Book reviews, and designing (e)book covers

I have been thinking about book reviews and their importance, significance and relevance, for both readers and authors. I have also been working on designing a book cover which is why I’m going to ramble about these topics today.

Book reviews

Sisterland by Cathleen Shine was a book that perturbed me for a long time. I still want to know what happened next, after the protagonist moved away at the end of the story. I believe I may have left a review and mentioned it on social media in the past…

There was another book whose author and title escapes me at the moment, which left a deep mark on my psyche. I am still thinking about it despite having read it at least ten years ago, or longer. I wish I could remember but back then, I didn’t have social media, and I never thought of leaving reviews for the many books I devoured.

Premise: a widowed mom with two son’s takes in a boy from their school after the boy’s parents were arrested for sexually abusing him and other children. (There was a mental image seared into my head where the boy escaped to the vegetable garden to hide in a tepee, built as a climbing structure for green beans.)

A third book that still occupies me is The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. She tells a poignant rags to riches story which continues to preoccupy me to this day. (I believe it was made into a movie and I wonder if it follows the book closely. I almost hesitate watching the movie because I like the images the author’s words formed in my mind…will the movie enhance, or destroy those images? I’m always hesitant to mix the book with the movie…) I can’t remember if I reviewed the book or not…but that I can easily research after I click publish on this blog post.

This is not a comprehensive list of the books that have made a lasting impression on me, I just picked a few that popped into my head this morning. ๐Ÿ™‚

I follow many bloggers who write and publish books. Many of them have done a tremendous amount of work post-publishing in order to get the word out via social media to let us know how to obtain a copy of their books. I have mentioned some of them here in my blog, and I will again. I see it in twitter and instagram mostly, and occasionally a blog post will also spread the word.

I’m in the process of reading some indie authors right now.

The latest book I loaded to kindle is The Smell of Cedar by River Dixon, a blogger I follow and who follows me. His blog posts focus mostly on poetry – gentle, sensual and sometimes somber poetry which evokes (in me) a sense of internal struggles, turmoil, and an elusive search for the meaning of life.

His book though… I’m reading it slowly because it’s quite disturbing. He describes in somewhat torrid detail the unraveling of a woman’s mental health with such intricate imagery, I keep telling myself it might be better to read this book during daylight hours instead of at night prior to falling asleep. ๐Ÿ˜ณ

I’m not done yet. I’m about 70% through…

What I wonder about you is this: do you always review every book you read, somewhere? Three are many places to leave reviews, from Amazon to Goodreads, even in social media…the question is, do you?

I have in the past and will again in the future. Sometimes though I need time to process before I can find the words to describe how I felt reading the book. Some writers have requested outright that I leave a review as soon as I finish reading their book, which I can appreciate, especially if it was their debut novel. If I haven’t left a review for you book, don’t despair, I will. I just want to make sure my words describe my feelings exactly, and sometimes, my words just don’t flow right.

Anyway. I have a related question about book covers.

Book covers (ebook and standard)

I’m designing an ebook cover for my erotic story. I have two samples that I really like when a friend suggested I layer the two images into one. He showed me what he meant and I loved the idea so much I started fooling around with this idea right away. I’m using Canva, the free version, to design this cover, but I’m stumped in how to make the edges blur so it doesn’t look like one square sits atop another.

I don’t have Photoshop, but I did discover that PowerPoint has some effects I can play with.

This fooling around with book covers though is taking precious time away from my editing and proofreading…and I wonder if I should just source this out.

Anyone have any tips about ebook cover design?

And so begins another Sunday in lockdown Toronto.

Feel free to distract me – I may pop in here to chat with you depending on how my focus is today.

29 thoughts on “Book reviews, and designing (e)book covers

  1. I just began a redesign of my book cover. I had been using the free Canva version, but upgraded it for the 30 day free trial. Layering is always difficult, so I try to limit that, otherwise you have to use an editing program (I just use Paint 3D) to blend the two – A bit of a pain if you are not good at it.
    As for reviews, I don’t tend to leave a review if I don’t care for a book. I struggle getting reviews for mine, I have given out many review copies through various sites wit limited return. On one site I gave out 20 and received 3 reviews. Not a great ROI. Now granted, reviews are not guaranteed, but if you are going to get a free copy from an author, the least you could do is give a star rating or a one or two line comment. I always ask that readers inform me if they are choosing not to leave a review, just so I know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is very helpful, thank you for taking the time to comment. I do use Paint but I haven’t used the 3D option, that’s a great idea to use for layering. I ended up finding another program that helped me do that and I do hope it will come out looking perfect, but if not, I’ll take up your suggestion.

      Reviews are trickier aren’t they. I’ve read more books and stories and blog post then I can review but I really should at the very least give each a rating or a like. Writers and authors so appreciate when someone who enjoys their words takes the time to leave a comment.

      So thank you for leaving a comment for me!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The other point is that people do judge the book by it’s cover, so in a way you are not designing it for you, it’s for the readers.
        I wrote a series of blog post about reviews, a bit humorous and somewhat cynical. If you want just look them up on my blog #reviews.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I usually don’t write book reviews, but I’ll at least rate them.

    I too am always hesitant to watch movie adaption of a book, especially if the book had a grip on me while reading. The only movie adaption of a book I’ve watched and enjoyed, though a tiny part of the story was left out, is The Godfather (the first film).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Glass Castle was a great book….the movie was not…..it was miscast or at least didn’t match what I imagined. I used to do reviews of every book I read on Goodreads, but once I started blogging I couldn’t keep it up. Now I do a book review here once a month – usually a non-fiction book which interested me and I think others might like.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Glass Castle: haven’t read it, but a blogging buddy/writer has. She said the book is way better than the movie.
    I feel the same way about movies and books. I was worried when LOTR came out.

    Reviews: I leave reviews for indie authors or if a book affects me in some way. For the indie authors that are also Blog Buddies, I leave reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and do a blog post, and I’m honest. I hated leaving a mixed review for one book that needed copy editing, but it distracted from a good story. All I have in other social is a Twitter I very rarely use, it mostly tweets my posts.

    Book Cover: I got nothin๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t know much about covers (generally I just accept whatever the publishers choose), but a friend of mine hired someone on a site called Fiverr and she was very happy with the result and the price.
    As for book reviews, I try to leave at least short ones because they are so important to authors, no matter if indie or traditionally published. They make a big difference…and are truly appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Funny that I just posted a book review on my blog last week. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I also used to work as an actual paid book reviewer for a friend in California who started a book review publication (she now owns an actual bookstore). So, I have in the past extensively reviewed books. And I still do on Goodreads, though I’ve fallen out of the habit lately and resorted to just giving them a 1-5 star rating just because an honest, thoughtful review takes time, and that is something that’s in short commodity these days.

    I will say for indie authors such as myself, reviews are everything. I’ve never pushed people to leave reviews, but boy are they appreciated!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I don’t usually review. It’s hard for sure and I want to bring intelligent comments not mundane or inadequate information. The book by Dixon, have you mentioned it here before?? Maybe I saw it on goodreads but wherever I ran across it I was grappling with reading it after the clearly dark synopsis. Maybe I will re-evaluate but take your advise and read it in daylight hours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I mentioned the book I’m reading from River because it sounded so intriguing but boy oh boy…it’s a lot to process. ๐Ÿ™‚ He’s really good in a horrific, vile sort of way which is almost the opposite of what his poetry reads.

      I am not good at writing reviews and I’m glad to read I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Because I inhabit a world of many writers (and self-published writers) I try to always leave reviews of a book if I enjoyed it. I take it seriously, and put as much effort into these reviews as I do my own writing. Reviews are paramount for writers. Which brings one to the question, as a newbie, how do you get reviews? For my first two books, I posted them first on Smashwords, and collected reviews from there to print on the back cover of my book.

    I can’t speak to covers, when I published the books, I was destitute. My sweetie did both covers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I got my cover done. I hope it’s accepted by Smashwords and the pixels are correct. Time will tell.

      Yes, the reviews seem so crucial to new authors, I see the constant reminders in social media to please take the time to say something. ๐Ÿ™‚ I will make that effort and be as transparent and honest as I can be.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. There’s free software called The Gimp that apparently has a lot of the same functionality as Photoshop. I’ve downloaded it, but it looks complicated and so far I haven’t had the concentration or the interest to put in the time to learn it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t write reviews of the books I read. Doing that seems too much like being in college and doing homework again. Despite being an English major I was never good or comfortable writing book reviews. Instead I read books and may make a short mention of them on my blog, saying how I liked them or not, but that’s it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. With you on that one, Ally. It’s interesting to read the comments here and learn why people write these extensive book reviews that always amaze me on Goodreads.

      I usually go with a relatively short comment on why I think a friend would or wouldn’t like the book since reading something like that from other readers helps me decide on my next read.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I find they require a lot of thought. I know myself – I’d rather not leave a review if it’s going to be too generic…the author deserves a proper review from me. So I often wait untilI feel like I can compose it in the way I aspire to. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Some certainly do. I still haven’t crafted my “comment” on Call Me By Your Name that I finished some days ago. I didn’t find the words yet to say why I liked it. So I wait for the words to come.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I hate writing reviews unless I hate the book. I also canโ€™t write about a book without spoilers. However….Iโ€™ll discuss any book any time. Except The Glass Castle….

    Liked by 1 person

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