Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Reader's Spotlight

Hello everyone! It seems to be the norm for writers to interview other writers and then post those interviews on their blogs. All this is great. Those that read the posts get to learn more about an author as a person, as well as their latest books or works in progress. But we authors need to say thank you and give a huge round of applause to the READERS!

Starting today I will be sharing “Reader Interviews” on Thursday’s over the next few weeks. I have asked several avid readers who I’ve seen leaving comments regularly on Facebook, if they would be so kind as to let me interview them and then be a guest right here on H&N. Our readers are the biggest part of the equation when it comes to our success in the literary world. Without them we would simply be writing words for our own amusement.

Sit back and get comfy and see what the readers think about how we writers are doing…

Reader Interview ~

Name: Sandy A. Shelonchik

Age: 35

Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Savannah: How often do you read?

Sandy: I try to read as often as possible. That of course, is time permitting. I have a full-time job and I proofread and spell-check my boyfriend's, Author David Bernstein, works.

Savannah: Do you prefer one genre (horror, romance, mystery, etc.) over the others, or do you mix it up?

Sandy: I like to mix it up. As a child, I was an avid reader of Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High, etc. When I got older, I didn't read as much, except of course for what had to be read in school. I always read magazines and newspapers, but didn't really have time for full-length books. When I met my current aforementioned boyfriend, I had to start reading again because I help him and I love reading all the different styles of writing of our author friends. You could say that meeting him, has reawakened the book worm in me. Right now, I read a lot of horror and sci-fi, but I am open to any and all supernatural, fantasy, paranormal, romantic, and funny, books. I'll even read Y.A. novels!

Savannah: What first attracts you to a book?

Sandy: I have learned long ago not to strictly "judge a book by its cover." I have to read the back description, and I do some research online on Amazon and other reviewing sites, to see if this book is essentially worth my time. I also pay attention if the title is "catchy", clever, and perhaps has a double entendra to it.

Savannah: And then what makes you purchase the book?

Sandy: I hate to say that its' availability on kindle plays a big factor, but that's the truth. Because of my bf, I have no more room in my house for paperbacks or hardcovers lol. Also, e-books are cheaper and easier. I do buy books if I know I will be meeting the author and I could get him/her to sign it, or if it's a special edition of something that I absolutely love.

Savannah: Do you take into consideration before purchasing a book, its reviews or ratings?

Sandy: Yes I do. If the reviews vary from 1-5 stars, then I have to read it myself to see why there are so many differing ratings. If a book is predominantly given the thumbs down, then I'd like to think my fellow readers know what they are talking about and I won't bother with it, unless I have some free time to kill, which isn't much at all really.

Savannah: What stops you from purchasing a book?

Sandy: Bad reviews about this book and other books from that particular author, the price, the author's reputation, and not to sound condescending to my above statement of not judging a book by its' cover, but if the cover is bland or uninteresting, that may affect my decision to buy or read it, just a tad.

Savannah: What will cause you to not finish a book?

Sandy: I hate to say this, but if the editing and spelling errors are abundant, then I cannot enjoy the story because I am too busy correcting it in my mind. Also, if the author's style of writing is one that I simply cannot get used to, then I will just be unable to finish it.

Savannah: Do you prefer print or eBooks?

Sandy: Tough question. Print used to be easy to carry around, but I would worry that I would ruin the book,… E-books are so easy to download and read while traveling on the buses, trains, etc. However, living in N.Y., it's safer to carry the book around than the Kindle or I-pad 2! lol Honestly, I love reading e-books on my I-pad 2. I can make the font bigger and I just enjoy it more.

Savannah: While we’re on the subject of eBooks, how do you obtain most of yours? Do you purchase them, wait for them to be “free” or try to win them in a give-away? Any other way?

Sandy: All of the above! Lol I know that many books will eventually go down in price or be free at some point, so I will wait for that. However, if it's something that I must read right now, I'll buy it. It'll still be cheaper than the paperback or hardcover. And yes, I join many give-aways! Who doesn't like to be notified that you have won something and that it would be free? lol

Savannah: Do you use one outlet for purchasing books more than others? (Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Book Store, etc.) The reason?

Sandy: Amazon is my go-to for purchasing books. I'm a prime member, so I am guaranteed free 2-day delivery on most items. I have a Kindle and I-pad 2, so getting the E-books is very easy. In addition, Amazon offers a wider selection of titles that are not available in print. The prices on Amazon are much cheaper than Barnes and Noble (most of the time), and have more of a selection than even my local mom and pop book store (though I do like to support my neighborhood store when I can.) I do use Barnes and Noble only when I want to buy something that I am unsure of, because I know I would be able to return it the next day at the store.

Savannah: How do you compare books put out through a publisher, to those that are self-published? Do you see a difference and if so, what?

Sandy: The one major thing that I notice between the two, is that the editing of books put out by a publisher is much better than that of self-pub books. That is not to say that I don't find mistakes in books that have a publisher, it's just that they are much less frequent. With that said, I know how hard it is for authors (especially new ones) to find agents and publishers, so I always offer to help them edit or proofread their stories if they want me to. I also like supporting them when I can, especially if I feel they have promise in the writing world, so I will buy their short stories or novellas, etc.

Savannah: Do you as a reader follow any Publishers, looking for what’s new from them in both newly published books as well as new authors, or do you primarily follow individual authors?

Sandy: Good question! I prefer to follow the works of individual authors that I know I like their writing. Many authors are signed with numerous different publishers, so I follow them, not their publishers. I do have certain publishers that I follow, because I have read many of their authors' works, and I enjoyed all of them.

Savannah: As a reader, in what areas do you think eBooks could be improved?

Sandy: Though many of the prices are cheap enough, some of the books are still a bit costly. I also notice that there are numerous issues with how stories are formatted, and many times, the table of contents isn't accessible. While I realize that this is the publisher's fault, maybe the formatting and uploading of a finished product should be simplified.

Savannah: Would you or have you, purchased a book by an author you’ve read previously, just because it was written by that author? Do you watch for and purchase all their books?

Sandy: Of course! If I like your writing, I want to support you whenever I can. Many of the authors I know, are so sweet and offer me their works for free so that I can review and/or edit them. If I like your work, I will purchase it to help support you. I particularly love short stories and novellas, so I love when anthologies come out. This way, I can read and support many of my favorite authors at once!

Savannah: With all the social networking these days, do you “follow” any authors and if you do, what prompted you to do so?

Sandy: Well, I have over 2300 friends on Facebook lol. Many of them I have met at various writing conferences, and they are all terrific writers whom I thoroughly enjoy. I follow many of their blogs and Facebook pages, so as to support them. I do have quite a few that I follow because I literally can't wait to read what they have coming out next.

Savannah: And where/how do you follow them? (Ex: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, blogs, etc.)

Sandy: Mostly Facebook. I belong to Goodreads and others, but Facebook is the best way for me to follow them. I am known as a 'Vampire" because I barely sleep, lol, and many authors are from different parts of the country and world, so I can basically talk to many people any time of day! I also subscribe to some writers' emails, but Facebook is my favorite network to socialize on.

Savannah: Are you on any authors emailing list for updates? If not, is this something you would be interested in?

Sandy: I seem to be anticipating your questions! lol Yes, I am on several authors' email lists, but I like to follow them and/or their "pages" on Facebook.

Savannah: In regards to social networking, do you as a reader feel it matters if authors are always “professional” or would you rather see the “real” side of them?

Sandy: I love this question! I was really nervous when I started becoming friendly with these authors on Facebook because I am very playful and sarcastic, and I love posting somewhat edgy jokes, or wild statuses etc. I wasn't sure how these authors would respond. However, according to the feedback that I receive, everyone enjoys it because they are all "real" people! I love seeing the playful, happy, sad, worried, vulnerable sides to these guys because it reminds you that they are human beings too, despite what they may write! lol As long as you keep it clean (i.e. non-religious, non-racial, and not too political), I love seeing their "real" selves!

Savannah: On that note, if you saw a book you’d love to read, but saw on line that the author wasn’t someone you clicked with as a “person”, would that stop you from purchasing the book?

Sandy: Hmm.... Very interesting. This would depend on whether or not I have read any of their other books, and on why we didn't click. An author's work is somewhat of an illustration of who they are. It would be hard to read a book by someone you didn't care for, but you do have to remain impartial when it comes to reading, so I don't know. This is your first question to stump me! lol

Savannah: In your opinion, what marketing tool(s) for books,grabs your attention the most? (Ex: Facebook threads, blogs, ads on the FB sidebar, word of mouth, recommended by a friend, etc.)

Sandy: Reviews, word-of-mouth by SEVERAL different people, and of course when they are offered for free or in a contest! lol

Savannah: Let’s talk about blogs! Do you read/follow any blogs?

Sandy: Facebook is my main social forum for following authors and their books, but I do subscribe to some blogs (such as your wonderful one!), because I like getting email reminders when some authors have given interviews or are putting out new works, or even when a contest is going on or a new review is up..

Savannah: How often do you read them? Do you leave comments?

Sandy: I read them when I can. And if the subject matter is interesting or I agree or disagree with the blog's content, you bet I will add in my two cents!

Savannah: What sort of things would you like to see blogged about? Their books, personal life, things unrelated to books or writing, etc.?

Sandy: Well, many authors incorporate all of the above in their blogs anyway! lol I like to know where they get inspired from, etc., but I also love when they show who they are and can make some jokes at their own expense perhaps, etc. It keeps them real and shows us their "human" sides.

Savannah: Does the “look” of someone’s blog make a difference to you? (Ex: too much going on/ distracting or boring)

Sandy: Oh yes. Definitely! If there's too much going on, and I don't know where to go to subscribe to it, or to get some information that I am looking for...., I will leave the page. Put up a pic of you and your new and old works, and just have fun with it. You do not need to have everything on there at once!

Savannah: What do you think we writers could do to reach more readers?

Sandy: Network, socialize, be friendly, inviting, and approachable, have nice blurbs given to you by reputable authors that don't work with you or that are not published by your publisher, go to writing conferences because you will meet other authors, but also fellow readers like myself.. I hate Twitter lol, but tweet, post, email, blog, etc. Just don't inundate people's walls with your stuff too much. Offer your works for free for a limited time, offer contests, share stuff on your readers' walls so that they could share it on their timelines (feel free to do that on my wall anytime Savannah!), etc.

Savannah: Do you watch book trailers? Where? (Ex: Youtube, when posted on Facebook or their blog)

Sandy: Very rarely. I don't see the point. The ones that I did watch, really had nothing to do with the book itself. I suppose some people like them, but I don't particularly care for them unless you promise to completely blow me out of the water and your narrator is like Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones! lol

Savannah: Does the trailer make a difference whether you will purchase the book or not?

Sandy: Not at all. Trailers can be misleading. Just look at some movie trailers that look awesome, yet the movie ends up sucking! They show you all the best parts in the trailer, and the rest falls flat. That's just my opinion.

Savannah: What annoys you the most in regards to writers/books/marketing?

Sandy: When they inundate Facebook groups and walls with the same things over and over. And, when they ask you to "correct" or "retract" the review you gave them.

Savannah: What is the best book advertising you’ve seen as well as the worst?

Sandy: This is a tough one. I can't say specifically on either one, but I do know that book trailers don't do anything for me. Blogs, facebook pages, blurbs, and little random excerpts help sell the book for me, as well as if it has a kick-ass, cool cover!

Savannah: If I had a new eBook coming out, what could I do as a writer, to convince you to purchase it?

Sandy: Get some blurbs by reputable authors, make sure the cover is inviting and pertinent to the story, make sure the price isn't very high (because many people are putting e-books out and are vying for their readers' attention and money), and just be yourself. Promote, promote, promote, but in a reasonable fashion.

Savannah: Is there anything overall, you would like to see changed in the world of reading?

Sandy: Please make sure your final product is edited and ready for print! I was a spelling champion, Valedictorian in elementary school, and I had a 3.8 average in college. Reading a book that has numerous mistakes in writing, grammar, and spelling, makes it unreadable for me and will cause me to question buying your next book. I don't mean to be harsh, but I like enjoying a good story, not having to edit it as I go along. It becomes a hassle and I won't want to read it anymore. Apparently, minor or even miniscule mistakes are inevitable, but if you are self-pubbing- then do the best you can. Have many people re-read it, etc., because what you see in your mind, is not what always comes across on paper. If you have a publisher and an editor, then shame on them, though it'll still fall on you unfortunately.

Thank you Sandy for sharing your thoughts with all of us today and for being a guest in The Reader’s Spotlight!
Hugs & Nightmares from,


  1. Great interview! And Sandy, I totally agree about typos and misspellings. They drive me crazy! I'm tired of just accepting the line "well, I'm self-published". Dang it, run the poor book through spell check at the very least! And have someone, ANYone, read it before it goes out. And read it yourself. Better yet, read it out loud to someone -- that's when you REALLY catch your errors!
    I know, that's a lot of work. But, darn it, it's YOUR BOOK! take pride in it!!
    sorry, it's a subject near and dear to my heart.
    I love the idea of interviewing readers, Savannah! Good idea!

  2. Great interview! I also have to agree with the spelling and grammar errors. All too often the books that are inundated with them also have the most irritating ones. Misused homophones is a big pet peeve of mine. An author is supposed to be using words to create a story. It is very difficult to use words if you don't know their correct usage. If you can't get friends to read your story, then hire an independent editor. They are all over Facebook and very easy to find.

    As mentioned above authors need to take more pride in their work. It seems many just rush it so the "money" is coming in faster. There will be more money to be made if the work is good.

  3. Sorry, I meant the most irritating errors. (Second sentence.)