more to say on the matter."

Natalie Star is a young adult author who favors paranormal romances and urban fantasy. She lives in Hampton Roads, Virginia with her loving husband, two soccer playing children, and one unintelligent diabetic cat. The family loves to travel, and Natalie enjoys photographing all of their journeys.
Links:

The KeeperThe Keeper (Young Adult/Paranormal Romance), by Natalie Star
Blurb:

   The morning of her sixteenth birthday, Billie feels blessed despite the reoccurring nightmare that wakes her. Loving parents, a caring boyfriend, and great friends surround her until an heirloom necklace throws her into a world she never imagined.
   “Gifted” with supernatural powers and an unexpected destiny as the Keeper, Billie and a mysterious boy from her past must work together to find answers. But, as they begin to discover feelings for one another, he disappears leaving her to fight evil alone. Her life spirals out of control. She breaks up with her boyfriend, Tony, and alienates her best friends Arianna and Jocelyn to protect them from the truth.
   As dark forces pursue her, Billie longs to run away from it all, yet a need to do what’s right compels her to face the future as the keeper of more than her own fortune.
The Keeper can be found on many fine online eBook retail sites; however, Natalie would appreciate it if you would purchase it through her publisher: http://bonobookstore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=20

31 comments:

  1. I like your post, I think it's valid and has some arguments that should be hard to discount. I'll be blunt though and say that you're not getting through the minds and opinions of YA bloggers (to whom I suppose it's mainly written) anytime soon, if at all. I have been a blogger for four years and even though I stay away from YA culture, I have seen how it's mostly emotions, not reason, that dominates their responses to arguments. It sounds condescending, even though it's merely an observation based on facts. Whether these blogs are hosted by teenagers or by adults is not all that important. I will not say what I really think because I respect Tara as a reader and an author and this is her space. I also think that you come off as a nice author with intelligent questions. But this is the nature of consumer driven writing. Authors willingly admit they are putting out a product. And as we know in all business ventures, customer is always right. Until some if the YA bloggers put their own products for public consumption, they are your customers.

    Good luck with your writing though. I believe that if it's good,.it'll stand in its own regardless.

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    1. Hi, Lila! Thanks for your comment! Sadly, this doesn't apply to just the YA blogging world. I have an alter ego and she experiences the same thing on the adult side of things. But as you say it's a consumer driven =)

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  2. Excellent post and great advice! Thank you!

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    1. Thanks Lorraine! Keep writing them hot cowboys!!! ;)

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  3. I spotlighted Natalie Star and her book is on my list of reviews. I'm very excited to read and review. I thought she was very professional and doll to work with. I can only hope to contribute to her continued success!

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    1. Hi Aurora! Love working with you, YOU are professional, and a doll as well =) Thanks for the comment!

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  4. As a blogger, I'm sad to see this "war" between indies and bloggers. All indies and self-pubed authors whose books I've reviewed were great and respectful, even if I denied the offer or loved their books a bit less. Which makes me want to shout their names from the rooftop and sing their praises even more.

    I'm blogging for 3 years now. Getting review requests from the big six is a matter of prestige. If I'm offered a book that appeals to me, I'll read it even if it was scribbled on rolls of toilet paper. Not everyone thinks so.

    Sorry for the long and random comment. I hate to see readers being put off of self-published and indie authors because of a few hotheads on both sides. Best wishes with your writing career, Natalie :)

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    1. Ivana, I haven't really been following this "war" but I've heard bits and pieces. This really isn't in regard to that. It's just something that's been on my mind, maybe because everyone is talking about it lol.

      I think it will be many many years before self-published and indie aren't bad words in the blogging world. If you've read my one star review for The Keeper on Amazon you will see why. There are so many people like that in this world.

      I have lots of online friends who are self-pub and I think at this point I have read more self-pub stories than I have from the big six. If you have a good story I'm gonna read it! I don't care who or how it's published :)

      Thanks for stopping by Ivana!

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  5. Natalie -

    I'm right there with you. I just wrote a lengthy reply to my status this weekend that tells authors not to call reviewers Trolls. I've done the e-copy and have mailed a hard cope to several bloggers. One of which solicited me from the Philippines (if you've never mailed anything there - it was $15.00). I love bloggers because they do help promote... I do however think that some are vicious in their review. I'm sure you've seen the review of 50 Shades - although it was very creative, it is an attack on someone's work. We as authors are HUMANS we have FEELINGS and yes, everyone is entitled to an opinion but how would you feel if someone rated your blog the same way? Golden Rule

    One time I saw on a blog that they were closed for reviews for a couple of months - it was 6 months after that post. I sent them a email asking if they've open for reviews yet. The response was so rude, I can't repeat what they said to me.

    There are good and bad on both sides... I love your work Natalie :) You're pretty amazing in my book!

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    1. Yes, Golden Rule!

      I too love bloggers, and as a result of using bloggers to review; I've made new friends, made some sales, and I've gained new followers. Sure there's the nasty people out there, but for the most part all of my bloggers that have reviewed for me have been awesome! I would rate the majority of them with 4 & 5 stars~ I think we should rate them! :)

      Thank you, Devyn! <3 I think you are pretty amazing too! :)

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  6. Great response to Ritesh's post. I think your comments make a lot of sense. I don't yet have a review policy up and know I need to work on one. I think I'll have you review it before posting to make sure I'm covering the relevant points. I'm looking forward to watching the ongoing conversation between Ritesh and you. I love a polite and thought out discussion on the topic where neither side is bashing the other but talking about some of their frustrations as well as giving concrete examples of how the process could work better.

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    1. Thank you Tasha! That is exactly what I am going for here. A nice polite civil conversation :) (although it wouldn't surprise me if a troll pops up, that's the internet for ya).

      I would love to review your policy before you go live with it. And I'm looking forward to Ritesh's next post.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. Great comments here. I can see things from both sides of fence which makes commenting more difficult for me. As a blogger, I appreciate an author taking time to see what I read. It's obvious I don't read male dominated stories. I get tons of requests for books I obviously don't read. I don't get angry about it, nor do I email them back. It's simple to just delete. Not sure why other bloggers are getting so mad about it. I used to have guidelines up, but no one was following them. LOL An an author, I've given up on bloggers. If I had a dime for all the reviews I was promised and never received, I'd be a rich girl. And I can't help but notice half the bloggers/reviewers that claim to be my "fans" don't buy a single book by me. They just sit there and wait for me to give it to them or come to me saying they have no money. And if I don't give them the book upon being asked due to contract (varies with publisher), they don't even mark it as to read. I haven't found the crowd very supportive.

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    1. I've not been dissed by many reviewers just yet, I haven't been around too long though. Just about everyone who says they will review it, does.

      This is off topic, but popped into my head: contest winners, I've had a lot of them where I've given my eBook to, but they never review. When I send the congrats I usually say something along the lines of "When your finished reading I would love to hear what you think about it"... maybe no one's read it yet, or they hate it LOL.

      It is hard and I honestly don't go looking for bloggers anymore like I used to. I look to see who reviews for fellow authors in my genre, and then check them out, and read past reviews to see what they like. I've even asked authors for recommendations. This seems to be best. I like to get at least one review per month, just to keep my name out there.

      Thanks for this post Tara! :)

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    2. Heck even your good friends let you down on this one so I can see how you would give up on bloggers. I'm finding some reviews harder to write than others both good and bad reviews. Some I can whip up in 15 minutes. Others I start and they can take a month or more to get the way I want them. And some for friends I find even harder to do which is surprising me.

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    3. I think when you review for friends you should start off writing the review as if you don't know them. Sleep on it, then read it over again the next day and see how you feel about it.

      Sometimes with friends we don't want to hurt their feelings or seem to impersonal with them. You want to get it right, which is somewhere in the middle, and that can be hard. You don't want to lie either and say it's the best book you've ever read when it's not.

      If you read my story I give you permission to be yourself and be honest lol.

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    4. I actually have a harder time writing for friends when I like the book as I don't want it to be all gushy and I want to make sure it sounds like a review. I hate those reviews that go "I loved it, I loved it" bit sometimes with a friends book I ind myself adding things like "and the author is so cool because of x, y, and z" which has nothing to do with the book.

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    5. Oh! haha. Yeah, that can make you sound all fan girlish, and unprofessional. If you ever need a read through, I got your back!

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  8. Hi Natalie, all very valid points. Just like with everything else, bloggers come in all forms, the good, the bad and the ugly. I just wanted to point out one thing you've said. It is getting more and more difficult to classify books in certain genres. I read a lot of different stuff, but I write my preferences as Fantasy and SF. Now, I've been offered everything from paranormal romance (coz it is fantasy) to military SF (which I hate). So, a blogger saying they don't read that particular genre after reading the blurb may not be really wrong, even though they list the genre on the blog.

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    1. Hi Ritesh! Thanks for stopping by.

      Young adult paranormal romance is kinda hard to list incorrectly. It describes my book through and through. I could probably throw a half dozen more sub-genres to it, but that would confuse people more (I think). So, when YA PNR is listed on the review policy, and I offer my book I don't know how I could better describe it. Just maybe their classification/idea of YA PNR is different than mine. Is there a genre dictionary out there? LOL

      But I do agree, and I thank you for your examples, it's true about the genres getting more difficult to work with. When you Google search it, you get listings for all the genres AND sub-genres, and that's when things get hairy.

      Look forward to your next post. Your blogs get my brain going :)

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    2. Wouldn't it make sense to add that you don't read tose things to the list to save both the authors nd you time and communication problems? I know we can't list exactly everything we will and won't read or we'd have a 5 page nightmare as we try to explain what we mean by "urban-fantasy without too much romance or blood and gore" (for example). But it seems that if you don't read romance that happens to have a fantasy theme... Which is totally different from fantasy with a roman e theme (ly my head hurts) ... Certainly when I first started to read Robert Jordan before I even knew there was a category called military sci if I referred to his book that way. So I guess I'm saying that those of us who review books could be a bit more specific about what we will and won't review.

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    3. Natalie, another issue here is that, I reject a lot of books in the genres I like to read after reading the blurb because the blurb just does not pull me in to read the book. That may be another reason why some may reject books.
      Tasha, that is the problem I have. Do I become really specific and miss out on reading some terrific books, or be a bit vague and decide on each book as the request comes in?

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    4. Ah, but Ritesh do you tell them that? I love and appreciate when people tell me "That doesn't interest me".

      And that is a really good question you've presented to Tasha. Sounds like a good blog topic to me!

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    5. So much of that depends on how good the author is at writing a blurb... I've been reading a lot lately and many times the blurb has not properly represented the book. But I do think it would be a great blog post..l we could write it as part of a "how to write review policies".

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  9. I think those are all good points, and agree with pretty much everything said. I don't get a whole lot of requests, so I generally don't need to say no unless I'm uninterested, which is also rare lol.

    BK
    buffykennedy[at]gmail[dot]com
    Buffy's Ramblings

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  10. Hi Buffy! Thanks for the comment! Of course with the topic on hand I had to peruse your blog. I'm not indie, but if you review indie you might want to include that in your "review" section. I know it's in the guest post write up but it's not clear if you review them :)

    Other than that it looks good, I found your name easy, your email is accessible, you list what you like, and what formats you accept.

    And I followed your blog! :)

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    1. Thanks so much!

      I added a line to fix the indie confusion. Indie or traditionally published, more power to you. I take either :-)

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  11. First of holy cow That's alot of replies!!! :-P

    Second: Great blog! Sounds like you had a lot of issues looking for reviewers sorry you had bad experiences.

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    1. Thanks Sian, Yes, I've had a lot of issues, but it was also a learning process. I've also met a lot of good people along the way. So really I can only complain so much lol.

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