Sunday, January 15, 2012

Thoughts on Reviews... and Some Changes

This is a more personal post, something I don't often do around here. But lately, I've been thinking a lot about my review style. Yes, my reviews are long. When I get going on a book, I have a lot to say. My brain works in an analytic way, especially towards characters, so that's how I choose to do my reviews.

But those reviews do take awhile for me to write. I write and type fast, I can put the thoughts together usually pretty easily. But even still, it's a good twenty minutes on average for each of my reviews. I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, but when I step back and look at it like that, wow is that a lot of time for each book.

And I am very, very behind in reviews. I have a ridiculous number of ones that need to be written. 2011 was a hard year for me, for reasons I won't go into. I let a lot of things slide, I didn't have the mental or physical energy to stay on top of things, then I hit that point where I felt so far behind catching up seemed impossible and it just kept building.

There are plenty of days I come home completely exhausted, at least mentally. It's one thing to wind down with a book, to to just go with the flow and let the story reveal. Tearing through an entire book in an evening work is not a big deal to me. Trying to revise SlackerBoy, write new words on a different manuscript of mine, work on a review, or anything that takes more mental focus... I just didn't have it in me, sometimes for weeks at a time.

So should I have just stopped blogging?  I don't think so. I still read the books, and anyone who follows me on twitter knows I talk endlessly about the books I love. More often than not, I feel like I sway more people on twitter to buy a book because I loved it than I do on my blog, so my words are still getting out there. Should I just take a big hiatus, stop doing anything on my blog because my author related posts far outweigh my reviews? Again, I don't think so.

But the question I have been sitting on is do I just let those reviews go, never type them, or do I change my style?

And after a few weeks of debating, I'm going with the second one. Part of me feels like it's a hit to the authors who are going to get what is essentially a mini review, but then again, it seems like it's worse to have never posted a review of any kind. To help me catch up in my backlog, I will probably post 2-3 at a time, maybe even having the extra benefit of one book catching the eye of someone who came to read a review of the other book posted with it.

Also, because I am very close to querying SlackerBoy, as soon as I finish this last revision that I am just under halfway through on, there might be more changes around here, particularly with my review style. Even books sitting in my to read/review piles will start getting smaller reviews, rather than the same format for all of them.

Does it mean I didn't like a book, or didn't like it as much, if the review is shorter? No. It just means I am having to do a little something for myself, and I hope all of you, authors and readers, understand that.


  1. Good for you for making changes! I've had to deal with this exact same issue, and for the most part, once I took the pressure off myself to perform, things looked up right away! I haven't been motivated to read/write reviews lately, so I haven't. Today I am motivated to do those things, so I did. Once I stopped viewing myself as a deadline meeting machine some of the fun and relaxation that reading and blogging used to hold for me started to come back.

    Keep up the great work and I hope 2012 is more calm and serene for you.

  2. I think writers will appreciate any words you share! And good luck with the querying!!

  3. *HUGS* I've had to deal with this too. I became over stressed about blogging last year and it became more like a job than a hobby. I realized that I had to make blogging for me and not someone else. All the best Kari!

  4. I deal with this as well. I read a lot of YA books for school and although I'd love to review them all, I just don't have the time. So I do what I can and hope it's for the best. I respect your decision and I'm eager to see what reviews you do share with us!

    Also, best of luck querying SlackerBoy.

  5. I recently went through my personal review pile, books that I bought, etc. and took some out because I don't have the time. My pile is a bit out of control.

    Good for you for making the changes that work for your situation.

  6. There's that famous line -- by Twain, maybe? -- about how I would have written a shorter letter if I had more time.

    Just saying, as an author and a blogger, I think every blogger struggles with the question of balance. We put a lot of time into these blogs and sometimes we wonder if it's not detracting from something else. Is it all worth it, in a nutshell.

    So to the question of short vs. long reviews: I think you could explore two formats, short for most reviews, while allowing yourself the breadth to expand for longer, more discursive reviews. It doesn't have to be either or.

    As an author, I think we're mostly all grateful for any thoughtful review. Yes, there's a lot of so-called reviews that simply restate the catalog copy and add one sentence of opinion -- a style that's not found here, btw -- and that would be a disappointing step for you.

    In the end, you have to please yourself and go back to the basics of why you do this in the first place. My guess is that the reviewing process has become part of your READING PROCESS, an aspect of how you relate and come to understand literature. That is, you get something out of this, putting those thoughts into words, and I'd also venture to say that you couldn't stop if you tried!

    My best,
    James Preller