Exclusive Interview with "Sandra's Book Club"

July 7, 2020

Sandra C. López is one of today's influential Latina authors in Young Adult literature. Her first novel, Esperanza: A Latina Story, was published in March 2008 WHILE she was still in college. Since then she has published several other books, including the Single Chicas series. She was named as one of "2011 Top Ten New Latino Authors to Watch" by Latino Stories, and her book, Beyond the Gardens, was a Silver Medal winner of the 2016 Global Ebook Awards in Multicultural Fiction and won first place in the Int'l Latino Book Awards. She also works as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. Art, literature, and travel are her passions, and she aims to keep doing them as long as she can.

 

 

 

 

Exclusive Interview

 

 

 

I’m sure there’s a lot of work behind book reviewing – reading, taking notes, and editing your Blog. Can you give us a bit of insight into your life behind the scenes and how you got started as a book reviewer?

 

A: I've always loved to read! I started off on paperbacks from libraries and second-hand

shops, but then the e-book came out and suddenly I had more books than I ever had. With

purchasing on Amazon, I was able to post reviews there. And that's when I started to do a

blog. Initially, it started as just a blog for my own personal reviews on books that I read. At

that point, I started taking requests from authors and publishers. My own personal review

would be free, but, of course, like every other blogger, I only chose the ones that I wanted and

rejected those that I didn't. Yes, my readings tastes are pretty open in a wide variety of

genres, but there are some that just don’t really interest me (i.e. westerns, politics sports, etc.)

So how do I help those rejected authors get reviews? After all, I couldn't possibly review them

all. That’s when I came up with the idea of starting a book club of readers and a review

program to supply authors with more reviews besides the one that I give them. Readers can

sign up to get free books from authors, and authors can get reviews for their books. It’s a

simple, easy, and convenient program. And it’s working!

 

 

When authors approach you to review their books, what information would you like them to include?

 

A: We would need basic info on the book (summary and a direct link to the Amazon's book

page) along with contact info for the author. Authors can submit their books for reviews at:

https://sandrasbookclub.blogspot.com/2015/02/submission-guidelines.html

 

 

When it comes to reading and reviewing books, do you have a favorite genre?

 

A: I read A LOT of books in all kinds of genres. I don't really have a favorite one as my

reading tastes typically vary depending on my mood. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a

mystery; other times, it can be a romance or a thriller.

 

 

What were your top 5 reads of 2019-2020 and why? What impressions did they leave on you?

 

A: Oooh, that's a tough one. Since I read so often, there's not one book that particularly

stands out to me.

 

 

What do you look for in a book to give five stars? Have you ever given out a one-star rating? Is it true that a negative review can destroy an authors career and a positive review can help an aspiring writer launch his or her career?

 

A: For a book to earn a 5-star review from me, my answer is simple: I enjoyed the book from

start to finish. And, yes, I have given books a 1-star rating, and, believe me, I've been

screamed at by some authors for it, too.

 

I'm 50/50 on that last question. While good reviews can launch an author's career, bad

reviews, on the other hand, don't necessarily destroy a career either. Of course, the authors

that have yelled at me and told me off would beg to differ, because they've flat out told me

how my bad review would affect their book's ranking and sales. It's true that reviews affect a

book's visibility, ranking, and sales; however, it doesn't mean that bad reviews are bad.

Believe it or not, even bad reviews help a book. In my review program, I’ve had reviewers

comment on the editing, story line, and the cover art—all things that the authors considered

and made adjustments to. So these bad reviews can help the authors improve their craft. Of

course, you always have those authors that just refuse bad reviews all together, often calling

them “unfair” and whatnot. Well, let's face it: authors get bad reviews all the time. That's the

business they're in and they have to accept it. But it doesn't have to be a bad thing. I always

say: ANY review is better than NO review. So many authors are fearful of that dreadful bad

review. They not only fear the comments, but they also worry that the bad review will ruin their

salability on Amazon. What authors don’t realize is that even a bad review can improve your

salability. Those reviews—good and bad—are all part of that magical algorithm that increases

your exposure and improves your sales ranking. The more reviews a book has, the better.

Not to mention that bad reviews “humanizes” your book in the robotic eyes of Amazon. It

makes your flawed book seem more legit and real. So, yes, even a bad review is good. My

book has over 70 Amazon reviews—good and bad—and it's been nothing but helpful.

 

 

Other than reading some amazing books, are there benefits for you in providing a book review service?

 

A: The main benefit I get is the appreciation of the authors that get reviews. Let’s face it:

getting reviews is tough, especially when your book isn’t well publicized and no one is willing

to give it chance. Well my review program gives every author a chance, because I believe

that every book deserves a review. The review program allows authors to list their books and

reach a wide range of readers. It's been a hit so far! About 85% of participating authors get at

least 1 – 2 reviews on Amazon, and we receive over 50 reviews a month from readers. And

the best part about it is that we offer free ways for authors to list their book in our program. As

an author, I totally understand that budgets can be tight, which makes it harder (maybe even

impossible) to promote your books. Most authors shy away to any promo service when there's

a price. What better price is there than FREE?

 

 

Does your company provide any additional services to authors? If so, please tell us a little about the additional literary services you provide.

 

A: As a graphic designer, I help authors with book covers, bookmarks, flyers, social media

graphics, headers, and so on. I often try to offer clients bundle packages that include graphic

design, book promotion, AND an opportunity to get listed in my review program to reach

potential reviewers daily. I definitely know what authors want and I try to give that to them in a

bulk deal.

 

 

What do you hope your followers will gain from your reviews/blog?

 

A: I hope that readers will find new and interesting books to read.

 

 

If someone told you they wanted to start a book review blog, what advice would you give to them?

 

A: Just read what you like and share your reviews to help out the authors.

 

Can you tell our readers a bit about your book review company and the steps an author must take to get a book review?

 

A: My review program is a way for authors to reach potential reviewers and get reviews for their

books.

 

For authors interested in submitting their book to get reviews, please go to:

https://sandrasbookclub.blogspot.com/2015/02/submission-guidelines.html

 

For readers interested in signing up to read free books, please go to:

https://sandrasbookclub.blogspot.com/2019/09/read-review-program.html

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