Friday, August 13, 2010

It's Nice to Get Bitten Every Once in Awhile

Oh yeah, that title can be taken a lot of different ways, especially if you're a fan of paranormal romance like I am. Alas, I'm not talking about physical antics but the literary kind.

Ever hear of a Sound Bite? It's a literary term meaning: a short catchy comment or saying; basically it's a quotable statement. It's a term that's only been around about thirty years but it's very relevant to authors. Perhaps even to readers if you stop and think about it. And I do. Want you think about it.

One of my reviewing buddies and partner in crime polled some authors for me and one of them called it a "pull line". Whatever it's called, it's the same thing - a quotable phrase that can appear on the cover a book. OR on an author's website/blog/promo page.

You see them all the time. Find a book in your room or pick up one at random from your library and you'll see one. It's not only the romance industry that uses them. Check out your favorite author's site and you'll find she/he's posted sound bites to augment their book info. Don't have access? Let me help you.

See these two book covers?

There's a quote by Maggie Shayne on Desire Untamed and a quote from Stella Cameron on Causing Havoc. Those are examples of sound bites or pull lines.

Why am I bringing this up? Because I wonder how many reviewers out there realize that they too can be quoted? Well, technically the name of their review site will show up but it will be the reviewers' own words on those books or on those dedication pages/websites. Can you imagine the thrill of seeing your words out there for millions of book readers to see? It's happened to me and I have to tell you, it was a major sqeeeee! moment.

Believe it or not, authors who read reviews actively look for those quotable pieces. I'm not too sure how it gets to their publishers but whatever happens in the background, the first thing that needs to happen is for a reviewer to write something worthy of a sound bite.

I hope knowing this doesn't put too much additional pressure on reviewers to be extra clever or creative. This information isn't being shared to stress anyone out, but all of us need to be aware. I actually think it'd be pretty easy to accomplish for the reviewers who already put more of themselves into their reviews. (personal opinions) I think the placement of the sentence(s) might be expressed in the wrap up recommendation paragraph.

In just doing what comes naturally, a quip about the story can smoothly translate from keystrokes to words in your review. Especially if you absolutely loved the story, then you know it's not going to be what to say but where to stop. Enthusiasm has a way of making the writing of a review easy. Have you noticed that?

And here's my revelation. In preparing for this post, my fellow reviewer and silent partner Googled 'romance review sites' and both of us were absolutely astounded by how many she found that had no sound bite material in any shape or form.

She waded through review after review, mentally cataloging issues and observations while searching in vain for anything that an author or publisher could use as a one sentence sound bite.

I'm flabbergasted.



So I joined the search. Finally I found one that can be considered coming close to what we were looking for. It's a short little review but despite its size, I found the reviewer put a lot of her opinions in it, which was refreshing. In doing the research I saw a lot of fuller ones, but again, long on synopsis, short on personal opinion. Click this title: Her Dark Dragon . See the very last line in the review? That is as close to a sound bite as I've been able to find.

I will share one of my own reviews as a possible sound bite. I'm not sure if it's accurate or not; only an author can tell me yea or nay: Check this link: Ambushed! Look at the last paragraph and the part where I say: "I laughed, I sighed..." What do you think?

Well, fellow reviewers, authors and book readers, now I understand why that polled author pounced on this subject and requested a usable sound bite to quote as the very first answer to our questions. I believe she thought this query had the most importance, "What is your wish list of things you'd like to see in a review?" After doing the research, I can understand her frustration. I wonder if other authors out there have the same issue?

I know I've learned something new. I had no idea it was this bad out there. I think we have a new challenge to tackle, don't you?

When you drop by, can you share with me your thoughts on how to address this? I think we'd all benefit.



Pauline B Jones said...

You hit home with me! I've gotten great reviews in the past but not always that sound bite, that pull quote with punch. I really liked your pull quote and ended up reading the whole review (when I only meant to read the line LOL).

This is great info for reviewers. (And for authors.)

Mysti Holiday said...

Ditto what Pauline said! It's hard to use a review for bragging when it's your synopsis and then, "I liked it."

Gimme a good sound bite any day!

Nancy G said...

I've always tried to put my feelings in my reviews-without giving anything of importance away-and it can be difficult. But it makes it so much worth it when an author says "Hey I'm glad that you got it, what I was going for in this. I've seen my reviews quoted on several blogs and websites, but I haven't had one on a book yet. Probably won't happen, but then I don't review for the publicity, I do it for the love of books and reading.

Jennifer (Crazy-for-Books) said...

Interesting! I love to review books to share my thoughts and opinions with others. I never really thought about it as giving authors/pubs a "pull quote". Although, I'm sure if you dug around in my reviews, you could probably find one or two! LOL! Great topic for a post!! I would be floored if a saw a "pull quote" of mine on a book!!!!

Terry Kate said...

To play devils advocate, is it really our job to give you a usable quote? When was the last time authors sat down and wrote out what they look for in a review? What elements are important to them and made an effort to get the word out to bloggers in a massive way, an event, a forum, a conference? We get the books, no one tells you how to blog or how to review and getting authors to step up and work with bloggers and reviewers can be like pulling teeth.

We write reviews, notify the author and publisher that they have been posted and the author rarely comes to comment, say thank you or bring in other commenters. They often do not mention it on twitter, facebook. But they want to be reviewed and they want us to think about a sound bite?

As far as seeing your quote in print, there are thousands of blogs and only a few that print publishers consider "big enough" to print their quote for a mass-market title, and since they need those so early in the game it is those select few that get advanced reader copies. So where does that leave the rest of us?

Authors don't seem to care about your reviews unless you are a big name blog either. So do I worry about your sound bite or encourage my reviewers to make a great effort to provide one? No.

Terry Kate
Romance in the Backseat

Terry Kate said...

I really love your blog - Perhaps my current author bitterness is showing - sigh
Terry Kate

Xeranthemum said...

Thank you, Pauline!
I grinned when I read you ended up looking at the whole review.
I'm glad you found something useful in my post. Thanks for letting me know!

Xeranthemum said...

**VBG** Thanks, Mysti.
That's what it's all about...raising awareness of what other info reviews can include.

Thanks for stopping bye!

Pauline B Jones said...

You're meeting the wrong authors, Terry. (grin) When I get a review, I paste it everywhere I can. I post it on my site and link back.

I do think that with the rise of book bloggers, that authors are in new territory. Is it all right to go comment? Will the blogger feel like your stalking them if you pop up on their blog? lol

I can't imagine being indifferent to any review, well, except for the ones who hated it. lol I love being praised and often reviews are the first feedback you get.

Maybe if I were a bigger deal, I'd feel differently about it, but I can't imagine getting so famous I'm not delighted when readers (reviewers ARE readers) like my books. That's why I try to publish, because my job as author isn't completed until someone reads it. IMHO.

But you are correct, we are not "owed" a pull quote. (I have used smaller review site quotes on my re-released novels, because the quotes are great. Didn't have that option available to me first time through. Reviews came after publication.) I do love a quote that telegraphs delight and the essence of the plot. I've seen reviewers do a better job of blurbing my book than I did.

Pauline B Jones said...

p.S. sending people to the blog. I do try, but I can't get people to visit MY blog and comment. (wry grin)

Xeranthemum said...

::waves:: Hi, Nancy G!

I think it's grand that you've seen portions of your reviews quoted elsewhere. That's the "written word of mouth" I was talking about. If others see it and are intrigued enough to read the book, then you've been successful in spreading the enthusiasm about what you've read.

And, never say never - you might see it in a book yet. :-)

Xeranthemum said...

Hey there,
Jennifer (Crazy-for-Books) !!

Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment. ;-)

I can tell you that finding words you've written on an author's website or ::gasp!:: an actual book is a huge thrill. Took me two and a half years to see it happen.

From the tone of your comment you are a happy fellow reviewer. Glad to meet you! And I'm glad you enjoyed my post.

Xeranthemum said...

OOoh, Terry!
Thank you for an awesome comment!

Let's it our job?. Nope. Our primary job is to get the word out about the books we love. What worked for us and why'd we recommend others reading it. If a pull line/sound bite happens, that's great! If it comes naturally from the enthusiasm of your writing, that's great! But is it our Cuz we're not actually working for them. But now that we KNOW that they look for them...what can it hurt? IF the book warrants it of course, *wink*

And Ooooh, Great question! When was the last time authors made a list of what they want or look for?
Aha! That is what me and my reviewer bud were doing. Polling some with that very question because I don't know of anyone or any place that info is found. Which is why I started this blog. I think there should be a place. Don't you??

And hey, there's obviously a reason behind what you termed "author bitterness" - so, what can we do about it? What things need to be addressed?

This is what my blog is sort of aimed for - conversations and sharing, to raise awareness for reviewers and authors. To learn from each other. Heck, I had no idea about a lot of stuff until we asked questions.

Everyone asks authors about their writing, characters and what is their favorite chocolate. But no one has addressed what they look for in reviews, what they hope to see, what use do they find them.

Oh yeah, there's PLENTY out there that gripe about useless reviews because ::cough:: those kind of reviews are out there.

I'm hoping to learn how to be better and have a working relationship with authors and reviewers.
I love to read! And I may come across as a fangirl sometimes, but I truly want to the reviewer/author relationship to be a stronger one because we all benefit.

Poo on the publishers that don't recognize the value of all "written word of mouth" blogs...a happy reader is also a happy reviewer and we express ourselves. Someday, they'll listen, right?

Thanks so much for commenting, Terry!

::blush:: I'm glad you like my blog. Thanks for that too!

Xeranthemum said...

::happy sigh::

Pauline, what a great idea for a post. To address the new territory.
Hmmm... comes with pitfalls though. Believe it or not, I think new reviewers intrinsically veer towards synopsis type reviews. And since they are on their own blogs, their home turf, that's what is going to be there. So does that lessen their value?
No. A good word is a good word and if they've developed for themselves their own blog fan base then that good review will be seen.
It might not be one an author can quote and put on their blog and perhaps why a publisher would not visit, per se ...

I'd love a discussion about that.
As for whether or not a blogger would like to hear from the author of the book they wrote about, the answer is, HECK YES! ...
I get a thrill.
Another friend of mine does her own reviews blog and SHE gets a why not comment and make a reader's day?

And thanks, Pauline, for sending readers my way. Color me tickled pink. I'll go visit you. :-)

Xeranthemum said...


Terry Kate said...

I have tried myself - sorry I did not hear about your blog till after the fact, but the importance of this relationship is why I organized the Book Bloggers and Authors Online Conference, which unlike the Book Bloggers and Publishers online Conference in March died by lack of one halves attendance. The authors. Bloggers came because they wanted to build this relationship so to ask a question - do authors care as much as we do?
Terry kate

Pauline B Jones said...

You have found my secret! I have two blogs, same posts for most part. I was actually getting ready to migrate my blog to blogger, because live journal wasn't getting hits and then lJ started to get more hits, so now I'm torn between two blogs (insert music here) and don't know which way to go or IF to go. I learned at Terry's conference that maybe for an author, doing a blog is a wasted effort. I might just drive a stake through the hearts of both of them. LOL!

I had actually thought of taking them down and I keep getting requests from other authors to guest post, so I keep going, against my better judgment. lol I also learned at Terry's conference that author's talking to each other might not be best source of info!

Pauline B Jones said...

I meet a lot of authors who do care a lot, but have also met some that frustrate you. It seems to be a cyberspace disconnect, Terry. Though I think they are crazy to over look you. Love the conference and learned SO much.

Xeranthemum said...

Awww, sorry to hear that, Terry.

Oh dear, guess my blog has a Herculean road ahead of itself.
Myself and my other reviewer buddy did this for ourselves because of what we've seen/heard about reviews.
When authors have commented, I read things like, "I can tell the reviewer actually read the book"
"and her points about what was wrong was professinally done"

So that lead us to think that there's something falling down in reviewland and no one was bringing it into the light.

I appreciate the message of what you tried to do, Terry. That was a huge undertaking.

I think authors DO care.
However, how many directions are they being pulled and what is the priority at the time of any given event?

I'm not making excuses, just exploring options because of what I see on Facebook.

I'm only asking...what is the feasiblity of approaching the epublishing houses themselves?
If going to the authors didn't work, what about the people at the publishers who do the promo work?

Now, no way am I suggesting putting reviewers beholden to publishers...more like a dialogue of what helps a review be noticed by a publishing house/author and see if there is a happy medium?

Just thinking aloud....

I still think they do care, but like anywhere about anything, some more than others.

Xeranthemum said...


I used to have a LiveJournal and I think they shut me out. When I tried to resign up, it let me sign up but refused to let me open a page to even write a post. I don't like it anymore although that was one of the places I started off early on.

You don't know which way to go?
Not MySpace. I'm so over that. I never liked it to begin with.

Now, Facebook? More and more businesses are jumping on the bandwagon. Right now it is THE place to hang. Is it an option to go there?

OK I get it, (insert music) The Clash. Funky music. Should I stay or Should I Go. .. got it. **VBG**

So where should I comment, then, Pauline? LOL
I prefer a blogger/facebook partnership. What do you think?

And authors talking to each other? Hmmm...not going to touch that one because I have no reference. ;-)

Let me know which blog you keep so I can "follow". k?

Pauline B Jones said...

Authors love it when reviewers do get plot points right, when they don't give away major plot turns/surprises, when reviewers love our books(grin), and when there is a delicious pull quote that we can post around and link to.

Obviously it is hard when a reviewer doesn't like the book is or less enthusiastic, but authors have been "taught" not to respond to less than wonderful reviews, which probably bleeds over into lack of dialog between bloggers and authors. We're totally paranoid about offending reviewers.

Particularly early in internet interactions, flame wars erupted. And some out there seemed to enjoy watching authors implode. (wry grin)

The landscape seems to change daily. Authors put their heads down to write and when they look up, its all different. =8-0

Pauline B Jones said...

I think we are posting at the same time. LOL! I am on facebook and my blogs feed into it. I'm also on twitter and yeah, my space, never really got that going before it was over. LOL!

My blogger one is the easiest, i think. LJ doesn't not make it easy for non-members. I've been holding space for a guest post tomorrow, trying not to kill any possible momentum from the out of this world tour. LOL! It is a nice post, though. It will go live tonight, sometime after midnight.

I did pretty good keeping my blog up when I first started. Then LIFE hit in a big bat way and I'm pulling thing together again from that. (That's why three years between my two books.) And like I said, while I was out, the landscape changed dramatically.)

Pauline B Jones said...

And thanks back at you! (I post same post at LJ and blogger, so if you prefer blogger, you'll find me there for now.) I'm trying to become more savvy, thanks to Terry and do better at things. We'll see how that goes!

Xeranthemum said...

Amen, Pauline, to no spoilers!

I heard about some of those flame wars. Yikes!

Oh yes, Snark. It attacks reviewers and author alike. Very bad Karma.

I addressed that, sort of, in an earlier post. Professionalism.
In pointing out some issues with a book and the response thereof.

Professionalism should be practiced on both sides but emotions sway things when either side forgets and infuses their comments with personal overtones, i.e. attacks on the person instead of the product. And attack shouldn't even be the word I should use but sometimes it's appropriate.

And that brings me back to the Blog Reviewer. I have found them to be VERY sensitive if anything other than 'thank you' is said about the review they write. They are not writers so they don't have that "Edit-proof" skin. As if any author is proof against it, but you know what I'm trying to say.

I think Review Bloggers who want to someday BE a writer of a book might be more savvy. Egads, this is a post in the making.

The difference between the blogger reviewer and one that works for a 'professional' site and why one doesn't automatically fit into the other.

Gee, I wonder if that's like the old quandry of Cavemen? You can make a sophisticated man into a caveman but you can't take a caveman and make him sophisticated?
Or something paraphrasing that...

Maybe instead of contacting the reviewer directly, when they're through a site, an author would go through the site admin people?

And yes... change happens even when you aren't looking. Heck, even when you are. ;-)

This has been an enlightening conversation thread. Thank you so much!
I love this stuff.
Even when I ramble.

Xeranthemum said...

Oh, Pauline, LOL I know of what you speak.
I used to have a LOT of visitors on my other blog, but as Xeranthemum, I have to keep my other self anonymous. Heck, I used to have a few well known authors visit AND Interviewed a well known Harlequin author. Oh, the good old days when I was a stay-at-home mom and didn't work.
Then, like you, life. WHAM! 2 X 4.

work, kids with med issues, yep...things change and it's always towards more chaos. But then again, we find inspiration in everyday living, don't we?

and yep, I prefer blogger

Pauline B Jones said...

oh LIFE. (wry grin) well, the blogger site is fine. that's where the guest post will appear first, because you can schedule there and cant LJ.

Pauline B Jones said...

Agree, great discussion! Much to ponder! thanks so much!

i haven't been reviewed by a lot of book bloggers yet. my reviews tend to come from sites like Long and Short and Manic readers. I'm discovering a big, wide world of passionate readers and its very fun. (I'm a reader, too!)

Xeranthemum said...

::waves:: Hi Fellow reader. LOL
Glad you came to visit.
this is the Most fun!
If you ever have a topic you would like me to think about, just drop me a line.

Pauline B Jones said...

(waves back!!!) Books rule!

Terry Kate said...

This is the longest blog comment conversation between three people I have ever read!

Thanks for bringing up the issue - and I actually work with most houses directly - sad to say many of them are hitting a frustration point as well.

Where do authors get these misconceptions of what it will be like as an author? That they do not need to push there book. That they have a responsibility to affect sales the same as the publisher?

These are tough days, money is tight. If you are not an author I am determined to read my money is likely to go elsewhere.

Terry Kate

Xeranthemum said...

**giggle** Yes, they do, Pauline.
And I want more!

Xeranthemum said...

You and me both, Terry.
I'm totally grooving to the great conversation and topics which both of you have brought up.

Speaking of which...where do they...?
I don't really know.
The ones I've gotten to know DO push their books and if there's not a marketing opportunity, they find one or make one.

How right you are about times being tough. All the more important to reach back when others reach out to you - figuratively speaking-and want to try something that ends up being a great tool for marketing and good will. I have no answers.

Someday, I hope to finish at least one of the three WIPs I have simmering and when I do, the insight of being a reviewer should help me. I hope. *gg*

Can I ask you a question, Terry?
Of all my posts so far, which one has been the most topical for you?
This one, because of the lovely comment thread *wink* or another?

I'm naturally curious. :-)

Pauline B Jones said...

I find that the authors with the most misconceptions about being published are those somewhat isolated from other authors. They have this idealized idea of what it will be like when they are published.

I was lucky, when I first stuck a toe into the trying-to-get-published pool, I met a lot of sharp people along the way, people willing to tell others how it is.

Some won't listen even when told. And there are those who think only certain types of reviews have value. The problem with that is that they are missing out on ways to reach actual people who READ. Readers talking to other readers. Readers who buy books.

for me, as a small press author, my only chance of making any money writing is to promote as much as I'm able. I won't get reviewed by a lot of the big review sites BUT, I don't look to them for my reading material anyway.

When I'm looking for something to read, I talk to my friends about what they are reading. Book bloggers are just friends you don't know yet, IMHO. When a book blogger starts a site, its because they love books. So we're starting for very common ground.

As an author, I just had a lot of misconceptions about how you approach book bloggers. Terry is educating me (hopefully I'm still teachable! LOL)

Xeranthemum said...

Isolated? How lonely!
I can't imagine not using the internet, and sites like Facebook to connect. It makes it so easy to be involved, even if remotely. So being isolated - even dealing with regualr folk, isn't healthy.
Don't they hear the scientists?

And yeah, there are the stubborn folk too. But the good outweight the not so good, right? right.

Awww, I like that anology about friends you don't know yet. Very cool, Pauline!

And you know, just thinking of book bloggers gave me the giggles. I have a blog friend who has a book blog too and she's extremely tentative about approaching authors. And here you are, an author, saying there's a bit of concern on how to reach book bloggers. There's a ironic joke somewhere in there.

Pauline B Jones said...

You'd be surprised how many authors submit to an e-release only publisher and they are rarely online, except maybe email. Then they're like, I have to do what?

Back in the early days of digital, there'd be people who weren't online at all. that's more rare now, but what seems so easy and obvious isn't to some people.

And believe me, the irony of all us standing in our corners eyeing each other has not escaped me. LOL

Okay, I think I did my 1,000 wds here today! Did not mean to dominate your blog, but its been too interesting! (And instead of thinking about my book, I'm mulling a paragraph in Terry's round robin. Aaugh! lol)

Xeranthemum said...

**giggle** In NO way did you dominate my blog. It's my day off and I'm thrilled I had a chance to "talk" to you and Terry and the other initial commenters about this post.

I had a lot of fun and it makes me glad I started this blog in the first place. It's good to hear about different experiences and anything else that will help visiting reviewers and authors is all good.

No worries and have fun with the "round robin'. It's amazing the path a creative mind will take doing those things. :-)

Pauline B Jones said...

:-D Thanks! Now I need to go blow something up...fictionally of course! (grin)