Book to Screen is Becoming Easier

Image purchased from Adobe Stock.

There once was a day, not long ago, that the only way to get your book turned into a TV series/movie was to traditionally publish, sell a TON of copies, and pray your publisher’s rights department had really good connections. It was a rarity that anyone, even the bestsellers, got these deals.

But over the last several years this has been changing. I’m not exactly sure when it started–I first noticed it after the success of Twilight, but that doesn’t mean anything other than that’s when I was paying attention–but Hollywood began adapting more and more books. These were usually still traditionally published bestsellers. Enter Netflix, Amazon and Hulu with their constant desire for content to adapt, and TV/movie deals grew even more common.

Then came 50 Shades and The Martian, which showed that a rare few indie books might be worthy of adaptation, you know, if they sold like a million copies. Indie authors with sales numbers like that began to be able to contract with film/rights agents just as if they were traditionally published.

Now it seems everyone is in on the game. Hallmark has had a production arm for their TV channels for ages and now has a publishing arm to feed it. We’re all familiar with Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine. The Obamas and Hillary Clinton have formed their own production companies. Back in February, Wattpadd formed Wattpadd Studios. Just yesterday, Harlequin announced they are starting their own TV/Movie sector.

There is even hope for us indie authors. One of my friends just mentioned that more and more Hollywood people are attending major book conferences to hear pitches. (I think she specifically mentioned the Willamette Writers Conference.) If you write romance, Passionflix (I swear to you it’s not what it sounds like), will take a look at your book. (Although most of the books they’ve adapted to date seem to be traditional bestsellers.)

Then there is Taleflick, a relatively new company (first publicized last August), that aims to bring together Hollywood types (directors, producers, screenwriters, etc.) with books written by indie authors.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I got my movie/TV option for Madame Presidentess through TaleFlick. But I do not work for them, they have not paid me to endorse them or in any other way suggested that I should speak positively about them. I am just a VERY happy customer.

If you want a quick rundown on who they are, I was just quoted in a Publisher’s Weekly article about TaleFlick. I really like that they don’t care about your sales numbers. They are looking for a quality story and a professionally produced book. That’s it.

All of this means more opportunities for authors than ever before. Granted, they still say 99% of books that get optioned never make it to film. Alyson Noel, a YA author whom I consider a bit of a mentor, had her book, Saving Zoe, on option for 10 years before it was ever made into a movie. (Opening in select theatres and streaming online July 12.) She has several others on option that still haven’t been made. Deborah Harkness had A Discovery of Witches optioned several times (I know of at least four, including at least one major Hollywood studio) before finally landing with BadWolf Productions, a new company who made the TV series that aired in the U.S. earlier this year to much critical and fan acclaim. So options still aren’t guarantees, but they are opportunities that are getting more and more within our reach.

Even if my books, or your books, never make it to that point, being able to say they were optioned is worth it, at least in my opinion. It gives you credibility that is SO difficult to come by as an indie author. And you’ll make a little money (and I mean a little) on selling the option. What do you have to lose?

So, Does This Make Me a Bestseller?

This is kind of an off the wall way to promote a new book,  but no one ever said I was normal…

My first non-fiction book, The Once and Future Queen: Guinevere in Arthurian Legend, was published earlier today, and within a few hours, it had some pretty awesome rankings on Amazon:

I was beyond floored to be in such esteemed company and thrilled to see those rankings. There was a major adrenaline rush, I won’t lie.

But I’m also a bit skeptical of  now calling myself a bestseller. I know some people would, but to me there’s a HUGE difference between making #1 in a niche category (which Arthurian Literary Criticism obviously is) and being on the overall bestseller list. I mean, 57,858 books were selling better than my book was at the time that screenshot was taken. If I was #1 in overall literary criticism, I’d at least consider it. But I’m not; I didn’t even get the orange bestseller flag (which I think is reserved for the bigger categories).

I don’t mean to demean this achievement, but I feel like a lot of authors are throwing around the term bestseller very loosely these days. I don’t want it to become meaningless. I mean, in one category you could (and people have done this with spoof books to prove the point) reach number 1 by selling like two books, whereas in another you have to sell tens of thousands. Where is the line? Is there one anymore? Does anyone care?

The last thing I want to do is be misrepresenting myself. I think readers have a pretty good nose for what is authentic achievement and what is PR. (I do PR as my day job, so I can say that.) As much as my over-inflated ego wants to add “bestselling” to “multi-award-winning author” in my bio, I think I’m going to wait for a more meaningful achievement.

Not that any of this is going to stop me from popping a glass of champagne tonight…and continuing to dream of making the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists in the future.

What do you think? Do I have the right to use the term bestseller? Where is the line between using it and not for you?

About The Once and Future Queen

Guinevere’s journey from literary sinner to feminist icon took over one thousand years…and it’s not over yet.

Literature tells us painfully little about Guinevere, mostly focusing on her sin and betrayal of Arthur and Camelot. As a result, she is often seen as a one-dimensional character. But there is more to her story. By examining popular works of more than 20 authors over the last one thousand years, The Once and Future Queen shows how Guinevere reflects attitudes toward women during the time in which her story was written, changing to suit the expectations of her audience. Beginning in Celtic times and continuing through the present day, this book synthesizes academic criticism and popular opinion into a highly readable, approachable work that fills a gap in Arthurian material available to the general public.

Nicole Evelina has spent more than 15 years studying Arthurian legend. She is also a feminist known for her fictional portrayals of strong historical and legendary women, including Guinevere. Now, she combines these two passions to examine the effect of changing times and attitudes on the character of Guinevere in a must-read book for Arthurian enthusiasts of every knowledge level.

In case you are inclined to buy:

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How Amazon’s New Review Policies Hurt Authors and Book Bloggers


I’m popping in for an unscheduled post because I have something I have to get off my chest. Ahem.

In my 10 months as an indie author, I’ve learned many lessons, the biggest of which is probably that the industry changes really fast. But I have a big problem with one of the latest changes, which affects not only indie authors, but ALL authors.

Amazon has decided that reviews that are part of a paid blog tour can’t be placed on their site. Now, I understand that they consider this part of their “you can’t pay for book reviews” rule which is a valid rule. But I don’t think they understand how blog tours work. Here’s the deal. On a blog tour, you are paying for space on the blogger’s site – whether that is purely promotional with cover, blurb and buy links, or a review, if the blogger chooses to leave one – and for them to receive a copy the book, not for the review, which is optional. I’ve been with a few companies that say if the blogger doesn’t like the book, they shouldn’t post anything, a rule I like because I’d rather see nothing than see them publicly skewer my work. (Granted, in that case I get no publicity either, but the person did read the book, so I didn’t pay for nothing.)

Not allowing these reviews to be posted (or later removing them, which is worse) puts authors in a bind and lessens the value of blog tours. Reviews are SOOOOOO hard to come by, especially for indie authors who don’t have the same level of exposure as some traditionally published authors. I don’t understand why, but a lot of people are hesitant to leave reviews. Of course, I know some people won’t like the book and some just forget, but others worry that they have to write something worthy of the New York Times. I keep telling everyone that even if they just give it a star rating and say “I liked this book,” that is enough. But yet I have people who I know loved a book because they told me by email or on social media but they have never left a review.

And that’s not even counting Amazon’s policy that reviews left by anyone they deem may know you can be removed. That’s a whole other level of trouble for authors. I know they are aiming to remove bias, but when you are just starting out, friends and family are a large chunk of your audience. Plus, nowadays a lot of our readers connect with us online, which is a totally different nature than an in-person actual friendship and shouldn’t fall under this rule.

At the same time, we live and die by reviews. Amazon uses the number of reviews we have to trigger their marketing and promotions efforts, including the “customers also bought” and “you might like lists.” These may not sound like much, but they are crucial for exposure. Perhaps the biggest way Amazon reviews affect us is that in order to even be considered for the Holy Grail of promotions – the BookBub feature – your book must have at least 50 4- or -5-star reviews on Amazon. (I’ve tried getting a feature on a book that doesn’t meet that requirement; don’t bother because they will reject you right away.) Not to mention that when people are trying to decide whether or not to purchase a book, they look at the reviews. Correctly or not, the more reviews a book has (assuming they are positive), the more attractive a book is.

But getting back to my original point, blog tours used to help us reach those goals. On average, a blog tour will net you between 10-20 reviews, depending on how long your tour is and how many people liked the book. Now, those reviews don’t help toward our marketing goals. Yes, you still get the eyes of the blog subscribers and maybe Goodreads users (if they post there) on the review, but that’s not nearly as many people as would see it on Amazon. And you can excerpt the reviews in the Editorial Reviews section, but those don’t add to your ratings score and most people ignore them. Reviews used to be a value ad for doing a tour. Now that that is gone, I don’t know if tours are worth the money. Where does that leave us and where does that leave book bloggers? Only time will tell.

Amazon pretty much built the self-publishing industry with the Kindle. Now they are restricting the possibility of success for the very people they need in order for their sales to continue to be strong. That makes no sense to me. Before you say, “if you’re not happy, don’t use them,” I will note that I have my books on many platforms and 95% of my sales (not including hand-selling) come from Amazon, so I’m dependent on them. Right now, I’m just grateful they exempted authors from their rule that you can’t give away free goods in exchange for a review; if they hadn’t we’d be totally screwed and ARCs would be a thing of the past.

As a customer, I love Amazon. As an author, I find their business services easy to use and I love the exposure I get to their audience, but their review rules are bewildering. Why outlaw something that will help them make money? Aren’t sales what they are after? Now they are basically asking us to find a bunch of total strangers and magically convince them to buy a book from an author they’ve likely never heard of and leave a review. Easy-peasy, right? Maybe if you already have a following, but if you don’t?

I fear that these rules, especially if they continue to get tighter – which I imagine they will – may well discourage people from self-publishing or make authors think twice before continuing to do so and hurt the industry Amazon helped build. Will it kill the industry? Probably not, but by restricting reviews to this extent, Amazon is certainly shooting itself in the foot and dissatisfying one of their biggest customer groups.

What do you think? How do we thrive despite increasing restrictions? If you’re an author, will the changes affect the way you market your books? How? Am I thinking about this wrong? If so, how do you see the changes? I hate to be wrong, but it’s always possible.

A Primer on Audio Books for Indies

Image purchased through Adobe Stock
Image purchased through Adobe Stock

I’m very excited that for my third audio book, Been Searching for You, I just signed an amazingly talented narrator in Ashley Clements. We start production late next week. Meanwhile, the audio book of Camelot’s Queen (Guinevere’s Tale Book 2) is about halfway through production, with Serena Scott Thomas as narrator, and the one for Daughter of Destiny (Guinevere’s  Tale Book 1), also with Serena Scott Thomas, is on sale now.

With all this activity, one of my fellow Spellbound Scribes asked me what goes into the making of an audio book. The following is based on my experience, and is only meant for indie authors, as traditionally published authors would work with their agents to sell audio rights and likely would have a different process. It also covers only digital files, as CDs are only produced for big-name authors nowadays (according to the studio I’m working with) and are usually cost-prohibitive for indies.

Which Distributor?
One of the first choices you’ll have to make if you decide you want to make an audio book is what company you want to partner with. Indies have several choices:

  1. Blackstone Audio accepts submissions.I’m not sure if they handle distribution or if that’s on you.
  2. You can work directly with a studio and then use a company like Author’s Republic to get your book out there. (There are other companies that do audio distribution, but this is the only company I’ve researched that I would be comfortable using.)
  3. ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange), the indie arm of Audible, which is owned by Amazon. I’m going to focus most of my post on their process because they are the ones I use. With them you have to decide if you want to grant them exclusive distribution rights (which means your book will only be available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes) for which you get 40% royalties or if you want non-exclusive (which means you can sell it wherever you want), in which case ACX pays 20% royalties. I went with exclusive because that covers the three main places people download books from. The down side is that you can’t get into Overdrive and other library programs that way.

I will say up front that producing and audio book isn’t cheap. With ACX, you have the option to either do a royalty share with your talent, where you get 20% of royalties from sales and your narrator gets 20%, or you can pay an up-front fee based on your talent’s cost per finished hour. This could range from $50 per finished hour to several hundred, depending on who you choose. ACX has a handy tool that lets you input your word count and then gives you an estimate of the number of finished hours so you can estimate your cost. It could be in the hundreds or several thousand depending on the length of your book and your narrator’s fee.

Here’s a hint: if you have a series and want a consistent narrator, put that in your job description. Some narrators offer discounts for multi-book deals. You’ll still have put each one into ACX’s system, but the subsequent times you wouldn’t need to do the audition process.

Auditioning Narrators

The audio book cover of Daughter of Destiny. You will need a separate cover, so you can either do it yourself or have your cover designer make one, as I did.
The audio book cover of Daughter of Destiny. You will need a separate cover (they are a different size & you should credit your narrator), so you can either do it yourself or have your cover designer make one, as I did.

Once you’ve listed your project on ACX (a fairly straightforward process that involves “claiming” your book from Amazon’s listings and following on-screen directions for things like what your project is about, how you will market it, what your deadline is, etc.), your next step is to audition voice talent. Many authors choose to narrate their own books, but I wouldn’t do this unless you’re a trained actor. The difficulty of controlling and changing your voice to the extent needed for a quality audio book should not be underestimated. These people are called talent for a reason. Some authors choose to wait for people find their audition listing and come to them, but I would advise against this. ACX gives you access to its full listing of talent, complete with samples you can listen to, for free.

You can even filter the thousands of actors/actresses by gender, voice age, accent, and other criteria that may be important to you. For Guinevere’s Tale (all three books in the trilogy), I chose a general British accent because my POV character is a British Celt, then noted in the job the other accents I thought I may need (Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Breton French).

To me, listening to the auditions is the most fun part of the process. I knew pretty much immediately if someone was a no or was in contention for the part. Make a list of the people you like and contact them, asking them to audition (an audition script, a short snippet from your book, is part of what you upload when you set up your project). They will be more than happy to audition for you, I promise! Be sure to write back to each person, even if you don’t choose them, so they aren’t left in limbo. (Plus, it’s good business and polite.)

When you’ve settled on your first choice, you will make an offer through ACX’s system. Your talent has 48 hours to respond. You may negotiate or come to an agreement immediately.

In the case of Been Searching for You, since I had Ashley Clements in mind, knew she’d done audio books before, and I was familiar with her work, I contacted her directly. She said yes, but because she doesn’t have her own studio, she works with Deyan Studios in LA. So I talked with them about their services and fees. Once we had a signed agreement, they contacted Ashley and extended an offer and she agreed. In this case, no audition was necessary, but they have a casting service and large pool of talent if that’s something you choose to pay for.

The next step after you and your narrator(s) sign on the dotted line is for you to provide them with information that will help them get into character. The most obvious part of this is the script they will read from. This includes any author’s notes or previews of future books you’d like them to read. Some authors re-write their books for audio, adding in extra “he/she said” tags to help the reader follow along, but I don’t think this is necessary. As an avid audio book consumer, I can tell you that a good narrator will be able to change his/her voice so that you can easily tell what’s dialogue, thought and narration.

This is also where you put together a sheet with any words that might have an unusual pronunciation. This can include character names/places/foreign language phrases/unusual words. My historical fiction books had significantly more words on their list than my contemporary did. My mindset is if you think it might be questioned, tell them how you want it pronounced; better safe than sorry.

You also will give your narrator direction about each of the characters (at least the main ones; how much you care what the secondaries sound like is up to you). I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to do this. I give a bit of insight into their minds, motivations and relationships with other characters, then talk about any vocal requirements I have (accents, certain tones – haughty, meek, etc. – moods). Because I cast my characters in my head, I also give the actor or actress that inspired the role. And in case they want additional insight into my brain, I give them the links to my Pinterest board and playlist for the book. (My theory is that you never know what will inspire people and you want your talent to give the best performance possible.)

Many studios offer research services for a fee, but I like to do it myself because no one knows the book or its characters better than the author.

Recording Process
This will vary a bit depending on who you use. For ACX, your narrator will have to submit the first 15 minutes for your approval. At that point, you’ll listen and offer any notes you have, both on general performance and on changes that need to be made (lines read wrong, things that are hard to understand, etc.) Once you both agree the first 15 mins are fine, your narrator will record the rest of the book.

How you do edits will vary. Serena and her producer upload files in batches so I can listen to them and get notes back to them on both performance and script variation. Deyan Studios is going to have me listen to dailies, which are the recordings done each day. They prefer that I give artistic feedback on the performance first, then once the whole thing is done, listen to it one last time to make sure it matches the script. Either way is fine with me.

There’s not a set time frame on how long this takes. You’ll need to negotiate with your talent up front if you’re on a firm deadline. (Personally, I find it best to work around their schedule.) My first book took three months from start to finish, but part of that was due to my narrator getting sick, both of us going on vacation, the holidays and then issues we had with the Screen Actors Guild paying Serena (they were slow). Ashley plans to record Been Searching for You in three days. So as you can see, it may be really quick or not.

In ACX, once you agree you have finished product, you pay your narrator if you are doing an up-front fee. I don’t know how it works if you’re doing royalty share. My guess is that you reaffirm your agreement and move on to the next step. With Deyan Studios, I paid half the fee up front and will pay the rest when it’s done.

Congratulations, you have an audio book! After payment is confirmed by both parties, ACX does one final quality check and then handles getting it on Amazon, Audible and iTunes for you. It usually takes about a week for the quality check and another few days for the books to appear on Audible and Amazon. (My book still isn’t on iTunes, even though it came out at the end of January, but I hear they can take up to 60 days.) If you use ACX, they pay you on a regular schedule.

Whew! That should cover the process. I love it. Despite the cost and length of time it’s going to take me to make it back, I firmly believe that audio books are a sound investment in your career. They are the fastest-growing type of book and have been heralded by many industry experts as the wave of the future. It’s easy to see why: we’re all so busy, audio books let you read on the go, whether you’re in your car, on the train, cleaning house, working out, or whatever.

Someday I may do a follow-up post on marketing audio books, but I haven’t had time to put much effort into marketing mine yet, so that’s a subject for another day.

What questions do you have for me about the audio book creation process? I know I missed stuff. Shout at me in the comments and I’ll tell you what I know. Emmie has audio books out as well, so she may be able to talk about her experiences; I’m not sure what her process was. 

Plagiarism Happens

So, this happened…

Perfect Man screen shot

This is obviously an Amazon listing, describing a novel written by someone named Melissa Rogers. The listing rather prominently advertises ‘bdsm’ and ‘alpha male’ tags, and for several days it was a free download, with a ranking of around 5000.

So why is this a problem?

It’s a problem because The Perfect Man wasn’t written by Melissa Rogers. It was written by my friend Amanda Byrne, aka Radiodemon. (It also doesn’t contain any bdsm, and the hero is more of a beta with strong alpha tendencies, but that’s beside the point.) She entered her story in last year’s Valentine’s contest at, and she won. The entire story (not just the first 18 pages as shown here in “Part One”) has been available at Literotica for free, although it will be taken down soon at Amanda’s request.

Last Friday someone emailed Amanda, letting her know a chunk of her story had been published on Amazon under three parts. A Literotica reader saw the story, recognized it, and was thoughtful enough to contact Amanda about it. (So YAY for conscientious community members.) Amanda downloaded all three parts, the first half to 2/3 of the piece, just to confirm it was in fact her story. The other two parts were published under different authors’ names, with similar cover art. All three were free, though as is apparent from the image at the top of this post, Part One is now priced at $2.99, and parts 2 and 3 appear to have been taken down.

Amanda contacted Amazon on Friday through their copyright complaint tool,and she’s sent Amazon a cease and desist letter. She’s provided them with as much information as she had. It’s her story. The story has been up on under her log-in. She has a copy of the cancelled check for the prize money, Amazon acknowledged receipt of her complaint, but says it takes 5-7 business days for them to investigate the situation. 

That’s five to seven days someone could be making money off of Amanda’s work.

So this makes me mad, and not just because something shitty happened to a friend of mine.

Authors have their work pirated all the time. It’s sort of an occupational hazard of publishing in the digital age.  I don’t usually get too excited when I find one of my books on a shady “download for free” site, because I figure as soon as I send off the cease and desist letter, it’ll disappear from one site and put up somewhere else.  I also figure if you’re a big enough loser to download people’s work from a pirate site, you deserve whatever malware or viruses come along with it.

But Amazon is different. Regardless of what you think of their business practices, most of us trust it as a place to shop. My experience with Amazon customer service has always been good, too, so it’s appalling to me that they’re slow to respond to the concerns of an author, one of the many who keep their machine running. It’s bad enough that losers out there would rip off someone else’s work, but when an author is lucky enough to uncover such blatant plagiarism, it’s frightening to feel like you don’t have back-up.

In a perfect world, Amazon would have pulled the listing down while they investigated the complaint, ensuring that no one would benefit from this fraud. In a perfect world, anyone stumbling on this listing would look at the ten one-star reviews and stay the hell away.

In a perfect world, cheaters wouldn’t win.

If you’re interested in reading all of The Perfect Man, I’ll be sharing the listing when Amanda publishes it for real, and if you’ve got any advice on how to avoid situations like this, or what to do when they happen, please leave your thoughts in the comments. I’m putting this same post up on my personal blog, because I want people to know about what happened. Jump HERE for Amanda’s own blog, to get her thoughts on the issues this raises.


Too. Many. Books.

So this is a post about books. Specifically, buying books. Actually, it’s about buying more books than any one human could read in their lifetime. Or my lifetime, as it were.

See, the other morning, this was my status update on Facebook:

Must stop buying books FB

In addition to the ‘likes’, there were 20-some comments, mostly people commiserating with me. I posted that status after I saw a link from an author I like. He’d published a Christmas story on Amazon, and it was FREE for a limited time. (Jump HERE to see if “Matches” is still free.)  Then I saw another FB post, about another book that’s been sitting on my Amazon wish list. The author had dropped the price to $0.99, and the sample was great, so of course…

(Jump HERE to see if Miss Guided is still $0.99)

My bedroom bookshelf. It’s short, so I stack ’em double.

In the space of ten minutes, I’d added two more books to my stacks. And seriously, I have stacks. Just look at these pictures! We – I’m including my husband and teenagers in this – have more books than any four people ought to.

And though I mentioned the rest of the family, I think it’s safe to say I deserve most of the blame. There are too many to count hard copy books squirreled away here at Chez Rancourt, and when I tried to count our Kindle books, I lost track at about 400. I’ve probably read half, maybe 60% of the books in our Amazon cloud. I also usually have a couple books checked out from the library, and download books from Netgalley, too.

I have a problem.

One wall in the basement. There are two more bookcases, and yeah, these are stacked double too.
One wall in the basement. There are two more bookcases, and yeah, these are stacked double too.

It’s just so easy. Every day I one-click intriguing links on Facebook or fascinating tweets on Twitter.  There are authors who make me hyperventilate when I know they’ve got something new coming out. I love seeing what my friends are working on, and nothing gets me more excited than telling someone about an author they haven’t read before, to get them to one-click the same way I did…or do.

Because I do. All the time.

Recently I told a friend at work – who I know is a voracious reader – about The Magpie Lord, the first book in a fantastic trilogy. She sounded interested, and I asked her when she’d be back to work. I might have snickered a bit, too. She told me, and asked why I was laughing.

“I just wanted to see if you’d have time to read all three before I see you again.”

She had.

All three.

Made. My. Night.

In fact my biggest dissatisfaction with ebooks is that I can’t lend them to people the way I used to share paperbacks. I know it’s possible, but not for every book, and it’s not nearly as easy as tossing a  paperback in my purse. I have (had?) a couple copies of Dead Until Dark just for the purpose of lending them out, and have lost track of the number of people who’ve fallen in love with Sookie’s world because of me.

Well, I helped anyway.

So as we’re heading in to the heart of the holiday season, know that I’m the easiest one on your shopping list. Amazon gift card, please. Or a gift certificate to ARe, or one to iBooks, or Kobo, or…

Leave me a comment if you share my one-click addiction. It’s always more fun with friends!


Oh, and one more thing…while you’re in the one-click mood, my holiday story The Santa Drag is $0.99 on Amazon. Jump HERE to check it out!


Should writers write reviews?

I’m going to start with a disclaimer, because about a week ago I did something funky to my shoulder, so in addition to having worked last night – and missed my prep time for this post – I took pain meds before writing it. Lord only knows how this is going to come out…

This is a post about book reviews, the golden currency of publishing, though I’m not touching the current dust-up over authors behaving badly toward reviewers. My post is on a much smaller scale.


I recently joined Netgalley, which is a service used by publishers where they’ll give free copies of selected books in return for reviews. That simplifies things quite a bit, but my logic for joining went something like this: I have a blog. I often struggle for blog content. I read lots of books and love to tell people about them. Sometimes I post reviews on Goodreads & Amazon.

Therefore, if I publish reviews on my blog, I’ll have a new source of content and build an audience.

And free is good.

For example, my last post for the Spellbound Scribes was a book review. Jump HERE if you want to see what I thought of “Prosperity”, a fantastic new Steampunk novel by Alexis Hall that I obtained through Netgalley. In addition to my blog post, I published the review on Amazon and Goodreads. I would have shouted this one from the mountaintops, because it’s a great read, but what happens when I don’t absolutely love a book?

My friend Amanda writes book reviews for her blog (jump HERE for today’s post), for Netgalley, and for the Vampire Book Club. They’re sharp, insightful, and often cost me money because she makes the books sound so good. Every now and then I’ll be reading a book and send her a snarky comment about it, and she always calls me on the carpet when I give said snarky-commented-book a 4-star rating on Goodreads. She has no problem calling a dog a dog, while I tend to abide by the kindergarten rule of, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”


I happened to be sitting next to Amanda at a master class given by Kristen Lamb. She’s a great (hysterically funny!) teacher, with some very wise things to say about establishing your author brand through blogging. And you know what KLamb said?

Authors shouldn’t put book reviews on their blog.

Kristen’s rationale goes something like this:

  • If an author says something nice in a book review, no one will believe them because they’re, well, TeamAuthor.
  • Conversely, if the author says something harsh in a review, that’s bad form because members of TeamAuthor shouldn’t tear each other down. We get enough of that from TeamEveryoneElse.

Those are good points, and I have to say there’s a solid chance my “Prosperity” review will be the last one I post to a blog – though I’ll still put reviews on Amazon & Goodreads.

Taking things from a slightly different perspective, I recently saw a Goodreads review written by KJ Charles, a fabulous author who I tend to get a little crazyfangirl over. Ms. Charles gave a book 3 stars, and just because of that, I won’t likely read it.  My reaction suggests that whether you’re influencing one person or 100,000, you need to pay attention to how you wield your clout.


When it comes right down to it, I’d much rather beta-read someone’s work than write them a book review after it’s published. Beta reading is fun, because things are still malleable and you can balance your criticisms by calling out the good stuff.  What do you think? Are you an author, and if so, do you write reviews? Where do you publish them? Do you ever give one-star reviews? I don’t, because I worry I’ll end up on a conference panel with the recipient of my negative energy. Leave me a comment, because I’d love to know what you think.