Posted On February 21, 2011 by Print This Post

The Who, What and How of Book Reviews with Tammie King of Night Owl Reviews

RU Crew, today we’d like to introduce you to a new visiting professor, Tammie King, Director of Marketing, WEtap Media, Night Owl Reviews. Welcome to Romance University, Tammie! We’re delighted to talk with you about book reviews, a topic too often a mystery to published and unpublished writers alike.

Kelsey: How do you choose which books you’ll review on Night Owl Reviews?

Tammie: We review a wide range of books sent to us by publishers, publicists and authors. Once they send us the books we add them to our book database and then the reviewers choose what they are going to review from there.

Kelsey: How do you choose your reviewers? How many do you have and what criteria do you use to vet them?

Tammie: Anyone can sign-up to be a reviewer. Reviewers in the USA can do both print and eBooks, while reviewers outside the USA can only do eBooks because of shipping costs. Reviewers don’t have to have a specific background, but they do need to be able to write well thought out reviews and have an ample grasp of the English language. They provide a sample review when signing up. We add in additional reviewers as we have time and our needs expand.

Kelsey: How do you choose which of your reviewers to use for a certain book?

Tammie: We don’t choose for the reviewers. Each reviewer selects the books they want to review, just as if they were browsing a bookstore and were selecting the books that most appealed to them. It’s our belief that reviewers should only be reading books that they would select to read for fun.

Kelsey: How long does it take from the time an author submits a book for review and the actual review?

Tammie: We don’t give a time period. Authors send us their book information and then their book is added to the available to review listings. At that point the reviewers then can select the book for review. We get a lot more requests for reviews than we can possibly review. On average we get over 600 requests a month and review around 250 titles.

Kelsey: What do you hope your readers obtain from the reviews on Night Owl?

Tammie: Our goal is for readers to find great new books to read and authors to follow. We do honest reviews that are not snippy. We want authors to get the opinion of a reader, an opinion that can help them grow and not tear them down. We want readers to have fun, learn about the authors and take home a great recommendation.

Kelsey: Could you tell our readers a little about your digital magazine?

Tammie: We have a free booklovers magazine that encompasses a wide range of genres including romance, paranormal, urban fantasy, science fiction, fantasy, cooking, teen, suspense, history and more. The magazine comes out on the 15th of each month and can be downloaded from our website.

Kelsey: Besides Night Owl, what other review sites should every romance writer and reader know about?

Tammie: As a reader myself I use Night Owl Reviews for most of my recommendations, but I also find many of the other sites helpful and fun. The sites high on my list are RTBookReviews.com, FreshFiction.com and BittenByBooks.com.

Kelsey: Is there anything else you’d like to share with RU readers about Night Owl Reviews or book reviews in general?

Tammie: Yes, we would love to invite romance readers over to chat with the authors. They can find our chat room and schedule at: http://www.nightowlromance.com/nor/Pages/Chat.aspx

***

RU Crew, what have you always wanted to know about the book review process? How many of you review books on bookseller sites? Feel free to ask Tammie questions!

Stop by Wednesday when Laurie London returns to talk about her debut book!

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25 Responses to “The Who, What and How of Book Reviews with Tammie King of Night Owl Reviews”

  1. Hi Tammie,

    Thanks for the great information. It was nice to read that you give honest feedback in a way that’s not damaging to an author.

    After Night Owl completes a review, do you notify the author or publisher?

    Thanks again for blogging with us!
    Tracey

    Posted by TraceyDevlyn | February 21, 2011, 8:01 am
  2. Tammie, thanks for an interesting and informative post. I like that you allow your reviewers to select what they really like to read. I don’t follow too many review sites, but became interested in Oline Cogdill, who does reviews for Mystery Scene and also appears in our local newspaper, because my first love is mystery.

    An incurable NewYorker, for years the NYTBookReview was like my bible, or I found selections from the NYTBSL … Now I know, that while in the same paper, they are truly miles apart. When I expanded my genre interest to romance in all of its categories, I began to use more resources. RWA chapters, my favorite writers web pages and RT on line are some … now I can add Night Owl. Thanks again.

    Posted by Florence Fois | February 21, 2011, 8:39 am
  3. Tammie –

    Thanks so much for talking with us about Night Owl’s book review process. You mention your chat room. How does your selection process for those chats work and how does Night Owl promote the chats?

    Thanks again, Tammie!
    Kelsey

    Posted by KelseyBrowning | February 21, 2011, 8:42 am
  4. Hi, Tammie. I have Night Owl on my list of review sites to submit to so this information was very helpful. As a debut author, the idea of submitting for reviews is a bit daunting!

    Would you please tell us how the books are chosen for the digital magazine?

    Thanks for being here today!

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | February 21, 2011, 8:42 am
  5. Hi, Tammie.

    I enjoyed your post. I am like Adrienne, a debut author, and quake a bit when thinking of the review scene. Your explanation of Night Owl’s process has calmed me down to mere jitters. Thank you!

    Tracy March :)

    Posted by Tracy March | February 21, 2011, 9:21 am
  6. Hi Tammie,

    I like the idea of your site being a book store for your reviewers. It’s good to know someone chose the book to read.

    Do you hear back from the authors about the reviews?

    Mary Jo Burke

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | February 21, 2011, 10:03 am
  7. Hi Tracey,

    Thanks for joining me today. We have a very cool system in place that emails the publisher and author a text copy and link of the review.

    We are only able to do that if the publisher and author have provided us with their contact information or we have found it on their website. We are only able to do this amount of work because of technology and prior to having this email integration we were not able to email as many authors as we can now.

    Being able to let the publisher and author know when a review was completed was high on my list of upgrades and we got in a few years ago.

    Great question!

    Tammie King

    Posted by Tammie King | February 21, 2011, 11:24 am
  8. Hi Florence Fois – Glad to have you visit us.

    Posted by Tammie King | February 21, 2011, 11:28 am
  9. Hi Kelsey Browning,

    We do have an online chat room where readers come to chat with the authors.

    Authors can sign their group up to chat and create a chat event. Events allow for 4 featured authors who each get their own time to chat about their book, answer questions and do a door prize. On the chat page we link to each authors NOR Author Page that includes book covers, blurbs, purchase links, bio, author bookshelf and website link.

    We are also looking for YA author groups to chat with readers as we also have a Night Owl Teen http://www.NightOwlTeen.com website that is popular with both teens and adults.

    You can find the chat room online at: http://www.nightowlreviews.com/nor/Pages/Chat.aspx

    Event sign-up is at: http://www.nightowlreviews.com/nor/Pages/chatschedule.aspx

    Posted by Tammie King | February 21, 2011, 11:36 am
  10. Morning Tammie!

    I’ve visited your site a few times – great information there! I think it’s wonderful your reviewers can choose their own type of book they like. I’m sure it makes the reviewing process easier.

    Thanks so much for posting with us today!

    =)

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | February 21, 2011, 11:37 am
  11. Hello Adrienne Giordano,

    Congrats on your debut!

    For the magazine we have a crew of columnists. Each month they select what they are going to write about. I like to leave the floor open to them so I don’t stifle their creativity. The columnists turn in their work around the 1st of the month and then I put all the finishing touches on by laying it out in Adobe InDesign. For the mini author interview section I do choose what authors will be included in there from our most recent author interviews. I also choose what title will be our featured interview. Each month I choose a different genre as the magazine has a wide genre focus.

    Best,

    Tammie

    Posted by Tammie King | February 21, 2011, 11:43 am
  12. Hi Tracy March!

    Very cool to hear about your debut and congrats.

    I’m glad to hear my article has helped calm down your nerves. Reviews can be scary…or they can be if you let them be. But just think of them in the positive. A great review is an opportunity for awesome publicity. You can take the review and even hype it up more by “Liking” it on Facebook, Tweeting about it and more. You can do those things from every review page on NOR. You can also post a review quote on your website. So reviews can be a great benefit for authors seeking a secondary opinion when promoting a book to readers.

    Also keep in mind every reader is looking for something different and that can also be in flux based on personal circumstances. That’s why you often see a wide range of review scores when compiling all the reviews together. You can’t write for everyone, just write your best.

    Once your novel has a cover and purchase page please email me at NightOwlReviews@gmail.com. I’ll add it to your author page.

    Your Author Page is at: http://www.nightowlromance.com/nor/Authors/Tracy-March.aspx

    ———————————–
    Author Pages are free, so if you don’t already have one get one today at: http://www.nightowlromance.com/nor/Pages/DirectoryInclusion.aspx

    Posted by Tammie King | February 21, 2011, 11:59 am
    • Tammie,

      That is so cool! I didn’t even realize I had an author page on your site! My short story in TMP’s Be Mine, Valentine anthology has allowed me to sneak into all kinds of unexpected places! And, it’s even linked to my website. How incredibly awesome! Thank you!

      My site is currently under construction, but I will make sure to link back to you as soon as my web designer uploads the ‘final’ design. I’ll also be sure to let you know when I have a cover and purchase page. TMP’s review coordinator will be sending along a copy of my debut, Girl Three (June 2011). I sure hope one of your reviewers will want to read it—and that they will like it! It will fall under the Night Owl Suspense category.

      Thanks again for your reply, and for calming some of my review anxiety. I’ll just call you Glinda the Good Witch of reviewers! ;)

      Tracy March :)

      Posted by Tracy March | February 21, 2011, 4:35 pm
  13. Hi Mary Jo Burke,

    Thanks for your note.

    We do get lots of letters from authors about the reviews and around 99.9% of those are thank you letters directed to the site and reviewers. Since we have a system that emails the author a copy of the review, if we have their email address on hand, that gives authors an easy opportunity to just click reply and send a note to the appropriate reviewer. A note is a great ways to say thanks for the reviewers time.

    Reviews take book reading time, write-up time, posting time and editing time. Just the write-up time often take 30 plus minutes. New reviewers often find out that reviewing is not as easy as they thought. It takes time and real thought.

    Posted by Tammie King | February 21, 2011, 12:11 pm
  14. Hello Carrie Spencer,

    Very cool that you have been to the site a few times. I hope you found a great book to read.

    Come join us again soon.

    Posted by Tammie King | February 21, 2011, 12:13 pm
  15. Thanks for a great interview! I always wondered how books were chosen for review. Do you aim for a certain number of reviewers, or are they constantly changing?

    Posted by Becke Martin/Davis | February 21, 2011, 2:05 pm
  16. Hi Becke,

    Another great question. We don’t have a specific number we shoot for. Just when I think we can handle more I add more. Like in any business there has to be balance…I can only take on so much. We expand and add reviewers when it feels right and I can hand the extra load. Reviewers come and go as they have time. If their day job changes and gets more busy they often just pull back on reviewing or review less titles. So the number of reviewers is important, but also the review load. Some review one book a month, but we also have some reviewers who do upwards of 20 a month. I’ve had reviewers quite for a while and then come back when their lives allowed for review time. Since reviewing is not paid it often times has to come last in a reviewers life. It’s what they do with their left over fun time.

    Posted by Tammie King | February 21, 2011, 4:07 pm
  17. Tammie -

    We really appreciate all your wonderful information on Night Owl Reviews. Thanks for being at RU!

    Best,
    Kelsey

    Posted by KelseyBrowning | February 22, 2011, 8:28 am
  18. Very interesting about the book database as like a shopping site. What I really like is how you’ve set up getting copies of the reviews to authors. I could use a system like that for emailing. I try to remember for authors or publishers that ask by making a notation, but it’s not a fool proof system.

    Posted by Keira | February 23, 2011, 11:10 pm

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