There are a lot of good stories that publishers reject (and I categorically disagree with their rejection). They deserve a voice, and their story deserves to be heard. Honestly, I have read and reviewed books by Indian and traditional authors and am amazed at what is accepted and what is rejected.
Nellie Steele – 2021 October 13
About the review
How did you get started?
I’ve been looking for ways to connect with my readers and other writers on a regular basis, and I’ve read a lot about blogging. A blog help group appeared on my Facebook, and I joined it! I wanted to be able to provide a service to help promote fellow authors and their work and share my thoughts with readers about all the amazing books I’ve read!
How do you rate the book? Do you read first and then take notes, or do you take notes on the go?
As I go, I write a few remarks (specific things or examples that I want to keep in mind when preparing a review). When I finish the whole book, I will write my raw notes and then make my own review.
What are you looking for?
I’m a pretty eclectic reader, so it can change from genre to genre, but overall I’m looking for characters who interest me and are credible in the situation they’re in, an interesting story (not necessarily action-packed or exciting, but something to keep reading), and good readability as prose is composed.
If a book has a great storyline, great characters, but the grammar isn’t as perfect as how to deal with it?
I will certainly not mention this in my feedback. Unless it’s so bad that I can’t understand the book or review it, for me it’s not here or there. Everyone has typos! If a book is full of problems that make it difficult to read, it may be mentioned, but if they are minor (such as a misspelled word or missing punctuation), it will not be mentioned by me!
How long does a book of, say, eighty thousand words take?
Generally, about 4-5 hours, depending on the writing style and genre. Some essays (and genres) take a little longer than others. It also depends on how I like the book! If I love, I fly.
How did you come up with your rating system and could you explain more about the rating system?
I keep my 5 star ratings for books I really enjoyed. Basically, if I’m looking forward to reading a book and looking forward to coming back to it the next night, it will be a five-star book.
4 stars means I liked your book, but I got stuck with one or two things that were minor flaws. Nothing important and overall it was a pleasant reading for me.
3 stars are right for me. I enjoyed it and found it interesting to read. I was stuck with a few moderate things that seemed frustrating to me (such as cluttered dialogue or characters who lacked perfection).
2 stars is the lowest I rate in most books. I really didn’t care about the book for a variety of reasons. I had a hard time wanting to read it.
1 star is a rating I almost never give. No matter what my opinion, each story is important to the author and deserves to be told. If you haven’t done something very terrible (like Praised Violence), I avoid this assessment.
When evaluating, I don’t spend much time criticizing grammar and writing style. Every author has their own voice! And all ratings are my opinion. I always encourage readers to try to order on their own (I publish excerpts if provided) because they may love a character I haven’t been able to connect with, or find a writing style that I don’t care about well.
What advice would you give to authors looking to view their books?
Getting feedback can be really hard. Contact bloggers with basic information about your book. Don’t despair, if you’re away, they may have a long TBR or just not read your genre. Better to get feedback from readers of your genre than one who doesn’t read or dislike it! Be respectful of your time (some bloggers have a long list of posts they are committed to).
Do you get readers’ emails? Letters and thanks for the review?
I receive an email I also like Goodreads reviews, so I know readers look at recommendations and read reviews posted by others.
My advice to authors to get a “bad” review (hurry to add that it can mean a completely honest, well-written, correct review – just bad for the author) is to take advantage of what you can and move on. Under no circumstances “argue” with a reviewer – would you agree?
Yes, although I will admit that it is not easy, especially when you think the reviewer falsely represented your book (said there is an error where it is not, etc.) or it was clearly not your target reader. But that’s their opinion, and your book just isn’t for them. In a sense, “bad” feedback can help. This will distract like-minded people from your book and will receive less negative feedback in the long run. It can be really very hard to get rid of! Ventilate your friends and family, but don’t let your readers in!
We talk a lot about writing here on the blog, and maybe not enough about reading, which is why we’re all here. Why do you think people like to read? We see a lot of statistics that say reading as fun dies – do you think that’s the case?
I think it’s an escape for many people and that’s really the reason I’m reading. I like to dive into another world. I’m a member of many groups of readers, so I see a lot of interest in reading. I hope it doesn’t die, it just changes! Audio books have made reading much more accessible to people who don’t have time to sit down with a book.
What are the most common mistakes you see when making authors?
Mostly in books, I see (regardless of publisher and author) simple typographical errors that allow them to be printed. This happens in most books. It would be hard for me to remember a book that didn’t have at least one or two.
We are told that the first page, paragraph, chapter is very important when creating or breaking a book. Agents usually only ask for the first five pages of a novel; what do you think about it If the book didn’t grab you for the first five pages, do you help it?
I think it’s a really narrow approach. I usually finish a book even if it didn’t pull me a third or halfway! Especially for the review, I think the author deserves it from me. I can move faster if I’m not really in love, but I don’t give up. Many stories (especially the first series of books) start slowly. We are introduced to the characters, their circumstances, etc. Sometimes it is not a “grab”, but it is important.
Is there something you won’t review?
I don’t view eroticism or passionate romance. I will read almost every genre, but my favorite is the mystery (broadly defined!).
What do you think of the oft-quoted comment that “a bunch of spam has moved to the internet”?
Valio! I’m happy about that, for example. There are a lot of good stories that publishers reject (and I categorically disagree with their rejection). They deserve a voice, and their story deserves to be heard. Honestly, I have read and reviewed books by Indian and traditional authors and am amazed at what is accepted and what is rejected. I know that some authors actively choose independent publishing (including me) to maintain control over their creative rights and the publishing process, some turn to it because they were not accepted by the publisher. But I liked some of these stories more than what I got from a traditional publisher!
Do you think the attitude towards indie or self-published titles is changing?
I think so! In the past, it was assumed that India was a “rejection of traditional publishers,” but this is not always the case. Many Indians choose to publish this way. And there was a stream of previously publishing authors who, for various reasons, decided to go to independent publishing.
In addition to reviews, do you have any ideas or comments on how the industry can “filter” good from bad?
No, but this is because I firmly believe that “good” and “bad” are in the viewer’s eyes. A book that I think is great or can’t be put together or just loves characters can be hated by someone. And a book I could barely finish could be someone’s cup of tea. I wouldn’t dismiss a book from bad reviews and immediately read a book with lots of good reviews. I usually decide on the cover, title, video, and genre, and they have my opinion on the book as I read it.
End of interview:
Check out Nellie’s reviews on her website, Corner of Nellie’s book.