Wednesday, October 23, 2013

5 Reasons Book Reviewers Rock with Guest Keli Gwyn

Happy birthday, Seekerville! It’s such an honor to be here helping celebrate your sixth birthday. I can well remember the first time I was asked to be a guest on this awesome site back in 2008. I was a florescent green newbie writer and technophobe who had to ask Tina what a blog was and how one went about leaving a comment on a post. LOL

I’ve learned a great deal since then, thanks in part to Seekerville and the wonderful people who hang out here. I’ve sailed away from Unpubbed Island, which is why Tina invited me back to share something I learned on my journey to publication.

The lessons I’ve learned are many. What I want to focus on are a special group of people who have played an important role in spreading the word about my debut novel, which includes some of you, the Seekerville faithful. Those special people are the book reviewers.

When my debut novel released last year, I learned what an important role book reviewers play. I knew they wrote reviews. That’s a given, right? What I didn’t know was how much goes into their review writing and how many other things they do.

As I reflected on everything book reviewers have done for me, I came up with five major ways they serve authors—and make the authors’ days, all at the same time.

Book reviewers are promotion pros.

Even in today’s hi-tech world, the best advertising is still word-of-mouth. When it comes to creating buzz, book reviewers are masters.

• They shout out news about cover sightings.
• They share blurbs for upcoming releases.
• They share previews and sample chapters.
• They hold online release parties.
• They interview authors so readers can meet them.
• They spread the word on Facebook.
• They tweet links to their reviews.
• They post reviews on booksellers’ sites.
• They post reviews on Goodreads.
• They post reviews on their blogs.
• They hold contests, helping get books in readers’ hands.

Book reviewers are insightful readers.

When I read reviews, I’m impressed by how deeply reviewers delve into a story. They’ve made observations about elements in my story I hadn’t even noticed. It’s evident how much thought they put into their reviews, doing many of the following.

• They evaluate the plot.
• They assess believability issues.
• They reveal key conflicts.
• They analyze the characters.
• They discuss how well the setting is depicted.
• They scrutinize the historical details of stories taking place in the past.
• They highlight interesting aspects of a story.
• They explore themes and underlying messages.
• They state whether or not a story meets expectations.
• They use labels that help readers, e.g. sweet, gripping, or funny.
• They make comparisons to other books or authors’ styles.
• They offer cautions, as needed.

Book reviewers are encouragers.
As an author, I know firsthand how uplifting it is to read reviews, especially those from readers who enjoy our work. Sure, there will be some readers who don’t care for our stories, but what I’ve found is that while reviewers might point out what didn’t work for them, they’re quick to note what they liked as well. And, oh, how we love it when they ask us to keep the books coming.

Book reviewers are sources of inspiration.

Authors can learn a great deal from reviewers. They point out our weaknesses, enabling us to improve in those areas. They identify our strengths, letting us know what’s working well. But they don’t stop there. They might tell us how they would have handled things differently or what they would like to see in future stories. Such feedback can get our creative gears turning.

Book reviewers are great friends.

As I’ve interacted with those who reviewed my book, I’ve enjoyed myself immensely. They’re bright, generous, fun people, and I’m happy to have them as new friends.

Questions for You

If you’re a book reviewer, what do you find most rewarding about writing a review?

If you’re a reader, what elements do you find most helpful in a book review?

If you’re a published author, how have reviewers helped you?

Elenora Watkins is determined to provide for herself and her daughter without relying on anyone else. Can she run a successful business after falling for the competition? Miles Rutledge finds himself willing to do anything to keep Elenora in town. But can he win her heart while putting her out of business?

Today Keli is giving away two copies of A Bride Opens Shop, one print or digital copy to a US winner, and one digital only to an international winner. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

Keli Gwyn writes stories that transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. A California native, she lives in the Gold Rush-era town of Placerville at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. When Keli’s fingers aren’t hovering over the keyboard of her newfangled laptop, she enjoys strolling past stately Victorian houses in her historic town, burying her nose in reference books as she unearths interesting facts to include in her stories, and interacting with other romance readers. Her favorite places to visit are her fictional worlds, historical museums, and the Coach Factory Outlet Store

Party details here.


  1. See, I don't even remember having to teach you how to blog. But I can tell you this, I have had to teach a whole lot of folks over the years. And you, Keli, dear, have come a long way, baby.

    From non blogger to having your own successful blog!!

    We've all come a long way, haven't we?? Together, which is much more fun!

  2. You are so write, Tina. The part I enjoy the most about reviewing a book is telling my readers how the book impacted my life...but the best part of the whole process is reading, and then hearing from others how they liked it.
    Yes, Kelli, I would love the print copy of your book, and I will blog about it if I read it!

  3. Hi Keli~Your book sounds great...I would love to have my name put in the drawing! : ) I honestly love being a book reviewer for Bethany House! It can be challenging, though, especially when I don't really enjoy a book. But that has been rare. Most of the books I've read I have thoroughly enjoyed and am excited to pass on a recommendation to those who read my blog and Amazon. Your blog post was really helpful to me in thinking of what sort of things to include in some of my reviews. Thanks! : )
    Blessings to you~Stacey

  4. I already bought a kindle copy, but wouldn't mind winning a print. :)

    I've only gotten reviews for about 2 months, and one thing I've learned is that I should try to sell series with reoccurring characters--the readers who really seem to like my stories really care about my secondary characters. I don't know how many people have asked me all kinds of questions about them!

  5. I'm a reviewer, and the best part is discovering debut authors and new-to-me authors, then recommending them to my friends (both online and real life).

    I live in New Zealand, and while the local Christian bookshop is very good, they tend to stock the old favourites rather than experimenting with new authors (I'm sure shipping costs have something to do with that).

    Please enter me in the draw for the ebook copy - I'm always keen to try a new author!

  6. •••Tina•••
    You've taught me a great deal over the years and have been a shining example of awesomeness, generosity, and productivity. Seriously, you do so much for so many so often that I find myself wondering, do you ever sleep?

    Thanks so much for inviting me to be a guest blogger during Seekerville's birthday celebration. I've been blessed by you Seekers and the Seekerville faithful more times than I could count.

    Reading is indeed a delightful process, isn't it? Discovering those books that impact your life is a real treat. I, for one, appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts in your reviews.

    Bethany House puts out some awesome books, don't they? I've seen some by super-talented authors like this funny gal named Mary Connealy and a certain debut author named Melissa Jagears. :-)

    I appreciate your sensitivity to authors in the way you handle your reviews, especially when a particular book doesn't appeal to you. Choosing to address the story itself instead of the skill of the storyteller is easier on authors and helps us learn what readers are looking for in a story, which we appreciate.

    I'm looking forward to reading your debut novel, A Bride for Keeps. I've moved it to the top of my TBR pile. Mail-order bride stories are my all-time favorites. I've heard great things about yours and am not surprised reviewers are talking it up.

    I love your name. It's beautiful.

    As a debut novelist, I know how important reviewers are for the very reason you stated. Our books don't always make it into stores, so we rely on reviewers to help spread the word. For example, Ellie Whyte is featuring me on her Soul Inspirationz blog right now, helping to introduce me to readers in New Zealand. I'm beyond grateful.

  7. I am a reader. Sometimes I will leave a review of a book, but to be honest I tend to forget. My personal rules when I leave a review is I will not leave a bad review. Sometimes something does not work for me but it may for someone else. I will highlight what I like about a book such as the emotional elements, the story, or the writing. Also I will not tell people what a book is about at all. I feel that reviews tend to tell to much many to the point of why read the book since I just did by reading the review. So in that same aspect I don't really read reviews either. But there is difference between to properly written review and a book report as many on buy sites have. When written right they are a great promotional tool and can hook readers that otherwise would not read a book.

  8. •••Hilleary•••

    I love the way your name is spelled. It's quite unique. Is there a story behind the spelling?

    I appreciate it when reviewers like you are careful not to give too many details about a story, choosing to share just enough information to convince prospective readers that it's a compelling read but not so much detail that they feel they pretty much have the entire plot figured out before beginning. The types of things you include are sure the whet the appetites of those reading your reviews.

  9. The story of my name. My mom got pregnant fairly young (17 or 18) and worked at a McDonalds in Amarillo. There was a little girl who came in quite often, her name was Hilleary. She was very sick, terminally ill. When she would come in and my mom was working she would only allow my mom to help her. I believe she passed away before I was born. My mom has never really talked about her much, I have always gotten the feeling there was more to it but she has never shared. The little girl definitely had an huge impact on my mom. Also interesting is the name Hilleary means cheerful and happiness which my mom has always said how cheerful the little girl was when she would come in, no matter what she was going through. I know Tina Radcliffe has always said she likes my name and spelling as well.

  10. Hi Keli,

    I only write a review if I like the book and have something encouraging to say.

    Congrats on your new book! I love the cover and it sounds like a great story.

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  12. ood morning Keli! As a book reviewer I love the whole process of receiving the book, reading it and then giving my honest review. One thing I notice when I am reading a book for review, as opposed to just reading a book for simple pleasure, is I take a little more time and really try to climb into the story. I know that what I write can impact readers and the author as well so I try to always point out the best. I am usually blessed that the books I choose to review are pretty awesome novels so my ratings are high. Unfortunately, I just reviewed a book this week by a favorite author of mine that I really just couldn't love her leading male character. I tried really hard but he never won me over and for that I did have to rate it lower than any of her other books.

    I would love to be entered into your giveaway!

    Happy Birthday on!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  13. Thank you so much for today's post. It's very rare that I leave a review after I've read a book. That's more because life is so busy, but I should definitely make an effort to do better. I do read reviews before purchasing a book online, especially an audio book through Audibles. They help in determining whether or not I want to spend my money and my time on the product.

    Happy Wednesday, Seekerville!

  14. Thanks for this wonderful post! I read books for review--some for Bethany, Book Sneeze, Tyndale, among others, as well as for individual authors. I love to write reviews that tell what I loved about the story, not just the plot line, but what actually happened in the book between the characters and God and how that affected me and my personal life. In each book I can take away something that makes me a stronger Christian or that encourages me as I go through something. At the end of my review, I like to leave a nice hook so other readers will want to go pick that book up and see what was going on. I would love to win a copy of your book, Keli! Thanks for the giveaway! If any of you would like to read my reviews or follow my blog, my blog address is:
    tscmshupe [at] pemtel [dot] net

  15. Hi Keli!

    I love to read reviews of my books, even the bad ones, and I try to leave a thank you comment for each and every one. Yes, even the bad ones because the reality is everyone will not love our books.

  16. now that i have a Kindle, I leave more reviews than i have in the past, but i'm not near as thorough as the "professional" reviewers. Like Hilleary, I usually just mention what impressed me without rehashing the entire story.

    i try to do better on leaving good reviews, especially on books that Seekerville has introduced me to. i'm still not as good as a should be.

    thanks for sharing.

  17. Keli, what a positive post! I love your perspective on reviewers. I have only reviewed a few books myself. When I set out to write my first ever review on Amazon a couple years ago, I was so intimidated by the lengthy reviews some people wrote that I got really nervous in writing one. :) I've become more comfortable writing them since then.

    I love your list of things reviewers write about. I definitely plan to hold onto that for when I review books in the future.

    I'm so glad I've come across you online and briefly at ACFW last year!

    I'd love to be in the drawing.

  18. It's amazing how fast things have changed over the years, isn't it? There's no relaxing or the tide of technology will wash right over you...

  19. Ah, a subject dear to my heart. :-) I think I write reviews because my inner librarian screams at me if I don't share! LOL. There is something ingrained in me that wants to shout about books from the rooftops but it's too cold to climb onto rooftops up here in Canada so I blog instead. :-)

    Also I am starving for a good book club and my need to talk books now comes out in review form. Also in reading reviews as well. Then I have imaginary conversations with the reviewer. I know, pathetic, right?

    Don't enter me in the draw because I have my own copy of A Bride Opens Shop in Ed Dorado, California. Great debut novel, Keli!

  20. I write lots of reviews. I always try to be honest but sometimes its hard. And, of all the critiquing I've been through with my own work, it's hard to remain just "reader's point of view." A Bride Opens Shop sounds like a great book and a great review to write! Thank you Keli!

  21. I'm not a reader - I haven't been a reader since I started writing YEARS ago. But, I took part in a writing group's "read, review, and blog" about another member of the group. So, we passed books around. It was SO hard to write the review! I gained exponential respect for reviewers after that.

    As a writer, reviewers do nothing but encourage me. I love reviews that detail what the reader best liked about the book (and appreciate the reviews that list dislikes as well).


  22. Keli, what a lovely post!

    I learned a very important lesson from Derek Jeter when he was asked if he wanted to go into broadcasting once he hangs up his cleats.

    He said something like this: "I don't think I'm meant for that. I'd have a hard time being critical."

    And that taught me to be less critical. I love some books. I'm not a fan of others. But I've learned that my opinion is about as worthless as it can be and tastes differ, so I will never, ever give out a less than stellar review now.

    If you don't like something, it's good to remember that an editor did like it. Someone paid to have this book produced, and God has blessed us with gazillion and one readers... so if a book appeals to 50,000 of them, well, then, that's pretty special, right? :)

    So even if it's not my fave, I close my mouth (like that cool pic posted on Facebook from Downton Abbey) and Bite My Tongue.

    My snarkiness tends to trip me up so better for me to be silent sometimes. I only wish it hadn't taken so long to learn such a valuable lesson.

    "Silence is Golden", LOL!

  23. I love reviewing books. I didn't start out intentionally looking for ways the writer breaks the mold or does something fresh or deals with a thorny issue. But I find that is what I comment on the most.

    I have your book and also share your historical museum obsession!

    Peace, Julie

  24. Well good morning,
    Nobody said anything about food, so I'm putting out a plate of those peanut butter cookies with the Hershey Kiss in the middle. And a pot of Earl Grey tea.
    I review on my Web site, and on the Christianity section of I don't have an official book-reviewing relationship with a publisher, so I review what I want to review. My local library director has AWESOME taste, and I get a lot of Christian fiction from there. (Yes, I bring it back.) Right now I'm only reviewing books I like. I agree with MARIANNE and SALLY, when a book touches you deeply and gives you a glimpse of God, you just have to share. HILLEARY, I agree that sometimes something may not "work" for me that will work for someone else. Reading is subjective. We all know that from contest scores, right?
    KELI, "newfangled laptop"? Oh, you are a woman after my own heart. I have not been dragged into technology kicking and screaming, but it hasn't been easy. Now that I've got it, I could never go back. I started my journalism career on a manual typewriter. I'm almost 63. I don't know how we did it. Carbon paper, Liquid Paper, retyping, getting ink on our fingers, the beloved manual return. But they looked good. I am looking for an antique iron Underwood for my daughter, who is steampunk. "Oh brave new world," as Miranda says in "The Tempest." I still prefer a keyboard. I don't use a tablet because of the whole "opposable thumb" thing...
    I rambled again. Am hopped-up on cold medication.
    Kathy Bailey

  25. Wow...I found it enlightening to read it her reviewers comments this morning. I'd have to say Bethany is my favorite publishers, but I do read for others, as well. And yes, I read for Indie publishers and The Book Club Network. (That's one awesome club...get free books to read and review from all types of publishers and writers, and they have a free online monthly mag, too). Anyways, I'll be back (that's a promise, not a threat) to read more later in the day. Great job!

  26. Keli, welcome back to Seekerville's post side! Excellent post!

    Reviewers are a special kind of reader imo. They seem to have their fingers on the pulse of what readers enjoy, yet give a balanced opinion without slamming authors. They're a huge blessing.

    Tina has helped oodles of techno challenged writers, including me. One of the favorite things I've learned--eventually--is how to schedule posts. I used to have to stay up and publish my post at midnight. LOL

    I brought oatmeal. Nice on a chilly morning.


  27. Julie HS, I remember the lovely review you gave my debut. I hadn't even known reviewers like you existed. Talk about green. It's a wonder I didn't end up as a character in a Veggie Tale.


  28. Hi, Keli! We've both come a long way since 2008! :-) So good to see your smiling face in Seekerville today, as well as your pretty book cover! The first of many! And thanks for highlighting the great work of book reviewers! We really need them! I for one am so thankful for them.

    May God bless you in all you do, Keli!

  29. I agree with RUTHY -- right again, Ruth -- that it's hard to be critical after you've done something yourself. You know what you put into it, and assume others put in as much.

  30. I have often purchased a book or not based on reviews. There is also a few reviewers that I follow that I know that I can count on their reviews. So I look forward to their reviews especially if the book is not available yet. Please don't enter me as I already have your book.

  31. I write reviews, and my favorite part--and also the most difficult--is describing why I enjoyed a book when honestly, I just want to say, "Just read it 'cause it's awesome!"

  32. •••Hilleary•••
    Thanks for sharing the touching story behind your name. That special little girl must have made a big impression on your mother. How neat that she wanted her own daughter to have it. I love that the name means cheerful. I'm sure you bring cheer in to many people's lives, as did that little girl.

    Authors everywhere appreciate book reviewers like you. :-)

    Thanks for the kind words about my story. My publisher did a great job with the cover. Purple is the heroine's favorite color.

    •••Cindy W•••
    I love that when you plan to review a book you take time to "climb into the story" and read it at a deeper level than you might otherwise. Insightful readers like you write awesome reviews, giving potential readers a good feel for a story.

    I appreciate the extra care you put into reviews of books you didn't care for as much as you'd hoped. I'm sure those reviews can be difficult to write because you take into consideration how the author will feel while balancing that aspect of the review with a desire to be honest as you share your thoughts with potential readers.

    Thanks for pointing out the value of reviews. I hear more and more that readers rely on them to make their purchasing decisions.

    I understand it takes time to write an in-depth review. Sometimes, like you, I don't have that time. I'm trying to remember that even reviews of two or three sentences can help an author.

    It's evident you put a lot of heart and soul into your reviews. I love that you point out the faith elements of stories and talk about how those elements impacted you in your life.

    I'll check out your book review blog. I have a page of Christian Fiction Reviewers on my website and am on the lookout for other sites to add to it.

  33. Keli, I'm awful at writing reviews.
    I just ain't no good at fluff.

    I'm like Courtney Phillips, I just want to say because I loved the book because is was good.

    I just finished reading Taming the Texas Rancher so I went back to leave a review and saw yours. You're eloquent with your words.

    I buy most of my books from the store so I don't think about reviews. I'm trying to get better. If I ever become published, I want my readers to take the three minutes to leave a comment.

  34. •••Rose•••
    Like you, I appreciate every review. The positive ones make me feel good because I know the reader enjoyed the story, but I appreciate those from readers who didn't care for the story as well. They help give a balanced picture.

    We all have different tastes. What one reader might like another might dislike. Having both positive and negative reviews helps readers who don't enjoy some aspect of a story steer clear of that particular book, which is important. I certainly wouldn't want to have a reader feel like s/he wasted the money spent on my book if it's not the kind of story s/he would enjoy.

    •••Deb H•••
    I don't know about others, but I prefer reviews that don't simply share the story's set up. I can get that from the back cover blurb. I like the type of reviews you write in which the reviewer shares her/his impressions. I can tell so much more about whether I'll enjoy a story or not based on that type of feedback.

    I can totally relate to being intimidated by the awesome, comprehensive reviews some reviewers post. Once I came to realize that some people have a knack for writing reviews and love doing it, it was easier for me not to put pressure on myself to do the same.

    What helped me come to that realization was remembering how much I've been influenced by a brief endorsement in a book. There is a time and place for both reviews and endorsements, which lets me know that there is also a time and place for long and short reviews. Each and every review is helpful and appreciated by most of the authors I know.

    The speed at which things are changing can be mind-boggling at times, can't it? At least it can for someone like me who grew up in the Dark Ages. I remember rotary dial phones, black-and-white television sets, and reel-to-reel tape players. What I do when faced with another piece of technological wizardry I need to master is remember that doing so helps me stave off dementia. :-)

    Your love of books and desire to talk about them warms my heart. Readers like you make writers like me very happy. You're why we do what we do.

    When we write a story that makes a wonderful reviewer like you want to brave the cold Canadian winter to shout about it from the rooftops, we feel like we've written something worthwhile. And while I love the image of you spreading the word from your rooftop, I'm glad you restrain yourself and post the reviews on your awesome blog instead. :-)

    Thanks for the kind words about my story, both in your comment today and in the excellent review you posted on your blog.

  35. Keli,
    Who knew you were technology challenged! You always seem so tech savvy to me! A quick learner for sure! :)

    Also love the huge conflict in your story! Oh my gosh, can these two get together and have a happily ever after? Congrats on a blurb that makes the reader head to Amazon and hit BUY NOW!

    Thanks for a great post on reviews. I think short and sweet is often best. As you mentioned, no spoilers, please. God bless all those who do post reviews, which take time and effort, but are greatly appreciated by writers and readers alike.

    So grateful to those who review Seeker books! Sending cyber hugs to all.

  36. Hilleary, thanks for sharing the beautiful story about your name. It touched my heart!

    God bless your mama. She must be a very special lady. :)

  37. Hi Iola, we're so glad you could join us in Seekerville today! Thanks for all you do in New Zealand to spread the word about the books you love to read.

    BTW, my next door neighbor was from New Zealand. She and hubby moved back home recently. I miss her!

  38. I've said this before so I apologize for repeating myself, but honestly, I only know just so many things to comment on.....

    But I remember getting two reviews on Amazon ... one right after the other one day.

    Both short and sweet.

    A five star and a one star.

    The five star said something like.

    Mary Connealy is the finest Christian fiction author of her generation.

    The very next review. ONE STAR.

    I can't believe anyone published this terrible book? I couldn't finish it. I threw it in the trash.


    Okay, you know what? That was good for me. Honestly it was.

    Because there it was in black and white. Absolute proof positive that everyone is different. Everyone reacts differently to a book. And if I...the author...believe one...that I HAVE to believe the other. And both are wrong. BOTH are wasting my time.
    Honestly believing the FIVE STAR is worse for me than believing the ONE STAR because of course I'm not the finest Christian writer of my generation and if I believe that it's a path to arrogance and complacency and laziness.
    At least if I believe my book is terrible...assuming I don't just quit...and considering I'm contract and can't quit, then maybe I work harder, maybe I try and study and learn and bear down and do better work and focus harder.

    But mostly, what I do is just do the best work I can do every day.
    I am trying to write a book I can promote without feeling like I have to lie myself about liking it, right?

    I have to get out there and do interviews and talk about characters, so I'd better like the books I wrote because if I don't, that gets really OLD!

  39. KAYBEE LOL on 'that whole opposable thumb thing'

  40. •••Cindy•••
    I can so relate to the challenge you mentioned about writing a review geared for potential readers rather than one from a writer's perspective. I've been so tempted at times to use writerly jargon and have had to call myself on it. Thank goodness my computer has a delete key. :-)

    I remember writing my first reviews. As you said, it can be tough. I, too, gained a great deal of respect for reviews for that point. That respect grew exponentially when my book came out and it was my story being reviewed.

    (Yikes, did I really just use a math term in my comment? Gwynly, my math-science guy, would be shocked. :-) )

    Why am I not surprised you mentioned Jeter in your comment? :-)

    Seriously though, his wise words make sense. I know all too well how much time, effort, and heart a writer puts into a story. That saying about opening ourselves and bleeding as we pour out our stories resonates with me. (Yeah, I probably butchered the pithy quote, but I know you'll forgive me, cuz you're all kinds of nice underneath that loveable snarkiness. :-) )

    Because I know how much of him/herself a writer pours into a story, I'm unwilling to post anything but positive reviews. If I don't care for a book, I keep that knowledge to myself, figuring I wasn't the target audience. It's like my mother used to tell me: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

    •••Julie HS•••
    I love that you focus on "ways the writer breaks the mold or does something fresh or deals with a thorny issue" in your reviews. That type of review enables potential readers to get a real feel for a story that goes far beyond the standard plot-driven back cover blurbs.

    Thanks, first and foremost, for bringing some tea and treats. Forgetting to offer some food was a terrible oversight on my part. This is Seekerville, after all. :-)

    Your comment brought back memories of typing term papers in high school and college and the grueling task that was in the days before typewriters had backspace correction keys. I so appreciated teachers who gave us a certain number of "magic circles" we could use to make typos "invisible" and not count against our grade. Unfortunately, I tended to use up my allotment of said circles on the first page--when the perfectionist in me actually was willing to use them, that is. Yes, I went through a lot of typing paper. :-)

    I hope you find that antique typewriter you're looking for. The historical writer in me would love to have one, too.

  41. Isn't it amazing how many people ask you questions about your secondary characters? I noted Melissa J's comment on this.

    That is the single biggest comment I get. Which is a good thing. It means your characters are real. People are vested in them.

  42. No one is born knowing how to rung Blogger.

    And sometimes someone will ask which is better Wordpress or Blogger and all I can think is, Wow, you mean on it's best day or it's worst day, because my answer will be totally different. Both have driven me nearly mad.

    My other blog, Petticoats & Pistols is on Wordpress and both are mostly amazing....except when you want to reach through the computer screen and strangle whoever invented them...or even more...whoever keeps UPDATING THEM.

  43. XACTLY KELI!!!

    I totally agree. If the author didn't write the book you wanted is not a reason to trash the author. Would you do it in person? NO. So don't hide behind the veil of you computer monitor.

  44. Totally agree with Connealy. Scary as that is.

    I did paid blogs on Wordpress for a long time and that was on paid Wordpress accounts. Not free. When you are in a crunch, both misbehave just as badly.

  45. Hi Keli, when I seen on FB that you would be here today, I knew this is one day I didn't want to miss stopping by. I have read your book and loved it. I appreciate your love of reviewers as I am one. I have read many books and finally thought why not join the bloggers that tell about the authors they love to read. I enjoy each and everyone and take an interest in what I write about their book. I don't read a book if I am not interested in the story. not sure how reviewers can help author if they do this. Love these seekerville folks and so proud another birthday is here for them, instead of getting gifts they give them -great huh? Happy Birthday again all.
    Paula O

  46. Hi Keli!! Soooo happy to see you here today, sweet friend. As you already know, I LOVED your debut novel, and am eagerly awaiting more Keli Gwyn books for my "keeper shelf"!

    I'm always happy to help promote books I love (especially when they're written by people I love), so it was a genuine privilege to review and help spread the word about your book.

    In honor of your visit today, your Georgia friend has brought peach muffins, peach shortcake, and pecan pie ~ Enjoy!

    Hugs, Patti Jo :)

  47. I am a reader who writes reviews! I don't write a review on every book I read - I don't think I could as I read about 4 books a week but I try to write them for a lot of the books I read. I know that writers spend a lot of time and effort writing a book and I want to help them out. I would never write a negative review. If a book wasn't my "favorite", I think it's just because it didn't resonate with me but it might with someone else! I think it's very unfair for people that blast a book for the most inane things - I've seen very silly things that a writer has no control over but is totally the reader's issues!

  48. I loved your post. I write reviews for the books I read. I like to just write down my interpretation of the story. I try to include areas that draw me to the story. I don't read other reviews until I have written mine. When I read other reviews I look for feelings expressed while reading the story. Thanks for the opportunity to win.

  49. I have been lurking here for a long time, and I'm finally commenting because I'd like to try to win and because you all have the most marvelous community of comments! :) Like Jeanne, when I reviewed my first book I was incredibly intimidated by all the other reviews I saw. I even googled, "how to write a book review." I still don't cover many of the points in your wonderful list, Keli, but I've had some appreciative comments from the authors. As someone seeking to escape unpubbed island, I think I would appreciate even just one positive comment. Thanks for all your efforts here!

  50. Happy birthday Seekerville! Great new look! And Keli--I'm just now learning how important reviewers can be (and I'm convicted because my reviews haven't gone much deeper). Good reviewers pull out all those layers in your story and word them in a way you couldn't have come up with if you tried! They are SUCH a blessing and bring a smile to my face every time I read what they got from my novel. I also think it helped to release the reviews early on Goodreads--BEFORE the book releases, so people get a taste of the storyline and know if it's something they'd like. Then again, I'm trying not to hinge TOO much on those star ratings. It's a bit like a roller coaster when your book goes live to the whole big reading world, I can imagine! And I'd love to win your book, Keli!

  51. Meghan Carter! Thanks for coming out of lurk mode!!!!!!!

  52. •••Marianne•••
    Bethany House puts out some great books, don't they, as do many other publishers? I love that readers have so many choices these days, although the availability of all those wonderful stories does have a corresponding effect on my mountainous TBR pile. I'm sure you can relate. :-)

    I agree wholeheartedly. Reviewers are a very special kind of reader. As I mentioned in the post, they delve deep. Some saw things in my story I didn't even see myself, which was way cool.

    Tina is amazing. Love her to pieces, as I do you and the rest of the Seekers. You're a great group of people, and I'm honored to be here helping you celebrate your blog's birthday.

    Thanks for the oatmeal. Love the stuff, especially on a fall day.

    We have come a long way, haven't we? It's been so fun watching your career take off and soar. You're one of my daughter's favorite authors. She devours your stories and wishes there were more.

    •••Boos Mum•••
    Reviewers do play a big role in the publishing world today, don't they? Like you, I make many of my purchasing decisions based on what reviewers say about a particular book.

    Your comment made me smile. I've had many local friends tell me they loved my story and leave it at that. While that tickles me from the top of my head all the way to the tips of my toes, I do wonder exactly what it was they liked about the story. I guess that's the same question a would-be reader has. Answering it can be tough, which is why I value reviewers like you who take the time to figure out what it was you liked and share that with the reading world.

  53. TINA on Secondary Characters I'm always amazed how many people say I wans [fill in the blank] to have his/her own love story.

    Currently the request is for Heath Kincaid.

    And the next FIVE books out....I'm doing it. I haven't gotten it approved yet, but I've got an idea for Heath and I love it. I hope it flies.
    I fall in love with these characters too. I want a happy ending for them. And a lot of reviews will give me the encouragement I need to pursue ideas like a love story for Heath.

    I've got other characters I've wanted to write love stories for. I wonder if that'll ever happen!?

  54. Waving to all the new folks today!

    How 'bout some birthday cake?

  55. What a wonderful post about book reviewers! I know that I count on my favorite reviewers to give an honest opinion about the books they read, and not simply promote. I'm glad to know they are a source of inspiration to writers as well :)


  57. And here's a trip down memory lane.

    Keli's first post on Seekerville.

    CIRCA 2008

    Meet Keli

  58. I didn't know Traveling Stacey was a reviewer for Bethany House??!!!!

  59. This is excellent, Keli. Very thoughtful and insightful. Reviews take time and effort, and not everyone is comfortable sharing their opinions on a wide-open forum. I am always so grateful for the reviews my books receive I immediately "approve" every one of them--even the less favorable ones. That opinion tells me things I needed to know--even if I would prefer that everyone loved the book. ;-)

    Thanks for this.

    Tina, congrats on your anniversary!


  60. My debut novel, Mistaken, released this year and much like you, Keli, I've been enjoying chats with reviewers (like Iola--waving to you over in New Zealand--I think you were actually my first reviewer!).

    I'm so glad we are writing in a time period in which we can converse with readers and reviewers and actually get to know them as friends. I expected some of my friends and fellow writers to jump in and get excited about my book's release, but I was surprised and delighted at how much work reviewers do on our behalf. They're amazing! It's such a joy meeting others (both reviewers and readers) who share our love of books!

  61. Thanks, Debra! Six years! It takes a village.

  62. Welcome Karen Barnett, and praying for success on your debut release.

  63. •••Connie•••
    Warning: I'm going to disagree with you. :-)

    I just popped over to Amazon and read the review you wrote that you mentioned in your comment. It's great--a wonderful example of a short review that tells a reader what set the story apart and why you enjoyed it. Well done!

    In fact, all five of the reviews I saw are fairly short, and yet they give a potential reader plenty of information about Rhonda's story and tell, in a few words, why they recommend it. I especially liked the way the reviewer who gave the book four stars gently and tactfully mentioned the one area she saw as a weakness.

    I appreciate the compliments on my technical skills, but if you only knew how long it takes me to master the simplest of techy tasks, you might not be quite as impressed. :-)

    Thanks for the kind words about my story. Barbour gets the credit for the wonderful blurb. They took what I came up with and made it heaps better. I owe a debt of gratitude to some Seekers who helped my story become what finally made it into print as well.

    I won a first-chapter critique from Julie several years ago, and she gave me excellent feedback. Her fingerprints can be seen in the opening pages. And yes, I could tell you exactly which wonderful lines/words came from her.

    Missy judged my entry in the Maggie 'way back when and gave me some excellent advice on how to beef up a certain scene to increase the tension and give the story a bit more oomph.

    These are but two of many reasons why I love all of you wonderful Seekers. :-)

    Wow! I hadn't heard your review story before. Talk about going from jumping for joy to landing back on the earth with a thud. Yikes! I admire the way you kept your wits about you as you dealt with the juxtaposition of those two reviews. But then, you are one witty writer. :-)

    In all seriousness, you point out an important truth. Reviews are subjective. We writers can't allow reviews to puff us up or pull the plug on our self-confidence. We're writing stories of our hearts that are edifying, uplifting, and spreading an much-needed message of hope wrapped in an entertaining story. If we keep that in mind rather than allowing ourselves to go for our glory, we'll be much happier and less likely to go looney.

    I didn't realize how much readers enjoy secondary characters until I started getting comments about mine. Readers still ask if I plan a sequel. They want to see what happens to a certain precocious nine-year-old. :-)

  64. Keli!!

    Once again, congratulations on sailing away. So exciting!

    You've encouraged me to think further about reviewers.

    I've found them helpful in many of the same ways!! I also would add that, with permission, I use portions of their reviews on my website and in other materials, which helps May tell her story to those who don't know her.

    I also print off the reviews, even from Amazon since we have e-books too, and put them in a binder to take to schools, shows and festivals. Since May and I write Middle Grade Adventure, we're writing for kids. And thankfully, most parents want to know more about us before purchasing. Those reviews tell the story, lending credibility to our short presentation at the booth or school.

    And having advocates is always such a help, wherever we find them.

    Thanks again for a terrific post!! Yes, please enter our name... may at maythek9spy dot com

  65. I would love to be entered into the givewaY!

  66. I am so happy to be playing a role in this anniversary for Seeker!

  67. •••Paula•••
    Thanks for joining the celebration. It's great to have you here.

    I love that you put your heart into your reviews and that you have a desire to help writers. Your efforts make a difference and are much appreciated.

    •••Patti Jo•••
    Thanks for the kind words about my story. I'm glad you enjoyed it. And, yeah, I'm glad you told the world about it in your lovely review.

    Whee! Peachy treats from Georgia. Yummers!

    Wow! You're a voracious reader. I can see why you don't have time to post a review on every book you read.

    I really liked the point you made about not writing reviews on books you didn't care for, saying "it didn't resonate with me but it might with someone else." That can be so true, and is one of the reasons I refrain from posting negative reviews as well.

    You touched on something that hasn't been mentioned yet, that of not reading other reviews until you've written and posted yours. I tend to do the same thing. I don't want to be swayed by what others have said. I'm curious if other reviewers do the same thing.

    Thanks for joining the celebration. It's great to have you here.

    I hear you on being intimidated by the reviews some reviewers post. There are some reviewers who have a way of digging deep in a story, figuring out just what it was that captivated them, and articulating that in glowing reviews.

    While I enjoy reading such reviews, I don't write them myself. And that's OK. Each of us has our own way of doing things.

    As every author who's chimed in today would tell you, we appreciate all those who take time to write and post reviews, regardless of length. Two sentences can convey a reviewer's enjoyment just as well as two paragraphs can.

  68. I review romance, Christian and or clean, books on my blog Kissed Books. I don't think I am the best at reviewing because sometimes I think I tend to just ramble on. I also think that I have a hard time giving a good, well thought out review. I don't want to be mean to authors so I tend to almost never give below 3 stars on a book. I think I probably have only given out 2 reviews less than that. I need to learn how to be more honest because even though it might hurt an authors feelings to give one of their novels a low rating, I always see things where they say they like constructive criticism.

  69. •••Heather•••
    I can so relate to the book release jitters. As much as I wanted to be grown-up about it and not nibble my nails to nubs, I couldn't have kept from reading the reviews of my debut novel if I'd tried. I still remember the thrill of seeing that first review show up on Amazon. I wanted to give the reviewer a great big hug. I couldn't, of course, so I did the next best thing. I hugged my computer screen. :-)

    I loved this line from your comment: "Good reviewers pull out all those layers in your story and word them in a way you couldn't have come up with if you tried!" That is so true and is one of the many reasons I love book reviewers. They really do rock!!!

    Birthday cake. Now why didn't I think of that? Duh! I'll add the ice cream. Just name your favorite flavor, and it's yours.

    Like you, I appreciate honest reviews. If a reviewer doesn't care for a book, I'd much prefer they don't post a review rather than post one that is full of flattery. Readers want to trust reviews, and honesty is one way to endure that they do.

    Ah! That post from 2008 sure takes me back. Wonderful memories of my warm welcome into cyberspace.

  70. •••Deb•••
    I hear you on the value of all reviews, even those that aren't exactly glowing. Reviewers who tactfully say what it is about a story that didn't quite work for them--and why--can help me grow as a writer as I chew on their comments.

    Reviewers are a real blessing. Their reviews play a big part in spreading the word about our stories. However, getting to know the reviewers themselves was an unexpected treat. I've formed some wonderful friendships with book reviewers and am so grateful for them.

    •••KC (and May)•••
    Reviews are a great tool. Like you, I use them on my website and at local events.

    Just this past weekend, I participated in a Local Author Showcase at the library in my hometown. Being able to tell the readers who stopped by my table how many reviews I had on Amazon and what the book's overall rating is really helped. I had a few snippets from reviews that reviewers graciously allowed me to use, and that helped, too.

    Thanks for joining in the fun. Be sure to grab a big slice of the birthday cake Debby brought to the party.

  71. I know how to BE BOLD or be italic for that matter. :) what does the little a do?

  72. •••Salyna•••
    Missed your other comment the first time. Sorry.

    Writing reviews can seem daunting at first, but just like most things, it gets easier the more reviews one writes. I hopped over to your blog, Kissed Books, intending to take a quick peek, and ended up so drawn in by your fun posts and thoughtful reviews that I lost track of time. You do a great job! I've added your blog to the Christian Fiction Reviewers page on my website, so other who check out my list can find your lovely site.

  73. •••Note to all Christian Fiction Reviewers•••

    If you have a blog on which you review primarily Christian fiction, I invite you to post the name of it here in the comment trail. I'd like to check it out. I'm always on the lookout for blogs to add to the Christian Fiction Reviewers page on my website.

  74. I usually leave reviews for the books that I read, unless I really didn't like them. I have to admit, I was a lot harsher in my reviews before I wrote a book. Now, I highlight what I liked and if I mention what I didn't, I do so respectfully and try to put an encouraging spin on it.

  75. Hi Keli! I don't usually have time to read all the comments but there's a great conversation going on here. I only review books if I can honestly give them a 4 or 5 star rating.

    I'd love to be in the drawing for your book.

  76. KELI!!!!!! SOOOOO fun to have you back here, girlfriend, and OH MY, I think this may be our first blog on "reviewers," which is hard to believe because they are such a critical part of a writer's life!! So GREAT topic, my friend. :)

    YOU ASKED: If you’re a reader, what elements do you find most helpful in a book review?

    Believe it or not, if someone says the book kept them up reading late at night, made them want to throw it against the wall, or took 'em for a roller-coaster ride, I am SOOO there!! As an emotional CDQ, I want to FEEL every single thing in a book -- from pain to joy to swoon-worthy sighs, so BRING IT ON!! Any statements like that PLUS a ton of 5-star reviews, and I will be plunking change down to buy said book.

    2ND QUESTION: If you’re a published author, how have reviewers helped you?

    In all the ways you so brilliantly pointed out, Keli, but mostly by their incredible encouragement and, after I get to know and love them, their precious friendships!


  77. Hi, Keli! You've given me a much better perspective on book reviewers!!!

  78. Interesting take, Julie. I always read the 5 stars and the 1 stars. Because I think 1 stars are just as effective in giving me the whole picture on a book.

  79. •••Anna•••
    Being an author has a way of changing one's perspective, doesn't it? I knew book reviews were important before I sold, but I didn't know just how important. That's why I'm smitten with book reviewers these days. :-)

    I'm sure the authors receiving your lovely reviews are grateful. I know I appreciate each and every person who has left one for my book.

    •••Julie L•••
    Thanks for the enthusiastic welcome. It's great to be back. Seekerville is one of my favorite places in cyberspace. Awesome people hang out here!

    I hear you about reviews that show me how much a story moved the reviewer. I'm another emotional gal, and I love to feel deeply as I read. I wanna laugh; I wanna cry; I wanna heave a satisfied sigh--especially at the end. There are so many awesome authors out there whose stories make that happen, and I couldn't be happier.

    The encouragement and friendship of the reviewers I've been privileged to meet are some of the greatest blessings I've experienced as a writer, which is why I wanted to shine the spotlight on this awesome group of people who play such a pivotal role in the publishing process. (Sheesh! How's that for unintentional allitereration? :-) )

    The blessings of book reviewers are many, aren't they?

  80. KELI! So happy to see you here at Seekerville. :)

    I love book reviews, especially when I'm shopping for a new book by an author I don't know. I find the reviews to be so helpful, especially the ones that are 'middle range,' not gushing and not bashing.

  81. Keli, I liked all the aspects of your thoughts on reviews. I am a reader but for me a review has to grab me by the characters, the theme and plot fairly quick or I probably wont read the book. Thank you. Your new book looks like a really good read.

  82. •••Erica•••
    Such fun to see you here today, my Bride book buddy.

    Reviews have influenced many of my purchasing decisions--many times. That's probably why I have so many books in my TBR mountain. :-)

    For those who don't know, Barbour has repackaged some of the Bride and Wedding Books in their Destinations Romance line into 2-in-1s. I was privileged to have my debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, combined with Erica's great WWI-era story, A Bride Sews with Love in Needles, California. The new book containing our two stories, Golden State Brides, is currently on the shelves in my local Walmart. :-)

    Thanks for pointing out the three elements you like to see in a review: character, theme, and plot. All are important. I'm curious, though. Do you want to see more of the plot mentioned than what you see in the back cover blurb? If so, how much?

  83. Writing a good review is a talent. I tend to just talk about the book - big difference!

    But talking about the book is the other half of marketing.

    I love how Barbour repackages to give their authors more opps to sell!

  84. •••Debra•••
    Book reviewers do have a special talent for bringing out the best in the books they read, don't they? It's one of the many they possess.

    Barbour does do a good job giving new life to a book that's been out there awhile. That's one of their strengths.

  85. My review blog is

    I saw that you asked us to post that:-)

  86. So Courtney, do you think your reviewing style has changed now that you've finished your first manuscript??

  87. Please enter me in drawing.
    K. Bailey

  88. Tina, YES. Most definitely.
    I always have tried to concentrate on the positive aspects of stories, but now I don't want to even write a review if I don't like a book because I know how much energy a writer puts into her creation. Still, I have to write one if I receive the book from Bethany House.
    I'm having to completely rewrite my MS, and it would tear me up if someone dogged it (if it gets published.) Ha!
    So, I guess if someone wants a good review, let me read the book, and I'll be a guaranteed four-star, at least! lol! ;-)

    BTW-I gave Oklahoma Reunion to my mom to read, and she finished it in one afternoon, I believe!

  89. MARY, I don't even like being funny. High IQ was taken, and there was a waiting list for Tall and Blonde. But I do the best I can with what I've got, glad I could make you laugh.

  90. LOL. Okay, I wasn't fishing for a compliment.Honest.

    I completely agree with you on reviews when you are a writer.

    You know how much went into it and I could never tear anyone down based on MY little old opinion.

    That's why some folks like chocolate and some like vanilla. Doesn't make one wrong & one right.

  91. You're right Debra Marvin. A good review is so much different than saying you liked or didn't like a product.

    Reviews are critical analyses and they are very difficult to write.

  92. I love a good read and being able to do a good review. I like to promote , it is alot of fun to work with the authors and help them get their books out there. I really loved reading this post. It is encouraging and insightful to me as a reviewer.
    Linda Finn
    Faithful Acres Books

  93. im late been a tough day with pain (been taken off all pain meds and the headache has gone wild).

    I do write reviews although haven't for a little while its been a tough year and the past few months. I like to say why I like a book but its hard when we are not meant to comment on more than the first 3 chapters as I hate reviews that give things away. I like to say how it affected me etc. When I read reviews which I don't alot its more books I am not sure of and will go straight to the 3 star reviews as they can often have a balanced view of what they like but what they didn't and why etc.

  94. Keli,

    Thanks for disagreeing w/me on my ability to review.

    Since I don't buy most of my books from Amazon or online, I don't read reviews often on books,

    BUT...when I got ready to buy a treadmill, I look at a LOT of reviews. I especially liked seeing the complaints of poor customer services, cheap parts, etc. I wanted to know when to run.(No pun intended.)

    TINA....Reviews are critical analyses and they are very difficult to write...I so agree.

  95. •••Courtney•••
    Thanks for sharing the link to your book review site. I'll check it out.

    You're entered. :-)

    Working with reviewers is fun, too. I've had such a good time working with reviewers as an author now that I have a book out.

    Thanks for sharing the link to your site. I look forward to checking it out.

    I'm so sorry you've been having a bad day. I hope the pain subsides soon, and that things start looking up for you.

    Writing reviews can be tough, especially when avoiding spoilers, as you said. I admire you and the many other reviewers out there who figure out creative ways to share your thoughts about story after story without giving away too much.

    I'm glad you took my disagreement so well. I think you were selling yourself short, and I couldn't let you do that. :-)

  96. Had to stop by and wave to my Pixie pal! Great post, Keli! And so well written!

    I enjoyed your book so much, I have it on my keeper shelf!

    Been extra busy with my mother and her fractured spine. Trying to get some home care in place to ease the burden on me a little.

    Enjoying this birthday month!


  97. Who is that puppy in the picture, Connie Queen?

  98. Keli, thanks for adding my blog to your website. I appreciate it!!

  99. Keli, I'm sorry I'm late to the party! What a great post. And so true. I think most of all, reviews have been encouraging to me. I love to see all the different ways a book can speak to people!

  100. Hi Keli. I'm very late, but wanted to tell you that I enjoyed your post.

  101. I've had this post open since midday, but it's taken until now to read it.

    I'm not the greatest of book reviewers. I'm afraid of telling too much (and getting pulled). This means I sometimes end up with vague reviews.

    Keli, please do not enter me in the drawing. Thanks

  102. It takes me a long time to write a book review. Not sure why other than wanting to get it just right.

    Please enter me.

  103. I forgot to mention I like the new cover. I love the town in the background.

  104. •••Sue•••
    I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. I hope you're able to find a wonderful care provider for her.

    Thanks for your kind words about my story. I'm sooo happy about your stories being snapped up in that two-book deal. Every time I think about your contract, I get excited all over again.

    So glad you stopped by. It's not a party without you.

    Reviewers can be such wonderful sources of encouragement, can't they?

    Thanks for joining in the fun. I hope you grabbed a slice of birthday cake.

    So nice to see you! I hear you on the challenge of knowing how much to include in a review and how much is too much. It's a tough call to be sure.

    It sounds like you really take your review writing seriously. I appreciate that, but as someone who is plagued by perfectionism, I want to pass on a bit of wisdom someone gave me in regard to writing my stories: there comes a point after all my tweaking that I finally need to say, "Enough" and let go of it, knowing I did my best. That truth has helped me, and I hope it will help you as well.

    Thanks for the kind words about my book cover. Barbour Publishing gets all the credit for it. :-)

  105. I love to read and review books. I enjoy the entire process of reviewing and am happy to post my reviews on my blog, Goodreads and various bookstore websites. For me, the most rewarding part is the hope that my reviews have helped to sell more books for the author.
    I'd love a print copy of your book, Keli!

  106. As a reviewer I like to capture potential readers attention without giving the plot away.I might focus on the theme or hint at unexpected twists-again without giving the plot away. If something didn't work for me I say that too. As a reader of reviews I don't want a rehash of the storyline so that all the surprises are revealed. I don't mind if you compare this book to a previous book or to another author. But pulling out deep insights that are better saved for book clubs spoils it for me. That's like telling me every detail about a movie that I am about to see. It takes way the joy of discovery. After I've seen movie then tell me your observations. Same with a book review, too much detail and I feel I am probably too dumb to get the nuances,so why bother reading it.
    Cindy Huff

  107. As a reviewer I love to attend and participate in the launch parties, and hear what everyone else is reading, and then to post my review on Goodreads, and Amazon in hopes that someone will read my reviews and purchase the book!
    I would love to win a copy of your book so I could post a review - thanks so much!

  108. As a reader, a review gives me a more in depth view of the book than just reading about it on the back of the book. Every review I read about the same book, I learn more about it. Thank you for the chance of a giveaway and please enter my name.
    Barbara Thompson

  109. •••Edwina•••
    Thanks for your efforts on behalf of the many authors whose books you've reviewed. Writing and posting reviews in so many places takes time, but it does make a difference--and is greatly appreciated by the authors as well as by those who rely on the reviews to decide which books to read.

    Sounds like you put a lot of thought into your reviews. As both a reader and an author, I appreciate the fact that you're careful not to give away too much of the story in your reviews, avoiding spoilers while still enticing potential readers to pick up the books. That's not an easy task, which is why I appreciate reviewers like you who are willing to tackle it.

    Launch parties can be such fun. I love hearing that you enjoy attending them. I'm sure the authors who've been privileged to have you at their launch parties were thrilled to have you there.

    It sounds like you enjoy reading reviews and that they play a big part in choosing which books to read. They certainly affect my decisions, which is one of many reasons why I appreciate reviewers so much.

  110. So happy to see you on Seekerville Keli! Not many authors take the time to voice their appreciation of book reviewers like you do. I still find it hard to believe you found me last year and included me in your series on interviews with book bloggers. :-)
    So on behalf of book reviewers everywhere, thank You.

  111. •••Rina•••
    Meeting you was a delight. Having you review was book was a much-appreciated gift you gave me. Featuring you on my blog was a joy. :-)

  112. I would love to win this awesome giveaway, Enter me!
    Thanks for the awesome giveaway and God Bless!

  113. •••Sarah•••
    You're entered. :-)

  114. Please enter me in the giveaway. I'm not too great at doing reviews because it's hard to know what to say (guess I'm just anxiety ridden). When choosing books I don't depend on reviews. Seeing an excerpt is more important and that'll tell me if I'll like a book. Sometimes a book sounds good but then you look at the excerpt and decide that it's not a book that you'd care to read. Sometimes it's fun to look at reviews after you've read a book because then you can understand why a person said what they did.

  115. Micky, reviews can be tough to write, can't they? That's why I admire those who have a real knack for it. While reviews give more info on a story, back cover blurbs sell a lot of books. I've bought many a book because of them.

  116. This comment has been removed by the author.

  117. Thank you so much for this post, Keli--I think I'll live now.

    As someone with a background in advertising and sales, I have a different slant than most on what being an online blogger//reviewer entails.

    I have loved books since I was a very small child, and I love them a little more each day. I am also an advocate for literacy, which allows for informed decision making and elevates the overall quality of life.

    I have followed your writing career for quite some time, and I have cheered you on from the sidelines. It was my honor and pleasure to read and review your wonderful book, "A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California". I look forward to reading and reviewing more of your work.

  118. •••Virginia C•••
    Thanks so much for your kinds words about my story. Your support and encouragement mean a great deal to me.

    I'm curious about a statement you made in your comment: "As someone with a background in advertising and sales, I have a different slant than most on what being an online blogger/reviewer entails." I'm interested in hearing what your slant on this is, if you're comfortable sharing it.

  119. Hi, Miss Keli. I want to thank you for this post. I am a book reviewer and, while I don't need praise, it's great to know that what I do makes a difference. I started reviewing books as a way of giving back. I have been an avid readers for years and when I realized how much reviews help authors I knew that's what I wanted to do. That is the most rewarding thing, knowing that one of my reviews might help an author is some small way. The other thing I find rewarding is the wonderful authors I have met. There are such gems among the Christian fiction / clean reads genres.i can honestly say I love what I do. Thank you for recognizing the bloggers / reviewers in your post today!

    Wanda Barefoot


  120. I live in a very small town in the mountains of Virginia. I worked for our local newspaper for several years, and later I worked for our local radio station for about a year. The next largest town in the county also had a newspaper and radio station, so we had to compete for advertising dollars. My specialty was in working with smaller accounts, and I always respected the fact that the $50 they spent on an ad was just as precious to them as the $500 dollars spent by larger accounts. I like helping people and being creative, so I enjoyed working with the smaller accounts and giving them the attention and personal focus normally reserved for the bigger spenders. I would analyze their products and services, zone in on their customer demographics, and put together slogans and ad copy, along with graphics for the newspaper ads, which I thought would help to bring customers to their businesses. What I could guarantee was that their advertising would be seen and heard by thousands of people through the reach of newspaper readers and radio listeners. What I had no control over was the quality of the products and services they offered and the type of customer service experience the potential buyers would have with their company. While the basic marketing for a book has similarities to the marketing for a washing machine or an automobile, and portions of the buying groups for all three products will overlap, many people who buy washing machines and automobiles don't buy books. The targeted buying market for books is much more narrow, and the competition is fierce. Genres and sub-genres, mass marketed print books vs ebooks, and brick and mortar booksellers vs online stores, are all a part of the mix. Ebooks and online booksellers changed the game the way that electricity brought light to a dark world--they changed the publishing industry forever. I am a lifelong print book person, but I cannot deny the presence of electronic books and e-readers. More and more authors today are venturing into self-publishing, often creating their own book covers. Print on demand publishing is also an option. For those who are marketed through a publishing house, they must hope for skilled and caring representation. Reviewers can be the middle man between the authors and booksellers and the buying public. I didn't set out to become an online reviewer and blogger, but the hand of Fate guided me in that direction, and I greatly enjoy everything that I now do involving books and writing. I am quite limited by my financial constraints, but there are no limits to my imagination and enthusiasm. I write reviews because I love books. I am very blessed by the wealth of experiences through reading that books have added to my life. Being online as a reviewer and blogger and getting to know and communicate with authors such as yourself has added immeasurable personal value to the words on the pages. I prefer to build up instead of tear down, so I look for the positive in writing my reviews. The books that cross my path encompass a wide variety of genres and subject matter, and I have a fair eye for quality. Occasionally, I will make a misstep in choosing a book, but not often. My reading time is very precious, so I don't want to waste it if at all possible. My own instincts combined with the book marketing and the reference sources from reviewers, book blogs, publisher and author websites, and etc. all come together to help me pick a book--but every once in a while, I will buy a book on impulse. Sometimes that works--sometimes it doesn't--but it's still a learning experience.

  121. •••Wanda•••
    Reviewers play a vital role. You help spread the word, letting others know what you think about the books you've read and helping potential readers make informed purchasing decisions. We authors appreciate you and your efforts greatly, and we're blessed to get to know you and form friendships, making book reviewing of of the best win-wins out there. :-)

  122. •••Virginia C•••
    I greatly appreciate you taking the time to tell me about your marketing experience and how it comes to bear on your book reviewing process.

    I love your comparison of book reviewers to middlemen. It's spot on. They say word-of-mouth is still the best advertising out there, and when reviewers such as you say a book is worth reading, others listen. Many others. And that is a huge blessing to authors like me. Each of us authors has a limited reach, but when we have wonderful people like you helping talk up our books, the word spreads.

    As you said so well, there are a plethora of books out there competing for readers' dollars. Most of us authors don't make nearly as much as the movies and the media have led the general public to believe, so having reviewers like you voluntarily helping us in our promotion efforts is a real gift, one we greatly appreciate.

    One aspect of your comment that really touched me was your concern for the smaller accounts you serviced during your radio and newspaper advertising days. Helping those small businesses get as much attention as possible was a laudable effort on your part. I love that you've brought that care and concern into play on behalf of authors in your role as a book reviewer. Thank you for that.