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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.

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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.

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Writing as a Christian Service

The following blog is taken from an earlier blog entitled, Is Writing a Service to God? I am still a writer and I write Christian themed novels. So examining the subject of writing is as natural as breathing. There may be small alterations, but basically it is the same.

Is writing fiction really serving God?

That’s a reasonable question since some people believe that it is not true service. I once was upbraided for writing novels based on the Bible because:

  • People will mistake it for the truth
  • Thereby getting wrong doctrine

There are a few things wrong with that view:

  1. The Bible is found in the Bible or Religion section of bookstores not fiction
  2. Novels are found in the Fiction section not in the Religion section
  3. My books state they are novels
  4. My novels are purposely based on Biblical fact and doctrine
  5. My novels flesh out the stories rather than disagree

In other words, no person who has read my books can seriously claim they teach false doctrine. If there is any doctrine in the book it always agrees with the Bible. In fact, I have been told my books “bring the Bible alive!”

Actually one of the reasons for writing Bible based novels is to encourage people to read the Bible; to discover what is Bible fact and what is a product of my imagination? It is always a thrill when someone reads my books and their faith is either renewed or they become more interested in reading the Bible.

And that is a service!

The true test of service, any kind of service, is as follows: Does it

  • Agree with Biblical facts
  • Honor God
  • Inspire people to read the Bible
  • Inspire people to worship God
  • Inspire others to serve
  • Inspire people to live godly lives

It needn’t do all the above but it should have at least one of the elements. Christian authors, whether fiction or non-fiction writers, have an awesome opportunity to influence people for Christ. You don’t have to be preachy. You don’t even have to write about Bible events or people. But our writings should reflect a Christian approach to or view of life.

My books generally take place before the birth of Christ yet I strive to present a Christian view. So while I don’t mention Jesus, I do mention the Redeemer. In addition, I emphasize the Scriptures (aka the Writings).

So if you’re a Christian author don’t be shy about being one. You have a job, perhaps a calling. Trust His leading and do things His way. And when people challenge you respond in pride, “I write because God gave me the talent and because He wants me to use it for Him.”

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship I value your reviews.

If you would like to review any of these 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).

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. 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.

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Insights From World of Shem

In the last issue of A Look At World That Was I talked about the research necessary in writing the World of Shem. Today I’ll begin a series called Insights From World of Shem.

Consistency with the Bible

I have read, and maybe you have also, books based on the Bible that took a very casual approach to the Bible. I have also seen movies that didn’t adhere to the Biblical record. As a Bible believing Christian such actions have a jarring effect. People who read the Bible regularly easily spot inconsistencies in such books. They may or may not know why, but they instantly know something’s not right.

Such people will turn to their Bibles and compare. It is in my opinion absolutely imperative that the author keep the book in line with the Bible. This is also true of secular writing. For example when writing historical novels based on secular history it is imperative to be accurate. In my novel Dead Eye Will there were a number of historical events, places, and people that made an appearance. Accuracy was a must!

But such accuracy is even more important when dealing with a Bible subject. You are dealing with the Word of God requiring accuracy not only in fact but in application. While I hope more Christians write on Biblical events and people, I recognize that it places a heavy burden on that writer.

But it is worth it. When you are finished writing and can look back saying “my story fits right within Scripture” there is a feeling of satisfaction hard to beat. And when you have published such a book a reviewer might say, “He/she brings the Bible to life!” That’s a compliment you won’t soon forget.

So far we have covered Research and Consistency with the Bible. The next issue of Insights will cover another issue.

And don’t forget. I am looking for reviewers of World of Shem. To get a free PDF or Epub contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. 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.

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Announcing World of Shem

I am happy to announce my latest novel World of Shem is now in print and digital format. This novel, a major rewrite of the Rise of Shem, is book 3 of my series The World That Was.  world-of-shem-kdp-11-14-17-for-kindle.jpg

All three books (Perished, World of Noah and the Ark, and World of Shem) are told in a manner that is not only faithful to the Bible but strives to bring the Bible alive to both Christian and non-Christian reader alike. Perhaps because it is a rewrite of a previous novel or perhaps because it is my latest novel, it is my current favorite.

I love to write, but there is something special about writing Bible based stories. I think the reason is that the stories not only bring the Bible alive to readers but to myself as well. In so doing I am able to dig deeper and gain an understanding of the events and people. And of God!

I imagine this is akin to any writer who bases their books on history. In the process of writing you dig deep finding out about the foods people ate, the clothes they wore, and the methods of transportation used. Such knowledge grants both the writer and the reader a greater appreciation of both the events and the people involved.

My study of the people, places, and events of the World of Shem impacted my life. I was particularly impressed with how rapidly civilization grew after the world wide flood. Everything had been destroyed. Yet within 300-500 years a thriving civilization existed again. The only explanation I have is that Noah must have taken a great many tablets (probably mostly clay) with him upon the Ark. These tablets would have contained a great deal of the knowledge of the Old World that perished.

But it was the character of Shem that attracted me the most. The Bible tells us very little about this man, but as I wrote the story I watched his character develop to the point I felt like I knew him. I don’t claim my characterization of him is 100% accurate, but I believe it is a good representation of him.

Having written the book and now published it I am looking for potential reviewers. I can provide the book in a variety of formats (Epub or PDF, for example) at no cost and no conditions, other than the reviewer reads the book through and gives an honest appraisal. I would prefer the 1 through 5 ranking system. If you are able to provide an Amazon review, so much the better.

If you are interested in reviewing the book please email me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. Please put “Book Review Request” in the subject line. That will get my immediate attention and response. It would be helpful if you would state the format desired (such as paperback, PDF, or Epub). If you have another format you’d like mention it and I will try to accommodate you.

Whether you review the book or not, happy reading!

Title: World of Shem
Publisher: T&R Independent Books
Printer: CreateSpace
ISBN: 10: 154242383x or 13: 978-1542423830
Contact for Reviews: Marketing@tr-indbkstore.com
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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. 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.