Why Book Reviews Matter! Part One-The Creative Side

Categories: Reader Love, Uncategorized, Writer Advice and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing about the conversation about reviews. As an author they’re helpful, as a reader they’re helper, but I know some folk think reviews aren’t important. I was actually inspired by an author friend M. Hollis, who recently wrote a twitter thread about how helpful reviews are to marginalized writers, who have the hardest time getting their books in front of the people who might most enjoy them(check out M. Hollis’ screenshots or click on them to see her TL).

So I’ll start off by saying this post won’t be fancy. It’s not filled with statistics or interesting data that took months to curate. It’s just two author’s opinions on why reviews matter, not just to the author, but to lovers of books as well.

For some clarity, I’m a former book blogger. I try to blog. I wish I had more time to blog. But my sister and I have been trying to make writing work for us in a different way in 2017 than in our previous years published, and sometimes we sacrifice the things we love, because we love writing more. But my blogger background knows, we absolutely hate being begged, asked, held at knife point to review books on a retailer site, even if we sometimes liked the book.

Maybe it’s because Amazon ain’t shit? Maybe it’s because we don’t know how important they are to the reader who might potentially pick it up. I know I didn’t know in my past! I must’ve posted 100 reviews on my book blog that never made it to a retailer site. Since becoming an author, I realize how important they are, and not just what authors might call a “good review”, but critical ones can help, too.

Reviews in general help an author or a reader for a number of reasons, but I’m planning on doing two posts about this, one on the creative side, and one on the business side of why a book review on a retailer side can really steer readers, and even authors in the right direction of where to go next.

But this post I wanted to focus on the emotional side on how reviews on retailer sites help. If you enjoy it, consider looking out for the part two, on how it’s helpful on the business side.

Without further ado, some of the awesome reasons why reviews help both readers and authors.

Direction and Content

Readers really have a lot of say in the indie community, or at least they do in my eyes. Much like the standalone vs series argument, if a reader likes a particular couple’s story, or a major supporting character in a story, reviews tend to voice that.

For example, we released Same Page in December of 2015. Even though we’d planned Next Chapter, we never really thought about continuing the series with different characters, even though their work environment was very colorful.

So many people have liked one of our major supporting characters Ruby Jiang-Cruz, that we thought it wouldn’t be right not to give her own story. So many people were asking “Where’s Ruby’s story?” and to be honest, that shaped the future of the series with our rebrand of it.

I think the most brilliant thing about being an independently published author, is that we have complete control over our content. Especially when that content isn’t working.

The rebranding of the Bookish Friends To Lovers series came from a lot of reviews telling us they felt Next Chapter ended on a cliffhanger. Since it’s New Adult, it wasn’t meant to be one, as rules for NA are very different than Contemporary Romance. They can end in Happily For Now’s more often, but we felt if we were going to change something as big as the ending, we wanted to add additional content to both SP and NC, as well as change the covers, and the series title.

Reviews have voiced so many things we were pretty lax about, that if they didn’t exist, we would’ve left the series the way it was.

We’re going to rebrand one more time, to address more commentary in the reviews, but without them, I don’t think we would’ve made such a great effort to make them more appealing to readers.

Standalones Vs Series

One of the hardest decisions as an author is whether to focus on a stand-alone or a series. Both have pros and cons, and most of our book ideas we’re emotionally invested in for different reasons, so if we created a WIP, you can guarantee one story is not more important or holds less value than another for us.

But we made the mistake of starting nearly every single book we’ve released in the last 18 months all series’. The only stand-alone book we have is Wander This World, and we had as much fun penning that as we did the series’. But the con to Wander This World is that it’s our least profitable book—or rather, since there’s no sell-through potential, it earns the least.

But we can tell you it is the one book that gives us the least stress. Series’ are hard. A lot of people don’t know that even though we’d planned to make Same Page and Next Chapter, as well as F*THS and Friends That Still… books that related to one another, we came out with the first books without the second book right after the first release, because we were trying to see if there was even a market for their controversial material.

We really couldn’t or wouldn’t have moved forward if we hadn’t gotten reviews telling us whether it was a smart enough move to.  I’ll explain more about this in a different post, when it comes to the financial reason why reviews are important =)

But once the response for both books were frequent enough to move forward, we decided to pen their sequels too, We were new writers, so we didn’t want to focus on continuing a story people hated.

Now that they’re both out, the pressure to build off these first books is quite demanding, especially when you want to focus on new material, and new characters to fall in love with, that face different challenges. F*THS and Same Page were SO fun to write, but because people liked Tim/Naima and Asher/Teddy(even though most don’t connect with her as much as Ash) the pressure to continue their story is a lot of weight.

Stand-alones however, allow you to write one story. Snap your fingers and you’re done. There are pressures to make sequels to stand-alones, but with books you intend to be a series, reviews really push an author to keep moving forward with that series, even when they don’t really want to.

My sister and I are a team, but we have our own ideas. Most of our ideas are come from the individual, and then the other sister helps flesh out the ideas that don’t make as much sense to them. Point blank: Sometimes I want to work on my shit, and sometimes she wants to work on her shit XD We’re constantly bumping heads, so if we don’t have something to push us, we won’t help each other until the last minute.

Author Appreciation

Writers are human. Writers are readers. Writers are just like everyone else. Especially independent authors. We don’t have publicists or agents(not true for some since many indies are now being repped) to sift through when you want to drop a line to one of your favorite authors but they feel so far away because everything goes through their “teams” first.

We’re right here. Available by email, available by Facebook or just one tweet away. Authors love hearing from readers. We’re readers just as much as we are writers, and it really makes our day to know someone reading our book enjoyed it as much as we did at the time writing it. This is especially true when a writer isn’t at all motivated at the time, which happens a lot when you have the pressure of deadlines and real life issues plaguing you.

But the comments, reviews and emails that always stick with me are the ones that mention how much people loved things we had planned to cut or downplay, like intersectional identity or culture. Those are things that are really important to my sister and I and we always fear people think we’re being too extra with it. But when people tell us that they adore the fact that we make culture a huge part of characters’ lives, it really warms our heart being raised in a different culture ourselves (My sister and I are Cuban American, Huepa!)

Reviews are especially important on retailer sites like Amazon for us because we don’t read Goodreads reviews, AT ALL. We’re firm believers in GR being where readers connect. As readers ourselves, we like the freedom of just being able talk to other readers since we both have reader accounts and everything is stress-free and unbiased. Vowing to keep it that way. But to sum it all up, leaving reviews is just another small way of you showing appreciation to the content an author is putting out there. It only takes a few seconds but leaves a huge impact! Especially for us because we’re so appreciative when y’all do!

But those are just some of the creative reasons why reviews help on retailer sites. Even just a few words help the reader looking to pick up their next read, and the author not sure on where to go with their next WIP!

Don’t forget to check out Why Book Reviews Matter! Part Two-The Financial Side!

This post was brought to you by Guinevere! Part II will be brought to you by Libertad!

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★★★★72 Signed Paperbacks up for grabs in the 12 Days of Giveaways!★★★★

Categories: New Release, Uncategorized, Update and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

How much do you love signed paperbacks from your favorite romance authors?

Yeah. We thought so.

You’ve heard of the Twelve Days of Christmas? We’re offering Twelve Days of Giveaways.

Enter to win one of twelve prize packs.

Each prize pack will contain SIX signed books.

If you’re already a collector, you’ll be in heaven. If you’ve never owned a signed paperback before, you’ll start your collection with a bang. Either way, entry is simple.

One simple entry will subscribe you to 70 Romance Author Newsletters.

Unsubscribe any time, but please don’t label us as spam. Better still, stick around and get to know us.

Participating Authors:

AJ Norris | Alyson Reynolds | Amie Stuart | Amy L Gale | Anna B. Madrise | Annie Anderson | Bethany Lopez | Bethany Shaw | Brinda Berry | Brittney Coon | Candace Clark | Candace Knoebel | Christa Cervone | Christi Barth | DD Lorenzo | Debra Parmley | Diana Quincy | Eileen Cruz Coleman | Elianne Adams | Eva Winters | G.L. Tomas | India Millar | J.M. Adele | Ja’Nese Dixon | Jamie Farrell | JB Schroeder | Jenn Windrow | Jennifer Locklear | Jennifer Ryder | Joanna Shupe | Joanne Dannon | Josie Bordeaux | Kelly Collins | Kelly Moore | Kimi Flores/K.A. Hunter | L A Cotton | L Chapman | Leigh Anderson | Lisa Ladew | Lisa Shelby | Liz Durano | M.M. Chabot | Margo Bond Collins | Mary Abshire | Mary Hughes | Mayra Statham | Michele Mannon | Michelle Irwin | MJ Summers | Monica Corwin | Nancee Cain | Nikki Lynn Barrett | Rissa Blakely | S.M. Schmitz | Shaniel Watson | Sheila Kell | Shelique Lize | Skye Jordan | Sybil Bartel | Sydney Aaliyah Michelle | Tania Cooper | Terra Kelly | Theresa Troutman | Tracey Pedersen | Tracy Ellen | Victoria Pinder | Wendy Knight
Enter to win!
Enter here: http://lovekissedbookbargains.com/signed-paperback-giveaway/

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Lover of romance books? Enter this bookish giveaway!

Categories: Events, New Release, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

We’re feeling festive so I’ve joined forces with these amazing authors to bring you a HUGE giveaway running from the 15th December – 20th. Looking forward to the New Year’s sales? We’ve got $500 cash to give away, perfect for treating yourself or stocking up on goodies for next year. Check out the authors involved then enter below. And don’t forget to stop by Love Books’ Facebook page for more giveaways happening RIGHT NOW!

 

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Color of Love Hop 2016: Chance to win awesome prizes! #coloroflovehop #CoLHop

Categories: Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

col_banner4So we’re in our second year as authors joining the Color of Love Hop(though it’s our third year, since our first were as bloggers!). For folks just tuning in, the Color of Love Blog Hop is an event that celebrates characters of color in romance themed novels.

Intersectionality is encouraged, but at its base it encourages those who don’t read inclusive romance novels to definitely do so. And what an initiative! Look at all the prizes they offer!

1st prize $50 GC + 7 ebooks

2nd prize $25 GC + 7 ebooks

3rd prize $15 GC + 7 ebooks

4th prize $10  GC + 7 ebooks

5th prize $5 GC + 7 ebooks

book-covers-1 book-covers-2-amended

Three of our books are in the mix, but you can win awesome giftcards too! If you’re reading this from our blog, you’ve likely read at least one of our books, but you can win a lot of new-to-you authors! Or even tell a friend about our books if you think they’d like them!

2017 will be a long list of stand alones for us(even though we’ll finish up the Bookish Friends to Lovers, Friends That Have Sex and most of the Sterling Wayfairer series) with a lot less messy than our novels from 2015-16, but man was it fun to pen those books we thought no one would ever read!

Same Page EbookFTHS EbookWander This World

Same Page featured a heroine of Nigerian descent, while F*THS featured an Afro-Cubanx heroine. Wander This World actually features two characters of color, as main characters are Black(she’s often read as Afro-Latinx) and Filipinx.

You can enter through widget below! And good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t forget to check out the blogs below, so you can hop to see who else is involved!

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September FREE for All-Free book for a limited time! Plus a #giveaway!

Categories: Events, Update and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

urlCheck out the September FREE for All & Giveaway!

Same Page and F*THS will be free for a limited time!

https://www.amazon.com/Same-Page-Bookish-Friends-Lovers-ebook/dp/B017GH2C9Ghttps://www.amazon.com/THS-Friends-That-Have-Book-ebook/dp/B01CF8F4KA

And that’s not all!

40 Romance Authors are offering 40 books…

Most of them are FREE for a limited time. It’s just our way of thanking our loyal readers.

Even better, we’ve pooled our funds to offer an awesome giveaway! Enter to win a Kindle and Amazon Gift Cards just for subscribing to our newsletters or following us on social media.

Here’s the link to the September FREE for All & Giveaway:

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We’re going to be at @blogboundcon this July!

Categories: Events, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , ,

Ten-Y3CHThere’s a free event we’re managing to take the train to. We’re mainly going for the workshops, but if you’re a YA blogger, consider stopping by!

Authors like Zoraida Cordova, Sona Charaipotra, Heidi Heilig, Kody Keplinger, are going to be there Adam Silvera, plus there are a load of bloggers in the YA community scheduled to speak too!

Blogbound is a small convention by bloggers, for bloggers to talk about issues relating to kidlit blogging and kidlit bloggers. Panels will include topics such as how to blog diversely, a round-table discussion between publicists and bloggers, and a panel for aspiring writers to talk to authors about writing and potential careers.

Blogbound is organized by Nicole Brinkley with the assistance of Julianne Daly and Kaye M. It is free to attend.

Check them out on Twitter @blogboundcon or their website!

When you can fix what you broke…(A tale in self publishing)

Categories: Blog Post, New Release, Update, Writer Advice and tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

We’ve been going through the motions of what it’s like to be self published, and we’ve learned a few interesting things along the way.

Disclaimer:

All our experience is with Independently publishing books, and this post isn’t meant to scare folks away from going a more traditional route.

But back to the post. What if you had a project you were interested in exploring, spent months with blood, sweat and tears, and money you could never get back, but it didn’t connect with people?

Would you throw in the towel? Or would you research where you went wrong to fix the problem?

We’re releasing an Erotic Romance named “F*THS”. It was meant to be a lot of things. It was supposed to explore themes that are typically shunned in Romance, including friends with benefits themes we got to explore in Same Page, but with people who were single.

The main character Theodora King, like us is Afro-Latina(our first venture making an Afro-Latinx character, yay!) but entertained two love interests. This is what the original cover looked like, which we loved!fthsBut as we put it on Amazon for pre-order, we noticed very little, if any connected to the cover highlighting a girl with two love interests. Romance readers can be very protective of monogamy, and polyamorous relationships are often shunned unless they’re intentionally meant to be Menage a Trois story.

We admit, the main characters are both bisexual. Both are attracted to emotionally, sexually and psychologically to folks who identify as a man or woman(cis or trans). It could’ve easily been geared to be a Menage book for that reason, but there was a fear the audience we were writing it for would feel alienated.

After all, the main female character does gear more toward one than the other. And most of her open door love scenes were only with one.

Same Page, despite how readers responded to the blurb and cover, one-clicked like it was nothing. Two attractive people on the cover sparked an interest that having three people on a cover did not.

When we realized that, we took F*THS down(and lost our pre-order privilege, but hey…)and went back to the drawing board.

We heavily emphasized the relationship between the two main characters more, and while it garnered a less brave story, it allowed the audience we’re writing it for to seek it out more. All of these changes were literally made overnight. All of it required reworking chapters, a new blurb, and a new cover.

Traditional publishing is awesome. The resources in comparison are unmatched. But they want books to win. They spend a ton of money trying to make something win. Storify-ed conversations about diversity in romance by Alisha Rai and K.M. Jackson highlight it better than we could, especially since they’re traditional/hybrid authors.

Diversity in Romance-Why it matters

We Need Diverse Romance

But we’ve since redid the cover to reflect the changes:fthis(1)The cover has a sleeker look, different models, and an interesting design. I can’t say whether it’s better or worse, but it’s definitely been better received.

I hope to be braver, and be able to introduce relationships that aren’t always monogamous. Being polyamourous isn’t negative, it’s just modern society isn’t used to a relationship with more than one person.

Maybe these changes were for the better =D

We received our first advanced review, and it was well received. All the fears we had are still there.

Fear of an Afro-Latina character who doesn’t have long cascading hair, or looser curls, with much darker skin. Fear of two characters who identify as bi-sexual. Fear of friends with benefits stories. Fear of creating a Black woman with a chronic illness. ALL of these things were the things some of the advanced reviewers connected with. There are other topics in the story(along with a cliffhanger, which folks hate!) they wont connect with. So we’re preparing ourselves for those who wont connect to it now XD

But we regret very little about self publishing. It’s not every day you can fix something you broke…

You can request F*THS on Netgalley =D Click the link or book above for details!

Not on Netgalley? Shoot us an email at rebelliousvalkyriepress at gmail dot com! We’d be happy to provide advanced copies to those willing to provide reviews for it’s release!

Release Day Jitters: Same Page by G.L. Tomas

Categories: Events, New Release, Uncategorized, Update and tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

http://www.amazon.com/Same-Page-G-L-Tomas-ebook/dp/B017GH2C9G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448755832&sr=8-1&keywords=same+pageSo we’re super hush-hush about this, because all my bloggers friends who like Romance featuring diverse main characters, are folks we really admire and respect, and it just felt sleazy to market to folks, even though they may or may not be interested in a new read.

We’re kinda terrified of the Romance we write. A lot of Romance that’s popular, and actually sells aren’t inclusive. Some readers don’t or can’t even relate to a someone who’s different from them. And when it comes to women of color(and this is definitely no shade. It sells…) we sometimes have to be a certain way for people to connect to us.

Bummer…

Our first release featuring NA/Adult themes(we released a YA SFF as our debut) features a main character who ends up in a complicated situation. It’s basically “the right guy at the wrong time” type of story. It’s a story that’s been told before, so we can’t sell folks on a dream that they haven’t read anything like it.

What we like most about her is that Nigerian-American(shot out to all our Nigerian/West African girls!) and most interracial romance books highlight Black women that hail from Western culture. Not to say the book is solely about her being Nigerian, but she’s close to her culture, and it doesn’t make her any different than an Afro-Latina, Afro-Caribbean(even though some Latinx are both!)or US/UK bred Black women.

Plus she’s a Supernatural geek, a book lover(works in a book store, the perfect job!) and still a college student at 27, because not everyone gets that degree right out the bat.

Plus she’s digging a cutie named Timothy. Their situation isn’t perfect. That’ll probably turn some people off…

But in our defense, both of us have been in Timothy and Naima’s shoes. It’s not always easy to be in either situation, and I want more books to reflect things normal folk go through. Not everyone is a billionaire or shit, even a millionaire!

Can sista just date a dude with a 9 to 5? XD

We want to create more men of color, and plan to A LOT next year(I’m Team Blasian, Libertad’s Team Blatino)it just happened that our first non-Speculative Fiction/YA release is Black Woman/White Man because it was the most polished at the deadline for our editor.

It’s part of a duology, much like another release we’re planning for the beginning of 2016, but they’ll eventually both be in the Kindle Unlimited Program, so those who have that, it’ll be available at nothing extra to you! If you want to be sure it’ll be something for you, it’ll also be on Netgalley!

We’ll get to learn what works and what doesn’t to help us improve our writing and marketing skills with this book, because NA-Adult Contemporary Romance/Erotic Romance is a much different market than our first book.

There are so new plans ahead for 2016, but for now we’re just learning as we go =D
Add to your Goodreads Shelf if it’s something that might interest you. We’re setting up a giveaway for a paperback(that we’re waiting for approval, fingers crossed)so if we’re not mistaken, those who have it in their anticipating lists gets notified!

We’re hosting an annual diversity event on our sister blog Twinja Book Reviews, and you might see a bunch of new faces, or even some you know, since we opened up to a lot of Romance writers and bloggers over the past few weeks!

There’s even a giveaway for that too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

The Color of Love Blog Hop

Categories: Blog Post, Events, New Release, Update and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

fireplace in the room panelled in wood

Oh how excited we are to participate in our first Color of Love Blog Hop. We’ve been following it for a few years now(Libertad even one a grand prize one year, talk about luck) and it was an exciting moment to finally be an author on the roster of such seasoned writers as well as some of our favorite Romance bloggers.

Look of that list of people below and would you look at the prizes being offered! Anytime you have a giveaway featuring a Kenya Wright, Laurel Cremant or L.Penelope(sorry for fangirling but we totally met her this October and she was everything a fangirl could hope for) book you know you’re in for some excellent reads.same_pagefthis(1)

We ourselves are offering Same Page, an erotic romance, which will be out December 8th everyone, squee. And another Erotic Romance titled F*THS, which is slated to release February 10th 2016. Multicultural and Interracial Romance are definitely our absolute go-tos in terms of buying taste so trust me when we say, we’re visiting everyone’s spot(And so should you…)and showing their blogs a hell of a lot of love! Be sure to check out all the other ladies on the hop. Discovering new authors are the absolute best!

Interested in any of our up and coming releases? Consider signing up for our newsletter for our NA and Adult Romances here. Like YA too? The newsletter to our YA new releases can be signed up for here. Happy reading, everyone!

GRAND PRIZES

We’ve upped the ante on prizes! Here’s what’s up for grabs

Prizes Gift Cards E-books
1st Prize $75 6
2nd Prize $50 5
3rd Prize $30 5
4th Prize $15 5
5th Prize $10 5
6th Prize $5 5

 

BookBox: embed book widget, share book list BookBox: embed book widget, share book list

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

New goals, New Ideas and New Releases!

Categories: Blog Post, New Release, Update and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wow I can’t believe it’s been a whole 2 months since our last post. Proud to say it’s for good reason! We’ve been writing up a storm! Our first release The Mark of Noba, has been our greatest accomplishment to date.

9781943773015

While it’s easy to feel like YA is a hard market to release a book in we’re so glad we allowed it to be our first born and our introduction to the world of writing but for the year 2016, we were planning a crap load of adventures and we hope anyone who’s with us supports us in our new venture in Romancelandia.

So what is it about romance that made us want to write romance? Hmm…it’s a number of things.

For one, Guinevere and I are not seeing the women and men we want to root for in romance. And that’s just depressing.

There’s no shortage of billionaires, bikers or alpha males but what if the kind of stories you desire are about real people going through real relationship problems?

What if the kinds of characters we want to read feature Afro-latinas, American Africans or black women outside the typical African American experience?(Hello Afro-Brits anyone?)?

What if just maybe we want to read about men and women who have regular jobs and aren’t making people sign a contract just to “be” with each other?

I’ve been reading a ton of romance lately and sadly I’ve found very few authors who have several stories I flat out love. But I have faith and with 2016 we hope to bring you 11, YOU READ RIGHT, 11 new stories with romance as it’s center focus ranging from YA, NA and even adult reads.

We know, we know 11 books? That’s one hell of a goal but the truth is, we’ve had these stories hanging around for years and now finally have the courage to release them, including The Mark of Noba’s awaited sequel The City of Fallen Stars, which will be available Summer 2016.

TCPFSTYPO

(Don’t you just love the cover? Tetra is spitting something fierce, compay!)

But omg, how could I forget December 8th we’ll be releasing our first real life New Adult Contemporary Erotic Romance(sorry kids this one does include sensual themes so if The Mark of Noba’s more your cup of tea, you might wanna skip this one.) called Same Page. SEE!

same_page

Check out the blurb:

Naima vibed with Timothy from the first moment they met. Attraction wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did with no time to turn back.

Timothy knew better. But that kiss made him forget about his girlfriend and he would do anything to get another chance to kiss those lips.

Can two close friends be on the Same Page in this “Brown Sugar meets Love Jones” Interracial Erotic Romance!

This one has us shook to be out there because it doesn’t follow a typical romance theme of two unattached people falling in love without problem. It actually centers on a situation I’ve been in myself, falling for the right guy just not at the right time. I’m sure some folks can relate but I know others are against altogether, either way when we decided that romance was a venture we wanted to unlock, we asked ourselves:

Do you want to trail blaze or do you want to follow the obvious tropes?

Ding, ding, ding! We took the first one for $700, lol. So we hope and pray you’ll take this journey with us!

What are some of your goals for 2016?

libbysig