Reinventing the Blog – Please Bear With Us!

AUGUST MALE AUTHOR GUEST:

08/19 – WALT MUSSELL – JAPANESE INSPIRATIONAL HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Saturday, May 14, 2011

LONG & SHORT REVIEWS GUEST POST

Long and Short Reviews Guests
Once upon a time, back in early 2007, I (Marianne) said these fateful words to my writing buddy, Judy:

Hey... I have an idea for a group blog -- doing simple reviews for some of the ... stories/books that tickle my fancy, but I'd love to have other folks participating... If I set things up, would you be interested in helping now and then?  I thought I'd call it "The Long and the Short of it" or something.

And so a website was born. 

I still scare Judy sometimes, simply by saying, “Yanno... I was thinking...” because our original intention for The Long and the Short of It was something small.   And now look at us!  So clearly my ideas have a tendency to run amok. 
The fact is that I’m the Type A partner (Judy likes to say I’m A+++) and she’s the Type B (or ... perhaps it’s Z?).  We balance each other out nicely.  I’m driven, she’s relaxed.  We both get the job done, but if I was solo on this ride, I’d have no one to talk me down off the ledge.  If she was solo, she’d have no one to remind her of deadlines or to obsess over her inbox.  *G* 

You asked how we choose reviewers and books to review.  Regarding reviewers, it’s simple:  anyone who can write in English can apply to us.   We ask for a sample review, and will take anyone with a passion for reading and a good grasp on grammar.  The ones I’ve declined are some who’ve sent their reviews in texting type:  I <3 ths bk!  Or the one sentence paragraphs with no punctuation or capitalization with zillions of typos and spelling errors.   We’ll work with pretty much anyone else (though, ask my current reviewers ... I can be a tough taskmaster).  I’d say I accept about 95% of those who apply because I never mind working with people as long as they can put up with me.  ;-)

As far as books we review, we’ll take anything that has strong romantic elements and ends in a HEA or HFN.  We never assign books to our reviewers, because we feel that forcing someone who hates paranormal, for example, to read a paranormal book is asking for trouble (and a negative review).  Why not allow our reviewers to select those genres and authors they enjoy, as a rule?  Though I know many of our reviewers have enjoyed expanding their horizons by trying new genres and new authors.  That’s one of the best parts of being a reviewer.

We started with a basic idea of how we wanted our reviews to work.  We were tired of the nasty reviews from other sites, and also tired of reviews that were largely a synopsis with an “I loved it!” at the end.   So our rules were:   no snark, very little synopsis and reviews with some meat in them. 

The fact is, the website is a labor of love.  Judy and I spend full time hours on it. We’re around almost 24/7 and try to do our best to be professional, responsive and to effectively showcase authors to the thousands of readers we get on the site every month.   Our greatest joy is working with the authors who, with only a few exceptions, are gracious, fun, kind and thoughtful.   Truly we’ve been amazed at how wonderful the romance community is.

Including you ladies.  Thanks so much for inviting us to visit with you today.  We’ll be around to answer questions, comments or just to gab!  We’d love to hear from anyone and everyone.  

And visit us at Long and Short Reviews!

56 comments:

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Thanks again for having us. Both Judy and Marianne will be around today, so feel free to ask questions, leave comments or just gab.

We love to gab. :-D

Denise said...

Great post!

What's your favorite part of running The Long and Short of It Reviews?

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

I'll let Judy answer that for herself (though we're logged in the same account ... bet you can tell us apart!), but for me, it's probably working with my reviewers.

I do the reviewer "hiring" and training and interact with them daily (where Judy is more active on the author side of things). Our reviewers are, for the most part, fun, eager, interested, and they love reading. They make me laugh, they make me happy, and they make me proud.

Without the awesome job they do (and their ability to put up with my anal retentive ways), we wouldn't have the amazing site we do.

:-)

Cathy said...

Fun to read the interview, guys. I must try and get over to your site more often and enjoy all you have to offer there. I had a story published on your site years ago and thought you were so wonderful to work with. Fun to keep tabs on what you're up to through Facebook. You always make me smile with your posts!

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Hi! (and I bet you can tell us apart too!!). I love love LOVE working with the authors. Unfortunately, I don't get to hang out with the reviewers too much (to them, I'm known as the "silent partner" and I think that some of them wonder if I really exist...lol).

I have gotten the chance to interview some wonderful authors and to get to know them. Like, Marianne said, for the most part they have all be wonderful to work with.

We both consider ourselves fortunate to be able to do, not only a job we love, but a job that lets us meet some pretty wonderful people in the authors and publicists we deal with daily.

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Hi, Cathy! We love repeat customers :-). It's one reason we offer so many different things on the site: spotlights, guest blogs, reviews, short stories... there's pretty much something for everyone. And... I'll just let you guess which one of us THIS is...lol.

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Hey, Cathy -- Facebook is both my joy and the bane of my existence.

Make sure you comment there and keep me company :-D

Leanne109 said...

Great interview! Very interesting! I bet your reviewers just adore The long and short ;) The site is so much fun to explore I always find something new to look at :D

Leanne109 said...

I forgot to type in my question lol

Why flower names for your reviewers?

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Leanne, when we first started the site, our reviewers weren't anonymous. After we had a bit of a flame war over a review (that wasn't even negative ... but the author took exception to one line), we decided to protect our reviewers.

I didn't just want fake names ... that would be terrifically confusing, and we wanted something that allowed unlimited choices because we assumed we'd be getting hundreds of reviwers as time went by.

Both Judy and I are big gardeners, and we wanted our site to "bloom", so flower names seemed to be the right choice.

So, now we have a gorgeous, diverse garden of reviewers to tend. *G*

Thanks for stopping by!

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Hi, Leanne. We are so glad you hang out with us.. and we do try to keep things interesting. In fact (shhhh, don't let M~ know I told you) stay tuned for some changes coming up on the site we think you will enjoy.

Sherry Gloag said...

Some people are good to wrok with, others are great, but these two, Judy and Marianne are *awesome* to work with - on the reviewers' behalf, the authors' and those of their guests too.
I'm glad 'you had a thought...' M

Diana Mcc. said...

I bet your garden of reviewers love being tended to by two enthusiastic gardeners! Enjoyed your posts and will be checking out "the Long and Short review site" today.

ElaineCharton said...

Great post, no questions just a comment. I love your site It's fun to explore and see what's new.

Judith Ashley said...

You mentioned you are around 24/7, was it your plan to have Long and Short become a full time career?

You've talked about how you share responsibilities, any tips for Sarah and me - we're just a few months into this. I think we are doing well, but would love to hear from two people who are further down this road than we are.

I love threes! And,what benefit do you see to having a FB account? I see some sites use FB to connect people to their websites/blogs and some have an active FB page. Your thoughts...

Sarah Raplee said...

Marianne and Judy, thank you for stopping by RTG. Can't wait to see the upcoming (secret) changes to LASR!

Luckily, Judith and I balance each other,too. And RTG came from, "I have an idea..."

Ideas are powerful things, aren't they? Especially paired with two strong-willed people!

Tam Linsey said...

I have visited LASR off and on for some time, and have always appreciated the depth of the reviews. Thanks for visiting us today!

Pauline B Jones said...

Well, you have to know I'm a fan of the site! Fun interview and cool to get a peek behind the curtain. I did not know that about the flowers/reviewers! Very cool! Many thanks for all you do for authors and readers! :-)

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Sherry, you're so sweet! We'll take all the warm fuzzies. *G*

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Diana and Elaine -- thanks! I hope you enjoyed your visit to the site!

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Judith -- let me take your questions one by one.

You mentioned you are around 24/7, was it your plan to have Long and Short become a full time career?

NO! LOL... it was a lark to start with, and then because I had some web building skills, we thought we'd try a website instead of just a blog ... and then it took off! Honestly, we were a bit overwhelmed by everything, but a few wonderful people stepped up to help us (Chris, Michele and most recently, my admin, Wendi). It's become a bit all-consuming though (especially since we have Goddess Fish Promotions now, too.

I can't get away from it even when I sleep -- last night I had dreams about posting on our blog (probably due to the issues Blogger had the past couple of days).

It's a good thing we love what we do.

You've talked about how you share responsibilities, any tips for Sarah and me - we're just a few months into this. I think we are doing well, but would love to hear from two people who are further down this road than we are.

When we started we both pretty much did everything -- but it became clear quickly that Judy was more of a 'people' person and actually enjoyed interacting with folks very much, while Marianne (me!) enjoyed the technical side more. We slowly slid into the spots we're in now, with Judy doing *most* of the author interactions (except for the adveritising stuff, because I have to build that into the website) and Marianne (me! *G*) handling the technical portions -- website building, blog maintenance and I also do handle everything to do with reviews.

Judy has a laid-back soul and infinite patience, whereas Marianne has an extreme attention to detail, is highly motivated but has little patience for irritations. One of my reviewers / my mini-me, m~ told me that I reminded her of Abe Vigoda's character, Fish, in "Barney Miller"... she said, "You're nice, but -- not."

LOL...

I think you have to figure out what your strengths are and then work to them. We do and it's working for us.

And,what benefit do you see to having a FB account? I see some sites use FB to connect people to their websites/blogs and some have an active FB page. Your thoughts...

Facebook is just a fun way to interact with folks, to keep a finger on the pulse a bit, and a way for us to share anything and everything we're doing. I posted this interview there this morning... sometimes I just chat, sometimes I ask industry questions ... our site stats show clearly that folks use it though. Aside from search engines like Google, we get the most visitors from Facebook.

Since I'm not a terrifically social person, it's hard for me -- but I try. Judy has a full time job outside the home (and outside of this), so it's left to me to do most of our promotional / social networking stuff. For now.

Thanks!

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Sarah, thanks for having us! I still want to have that coffee someday. Shall we meet in the middle? *G*

RE: the "secret" changes ... oh boy. I can't believe Judy mentioned that! We have HUGE changes planned that we hope to launch for our four year anniversary in August. It requires me learning a LOT of technical stuff, so ... oh boy. I could really use a 48 hour day (or, I'd even settle for not having to sleep).

Ideas are powerful things, aren't they? Especially paired with two strong-willed people!

They are -- and with Judy, it's always: "We can do that!" ... so I've learned to keep my mouth shut unless I'm willing to follow through. *G*

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Tam, you said: ...and have always appreciated the depth of the reviews.

That is one of the BEST things you could say to me. We work hard on our reviews ... just ask my reviewers. But from the start I was determined to make them make sense and say something that matters. I hope they do.

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Pauline! ::::waves madly:::

For those of you who don't know, Pauline graciously takes some of her precious time every week to moderate our LASR author chats on Wednesdays. She's the BEST (not to mention, she's an amazing author, too).

Glad you stopped by. :-)

Pauline B Jones said...

Aaaagh, you are both so nice!!!! Blushing!

Maria Zannini said...

:raised hand: I have a question.

Do reviewers review only work that's been sent to them by authors? Do you vet the books before you forward them to reviewers?

It was several months knowing Marianne before I realized she also partnered with Judy at LASR. --Obviously, I'm slower than I look. :)

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Hi Maria!

First, re: It was several months knowing Marianne before I realized she also partnered with Judy at LASR. --Obviously, I'm slower than I look. :)

I don't often wear my author hat and my biz owner hat at the same time. It feels awkward. So, though I do occasionally mention LASR on my author blog, I don't do it much. So -- don't feel bad. I have reviewers that have been with me for more than a couple years who only just found out! LOL...

RE: Do reviewers review only work that's been sent to them by authors? Do you vet the books before you forward them to reviewers?

Actually, we don't take author submissions anymore (with some exceptions), but we have many dozens of publishers that submit to us regularly. We get in the neighborhood of 1000 requests a month and we only have about 50 - 60 active reviewers at any given time. So ... we post 200 - 300 reviews a month. I *wish* we had more reviewers (it's on my Christmas list every year).

Our reviewers can reviews books we offer or books they receive or buy on their own as long as they meet our criteria. And, as far as "vetting" the books -- no, because my tastes are wildly different than others' tastes. Requests are posted to our reviewer groups and the reviewers get to choose what they want to review.

I never know what's going to tickle the fancy of my reviewers and am often surprised at what they choose (and what they don't).

Thanks for coming by! :-D

Wendi Zwaduk said...

I love reading the reviews and seeing what people think of the books I'm considering reading or have read. I've found some great new authors and a new favorite author.

You ladies rock!!!
Wendi

LASR/WC/A Admin said...

Thought I'd jump in and aggravate a moment. I'm certainly glad M had the thought, although she can be a task master to me, too. I'm used to it. I love working for the site, being the Girl Friday, and meeting fabulous authors.

It's very cool to see authors get the publicity and recognition they deserve. It's also awesome to see the variety of books out there within the romance genre.

Wendi H
Girl Friday
Admin Asst
Whip Wielder

And M has tried to convince me to drink coffee...but it's not working. Sorry. I need my soda. Hee Hee

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Wendi Z. -- thanks :-)

It's good to hear that reviews DO help readers find new authors. I've heard some authors say that they don't think reviews help them, but I disagree.

Glad you stopped by!

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Hey Girl Friday! We'd never be able to do what we do without you. :-)

BTW, you're missing out on the coffee thing -- just saying... :-D

I'll get you some day.

Stormy said...

That was a great interview, ladies! You guys/gals are the best to work for because you make it FUN to go to work! We laugh, we learn, we frequently get off topic but best of all we get to read as many books as we can review (in a timely manner :D). Thanks for giving all us Flowers a place to grow and play!!

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Stormy, re: ...but best of all we get to read as many books as we can review (in a timely manner :D).

Timely, yes -- or risk the GOOSE! *G*

Thanks for stopping by and your nice words :-)

Nan D Arnold said...

Love LASR!

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Awww.... Nan. We love you right back. :::smooches:::

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Judy popping in after being out with the hubs all day. It's one of my few days off from the day job, so we took the opportunity to run away together. Since, as Marianne mentioned, I also have another full-time job outside the home, and when I get home have LASR/WC stuff to do, Bob and I get little time together.

I had to laugh when I read if we planned to have The Long and the Short of It be a full time career. My husband would say, "Emphatically not!" :-)

But... we DO love what we do (except when it drives us crazy...fortunately, it only drives us crazy one person at a time. Heaven help us if we are both hit by the crazies at the same time!!)

Michele said...

I heart LASR!
When I started reviewing, I had NO idea what I was doing, nor did I believe I had what it took to be a good reviewer.
Marianne and Judy were awesome and instrumental in helping me find my stride.
I can't imagine what life would be like without LASR in it.

What I'd like to know is, what do you see LASR/WC doing in three more years, or five or ten? How else do you see LASR growing?

But whatever you do, I hope I'll be along for the ride. It's been great so far!

Cathryn Cade said...

You know I love you folks at LASR--I have one of your fab reviews mentioned on 'My Books' page on my website.
Fun to read about how you got started, and how you grew your review site to be such a prestigious site that both romance readers and writers haunt for new reviews.
Best wishes for the future,
Cathryn

Lauri said...

Great interview, Ladies, and GREAT job in making your idea/dream a reality! Your work is greatly appreciated wide and far!
Cheers,
Lauri

punkey00 Laura P.) said...

I loved the interview ladies along with getting to learn more of the history of LASR too! Plus it is wonderful to see a dream/ thought put into action, grow, and helping to give readers a review of a story so they can have a "happy ever after" versus being disappointed by trying out a new author or book!

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Hey Michele -- we wouldn't be where we are without you (Literally, since you brought erotic romance on board!).

RE: what do you see LASR/WC doing in three more years, or five or ten? How else do you see LASR growing?

We hope to expand into multiple genres, for certain and have toyed with the creation of an eZine. There are other, crazier ideas we've had too that I won't go into, but rest assured the site will continue growing and changing as we discover what works and what doesn't. :-)

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Cathryn, Lauri and Laura -- thanks for stopping by and for your nice words. Judy and I had a goal to make the site a "must visit" place for readers and authors alike and the feedback we get from all of you in invaluable.

Megan Johns said...

Congratulations on everything you have achieved! I don't post a lot, but I frequently read the comments and I can honestly say that yours is a really excellent site. Thanks for making it such a great place for authors to gather.

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Megan, hi! Thanks for visiting and for you kind words :-)

Diane Craver said...

Hi Judy and Marianne,

I love LASR. Your website and reviews are awesome. I always love it when one of my books is reviewed by one of your reviewers. Each one is unique. The reviewers definitely realize how much time the author has spent writing and they take the time to write a thoughtful review!

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Hi Diane! Thanks for your kind words, and for stopping by to visit.

Paty Jager said...

I Love LASR and will be on their Guest Blog May 20th!

You two ladies and your crew area a fabulous showcase for authors.

Thank you!

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Awww, Paty -- thanks!! :-)

Sarah Raplee said...

Maybe we CAN meet in the middle for coffee, Marianne! I'll be in Iowa the second week of June...LOL!

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Judy and I are hoping to attend the Lori Foster gathering next year. That's sort of in the middle, Sarah... wanna go?

:-)

Sarah Raplee said...

I'll look into it!

Linda Lovely said...

Can't say enough good things about people who love to read and share their enthusiasm with others. What a terrific review site. Thanks for your hard work.

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Thanks, Linda! It's nice words like yours that keep us working :-)

StephB said...

Marianne & Judy, I LOVE the Long & Short reviews. You guys have put together a quality site and you are very author friendly! What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Smiles
Steph

The Long and the Short of It Reviews said...

Hey, Steph! Thanks for visiting.

The most rewarding? It would have to be helping good (but little known) authors find new readers. Sure, we deal with several NYT bestsellers, but the most fun is helping the small press authors get their names out there.

That's why we do what we do :-)

rhs said...

So cool you are doing this :) Love reading what you and mom are doing on the creative side :) Love you