Posted on Leave a comment

Reviewing Books

The Riddle Report 06 14 2021

You are an author, and you want to get your book reviewed. Have you ever considered reviewing other authors’ works? If you have the skill to write a book it is possible you may have the skill to review a book. That said, there are a few sand traps to avoid.

I said that if have the skill to write you may have the skill to review. But that is not always the truth. In writing a book you make a commitment to yourself, but in reviewing a book you are making a commitment to someone else. And that entails a sense of truthfulness and transparency.

Let me tell you a story as an example. I’ve actually told this story before so excuse me if you’ve heard it before. Back when I wrote Perished The World That Was, I sought Christian Fiction reviewers. And that proved to be a good mood as I received four- and five-star reviews!

But one reviewer gave me two stars and it is his story I am relating. He was a young man who I later determined was a teenager at that time. He professed he was a Christian and loved the Bible. Because my novel was based on world history as found in Genesis, I accepted him and sent him a copy.

After a few weeks I received his review where he gave the book only two stars. Now normally I would not be bothered by this low score. Why? Because you can’t please everyone. However, in this case he was honest enough to relate why he gave only two stars.

And early on the review showed that he didn’t follow the unwritten rules. What are these? Here are what I believe they are:

  1. You are committed to reading the entire book.
  2. You are committed not to skip.
  3. You are committed to finishing the book reading.
  4. You are committed an honest review.
  5. You are committed to being as transparent as possible.

This young man objected to the scene where Eve was created although the wording of that scene used similar descriptions as found in Genesis and in the Song of Solomon. This may have triggered his following actions:

  1. He began skipping through the novel.
  2. He came across characters who had the same name (these were real people taken straight from the Bible).
  3. He assumed that these all represented the same person.
  4. He eventually quit reading the novel.

As a result, he was confused and decided that I was inconsistent with the characters. That would have been a serious error on my part if true, but the error was his. For example, in the Bible and in my novel, there were two Enoch’s. Because he thought both were the same man, he assumed I had been inconsistent in their character.

His skipping around also disrupted any continuity he would have gotten by reading the entire novel. When you make a commitment to review somebody’s book you follow through. You don’t let your feelings stop you!

Honesty demands that you take the time to read the book in its entirety. I am currently reviewing a book and sometimes I come across language I object to. Honesty says I continue on. I can later point out these problems, but I’ve made a commitment to review the book, so I continue in my review.

His reactions convinced me that he was not fluent in the Bible. Later in his life I think he was better, but I don’t believe I ever used him again. I simply didn’t know if I could trust him.

More about this issue on the other side of this break.

TR-WritingServices.com brings you this blog post or podcast to keep you informed on the issues of today. Authors need to stay informed so that they can relate to their readers facts as well as entertain them with their imagination.

 TR-WritingServices.com is a service dedicated to help authors reach their potential as independent writers. Knowing the world you live and work in is essential to being a good writer, thus the need for the free flow of information.

To discover how we can help you be the writer you want to be, write to us at markting@tr-indbkstore.com. We will respond with a free copy of our Guide to Writing plus a brochure detailing our plans. We won’t ask for your credit card or any money, but we will send you these items for free.

Check us out and get your career moving.

Now back to the article.

Should I Review Books?

The only person who can answer that is you. Ask yourself some questions, such as: Do I like to read? Am I willing to take the time to read the book? Can I give an honest review?

If you can respond “yes” to these questions, then try it out. In the end, you might throw up your hands in defeat or you may discover that you enjoy it. And if you do, you may gain a following.

As a reviewer you will want to use some of your editing skills. It is not your responsibility to do actually editing, but those skills will help you find areas where the author made mistakes and you can let him or her know of their errors in your review. It is important to remember that the author is relying on you to provide a review to help in marketing, but also help in writing.

As a reviewer you watch grammar, spelling, readability, consistency, and accuracy. For example, if you are reading historical fiction is the book historically accurate? Does the speech or manner of dress fit the period? Questions like these will help you in evaluating the story.

Finally, remember that in effect you are critiquing and promoting the book. Your words are directed at the author so he or she can improve, and, at the same time, your words are directed at potential readers, to encourage or discourage them about buying.

If you are new to reviewing, you might want to stick to the same genre you write in or genre you like to read. It could be just what you need.

If you are reading this blog or listening to this podcast, it is being brought to you by T&R Independent Bookstore. We want to be your local bookstore and we are located on the internet at tr-writingservices.com. Drop in and check us out.

Posted on Leave a comment

What Are Six Steps to Writing?

The Riddle Report 04 20 2021

This blog is written to help new authors or those contemplating the idea of writing a book.

If you are thinking about whether to write a book or not, don’t be afraid to step out. While there are thousands of writers out there, there is no one quite like you. And we need to see your work.

What follows are six steps to help you get started. These are not in-depth, and they are not all that difficult. But I believe that you should take them to heart.

#1 – The Concept

The Basics of the Story

A story has to start somewhere and that is usually in the mind of the author. Perhaps it is a childhood memory, college years, military service, or simply a job. All of these are potential sources of plots.

You may only know a ‘what if?’ concept or perhaps a specific event in your own life that has triggered an idea for a story. While I am primarily talking about a fictional story, you could also want to write a nonfiction account of your experience.

#2 – The Research

Beginning Research

I call it Beginning Research because research is something you will need to do a lot of throughout your writing. But here you are performing some basic research to get you off on the right foot.

Some of the research you will do is as follows:

  • What is the uniqueness of the subject?
  • Has someone else already written on the subject?
  • What genres will it be in?
  • Is it fictional or nonfiction?

You get the idea. These are areas that you should consider, and you will probably come up with other areas. And none of the above will probably ever get in your book. But they will help you formulate your ideas.

Other areas of research may cover location of the story (i.e., Florida, Maine, etc.), type of industry in area, manner of speech and dress in the area, and so forth. The answers to these questions will have a direct impact upon your story.

In short, research is a valuable tool that you can use to help you throughout writing your book and, indeed, throughout your writing career.

#3 – First Draft

Your initial Work

New authors often fall in love with their first drafts because they poured their hearts into it. But you should always consider the first draft as a rough draft not meant for publication. No matter how much effort you put in this first draft it is going to require work.

I have never met an author who wrote a first draft and successfully published it. Someone out there may claim they have done so, but I can almost guarantee you that the draft is full of errors.

#4 – Review and Edit

Edit or not?

Some writers don’t edit until they have finished the first draft, others like to edit every page. Neither approach is wrong. But I would suggest that making use of your built-in grammar checker can be a help. But it is critical to remember that the grammar checker does not know whether you are writing an academic paper, which requires very stringent grammar, or a novel, which is not that stringent.

The other thing to remember about grammar programs is that they know the rules, but those rules are aimed at the academic level. Plus, the program does not know you are writing a novel, does not know your plot, does not know the education level of your characters, and so forth. So, use the grammar checker as a tool and interpret its concerns accordingly.

That said, I recommend that you strike a balance between constant editing and waiting until the end. Edit is necessary, but too much of a good thing can disrupt your flow of thoughts. In this first draft your story’s development is the most important thing going on. And when you finish your first draft you will find it necessary to go back over the entire book and check out your spelling, grammar, and other issues that may pop up. You find these issues by reading your draft. It is called reviewing.

What you are doing for each draft is reviewing and editing. And it may take several drafts before your book is ready to be published.

#5 – Get Help

Professional Help

After you have finished the first draft and done your review & edit, you can then write your next draft. But after you third or fourth or fifth draft you may realize that you need help.

The temptation is too do it all by yourself. And the hard truth is that even your very best authors don’t publish error free books. I know, I’ve read some of the best and still found errors. Sometimes minor and sometimes major. When you are talking about thousands of words, the likelihood of errors increases even when you use professional help.

But you don’t necessarily need professional help. Consider relatives or friends. But make sure they understand that you need honest reviews. It is not helpful if they tell you what they think you want to hear. What you need are another pair of eyes.

Even so, if you are on a tight budget, you may not be able to do that because if someone helps you out like that you should do something for them. If you are on a tight budget you may have to do it yourself, in which case, I would suggest that you take a breather after finishing a draft and do something else. Then go back and reread your story. You might consider reading with a view for spelling errors, such as ‘their’ instead of ‘there’. Then, reread the story and look at the grammar.

But if you go the do-it-yourself-approach, remember that you are the author and know what you think you wrote. Your mind might trick your eyes into seeing the words that you thought you wrote instead of the words you really wrote.

More about this issue on the other side of this break. TR-WritingServices.com brings you this blog post or podcast to help you be your absolute best as a writer.

The problems associated with self-editing are why there are professional editors out there. We exist to help you prepare your book for publishing. We read your book thoroughly looking for errors in grammar, spelling, etc. Then we work with you to improve the story.

In fact, if we are doing the editing, we do so with your story in mind. And not only your story, but your writing style. It is unique to you and we believe it should be preserved. So, we edit and proof the book, then we make sure you are happy with the results. Only when you are happy, and it meets the requirements of KDP is the book published.

And you haven’t spent a fortune to have it done.

Now back to the article.

#6 – Getting Published

Kindle Direct Publishing

At TR Writing Services we use KDP because they:

  • Allow the author to have total control except for a few technical issues
  • Allow you to determine your royalties, which range from 35% to 70%
  • Pay directly to an account you indicate
  • Provide you a large potential readership
  • and much more.

There are self-publishing companies out there that you should learn about. Don’t be confused by the term self-publishing. It does not mean that you have control over the publishing process. They do. And if you want them to edit your book, you may be giving up any control you have there as well.

But there are publishing criteria that you need to check out. One is the book cover.

It is important that after all the work you have put in to the book that your cover be good. And you have some options.

  • KDP gallery, which provides templates and pictures
  • Professional designers who will design a book cover for you

The KDP gallery should not be ignored. They have a small amount of pictures that may fit your need. I wish they would expand that gallery. However, they also have preset templates for book covers which allows you to upload your own pictures, such as designed for you or you purchased off the internet. Some designers will design the back cover for you but unless these people are KDP certified it could prove difficult. So, take the time and find out if they have worked with KDP, because KDP has criteria that must be met.

Professional designers offer their services at varying prices. Just because someone offers their services at a high cost does not mean that their services are better than anyone else’s. Check out their work.

Here’s thought. Why not make use of istock, pexels, pixabay, or others. Then upload to KDP the picture you bought or downloaded. Then let KDP do the rest.

I’ve done it. They also let you upload of bio picture of yourself along with a short biography and a description of the book. Then they let you know if you need to do more work on any of those items. When done, you have a quality book cover.

There you have it. Six basic steps to help you get started. There are several more items we didn’t discuss, such as ISBN, color vs. B&W, and more. But KDP will work with you on that as will just about any publisher that exists.

Find out the difference between Traditional Publishing, Self-Publishing, and Indie Publishing. I’ve written about this subject in the past. And remember this, Indie Publishing means you have more responsibility, better royalties, and, of course, more work to do. Why not be an Indie?

If you are listening to this podcast, it has been brought to you by T&R Independent Bookstore. We want to be your local bookstore and we are located on the internet at tr-writingservices.com. Drop in and check us out.

Posted on Leave a comment

Ron’s Lit Tip 09 10 20

Today’s Issue: Proofing

Welcome to Ron’s Lit Tip. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I will share a tip with you.

What is Proofing?

Google says, “a pre-publication version of your work. The purpose of a proof is so that you can check through everything before your work goes live.”

In other words, it is your last review and edit before publishing. This is a very critical step because some publishers will charge you if you want to make changes after publishing. If you use Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) that is not a problem. More on that later.

I recommend the following steps for proofing:

  • Proof Copy
  • Cover to Cover
  • Chapter by Chapter
  • Upload
  • Publish
  • Get Published Book
  • Read

Proof Copy

With KDP you pay for the printing costs and shipping. That means it will probably cost lest than $10. The print copy is very important because it’ll look different than what’s on screen.

Cover to Cover

This is recommended so you read the book thoroughly. You will be checking the front cover, title page, copyright, dedication, Table of Contents, Body (actual story), About the Author, Other Books by Author, and back cover, plus other pages. Some experts suggest reading the book from the back to the front, so you don’t let the story distract you.

Upload

I make periodic uploads to KDP and preview on screen. That way I see the appearance of the book with all changes. May not be necessary, but it gives me a feel for how the corrections are going.

Publish

Once you’ve finished editing and if you don’t need to reedit or ask a third party to proof the book, then it is time to publish your work. If you have followed all these steps then your work should be ready for the world.

Get Published Book

Once you are published get at least one copy for yourself. If you are using KDP you can publish your work, discover a mistake then pause the book, edit, and republish. Or you can leave the book live, edit, and republish.

If it is a major rewrite, then you might want to indicate a  new version or re-title. Some publishers may not allow this without a fee.

Read

Sit down, relax, and read it as though it was someone else’s book. If you don’t find any errors, then put it on your bookshelf. If you’re like me, you’ll eventually pick it up and read again. And you might think of new or additional scenes to add. And you can, because you are not only the author, but the publisher as well.

Conclusion

Every writer has their own ideas, but the above should help you get a strong start on your writing career.

Tip: Take Time and Thoroughly Proof Your Book

Get free Guide to Writing at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

Subscribe to Author Alerts (click and submit signup form)

For information about us (“we edit, proof, and publish the book within you”)  contact us at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com and get our Free Brochure which tells you about our services.

AUTHOR’S PAGE: amazon.com/author/rfrederickriddle.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? Want to review our books? Contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. Such as, ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ Be sure to indicate your email address and your name.

 – – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. #Writingservices

Posted on Leave a comment

Ron’s Tip of the Day DIY Grammar

Today’s Issue: DIY Grammar

Welcome to Ron’s Tip of the Day. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays I will share a tip with you. Today I am looking at DIY Grammar.

Experts tell us that an author should never do their own editing; to leave it to the professionals. And they have a lot of good reasons for saying that, chief among them is this: you, the author, know what you meant when you wrote the book. Your mind expects to see the words and meaning that you meant to put down; the professional does not. The professional looks at your work with an independent eye and more easily spots poor grammar, etc.

But you and I know we will do our own editing!

 The reason is pocketbook easy to understand. Professionals cost money! So, unless we can afford it, we are going to Do It Yourself (DIY).

Being a DIY editor requires time, effort, and honesty. It is that last part that is hard. We get married to phrases, descriptions, etc. and don’t want to change. It is hard, but sometimes necessary to divorce from them.

Some Tips to Help You.

  • Use Word’s ABC Word checker which checks for spelling, grammar, and more.
  • Don’t rely totally on it though. Sometimes it will want to make corrections that are bizarre! For example, a character may be speaking or thinking in poor grammar. In a novel that is perfectly OK, if it is part of the character’s personality or education.
  • Review your book more than once. You could, for example, use one reading to check for general errors, another reading for proper wording, checking sentences, and more.
  • Consider having a relative or friend review your book for plot, character development, grammar, and more.
  • Before publishing get a printed copy (Proof) and review it again.

Final Tip

After you’re done there will probably still be errors. But that is true with professionals also, though they may deny it. Even Classics have errors.

Tip of the Day: DIY requires time, effort, and honesty. But it’s worth it!

Get free Guide to Writing at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

For information about us (“we edit, proof, and publish the book within you”)  contact us at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com and get our Free Brochure which tells you about our services.

AUTHOR’S PAGE: amazon.com/author/rfrederickriddle.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? Want to review our books? Contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. Such as, ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ Be sure to indicate your email address and your name.

 – – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Posted on Leave a comment

Ron’s Tip of the Day More on Spelling

Welcome to Ron’s Tip of the Day. Throughout the week I will share a tip with you. This is an experiment in microblogging. Let me know how I’m doing. Today I am looking at More on Spelling.

In Word Usage I touched on Spelling. I thought it wise to expand on the subject. Here are some thoughts.

  • Spelling is critical
  • Reader will forgive bad grammar easier than poor spelling
  • Get a good dictionary
  • When in doubt choose dictionary over word processing dictionary
  • Spelling and context must match
  • Watch for different meanings of same word (there, their, etc.)
  • Don’t assume, make sure

Tip of the Day : Constantly check your spelling

For information on TR Writing Services (“we edit, proof, and publish the book within you”)  contact us at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. Our Free booklet tells you about our services. And we are upfront on our prices (all are low).

VISIT MY AUTHOR’S PAGE TODAY: amazon.com/author/rfrederickriddle.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews for R. Frederick Riddle and Tess Riddle books. I value your reviews.

If you would like to review our books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or Epub).

 – – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. In addition, he is best known for Christian Historical and Speculative Fiction. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.