So it’s the end of the first official year of Confessions of a Reviewer. Phew, it’s been a busy one. I reckon it’s been an OK one as well but then what do I know? I’m knew at this game. I think at times it showed. I also think at times it looked like I’ve been doing it for years.
I thought I would do this blog post as a sort of end of year round up. I’m totally winging it so bear with me. This is the part of blogging that I’m not really good at. Talking about myself, and how difficult or easy it has been.
Let’s give it a go though and see where it leads us!
THE FACTS AND FIGURES
I think all good end of year reports start with the figures. I have no idea if my figures are any good or not. I have no way of comparing them to other book blogs. I have been led to believe that book blogs don’t seem to be very good at getting daily hits and suchlike so from that point of view I think I have done OK.
I set myself a target of 15k hits in my first year. I have no idea where that figure came from. I think I just plucked it out of the sky to be honest and it sounded like a nice number. Little did I know that I would pass it before I even hit six months!
This is just a snippet of what I have done this year.
3000 average per month.
750 average per week.
Posts – 230
Reviews – 113
The most popular post was also the most popular review. For this I have to congratulate the author, Bryce Allen. My review of his book, The Spartak Trigger was viewed 702 times. This was largely down to Bryce constantly sharing the post through Facebook and Twitter, and he, quite convincingly, proved to me that the more you share, the more people look. I think a lot of people need to take heed of this! Self-promotion does work!
Showed off – 19
Authors confessing their past, present and future – 22
This is a feature that I am very proud of. People genuinely love to hear what authors have done in their pasts and what they are doing at the minute, and future plans. I have to thank each and every one of you that took part in this. The most popular of these is Mr Willie Meikle with 625 views. One little tip I will pass on, if you are a book blogger and want your views to go up dramatically, do anything with Willie Meikle’s name attached. People flock to it. He is a very popular man.
Interviews – 19
Not a bad amount for a first year. I loved doing these. You get to learn so much about people that you would have no idea about otherwise. I have been fortunate where people seem to approach my interviews with total honesty. I have never once had anyone refuse to answer a question. Even The Ten Confessions. I think I did have to send a few back to Duncan Ralston because he was too scared to answer them but apart from that they mostly went without a hitch. I am planning a lot more this year and I am trying different ways of doing them to make them even more interesting for you to read.
The most popular interview is really no surprise. When I attended the John Connolly event, I was crapping myself because I had my camera with me and knew I wanted to ask him if I could ask him some questions. I very nearly didn’t ask. I thought he would laugh at me and call security. It couldn’t have been any different. He was such a gentleman and made all the time I needed with him to get it done. I think the fact the video has been watched 681 times is proof of how popular he is.
What can I say about these guys? Honestly, I don’t know where to start. I didn’t make a conscious decision to try and champion the cause for indie authors when I started this blog. It just turned out that way. You know what though? Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Through doing this I have gained some sort of understanding of what those guys go through to get a book out there for you and I to enjoy.
It’s more than blood, sweat and tears. It’s more than a pound of flesh. It’s more than sacrificing their very valuable time with family and friends. It’s more than giving up sleep and often running on empty for extended periods. It’s about them giving absolutely everything within themselves to make what they do the very best it can be, so that you and I get endless hours of fun, scares, and wonderful, wonderful stories to keep us amazed and amused for hours on end.
These guys are heroes. No seriously, they are. We go to work every day and make a reasonable to good living. So do a lot of these guys. THEN they come home and spend unlimited time writing, editing, writing some more, editing some more, five drafts and beta reads. All so you and I can have fun.
Think about it, without these guys we wouldn’t have a passion. We wouldn’t be able to sit and lose ourselves in a pile of paper in our hands with little black writing all over it that makes us scared, makes us laugh, makes us cry, gives us goose bumps, makes us hold our breaths, makes us want to run away very fast, makes us want to come back for more and more and more.
It always fascinates me when I speak to an author and they mention the age old authors worry: self-doubt. They never believe in themselves. They always worry about what people are going to say about their books. Whether they will like them or not. If only they really knew, and accepted, how in awe of them a lot of us are.
Rock stars? Pffft. Film stars? Pffft. Celebrities? Pffft.
Authors? I bow at your feet with respect and admiration.
THE PRESSES / PUBLISHERS
These are the guys that make it all happen aren’t they? Well mostly yes. Getting some review submissions sent to me by both authors and presses or publishers has taught me a few things. They aren’t all as reputable as you may think.
There has been a lot of negative press recently about some presses going under financially, and that was tough to read. I know they let people down but some of what I read was just downright nasty. That came from both sides of the argument as well though so there wasn’t really anyone who was what you could call innocent, in the whole affair.
I have had some absolute rubbish sent to me to review. I will never name names and embarrass people but it has to be said, there is some absolute crud out there. The thing that gets me though is the fact that sometimes, it is not the fault of the author. The authors sometimes have potential but are let down very badly by their publishers in terms of making sure books are edited correctly and proof read properly and in a fit state to be sent to reviewers and ultimately the paying public. I have been sent some stuff that has been just illegible because of errors. I have highlighted this to publishers and had a mixture of responses, from none, to the fact that they don’t really care. I have seen times when the author contacts the press after I highlight things to them and the press ignores them.
On the flip side of things, I have to say that I have made some wonderful connections with publishers and small presses that give two hundred percent in making sure that the people they look after get exactly that, looked after. The things that are produced are wonderful and it shows that the people behind the presses put as much in to what they produce as the author gave them with their words.
Ones I think that are worthy of a mention would be, firstly, Bookouture. This is a British press dealing with mainly eBooks. They have built up a wonderful stable of authors and look after them so well. Sinister Grin Press are producing some wonderful books and their list of authors is also growing and growing. Matt Worthington has shown great support for me this past year sending me some wonderful books. Crystal Lake Publishing are another press that I have a lot of respect for. Again they seem to look after their people very well and are producing some great books.
There are two other small presses that are making a name for themselves that are very dear to my heart. Dark Chapter Press is run by Rob McEwan. This lot are going to be huge in the future. They are finding their feet and producing some great books and are a big tip of mine to watch out for. The last, is the guys at The Sinister Horror Company. Again producing some wonderful books and put out my book of the year 2015, GodBomb! When you get a book from these guys, you will not see presentation like it.
This is the part that makes the blog. For the readers anyway, apparently. I don’t know. Are they good? Define a good review? I just read a book and talk about it. I do have a set structure that I tend to follow for writing a review, but the content changes with every book, as it should be. I like to think I make them interesting to read but then define interesting? What makes my reviews any better than anyone else’s? I don’t think anything does to be honest.
Every time a person reads a book, their opinions will differ. This is what makes them so interesting. Wouldn’t it just be plain shit if everyone had the same opinion of every book written? I have picked up books with terrible reviews and given them five stars. I have also picked up books with fantastic reviews and hated them. This is what makes the world of reviewing so interesting to me.
I’m no expert. Not by a long shot. I don’t pretend to be the most wonderful reviewer or blogger in the world. I’m not. All I do is read a book and waffle about it. If people like to read them then yay! If they don’t, then so be it. I’m not here just to get pats on the back.
I am here though to be honest. I am here to be critical when I think it is necessary but never in a rude or confrontational way. That is just wrong. There is no need for that. If you think you can do that to someone’s possible life’s work, then you should go back and read what I said about authors earlier, putting their very heartbeats into writing.
Just last week I had someone contact me to ask me NOT to review their two books they sent me. The reason? A Goodreads review. The person that left it tore shreds off the books and knocked the authors confidence so much they withdrew them from sale. That is wrong in so many ways. I am still going to read them, and review them. I have also offered the author some help if I can in getting them sorted, and into a shape they are happy with. If I can. It’s the least I can do to make up for what some moron did.
Anyway, if you read my reviews, I appreciate it. If you buy something after reading one of my reviews, I appreciate that even more. I only do it to try and get some coverage for some of the wonderful talent we have out there writing some wonderful books.
THE HIGHS AND LOWS
There have been so many highs for me this year. Getting the blog up and running was one of the main ones. Seeing the hits coming in, and discovering that people actually did want to read my reviews, and buy books on my recommendations never gets old. It is what I do it for after all, to give something back to the authors and try and get others to pick their books up. If one person buys a book after reading my review, then job done as far as I’m concerned. If more than one person buys it, then superb!
Seeing my name in print for the first time in an acknowledgements section was amazing. Seeing my name printed on the cover of a book for the first time was mind blowing. The second time was just as mind blowing. I’m waiting on the third time so I can dedicate a shelf for those books and call it “the selfie shelf”.
Probably the biggest thing for me has been the growing circle of virtual friends I now have because of the blog. I met some wonderful people this year. A lot started out as just acquaintances with reviews and stuff but I have connected with a lot of people that I consider to be really good friends now. I am not going to embarrass myself or them by naming names. All I will say is that I look forward to developing these friendships further and making even more soon.
The lows. Not too many thankfully. It was a tough year for me health wise and also in the close family circle. It’s a true saying that things are OK as long as you have your health. When it, or the health of your loved ones is not good, things get bad all round. Thankfully everyone seems to be on the mend now and looking forward to a healthier future.
I didn’t make it to Fcon! I was gutted about this. I so desperately wanted to go and put faces to names and actually interact with people. I also had an interview lined up that I was crying about having to give up. I also had a drinking competition organised with Duncan Bradshaw to see who could drink the most Guinness. This was to followed by us sneaking in to Daniel Marc Chants room and farting as much as possible. I’m disappointed I missed that.
The biggest low for me? This is a subject that has irked me many times throughout the year. I have wanted to blog about this so many times as well but always bit my tongue and stayed quiet as much as I could. I think that integrity, and not doing our washing in public is the best way forward, no matter how difficult a situation might be. This situation, however nearly drove to me to giving up blogging and reviewing completely and nearly turned me into a reading recluse.
I wrote reviews for someone and was unceremoniously dumped by them. I wasn’t even told I was being dumped. When I questioned why, I was given unreasonable, and quite frankly, ridiculous reasons for it that I will not go into here. I was accused of being dishonest and giving out private information to people that I didn’t even know existed. Basically every allegation that was thrown at me, I had an answer for. Those answers were never acknowledged as being correct. I never got a definitive answer or apology for the incorrect allegations or things that were being said about me.
In fact, over a period of many months, snide comments and remarks were made about me on various social media outlets and websites. I was, very cleverly, never named, but it was quite clear who they were talking about. This hurt. This hurt a hell of a lot that someone would try and influence people not to work with me or support me. Why? Was I hurting them? Harming them? No I don’t think I was. I think it was jealousy for some reason and after having an extreme loss of confidence and belief in myself, people close to me convinced me to ignore it and move on. So I started to think of it as a compliment that someone was obviously paying me a lot of attention, attention I was not returning, and strove forward to make things better.
I would love to say more but remember that word integrity?
This section will be short because I am just going to keep on doing what I’m doing. There will be loads of reviews. Even if the submissions dry up, I have over four hundred books in my to be read pile to review. There will be more interviews. I have no shortage of people I want to throw The Ten Confessions at. There will be more showing off as long as nice people keep sending me nice books. And there will be more authors confessing their past, present and futures.
I will of course be trying to develop new features and new articles and you never know I may even try and get that website developed.
THE FINAL THANKS
I want to thank everyone. No really. Everyone that has been a part of this journey over this past year. I couldn’t have done it without any of you.
I want to thank all the authors for sharing their wonderful talent with us mere mortals. I want to thank the presses and publishers for making sure the books come to us. I want to thank all the wonderful friends I have made over this past year and who continue to support me in whatever I do and however I do it.
I want to thank you people. The people reading this and the people who have read every post I have put up this past year. Without you coming along and reading my drivel there wouldn’t be a blog. I couldn’t continue without the support, and sometimes help, from all you guys. I appreciate it more than you will ever know.
Everyone who came to the Facebook party as well! We had an absolute blast doing that. It was very busy and very tiring and we gave away a shed load of books but it was worth every minute. I hope all the winners enjoy the books they got and I cannot thank the authors and presses who donated to the cause any more. They were all given with grace and generosity that this world needs more of!
I finally want to thank my beautiful wife Jo and son Alex. Without their untiring love and support and, again, sometimes help, I wouldn’t have pulled off half the things I have this past year. It can be a lonely life sometimes being a reviewer, with the amount of time spent reading and writing stuff. That in turn makes it a very lonely life as a reviewers wife and I appreciate all the time I have been given to make this work. Jo you will never know how much I love you and appreciate your support.
Fancy doing another year?