One Writer’s Journey

August 13, 2015

Reviews: How to write a review that sings

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:07 am
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I recently reviewed Unspoken on Bookshelf.

Long before I sold my first book, I wrote book reviews for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  I reviewed single books, interviewed authors, and reviewed groups of books for seasonal reviews.  I still write the occasional review, most often a book about writing or a book that taught me a great writing lesson.  If you are interested in writing reviews, here are 4 tips to get you started.

Don’t just summarize the plot.  A book reviews is a lot more than a plot summary.  Yes, you have to tell readers what the book is about but that shouldn’t be all you include.  Although I write about the plot, I’m generally careful to avoid spoilers.  Sometimes I can’t write the review without a spoiler and if this is the case I always warn the reader.  But very often I will say “to find out how the protagonist gets out of this situation, you have to read the book.”

What did the author do best?  Whether the book is fiction or nonfiction, include what the author did best.  Are the characters extremely realistic?  Did you feel like you could walk into the setting?  Did this how-to book solve a problem you’ve been having?  Then be sure to tell your readers.

Beware sour grapes.  There are always going to be things that you don’t like about some books, but be careful how you reveal this to your reader.  I read a lot of reviews by a blogger who is helping her readers sell to a particular market.  She reviews things that this market publishes.  Recently, she panned the ending of a story.  Because I know she’s also trying to sell to this market, it sounded a bit like sour grapes.  Don’t lie but be careful how you reveal this information.  “While so-and-so’s motives were initially unvconvincing….”

Who should read this book?  That’s right.  I never review a book that I don’t like.  My interest is in helping people find good books.  That means that I avoid books I can’t praise but it also means that I need to include information on who is the right audience for this book.  I use phrases like “readers of,” “students looking to learn more about,” and “perfect for the science classroom.”

Learn to write reviews and recommend your favorite books and sites to readers who will love them as much as you do.



February 20, 2015

Authorpreneur: How to boost your income as a writer

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:36 am
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AuthorpreneurWhen I was asked to review Authorpreneur by Nina Amir (Pure Spirit Creations/Short Fuse Publishing) as part of the Muffin blog tour, I jumped at the chance. If there are multiple ways to make an income from my first book, I want to know about it.

First things first, Amir emphasizes that you need a plan.  Income isn’t going to happen by accident.  You, the author, have to make it happen.  Instead of going with the first idea or two that comes to mind, Amir encourages readers to brainstorm.

Not sure what to brainstorm about?   Amir has suggestions ranging from free ebooks to telesiminars and more.  Follow her steps to come up with your list.  Once you have a list, figure out when each item needs to be finished.  With that date in mind, you can figure out when you need to start this piece of the puzzle.

Individual chapters cover various possibilities for salable content including:

  • Short e-books.  Based on my Ancient Maya book, I could write short e-books on how to research an ancient culture, what 5 experts have to say about the Maya, and more.  Amir encourages readers to go beyond a simple e-book to include videos and transcriptions of videos and worksheets as additional content on your website.
  • Talks based on your book.  For nonfiction, Amir suggests that you look at each chapter and see if it could be the subject of a talk.  For fiction, use themes and topics as subjects or speak on the writing process.
  • Workshops and classes.  These can be built from the topics of your talks.

Do you see how Amir takes you from one idea to another?  Don’t take the time to develop 6 vaguely related items.  Instead, use your book to create e-books and lectures.  Take these lectures and turn them into classes and workshops.  Lecture or classes can be used to create videos. These become transcriptions.  One piece leads to the next.

Not that you have to create them all.  Amir knows that no single writer will be comfortable with the full range but she still shows you all of the possibilities.

In the first several chapters, I sometimes found myself wanting a bit more content.  How do I do this?  What steps should I take? What do you mean?  I should have been a bit more patient — this material was all in the book, in the later more detailed chapters.  Although Amir doesn’t take you step by step on how to create an e-book or a webinar, she does take you through the process of deciding what to cover, some of your options, and what tools you need to get the job done.

Amir is definitely the one to lead the way and she definitely practices what she preaches. She is author of How to Blog a Book, The Author Training Manual, and 10 Days and 10 Ways to Return to Your Best Self, transforms writers into inspired, successful authors, authorpreneurs and blogpreneurs as an Inspiration to Creation Coach. She moves her clients from ideas to finished books as well as to careers as authors by helping them combine their passion and purpose so they create products that positively and meaningfully impact the world. She writes four blogs, self-published 12 books and founded National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge.


If you’re as eager to try these techniques as I am, you’ll be glad to know that the Muffin is giving away a copy of Authorpreneur.  To enter hop on over to the Muffin and fill out the form at the bottom of the post.  Good luck!




September 30, 2009

One of My Reviews

Making this post a quickie today — the kids are out of school on Friday so I have to make the most of my work days this week.  More so than usual, I mean.

Here is a link to my round up review that ran in the Post-Dispatch this weekend — four top notch books for readers of all ages (If the World Were a Village, Something Wonky This Way Comes, The Green Dragon Codex, and Coffeehouse Angel).

I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite but I am always a sucker for fantasy.

My son has already made off with everything but Coffeehouse Angel. What can I say?  They put pink on the cover.


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