Today’s author, Robin Leigh Morgan, is also a highly rated reviewer on Amazon. She agreed to visit with us to share her reviewer’s experience with us.
Robin Leigh Morgan is married. She is a retired NYC employee and has been a member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) for over 13 years.
Robin Leigh’s first endeavor as an author is a sweet MG/YA Paranormal romance novel entitled I Kissed a Ghost. In December 2014 Robin Leigh released a second book, Micro Fiction – An Anthology, which contains 100 Micro Fiction stories.
Welcome, Robin. You are a highly rated reviewer on Amazon and have written over 400 reviews since your first in August of 2014. How have your reviews changed from that first one?
THANKS for the compliment. My reviews have basically changed in the same manner the items I had written for a community newspaper did. The more I’ve written them, the more I’ve come to realize what would be the best way to express my ideas, in an attempt to whet a potential reader’s interest enough so they’ll consider buying a copy of that book. And one of the best ways I’ve found is to put myself into a review by telling the readers when a book has triggered a memory of my younger days, even going as far back as a child; things like I song I’d loved listening to.
I know you don’t accept requests for reviews, so how do you decide which books to review?
Soon after I’d announced that I’d decided to become a book reviewer, I got inundated by requests to review a book, many of which didn’t even appeal to me. I had to respond that I couldn’t honor their request to review their book because…but I basically knew that no matter what I would give as a reason, these requesters would have felt some sort of rejection. It was then I decided to publicly state what my selection process for reviewing a book is, and wrote the following as an entry to my two blogs. When I get a request to review a book, I simply give the requester my regrets, as well as the link to this entry on my blog:
…we all love the giveaways we see on FaceBook, and I love to enter them, as well. However, I only enter those contests for which there are books I’d like to read, after which these are the books I’m going to review.
I also enter the print book Give Aways on GoodReads .…Naturally, I also read/review those books I’ve bought myself.
All of my reviews get posted on:
Shelfari.com as well as on my blog sites.
Many of our fellow authors refuse to post a negative review of books they read. If they really don’t like a book, they don’t post. Do you have a similar philosophy?
I do. And it happens when I’ve entered a giveaway for a book which I’d thought would be interesting, and wound up winning it; only to find the book devoid of any editing or for another reason which would have caused me to give the book a low rating. When this happens, I contact the author to tell them why I won’t be posting my review, because if I did it would pull down their overall rating. Each time I’ve had to do this, they’ve appreciated my efforts. I figure, if the book is so bad, there will be plenty of other negative reviews to take the place of the one I would have written. You have to remember what your mother told you as a child, “If you can’t say anything nice about a person, DON’T SAY IT !!!”
I can remember writing book reports in school. Knowing I had to write a report could make reading the book less pleasurable. Are you able to read for pleasure, or is your inner ‘reviewer’ always on duty?
My “inner reviewer” is on duty before I even begin to read/review a book. It comes into play before I enter a giveaway/contest. If I see an interesting title, I quickly scan the reviews the book has already received, if any, to get a sense of the book itself, before entering the giveaway. But by the time I find out if I’ve won the giveaway and have received the book in question, I’ve already forgotten any of the reviews I’ve read. In writing my reviews, I never read any other review for fear they might influence what I would be writing as my review.
How has your reviewing affected your own writing?
I happen to write books in the romance genre, and as I read more and more books in this genre I pick up the ways other authors have written their stories, especially with somewhat similar scenes, which so far has improved the way I write myself.
Since I’m a romance author I would be lying if I would mention any genre except my own genre. Many of the items in my second book I wrote in response to a word prompt on a now defunct website, and some of them helped me work through the episodes of writer’s block I endured while writing one of my WIPs which I’d stopped writing and have recently picked up writing again.
My author readers really want to know this; what do you look for in a book in order to give it a high rating?
It basically comes down to what extent I can relate to the story line for a book.
From a reviewer’s perspective, do you have any advice for authors? Perhaps a few things to avoid; or the most frequent problems you see?
As far as advice for authors is concerned it would have to be this: Don’t take any criticism, especially from another author, as criticism. Take it has a form of guidance/support from one author to another.
The most frequent errors I’ve found in books include:
- The overuse of tags. [Telling the reader who’s speaking.]
- Being passive in their writing instead of being active [Like using the word “WAS” far too often]
- Being overly descriptive in telling about a scene [Leave something for a reader’s mind to envision themselves.]
- Not using contractions, especially in colloquial speaking, etc.
Authors are always looking for ways to get honest reviews, especially for a new release. Any advice to share?
To begin with, never ask for reviews from friends or family, as they account for the vast majority of the reviews you read for many books, consisting of only a brief sentence praising how good the book was and saying they would be telling their friends about the book.
THANKS for giving me this opportunity to be interviewed on your blog, I truly appreciate it.
If any of your readers would like to contact me, they can do so via this email address and writing “J B Hawker” in the subject line: firstname.lastname@example.org
You will find my books at Amazon in the US by clicking on the book images above. In the UK use the links below:
I Kissed a Ghost: http://www.Amazon.co.uk/dp/B00CRQ9SC6
Micro Fiction: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00QH15K4M