Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Beginning of the Same Difference

In talking with a good friend who's mega talented and creative, she asked me if I've ever scoped out other reviews of one book I've read and reviewed, and compared them to my own. Not one or two but many.

Can't say that I have but of course, instigator that she is, it got me to thinking.

I decided to investigate a book that I really liked. It's a series, it's paranormal and I don't think too many people know about her yet.

Silver Zombie by Carole Nelson Douglas. Ever read it?

So, first thing I did was to use my favorite search engine. The initial thing I noticed were the intro lines. Search engines can only post the first line or two of a review. I find that interesting. Why? Because that little window of opportunity is similar to an author's. They have to start their blurbs or even the first chapter with a hook, a unique sentence that grabs the reader. Needless to say, I sort of got mired in those one sentence attention grabbers. I'll compare reviews a different day. Today I thought it would be cool to share what an Internet query would show a potential book buyer.

Also, bear in mind that somewhere in my archives here I covered the intro to a review. Not only does a review not start with a synopsis but that first line should be fresh and unique and not some standard intro like 'Once upon a time...". We've outgrown that, haven't we?

This is what I found:

#1 - What do the Wizard of Oz, zombies and really cool bar drinks have in common? The answer is the heroine of Silver Zombie, Delilah Street, ...

#2 - Silver Zombie (Delilah Street #4). by Kelly Chandler (Goodreads). I think Carole has a winner with this series, the books are getting better as they ...

#3 - Silver Zombie is book four in Carole Nelson Douglas' Delilah Street series. It picks up where Vampire Sunrise ends; read the previous three

#4 - Silver Zombie started in Vegas then took a wild ride to Kansas- to Delilah's past. And wouldn't you know it her past and her present collide

#5 - Review of Silver Zombie. Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator, #4 ... Silver Zombie is book Four in the Delilah Street Series

#6 - In Silver Zombie Delilah and Ric are headed back to Kansas to learn a little bit about why Delilah has some of her... hang-ups.

#7 - :In Silver Zombie, we learn more about the new abilities that Ric gained in ...

#8 - A little bit slow at the beginning but picked up when they reached Kansas. Read All Book Reviews of "Silver Zombie Delilah Street

#9 - Silver Zombie (Kindle Edition). This was a disappointing installment in what has previously been a pretty good series. ...

Okay readers and visitors - here are my questions for you.

WHICH one from the list would have you clicking the link to check out the rest of the review?

What do you think is the best? The worst?

My opinion? You know I have one. **GRIN**

I've come to the conclusion that starting off a review with the title and name of the author in that first line, especially one with a lot of words, robs the reviewer of a chance for their review to hook someone, anyone. Why? Because it leaves no room for anything clever or witty to show up in the search engine query.

I learned something here myself and will strive to adjust accordingly. If I feel the need to mention the book title and author name, I'll perhaps do it in the second line or even the beginning of the first paragraph in the meat of the review.

And this is the other thing I figured out. If a reader is surfing the Internet for a particular book or author, they already know that information. It's how they came to the link in the first place. It's redundant to say it all over again in the very first line. I want my review to be read, not hidden.

What do you think?


Marianne Arkins said...


And, IMHO, the best was this: What do the Wizard of Oz, zombies and really cool bar drinks have in common? The answer is the heroine of Silver Zombie, Delilah Street, ...

The worst was this (it starts with a negative... shame, shame): A little bit slow at the beginning but picked up when they reached Kansas.

And the others were all boring.

Interesting point you've made.

Xeranthemum said...

Yeah.. to instigate is "To urge on; goad"

I was definitely urged on to think deeper about reviewing and different angles. If not for her, I don't think I would have found such an interesting topic.

I am glad you pointed out the ones you did because I agree.

Thanks so much for the great comment!

Stormy said...

I agree with Marianne, #1 makes me want to go check this book out and #9 would have me passing it up completely. #4 was pretty good as well. Did #2 get the authors name wrong or is that the reviewers name at Goodreads? I often re-name the book in my reviews but not (normally) until sometime in the middle or towards the end. When I'm looking for a specific subject or genre to read I tend to read a lot of reviews/blurbs before picking a book. The book titles start to run together and I figure it might for someone else as well. So, I sometimes rename the book within the review so the reader doesn't have to scroll back up to remember which book they are reading about.

Sherry Gloag said...

I also agree with the consensus and chose #1.
Great Blog :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with what your saying that those few sentences are good to grab people. But I did a little looking on my own search and noticed that the search engine grabs what ever is first in the post so if you start off your review with information such a the title, author, ispn #, etc this will be in those two lines of the search. So unless you post all that at the end, it will pop up in the search blurb. Which is why I don't go by those when looking for book reviews. IMHO. But you do make a great point, I didn't really think about it until now so thanks for the post.

Xeranthemum said...

::wave:: Hi, Stormy!

Yes, I do believe that is the person's name on Goodreads.

And I agree that reminding the reader of your review of the title of the book is a good thing. Beside, how many times can a person use "book or story or tale" in a review? Sometimes you have to use the title just to prevent the monotony.

Thanks for dropping by!

Xeranthemum said...

Thank you for the compliment on my blog, Sherry!
And, thanks for taking the time to check out the options and making your choice.

I'm really pleased that #1 seems to resonate with everyone.

Xeranthemum said...

Good points, Nanny.

It's odd that when I checked out quite a few choices, the first few lines of a review actually did show up.
I don't know how they got that way versus others with what you pointed out.
It'd be great to know the "formula".

LASR always has the blurb first so how the first 2 lines of the actual review got in there first and others don't is a mystery to be sure.

The main focus for this post was to illustrate how those first two lines in a review have the potential to be important. And you got the gist of it so I'm a happy blogger.

Thank you SO much for your insight and comment, Franny!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the consensus: 1 is best and 8 is worst, with 9 the second worst. I've had the frustrating experience several times of trying to find out about a book by web-search and this perfectly illustrates the problem. I'm going to be more aware of my first line from now on. I've been using hooks, but sometimes preceding them with 'info' like whether the book is part of a series. I'm changing that now. Rina

Xeranthemum said...

OOOH, That's the best compliment EVER! Thank you!

I'm glad I helped. :-)