Go forth and absorb…

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Photography  by Erika Kochanski.

Heaven on earth does exist. For me there are a several places that have conjured up that feeling and one of them is being alone in a library full of old books. Their musty smell, the dark creaking wood under your feet and the cold feeling at your fingertips as you run your hands along the black metal gates that protect their fragile priceless pages. Hundreds of years of history and I’m lucky enough to be standing in the middle of it and I am filled with respect of dead authors and their living words.
As a writer these places mean more to me than expensive museums and art galleries. They are great too, but my funds do not stretch so far and so these are the places I turn to. I seek them out and they humble me, and travel should be humbling.
Who says seeing great sites has to be expensive? Not all the great sites in this world have been made into tourist traps. Some are free and uncommonly known. The Chetham and John Rylands libraries are two examples of my favourite sites in Manchester, and they need not cost you a penny to see (although I did leave a voluntary donation in honour of preserving these precious books).
The best part is that if you look hard enough you will find gems like these hidden in every part of the world. Not just old libraries, but unique places that will touch you just by standing in their presence. Mountain peaks, old ruins, the important places made of legends you hold dear, or unique architecture that sends chills up and down your spine. Art is everywhere. We take it into our minds like we breath air into our lungs and we take just as little time to appreciate it. Travel is that opportunity, so go forth and absorb.
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Rating books simplified.

Letters to a Young Poet

Photo by Erika Kochanski.

 

I realised something today: I need to write a post directing readers on how they can help author’s by rating and reviewing books online. For many the words book review conjures up those feelings of angst you remember having in school when you were forced to write a book review on a novel you were made to read in English class. In reality, for the modern reader with an internet connection, it is vastly different, and not everyone necessarily knows how to take part in the process, or how easy it is!

To begin with, while writing lengthy and detailed reviews is of course a lovely idea and many authors will appreciate the extended time and attention given to their work, it isn’t the only way for readers to interact and vouch for the books they have read. After all, you made the effort to read the book, so why not tell someone about it? Ratings and reviews are crucial for an author to get future book sales (yes, sorry for mentioning the “S” word) and they don’t have to be difficult and time-consuming.

It is surprisingly simple and easy to give feedback and express your experiences with a book that is helpful to both author’s and readers. You are not getting graded on this interaction, and the best part is that more and more authors are accessible online. It can be very validating to express your opinions and get a response from the source. It is definitely of mutual benefit when it comes to indie writers. Let us explore a few extremely simple ways in which you can do this…

1. Comments on social media (this includes either comments on the writer’s account directly, or even just sharing your experience with your own followers and friends).

2. Ratings on sites like Goodreads and Nothing Binding (you can take this to any level you want, but it is free and very easy to create an account and give a star rating).

3. Rating and reviewing through the site you purchased (perfect way to give simplified feedback in a crucial setting where other readers will be directly influenced).

4. Comments via the author’s website (either commenting on their blog entries, in a guest book, or even using a feedback form or email for a more private interaction).

5. Word of mouth (this never goes out of style, and is one of the most powerful forms whether it be verbal or through correspondence like sending out an email to a friend).

The best part is that you are reviewing books that you actually want to read. It is not subscribed reading (unless you are part of a book club, but if that’s the case you are likely already an avid reader who enjoys talking about random books within a group). Saying that, just because you picked the book doesn’t always mean you are going to like it, and authors expect that book reviews and ratings will reflect different tastes and opinions. Just keep them honest, and always be sure to respect the writer and their attempts.

Remember that writing a book is hard. An author gives up a lot to put their brain down into a wad of paper bound together by a layer of cardboard, or alternatively smoosh it into digital formats for it to display so nicely on your beloved eReader or tablet. It is likely that their personal profits will be surprisingly minimal, so if you really love a book, it is a real kindness to share that love and acknowledge it in some way. Your words are powerful, so use them well.

 

Letters to a Young Poet

Photo by Erika Kochanski.