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Purpose of BC?
Posted: Saturday, August 1, 2015 4:03 PM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55

I'm confused. I joined Bookcountry to discuss the writing process, share critiques, and learn about industry standards, expectations, methods...More and more I'm seeing advertising along the lines of "Here's where you can buy my book." That is turning me off. I want a place free of advertising and that sort of commercial self-promotion. I want to critique and be critiqued fairly--with some objectivity, without regard to popularity, and in accordance with the recommendations of Bookcountry staff. And a reciprocal critique would be welcome
Posted: Tuesday, August 4, 2015 10:21 AM
Joined: 9/17/2013
Posts: 104

Well, the subheading for this forum is "(s)elf-promotion, in-house promotion, creating swag, sending newsletters, creating email lists. It's all so confusing! Ask questions and get advice here."


A few other forums have different but similar purposes.


Members scatter their personal writing news throughout the forums. This is not a problem for me. I enjoy reading about others' trials and about their successes.


I have not published anything here for review, and I may never do it. I have learned plenty from the forums about "the writing process. . . .industry standards, expectations, methods. . ." and more.

Posted: Tuesday, August 4, 2015 12:47 PM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55

Perry, your comfort level is legitimate. As is my discomfort level. We don't need to point-counterpoint the issue. Let me reiterate--I'm not saying I HAVEN'T learned about "the writing process...methods..." I'm saying that if a post has no purpose other than to provide a commercial link, I feel a little used, a little bit preyed upon. Aren't we subject to enough advertising out there!?


I also keep making the point that this site isn't just about GETTING reviews; it's about GIVING them too. There's a responsibility in our interactions with each other. I think it's irresponsible to review someone's work if you haven't read the 1-5 nib guidelines.


So if you disagree with my post, that's fine. In my worldview, two opposing ideas can both be right at the same time. Thanks for sharing your viewpoint on the matter. 

Amber J. Wolfe
Posted: Tuesday, August 4, 2015 3:09 PM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539

@RCGravelle, I'm sad to say I know what you mean. I've been a member of Book Country for little over a year now, and in this time, I've noticed a trend: More and more people are uploading manuscripts for review, but not many people are reviewing. There's not a really good setup for making certain manuscripts are reviewed and reviews reciprocated.


Truth be told, whenever I search for manuscripts to review, I feel bad for those new members who've uploaded--I've noticed, as I scroll through the list of manuscripts, a lot of them haven't even been reviewed yet. Even members who are actively reviewing for others don't get reciprocated most of the time.


Don't get me wrong--I've gotten a plethora of reviews on my WIP Destiny's Bond, and they've all been helpful. But out of all the reviews I've written, only a quarter have been returned. A few of the reviews I have are from repeat readers.


Honestly, I do love Book Country. It's a community of awesome readers/writers . . . but I'm seeing a lack of attention. Even discussion threads go unheeded nowadays.


If you're looking for an uberactive site to discuss the writing process, share critiques, and learn about industry standards, expectations, methods, etc., you might try joining Scribophile. As a basic member, you can upload only two works at a time, but you're promised 3 insightful critiques for each work posted. It has to be in chunks--no more than 3,000 words per upload--but I've found the site to be pretty fun and the members welcoming. I had my 3 critiques in one day of joining.


It has a cool method for making certain members remain active. For one, you have to reap Karma points, which mean critiquing others work so you can upload your own and joining in the discussions. There are also groups you can join and reputation points, so the most active members have the recognition they deserve.


The only downside is that to get full gratification from the site, you have to buy a premium member package--65 dollars a year or 5 dollars a month, I think.


I wish Book Country had a similar setup as Scribophile. Maybe the site would be more active that way.


Urg. Kinda feeling like a traitor now, writing that.


Dejected newbie, Amber

Mimi Speike
Posted: Tuesday, August 4, 2015 8:56 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014

I don't remember (maybe I never read a mission statement) what BC claims their purpose is. I feel it is a source of moral support, camaraderie (hope that's spelled right), a place to hang out, take some of the pressure off (of working on your damn book) and discuss concerns/problems. If you build a relationship with one or a few people, they will certainly look at your work, eventually.


The thing that grabs me, that gets me to review, is the voice in the discussions. Interesting input here bodes well for the WIP. Last of all, please understand that working on our writing is exhausting. I, particularly, have tons of research reading to do for my sixteenth century adventure. Most of the time I feel completely overwhelmed.


I wish I had the time and energy for more reviews, I learn from having to carefully analyze problems, hoping that skill carries over into my own work. But I have been working on two books at the same time, and I am about to try to settle on an illustration style for the thing I insist on calling a children's book.


--edited by Mimi Speike on 8/4/2015, 11:21 PM--

curtis bausse
Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2015 10:57 AM
Joined: 11/13/2014
Posts: 37

I think there are two points raised in this thread: one, the intrusiveness or otherwise of self-promotion, and the other, the reciprocity or otherwise of reviews. I guess I'm guilty of the first, since I slipped an announcement of a forthcoming release into another thread. I believe it was germane to the discussion in question, but I'm very sorry, Renee, if you felt it was uncalled for, or if it was one of the examples that led you to feel as you do about Book Country - all the more so as we've corresponded warmly and, I hope, to our mutual benefit as writers. I believe our exchange and reviews of each other's work exemplified what you were looking for in Book Country. But in my view that doesn't preclude announcements about forthcoming or recent publication of one's own work - most of the time it's in a spirit of recognition of the help writers have received here on the site (I was gearing up to write such a post in the News and Announcements board, but I'll just say here that I'm truly grateful for all the feedback I've received on this site and leave it at that). I'm actually very interested in seeing who gets published and where - I see it as quite a valuable source of information.

I'm more bothered by the second point, about reviews. I just checked my reviews given / received ratio and it's 18 / 7. Better than Amber, who's only getting a quarter of her reviews reciporocated, but still not brilliant. On the other hand, to write a serious review takes a lot of time and thought, so in a sense that's understandable. I don't know any other similar sites, so can't really compare, but on the whole I've found Book Country both supportive and helpful. The buddy programme may prove to be a useful addition, but maybe it's still a bit early to have an idea of how well it's working.


Mimi Speike
Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2015 2:22 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014

There are two kinds of reviews. A review of style can be done on a chapter or two. A review of story needs a larger chunk to be digested. Jay Greenstein made the point (and rightfully so) that the prose style must be up to speed, make a reader want to continue after a page or two. I don't want to hear, 'but you need to read more of the story, it's a great story'. I've heard that, we probably all have. 


So, when I review I concentrate on style, characterization, logic of the world portrayed, the foundation. And that's about all I expect in return. For a whole-earth assessment, I put my hopes in the buddy program. Or, make your own deal with someone: serious full reviews exchanged. For that, it's best to find a writer who has a chance of appreciating your style. Shop around, then make an offer. What have you got to lose?


And now I have a question for anyone who has received a bunch of reviews. Do you find that they are fairly similar, mentioning the same issues, or are they quite different? My own reviews convinced me that a problem needed addressing, but not specifically what many cited, that I strongly disagreed with. I think I could have gotten the same value out of two or three reviews as I did out of, not sure, eight or nine. Agree or disagree?


--edited by Mimi Speike on 8/6/2015, 12:10 AM--

Posted: Thursday, August 6, 2015 11:36 AM
Joined: 6/25/2013
Posts: 55

  • HAve no fear, Curtis. I saw your post and was pleased by your news. A release is different from what I'm talking about: the out-of-any-context link and a statement that This is where you can buy my book. I think it's appropriate to have a book published and promoted. But the blatant sales pitch is a little crass. I do appreciate all the comments from you folks on my comment. Thanks for enriching my worldview. BTW, Curtis, when you release a book I can buy, I'll be the first librarian in line. You know that, I hope.

DJ Lutz
Posted: Sunday, August 9, 2015 8:30 PM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 130

Well, I certainly can't, and won't speak for Janet, Lucy, and BC/Penguin. However, I joined after having a meaningless experience on another Internet gathering place for writers. Like BC, you could post your works for others to critique. I soon learned the site was a social media quagmire, with the goal of getting the highest number of "likes" for your work. Every critique was akin to "Love'd it. Awesome!" followed soon by a "Don't forget to read ()and like) my work, too. There was nothing constructive about it in terms of becoming a better writer.


Certainly we are seeing more and more books being sold and marketed on BC. I view this as part of the whole writing process. (I am making an assumption that writers write in order to sell their books.) I don't have a problem with it as long as we can keep the site flush with tips, techniques, and news that helps all of the writers here.


Speaking of critiques, it would be great if every entry posted received numerous insightful critiques. This, however, can be a double-edged sword. I have made a point to read within my genre, looking for books that have yet to be reviewed. After reviewing, we often message back and forth, at times even on Twitter. I have made several good connections this way, and now I know how the other writers critique, and I know they will critique my work in return.


On the other hand, I have received one critique written after reading only a few pages. They offered a brief opinion of the plot and the writing style, and nothing more. My first thought was they reviewed in this manner - short and quick - in hopes of getting past the three-critique benchmark so as to post their own work. I would rather have two constructive reviews in two months, rather than a two week burst of snippets of opinion by people not interested in my development as a writer. If we don't support each other, we are in the wrong business.


Let's turn this around. Should I read and review more? Certainly. Like most people, I have limited time and have not reviewed as much as I would have wanted. But the new Buddy program has helped me meet another author. I have read and reviewed her work and look forward to more. I tend to stay within two or three sub-genres but as time goes by, I expect I will venture out. I'll just end by saying my critiques, although not massive in number, will be my best effort.

Lucy Silag - Book Country Director
Posted: Monday, August 10, 2015 11:26 AM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 1359

Hello Renee, Perry, Amber, Curtis, Mimi, and DJ!


I was out of the office on vacation last week and I'm just catching up with all the discussions that happened while I was out. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I hope you don't mind if I chime in and ask a couple questions.


Renee--tell me more. Do you feel the discussion posts are becoming too self-promotional? Blog posts? Newsletters?


Sounds like everyone on this thread really likes learning about the craft of writing. That's wonderful feedback as we plan more content for the fall. I actually am working on something that I think you might really like . . . but I am not ready to say more about it yet!


It also sounds like, as always, members are eager for more reviewing and more replying on the discussion boards. We are always looking for ways to inspire both, such as the Buddy Program (as DJ mentioned) and the author and agent Q&A opportunities we host in the forums.
If you start a discussion thread, don't forget that you can always send your connections a PM to ask them to contribute. You can also message folks and ask to do a review trade to ensure that you don't spend time reviewing someone's work who isn't going to review yours.


Our capacity for development is fairly limited, but I am always making notes for ways we could develop in the future. I'd love to have badges for reviewers and other fun things that could make active users stand out as the awesome members that they are!


I'm always reading your posts and checking out the books that are being posted. Don't hesitate to reach out to me if there is anything I can do to make your time on Book Country more helpful and rewarding to you!




Mimi Speike
Posted: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 11:28 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1014

I have visited many author websites and am not optimistic for them. I've read nothing (yet) that grabs me by the throat, compelling, you know what I mean. I think we have to write our articles as if we're writing for a magazine. Say something substantive, but be damn entertaining about it. Bore folks on your blog, they're not enticed to try your book. I threw out that idea, somewhere here, have your characters write loopy guest columns, or something fun. Please, not this Who am I? Etc. 


Lucy, you are published. What do you do in the way of promotion? Do you think it helps that you are well known, attending all these book fairs and such?


--edited by Mimi Speike on 8/12/2015, 7:03 PM--

Charles J. Barone
Posted: Friday, August 28, 2015 5:22 PM
Joined: 7/18/2014
Posts: 120

I don't mind seeing mention of books up for review. I also think part of the reason some aren't receiving a huge number of critiques is personal preference.


I enjoy reading history, thrillers, crime (fiction and fact) along with some types of paranormal. Other people have other tastes. Maybe some have started reading mine and were quickly turned off by the supernatural or paranormal elements. It would be similar to me trying to wade through a chapter of a Fantasy or Gothic novel. I couldn't do it or be fair to the writer if I did.


Better not to read something that doesn't interest you than try to review a work you need to force yourself to read.