I learned a new Kindle thing.

I am soooooooo late to the party with this one, but I’m happy about learning it, so I’m sharing my joy. Let’s start with the basics. Do you:

  • own a Kindle?
  • Use Amazon Prime?
  • Enjoy books published by independent and/or small press authors?
  • Like to support indie authors but don’t have a big entertainment budget?

DID YOU KNOW: if you answered yes to all those questions,  there’s a program that’s perfect for you? It’s called the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (KOLL).

You can download 1 free read per month straight to your Kindle, for free, AND the author gets a per-page-read payment. That’s right. You pick from a ton of great Kindle books (like, say, one of MY titles) read it for free on your Kindle, AND the author gets money.

Everyone wins, right? You can support an author you like every month with it just by reading a book. Seems too good to be true, but IT IS TRUE!

The main catch seems to be that the title has to also be in Kindle Unlimited, but hey, there are a LOT of those. Including my sorta-romances and the big single-edition version of the Stories of the Restoration. Just saying.

Do you want to know how it works?  I did, so I hunted down details.  There’s an official how-to video on this Amazon page How to Borrow a Kindle Book through KOLL. That was enough to get me started. I brought up the Kindle store on my Kindle, looked up a book by title & author, and one touch later, it was downloading. Yay, reading!

Want to know more? Here’s a site with more information and a nice comparison of  this KOLL program and Kindle Unlimited: Some useful details about KOLL.  It’s a little out of date–there’s now Prime Borrowing to complicate matters, for one thing–but it has a bunch of basics.

Book Reviews, Deli Style

If you dread seeing pleas for online reviews from your author-friends, you are not alone. Me? I get performance anxiety.  Composing a Real Book Review is hard mental work and time consuming.*

Ordering lunch is easy. So I came up with a system. Think of your review as a deli meal. Yes, folks, it’s time for “Build Your Own Book Review!”

Sandwich. Sides. Drink. Make a few choices, and it writes itself.

Bread: all reviews come with stars. Choose 1-5. Don’t worry about hurting feelings. Seriously. The raw number of reviews carries far more weight with the Almighty Search Algorithms than whether they’re positive or negative. That said, 5 stars is the white bread of the review world. Just saying.

Fillings. Pick one or more from as many categories as you want.

This book is

  • ______ well worth reading
  • ______ suspenseful  & fun
  • ______ a real thriller
  • ______ warm & inspiring
  • ______ entertaining
  • ______ on my best-of list
  • ______ fun but nothing special
  • ______ totally skippable
  • ______ A bore from beginning to end

The plot

  • ______ was twisty and full of surprises
  • ______ kept me turning pages
  • ______ made me think
  • ______ was brilliant
  • ______ didn’t really move me
  • ______ confused me in places
  • ______ started well but got boring
  • ______ goes nowhere fast

The world-building/main idea

  • ______ blew my mind
  • ______ was amazing and original
  • ______ was well thought-out
  • ______ felt tired and predictable

The characters

  • ______ were flawed and human
  • ______ were relatable
  • ______ felt real
  • ______ really got to me
  • ______ acted like real heroes
  • ______ never stopped complaining
  • ______ were full of themselves
  • ______ seemed like tired stereotypes

The dialogue

  • ______ sounded real
  • ______ had lots of good jokes
  • ______ moved the story along
  • ______ was stilted and fake
  • ______ sounded like speeches
  • ______ used too many big words

Side orders: not required, but extras add a little pizazz to your review

  • My favorite character/moment/scene _____________­­­­­­­­­_______
  • The best thing about the book was _____________­­­­­­­­­_______
  • I really liked_____________­­­­­­­­­_______

Drink. A little statement to pull the whole review together.

  • Give this book a try, you won’t be disappointed.
  • Recommended for/as/to________________________
  • This is a must-read
  • If you like ______________ then you should check this out
  • Skip this one if you value your brain cells.
  • Only recommend it to your enemies.

Take a look at these popular combos:

House Special:  5 stars! This book is on my best-of the year list. The plot was twisty, the world-building blew my mind, and the characters really got to me. My favorite scene involved a teddy bear and a glue stick, and that’s all I’m saying. If you like funny books full of crazy jokes, snappy dialogue and cute animals, take a look.

The Snark: 2 stars. Skip this book. The world-building is mind-blowing, but the characters spend the whole book complaining and the plot goes nowhere fast. Recommended as an insomnia cure.

Short, Sweet & Simple: 4 stars. I liked this book. The plot kept me turning pages, and the characters felt real. Give it a try.

Now, if you you feel like this is cheating somehow because it’s easy, YOU ARE SO WRONG. Trust me on this. I recommended books for a living for nearly two decades. Sales reviews are about bearing witness. Standing up to be counted.  Very few readers go to Amazon or B&N looking for a deeply-pondered journal-style literary critique. They want to know, “Did someone else like this book? Y/N and why.”

Be kind to yourself. Give your favorite authors a huge boost. Go deli style.  And if you want to practice, I have a bunch of book listings pining away for reviews right here behind this link: author.to/kmherkes.



 

*No, really. Reviews are hard. That’s the reason Goodreads lets all members assign star ratings without writing words at all. (My books are listed there, too. Hint. Hint.)