If you love reading…and what writer doesn’t? One thing to consider is becoming a reviewer. It’s a way of yes, getting free books, learning your craft, figuring out who’s publishing what type of stories and finding new to you authors.
There are lots of review sites on the Internet and two of my favorites are LASR and Whipped Cream. Here to tell us all about them and how you can become one of their much appreciated reviewers is co-founder Marianne Arkins-
Susan Palmquist (SP)-How long have you had the review sites?
Marianne Arkins (MA)- We started as just a blog in June of 2007 — and at the time it was just Judy and I reviewing books and stories we’d read on a casual basis. It was non-erotic only, because neither of us were reading that genre at the time, either. The Whipped Cream blog didn’t start until later, in November 2007 when one of our reviewers begged us to add erotica to our reviewed genres. We opened the website in August of 2007 when we realized the blog wasn’t everything we wanted to do. It’s exciting to think we’ll be celebrating our four year anniversary this year.
SP-What made you launch them?
MA-I’m an author first, and I’d gotten tired of reading snarky reviews — some folks must really enjoy reading them, I know because a few websites that specialize in tearing down books, covers, etc., are very popular. But we wanted to present reviews in a positive manner and even when there were things we didn’t like, we chose to point them out politely and using constructive criticism instead of just pure nastiness.
I IM’d my friend, Judy, whom I’d met in a writing group and said, “Hey… I have an idea for a group blog — doing simple reviews for some of the … short stories and any other stories/books that tickle my fancy, but I’d love to have other folks participating… If I set things up, would you be interested in helping now and then? I thought I’d call it “The Long and the Short of it” or something.”
She said yes, and the rest (as they say) is history.
SP-Tell us about each of the sites and what sort of books you review on each.
MA-We currently have erotic romance and non-erotic romance sites. We review any stories that have strong romantic elements and have a happy ending (either HEA or Happy For Now). This can include cozy mysteries with an ongoing romance, YA books like “Twilight”, etc.
SP-How do your sites differ from other ones that review books?
MA-Besides our “no snark” rule, we’re also really picky about the quality of the reviews we post. We refuse to post what we call “synopsis” reviews — the reviews you see that are basically just a retelling of the blurb or story, with no real opinion or review included. We require that the review actually be a review .. which is really just one person’s opinion. Anyone can read the blurb — what folks want to know is what the reviewer liked or didn’t like about a particular story.
We also provide reviews classes to our reviewers, and don’t take on everyone who applies to review for us. Additionally, our reviews are edited by at least two people to make sure they are grammatically correct and that they adhere to our guidelines of no snark, positive but honest and no synopses reviews.
SP-For writers, maybe you can tell us about some of the advertising and promotional opportunities you offer.
MA-We have free opportunites like our interviews and guest blogs that are open to anyone — but are being booked several months out (so if you email us and say, “My book releases next week, can I have an interview then?” the answer will be “I’m sorry, but no.”). We also offer several advertising opportunities like our weeklong author spotlight, cover and banner ads and the featured header ad. Plus, we regularly have big promo opportunities like our weekend Valentine’s Blog Party and our Anniversary Party.
SP-Any special events coming up?
MA-We’re having a Spring Fling blogfest in April — daily guest blogs on both sites — and will be giving away a Nook, Kindle or $150 Amazon/BN GC to one lucky commenter.
We’ll also have some kind of promotion in June to celebrate summer and of course, we’ll have our HUGE Anniversary Celebration in August. Last year we gave away THREE Nook 3G eReaders. This year promises to be even bigger with more fun and more prizes.
SP-If someone reading this wants to become a reviewer, could you tell us what the incentives are and how they apply?
MA- All the information about becoming a reviewer can be found here: http://www.longandshortreviews.com/reviewerapp.htm — we are ALWAYS looking for new reviewers. We get in the neighborhood of 1000 requests each month, and I’ve actually had to close our doors to new publishers and author submissions because we’re so overwhelmed. My fondest wish is to have enough reviewers to review EVERY submission we receive. So please, if you’re an avid reader who loves to share their opinions on books they’ve read, please feel free to apply to become a reviewer for us. Besides getting all the free books you can read, we have a wonderful incentive program that allows you to earn your way to gift certificates, free advertising and more.
SP-Any tips for authors on getting their books reviewed on the sites?
MA-Write a good book. Make sure it has a fabulous blurb (with NO typos and grammar errors … and, yes, we see plenty of these. If the blurb is poorly edited, it makes us think the book will be, too. Your blurb is the FIRST thing a potential reader sees. It should be absolutely perfect). Then write another good book. And another one. We have authors with huge followings whose books are nabbed the moment we receive them.
SP-Do you think a good review helps sell a book?
MA-Absolutely. And sometimes even the “not-so-good” reviews sell books if they’re written right. I’ve heard anecdotal information from authors who’ve had bumps in sales after their book is reviewed by us. Remember: there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Thanks for having me here today! It was fun looking back …