Birthday Presence 48!

It’s that day of the year again: I made it all the way around the sun! I had a donut, I’ve got tea, and later on I’m playing Star Trek Adventures with some buds, so really, I can’t complain about how forty-eight is rolling out. Also? Once you’re my age, one don’t really need any more things. So, I started a tradition years ago where instead of presents, I asked people to tell me about a book they loved instead.

When I became an author, I started asking people if they’d maybe take a moment to write a review about a book they loved somewhere. Just one book, and just one review, and only if they were up for it. (And, no, it doesn’t have to be mine. I’m not using my birthday to guilt reviews of my own books.) Making noise about a book you loved gives the book presence—get it, birthday presence? Sorry, I’ll see myself out—and word-of-mouth is pretty much the best thing ever.

Now, I’m not talking about writing an essay here. Truly. Back when I worked at the bookstore, we had these little “Staff Picks” cards that slid into acrylics, and they were pretty small, so by virtue of their size there was only so much room to write a review. It may surprise you to learn a lot of staff struggled to write reviews. They could hand-sell out loud in conversation like gangbusters, but writing down a review stopped them cold. So I came up with a quick and easy three-sentence review process, and it worked fine.

Three sentences to make a review: What you can expect from the book (without spoilers); what was unique/awesome/moving/exciting about the book (again, no spoilers), and then using another better-known genre or author, who do you think would like this book?
The Three Sentence Review

The cue-card review went thusly:

  1. A sentence letting a reader know what to expect from the book (without spoilers). In romance, this is often where I likely mention the main trope of the book, drop a word about the characters, and give a general idea of the tone: Something like “Bet Against Me is Fiona Riley’s excellent—and steamy—enemies-to-lovers pitting two high-powered real estate brokers in a contest to outsell the other.”
  2. A sentence talking about what was unique/awesome/moving/exciting about the book (again, without spoilers). Something you think really stood out about the book and speaks to why you loved it. Staying with Bet Against Me, I’d probably say, “Fiona Riley builds queer friend groups into her writing in a way I really love, and also explores family dynamics I rarely see in queer romance, but really appreciate.”
  3. A sentence that uses either a well-known author or some facet or genre as an example of the type of reader you think would enjoy this particular book. So, “Any reader of enemies-to-lovers will likely love this, and it launches a new series I think fans of Melissa Brayden’s Soho Loft series will really enjoy.”

So! It’s my birthday, and if you’re up for it, drop a line telling me about a book you loved. Or just link to a review you agree with. Or, heck, just drop a note saying “I LOVED THIS” with a link. All of these things are also super-valid and wonderful ways to do that whole word-of-mouth thing. Clicking a “like” or an “agree” on someone else’s review somewhere also helps. I don’t want this to be a guilt-thing, or an imposition. If you’re not up for it—it’s three damn years into a pandemic, who’s up for anything right now?—that’s cool. No harm done, truly.

Ditto if you’ve already got your own method of writing reviews or gushing about books. That little blue cue-card up there is meant to be a helpful guide for people who want to write a review and feel stuck, not a form to fill in if you’ve already got your own, authentic style. (I feel like I keep saying “you don’t have to do this” over and over, but to be super, 100% clear: you don’t have to do this.)

9 thoughts on “Birthday Presence 48!

  1. Happy Birthday Review 🎈 Have a lovely day
    ( I think you might know this one already but if not….)

    “Legends and Lattes” Travis Baldree

    This introduced me to a new genre- cosy fantasy. A delightful retired orc mercenary builds a new business ( a coffee shop in a town where no one knows what coffee is) fights her past to find redemption, a gentle romance and a new family.
    Travis Baldree is also an outstanding narrator & the audio version of his own book is perfect.
    If you like Forthright’s Amaranthine tales I think this would be a good find.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Happy Birthday! I’ve been re-listening to audiobooks, and for some reason amazon/audible thinks I haven’t reviewed them before when I’m pretty sure I have. But anyway, I just finished re-listening and wrote a review of The Carriger Quartet collection by Gail Carrgier.

    I also just finished reading The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen by KJ Charles and it was a lot of fun. A Historical romance where Gareth unexpectedly finds himself Sir Gareth of Kent after his estranged father dies unexpectedly. After arriving at his hew home in Romney Marsh he learns that the man he had an enjoyable week of dalliances with in London is the head of the local smuggling ring. This story has action and mystery as well as romance. Fans of Cat Sebastian’s The Queer Principles of Kitt Webb will enjoy this one.

    Liked by 2 people

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