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When NOT to Read and The Christy Awards Gala: One Reader's Experience


by Beth Erin

When NOT to Read and The Christy Awards Gala: One Reader's Experience

As my love of stories has grown, my role in the book world has obviously evolved (from avid reader to reviewer/book blogger/influencer to bookish magazine editor). I’m not sure this makes me an expert on anything, but it certainly has given me a generous dose of reading experience. Yet, there are also subtle ways the story footprint has quietly seeped deeper and gently spread wider in my little world.

Until an experience brings my attention to its increasing size and strength, I'm left unaware. Before I share about the most recent situation that triggered this wave of emotion and introspection, I’ve compiled the following etiquette guidelines with help from my book sisters for a bit of fun and perhaps to challenge our more rebellious villagers. Shockingly, there are times when reading is generally frowned upon.

When NOT to Read and The Christy Awards Gala: One Reader's Experience

Do NOT read when… 

driving, mowing, biking, skateboarding,
cooking a new recipe,
your children are asking for permission to do something crazy and/or dangerous,
your husband is 'in the mood',
engaged in an important phone call,
you are in church (except DO read your Bible and any applicable song/hymn lyrics),
attending weddings and funerals,
using power tools, heavy tools, and sharp objects!
swimming (unless you have a waterproof ereader tethered to your person... in which case I am jelly and want one)
operating heavy machinery or unfamiliar exercise equipment
at the dinner table (unless you are eating alone then go for it, the characters will keep you company!)
attending parties, social gatherings, and organizational meetings (unless you are super stealth)
attending a baseball, basketball, football, volleyball, soccer game or golfing, (ya might miss the "fore" while engrossed in your book unless you select your seating carefully, travel with a lookout… pop flies happen, y'all… or is that a foul ball? idk)

When NOT to Read and The Christy Awards Gala: One Reader's Experience

Do NOT read if you…

don't want to improve yourself (reading makes you more empathetic and smarter),
don't want to learn new things,
want to make conversation with strangers,
don't want to stretch your imagination,
are wearing your birthday suit (this is especially important for readers who read on a device with apps: beware of accidentally bumping Facebook live or some such travesty, there are things which cannot be unseen)
would rather rot your brains out with a television,
would prefer to watch the grass grow, or paint dry, or other equally exciting happenings,
feel empowered to fight crime, slay dragons, or engage in other high-risk behaviors which you are completely unprepared for because of your extensive collection of action/suspense/fantasy books.

When NOT to Read and The Christy Awards Gala: One Reader's ExperienceUse extreme caution when reading and…

walking, running,
changing diapers,
doing dishes, cooking,
showering (curtain) or bathing (proceed at your own risk),
recognize unrealistic expectations (I’m totally serious about this one. For example, don't read romance if it has a negative impact on your thought life, read Every Woman's Battle by Shannon Ethridge and Stephen Arterburn)

The Christy Awards Gala

If y’all haven’t watched The Christy Awards Gala yet, allow me to highly recommend it and remind you of the Facebook live playback link. As Ruthy mentioned in the Weekend Edition, she is one of this year's finalists so I'm sure she will share more within the next week or two. I also had the honor of attending this year's event in person and the evening completely blessed my reader heart. 

When NOT to Read and The Christy Awards Gala: One Reader's Experience

From a shallow first love for their stories, beyond the early new love of common faith and friendship, to a deep, abiding love for my people who happen to be authors, an individual, familiar, bosom friends, spirit deep and God gifted love. Love filled that theater and I felt like more than "just a reader" in a crowd of professionals. There was a sense of belonging, of a second home, an extended family... their sorrows are my sorrows, their joys, my joy.

The fact that this profound gift was given on the same day our dear friend Bonnie Roof stood face to face with our Lord did not escape my notice so whether God was simply generous with a fresh touch of His grace or Bonnie put in a good word for me (she always had a kind and encouraging praise to share), I'm grateful for God's perfect timing, His patience, and His presence. 

Giveaway

Comment below for a virtual hug and a chance to win a signed copy of Ruthy's Refuge of the Heart or The First Gift (with their traditionally published cover design). One winner for each title will be announced in the Weekend Edition.

Do you read in any of our NOT situations above? Who here attended the Christy's? who watched live? who watched the playback?



I feel obligated to leave this here, just in case...
When NOT to Read and The Christy Awards Gala: One Reader's ExperienceBeth Erin is an Associate Editor of Hope by the Book magazine and a Christian Fiction Readers Retreat associate. She is a Christian fiction enthusiast, book reviewer, and blogger. Beth strives to edify and connect with readers and authors at Faithfully Bookish and on social media. She also contributes to the Hoarding Books & Diversity Between the Pages blogs. She is passionate about promoting authors and their entertaining, encouraging, and redemptive stories.

Review Dos and Do nots

Hello again, friends! It’s me, Beth! *waving enthusiastically* Since I haven’t gotten myself kicked out of Seekerville yet (that’s mostly my irrational fear and insecurity showing), we get to hang out and chat about reviews! YAY! 

As we established last time, I am not, nor do I desire to be, a writer (#ratherbereading)… however, I am (or at least I strive to be) an encourager! A few years ago, I (like many readers) simply didn’t realize the significant role reviews play in the successful launch of a book.

Listen up, readers! 
Reviews play a significant role in the successful launch of a book!

Authors need YOU, the reader, to play an active role in book marketing! Maybe I’m the only one around here with a hyperactive need to be needed but that got my attention. Books NEED reviews to increase visibility on retail sites and attract the “right” readers.

Review Dos and Do nots


I am asking you to join me in this endeavor, reader friends, but I will resort to forcible conscription if need be. We’re going to break this down and keep it simple, here are some things to remember as you embark on your new mission as reader reviewers:

Do...
Write the reviews! Be they short and sweet or even quirky (example food swoof), find your own voice and embrace it. You are the very best you there ever was or will be, after all!

What you include in your review is up to you. Simply share what you liked (or didn’t like) about the story or characters or share who you would recommend this book to. What makes a reader (or consumer) review unique is YOUR experience of the story.

Disclose when you receive a copy of the book from the publisher or author! This is non-negotiable. You MUST “clearly and conspicuously disclose” that you received the book free of charge according to FTC rules. Those are the big dogs, y’all… they are not playing!

go the extra mile...

Post your review on multiple sites from goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbook.com, to Walmart, Target, Kobo, Google Play, BookBub, and more!

Share your review on social media! Include a cover photo, tag the author and/or publisher, and pop a goodreads or retail link in the comments!

Do not...
Spoil the story for other readers!!!! Not even a hint or smidgen of spoileriness shall dare taint thy reviews or great will be the weeping and gnashing of teeth thou whilst surely deserve!!! (If in doubt, restrain yourself with the spoiler feature on goodreads.)

Summarize the story, this is what book blurbs are for (also refer to our first “do not”), focus on sharing your opinions. Your review doesn’t need to be lengthy, a few sentences will suffice, I have also seen recommendations of anywhere from 150 to 250 words as an ideal length for consumer sites.

Attack or question the author’s personal values, or beliefs. It’s okay to disagree or dislike the story but let’s keep it classy, friends!

Remember...
To review on Amazon, your account must have purchases totaling at least $50 for each 12 month period (excluding Prime membership fees) and your review must not be a requirement in exchange for the book or influenced by the author or publisher. 

Here's an example disclosure: "I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are my own."

Authors and reader reviewers can connect through Facebook groups (for example, search “Christian reviewer” then click on the groups tab), publicity groups (such as JustRead Publicity Tours), or individual author or publisher influencer groups (aka street teams). Readers, know the difference between reviewing and influencing. Author friends, please take the time to remind your reviewers about the FTC disclosure when you request reviews.

Review Dos and Do nots

Now that y’all are equipped with the nuts and bolts of reviewing, Annie, Carrie, and I will share our answers to a few questions generously provided by some author friends.

How do you decide how many and which books to review?

Annie: It all depends on my schedule and if I've committed to it. I have a horrible habit of judging a book by its cover and can never say no to a pretty book. The only conundrum is when I'll be able to review, unless I've already scheduled it on my calendar.  I also like to jump around genres, so that has an impact on what I read.

Carrie: I have no self-discipline when it comes to books. I see a pretty cover or a great synopsis and I add it to my 'must review soon' stack. Which is actually threatening to take over my house. But realistically, I don't do more than one review a day - or try not to. That discipline thing again. ;)

Beth: How much time I can devote to reading determines how many books I review (about 2-3 books a week for this year) and I try to choose books in a variety of genres and settings.


How far in advance do you fill your calendar or do you just make a big stack and pick a book randomly?

Annie: My calendar fills up fairly quickly and far in advance, but I do leave a good amount of "free time" for the books I'd love to read but haven't had the chance, or for author friends that sends me last minute requests. I'm also a big stack kind of gal.

Carrie: My calendar basically fills up four months out. So, in other words, I'm 'booked' through September right now. But that doesn't mean that I won't squeeze in another one because of a pretty cover or a great synopsis or a favorite author. I do a lot of blog tours and that keeps me on a schedule - otherwise i get overwhelmed with all the options to read next lol.

Beth: I tried the stack but that didn’t work out so well. Google calendar and Trello are my BFFs so I am scheduled out about 6 months in advance with only a little wiggle room.


Review Dos and Do nots
Suzie's summer cut left her chilly.
What aspects of the story or reading experience do you tend to cover in your reviews?

Annie: I'm more of an emotion-based reviewer. I don't do story paraphrases, but rather how it made me felt, what I thought about the storyline and the characters. Did they evoke some level of emotion from me? I might also touch on the writing aspect too. For difficult or negative reviews, I often pray about it since I want to be constructive in my criticism, but also being kind and showing grace in the process.

Beth: I tend to be character focused and share my experience (for example, kept me up all night or made me laugh out loud) because it helps me avoid spoilers (I also use the book blurb as a sort of spoiler-proofing guide).


Do you review immediately after reading?

Annie: Most of the time I do, but there are instances where I couldn't even go there yet. That has more to do with the book and the storyline, but at times, it's just because I don't have the time to sit and contemplate my review. I'm not one to write my reviews on my phone. I need my laptop for that, and I don't always get to my laptop right after.

Carrie: Mostly. I like to review the book while everything is still fresh in my mind.

Beth: That approach would probably work best but I tend to read more than one book at a time and then have a blogging binge.


What reviewers are eagle-eyed about? Do you look for discrepancies or are you more of a character driven/story driven reviewer who forgives a small error?

Annie: I'm more emotion-based and love a good balance of both character/story driven.  I'm not picky on mistakes, but if a book is supposed to be edited and proof prior to release, I'd expect a rather clean copy. Formatting is also big too, especially if it hinders the reading experience. A typo here or there won't be an issue, but if it's throughout, along with grammatical errors, then I do tend to point it out. That said, I also will notify the publisher/author if a second printing or a digital fix can be done. 

Carrie: What Annie said.

Beth: Although there are eagle-eyed reviewers, I’m here to enjoy the stories not nitpick so unless there are so many errors that it takes away from the story, yeah… what Annie said.


Review Dos and Do nots


Are YOU a reviewer? 
All reader reviewers get a big hug from me today! Y'all play an invaluable role in the publishing industry! 

What reviewing dos or do nots would YOU add to our list?


Speaking of do nots... don't forget to pick up a donut or two (these are super tasty, zero-calorie virtual donuts so don't be shy!) while we visit and chat!!! 
Let me know what flavor you want!



I feel obligated to leave this here, just in case...
Review Dos and Do nots
Beth Erin is a Christian fiction enthusiast, book reviewer, and blogger. She is passionate about promoting authors and their entertaining, encouraging, and redemptive stories. Beth strives to edify and connect with readers and authors at Faithfully Bookish and on social media. She also contributes to the Hoarding Books & Diversity Between the Pages blogs. Beth is a Christian Fiction Readers Retreat associate and reviewer for RT Book Review's inspy category.

Connecting and Encouraging plus Seekerville book bingo!

Connecting and Encouraging plus Seekerville book bingo!
Hi, y'all! Beth Erin here! (You can just call me Beth, we're friends here)

I'm so completely honored and humbled (and also shocked) to be here as a SEEKER of Seekerville!!! eeep! Thank you to everyone who has given all of us new Seekers such a warm welcome!

Meet my furbaby, Suzie! 

Yes, I'm trying to distract you with doggy cuteness while I attempt to get my thoughts together... Is it working? No?

Okay, since she's napping and obviously not going to be helpful right now, let's be brutally honest for just a moment... and it's kind of embarrassing so I'm just going to whisper...


I don't know what I'm doing here. 


God just keeps opening doors to opportunities that expose my deepest, darkest insecurities, like expressing my thoughts and writing. Now, Ruthy did promise to boss me around so that's somewhat comforting but also a little frightening. All I know is that every time I take that little step of faith outside my comfort zone, He meets me. Strengthens and inspires me. So, who am I to say no!??? *deep breath* Feel free to pray with and/or for me here...

Thank you, Lord, for using this shy, insecure gal for Your purposes and remind me to daily abide in You because we all know what a massive disaster this would be without Your mercy and grace! Amen.

Okay, back to everyday honesty! Today's topic happens to be my tagline over at Faithfully Bookish... 

Connecting and Encouraging plus Seekerville book bingo!

Writers and aspiring authors, let me tell ya, when readers feel connected to you, they are more invested in your stories! How can you connect with readers? even before you actually HAVE readers, before your dreams of publication are realized? 

Start by simply having a website (you can use a free blog, it doesn't have to be super fancy) and a presence on the major social media platforms (don't put all your eggs in one basket). You don't have to be an expert or spend loads of time on all of them (#ratherbewriting, amIright?!) but your readers can't tag you if you aren't there (don't miss out on the free marketing, friends).

Then choose the medium you most enjoy and just be you! Share your writer-life anecdotes, post pics or moments from your daily life, interact with your readers, and/or promote other books and authors! Networking with book bloggers and other authors will naturally draw readers your way when your book launches.

Savannah Kaiser and Natalie Monk are just two recent examples of pre-pub writers (now published, yay!) who have successfully connected with readers through promoting and reviewing other authors. This is the phenomena of books recommending people! And here's the crazy part, we're all just folks who love stories!!!


Connecting and Encouraging plus Seekerville book bingo!

Reader friends, we have the privilege of getting to know our favorite authors as their personalities inevitably shine through their stories. It's easy to follow an author on social media and learn all kinds of interesting things about their writing or day-to-day life. 

Take it a step further and encourage these authors! Like, comment on, and even share their social media posts (this increases post visibility and it works on book blogger posts as well, just sayin' *wink, wink*), drop them a little note, sign up for a newsletter or two or more. 

When you like (or love) a story, share a review on retail sites, goodreads, and/or social media and tell everyone about it (skip the synopsis and no spoilers, pleeeeze). Buy their books, gift their books, and ask your local library to buy their books, as well!

Please forgive me if I started sounding like a bossy pants expert, I'm certainly not (although I did put on my big girl pants today to help me be brave!) but I hope you caught my heart for readers and authors, connecting and encouraging as we are compelled to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” 

Let's play!

To celebrate our reader/writer relationships and have a little bookish fun, we Seekers have devised a little game of book bingo! Claim your book bingos (5 in a row, either across, down, or diagonally) by posting "Book Bingo!" with the squares and books read or actions accomplished in the comments.

Connecting and Encouraging plus Seekerville book bingo!



For example, to claim the middle row book bingo, this is my comment:
Book Bingo!
gift a book - The Message in a Bottle Barbour Romance Collection to a friend 
YA book - The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson 
Visited Seekerville 
reread - The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof 
Seeker social media - Seekerville & Debby Giusti on Facebook

Here's what you need to claim each square for a book bingo, from the left to right, top to bottom:

  • Authors = Name a book you have read by the author. All incoming Seeker authors have been paired with an outgoing Seeker author (choose ONE of the authors) while veteran Seeker authors who are still going strong have their own square. 
  • Book Bloggers' Recommended = Name a book you have read because it was recommended by Carrie, Annie, or Beth.
  • Author Newsletter = Name an author newsletter you are subscribed to.
  • Book Review = Name the last book you reviewed on a social media or retail site.
  • Gift a Book = Name a book you gave as a gift.
  • YA Read = Name a YA book you have read.
  • Visited Seekerville = Our version of the Free Space!
  • Reread = Name a book you have read more than once.
  • Seeker Social Media = Follow Seekerville (Facebook or Twitter) or at least one Seeker on social media
  • Library Card = Have a current library card. Give your library a shoutout if you want!
  • 50+ Year Book = Name a book you have read that is at least 50 years old (except the Bible)
  • Cover Love = Name a book you chose to read based solely on the cover art
  • Message an Author = Wrote to an author via letter, email, private message, etc.
  • Award-winning Read = Name an award-winning book you read.
Psssst... don't worry if you're one or two squares shy of a book bingo, there's plenty of time to squeeze in a book or get connected with a new author! Hop over to the Seekerville Bloggers page for easy access to more website and social media links.

Winners will receive a Seekerville recipe e-booklet!
Names of winners will be compiled and listed in next week's Weekend Edition.
Seekerville book bingo ends 11:59 p.m. (EST) Thursday 2/15!



Oh yes and while y'all are playing, have a snack! I baked cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies, and oatmeal raisin cookies to share! I also brought a fruit platter, ice water with lemon, sweet iced tea, and my cute little Kurieg for all those hot beverages so let's chat about ways we can bridge that reader-writer chasm!


Beth Erin
Beth Erin is a Christian fiction enthusiast, book reviewer, and blogger. She is passionate about promoting authors and their entertaining, encouraging, and redemptive stories. Beth strives to edify and connect with readers and authors at Faithfully Bookish and on social media. She also contributes to the Hoarding Books & Diversity Between the Pages blogs. Beth is a Christian Fiction Readers Retreat associate and reviewer for RT Book Review's inspy category.
Beth lives with her husband and their four children in a close-knit rural southern Illinois farming community. They love their laid-back lifestyle and small country church family. When she isn’t reading, Beth enjoys indulging in a favorite show or movie with her family, completing DIY projects with her husband, and seeing the country on long family road trips. You can connect with her on Faithfully Bookish, Facebook, and other social media platforms @betherin02!
If you'd like to get to know Beth (and her insecurities) better, check out her first blogiversary in
terview. Oh, look, emojis! 😍😊😜😁😆


When NOT to Read and The Christy Awards Gala: One Reader's ExperienceReview Dos and Do notsConnecting and Encouraging plus Seekerville book bingo!

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