Today I'm thrilled to welcome Robin Spano, author of the Clare Vengel Undercover Novel Dead Politician Society. Click here to read my review of Dead Politician Society. Click here to visit Robin's website. When I asked Robin if she would do a guest post or author interview, she chose a guest post about book reviews and book bloggers. I was so interested to hear an author's perspective on book blogging! Without further ado, here's Robin!
My goal is to make the Clare Vengel Undercover Novels a seriously exciting set of books. To get there, I need help – I need to know how Clare and her adventures are hitting readers – so I can make each book better than the one before it. So far, blog reviews have been my best resource for understanding my audience – and my secret weapon for writing growth.
Traditional vs. Blog Reviews
Traditional critics have reviewed Dead Politician Society, and they’ve given me some lovely quotes to stick up on my web site. But their reviews tend to be worded as judgments – this part’s good and that part’s bad – leaving the writer feeling patted on the head or kicked in the teeth (or both). Neither helps my writing get stronger.
Blog reviewers do something else: they evaluate. They share their reactions as a reader – their emotional connection to the characters, their sense of what worked and what didn’t. They talk about how they finished reading while brushing their teeth, how their children had to wait for dinner because they just wanted one more chapter, then one more . . . Reading blog reviews, I feel like I’m seeing Dead Politician Society through readers’ eyes. This is not only gratifying; it’s invaluable.
Why Bloggers Rock
When a blog reviewer has something negative to say, they don’t say “Spano failed to communicate x,” they say “I was confused by this part; I would have liked more clarity.” Sure, technically this is the same message – part of the story is unclear. But read the blogger’s version again – they gave me a suggestion instead of a criticism. I can’t change the first book, but I can use that kind of feedback – and I have – for future writing.
When a blogger has something nice to say, they say it with warmth. I would much rather hear that Clare is “kick-ass awesome” than “certainly strong enough to take the lead.” (No offence, Booklist.) Clare is alive to me – I love when she feels alive to readers, too.
How Blog Reviews Have Helped, Specifically
- They’ve helped me see what I’m doing right, so I can keep doing it. Going forward, I’ll keep the pace fast, the same number of clues/suspects, and the short chapters. I’ll also keep Clare – I love how people are reacting to her.
- They’ve shown me how to fix what doesn’t work – I have to introduce characters more slowly at the beginning, then move into the breakneck pace once readers are on the same page as I am. I also have to slow down the ending, to increase the impact of the reveal.
- They’ve helped me feel connected to my readers. As I work on Death Plays Poker, I feel like Clare has friends on her journey – readers who care what happens to her. That is magic.