Category Archives: Reviewing

How to be a kickass reviewer, the quick tutorial

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 12.33.07 PMWith recent talk about the perm ARC list and what it takes to be shoulder tapped, I thought I’d take the time to dish out the dirt on what makes a reviewer go from okay to AMAZEBALLS!

One of the things that make authors cringe the most in a review, are spoilers. So I’m going to focus mostly on that.

So what is a spoiler?

Great question! It’s information that reveals the ending of the story. That’s easy to avoid.

The harder spoilers to avoid, and that are too often seen in reviews, are when people reveal various events, plot twists and unexpected information that come out throughout the book, mostly elements that may have surprised you or that have a profound impact in the story. This is the kind of thing that you wouldn’t want to share in a review because it diminishes the reading experience of others.

The best way to keep this from happening is to pretend you’re talking to someone about your favorite book. Tell them what you liked about it and how it made you feel.

It’s your experience with the book that people want to know. Is this good? Yes? Okay, why? You can be a blabbering mess of excitement without being able to put your fingers on specifics and that speaks so much more clearly to readers than anything else. When someone is flabbergasted by a book and they slam it on your desk, bug-eyed, and say READ THIS! You know it’s a damn good book. You want to channel that excitement into your review. The goal is to sound like you, talking to a bud about a book.

Example: The relationship in this book really spoke to me. The characters had a deep connection and I could feel her pain.

How can I tell if it’s a spoiler? What if I’m not sure?

Here are 3 quick questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is it included in the book description? Yes? Then you are safe.
  2. Be vague. You don’t have to spell everything out. A review is YOUR reaction to the book. It’s not cliff-notes.
  3. Don’t post specifics about things that left your jaw on the ground. (see rule #2)

Should I post spoilers?

Try to avoid it if you can. The whole point of a review is to help another reader find a book they might like. If you have a review-a-phobe that is afraid of spoilers and scanning the page between her fingers, it’d be nice if your review will help her. People who don’t mind so much won’t care.

Why are spoilers viewed as a bad thing?

My books are made to make you giggle, gasp, and experience the story. If you know what’s coming, you read the book differently.

Are there ways to post a spoiler and hide it?

YES! So happy you asked! On Goodreads, there are two ways of doing so. You can choose to hide you entire review by clicking a box or you can add some very easy coding to your review to hide a specific section that you may suspect would dampen other readers’ experience. Here’s an easy graphic to show you how to hide your spoilery review on Goodreads:

How to hide a spoiler on Goodreads

Here is an example of what you review will look like if check that box at the bottom:

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If you really, really, really want to know what the spoiler is, then you have the freedom to do so by clicking on “click here” and see what the person had to say.

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 12.33.07 PM

On other sites that don’t let you use coding, so I wouldn’t recommend putting spoilers ANYWHERE ELSE until they can support hiding it like Goodreads.

So, if I’m not retelling the story in my review, what AM I writing?

You’re telling other readers why this book was amazing by giving your emotional reaction.

For example:

“I love the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning because it’s dark, gritty, and is flowing with tension. That tension is why I read. It can be conflict, immortals, or sexy tension and I’m in love!

Mac isn’t a pansy. She’s the type of girl I can relate to, which is a big deal. I’m tired of stories with airheads that are TSTL. If you don’t know what that means, TOO STUPID TO LIVE. Dear God! Please give me a chick with a backbone! Even if she’s a dumbass, I want a spine. This series has one heronie, no wait, it has several kick ass women.

What about the dudes? Hot men. Dark, mysterious men that are too sexy to live…swoon. They fall into the alpha range for the most part. Confident, strong, and sexy.

And this. I HATE it when I read a book and the character doesn’t learn. How many times can you do the same thing and still put your hand in the fire? Learn, damn it! This characters learn and grow. Some shrink, but they change. Their lives throw them into situations that have repercussions and watching them play out is like watching a fire. It’s hot, desperate, and read to consume everything in it’s path.

If you liked Demon Kissed, you’ll totally love this series. Think Apocalypse. Think dark knight. Think so freaking awesome! It moves at a fast pace and has a plot to engage you and characters that leave you thinking long after you put the book down. I loves that!”

Giving them a frame of reference is SO helpful! Dudes, that’s how I found the Fever series in the first place. It was a Demon Kissed reader who pointed it out. SCORE! Think about another book like this one that you liked and clue people in. It’s so hard to find a good book and that’s what reviews are all about!

Update on ARCs (Perm list, Lottery, Selection, FAQs, and more)

ARCeasyWhat is an ARC: An ARC is an advanced reviewer’s copy of a book that is not in it’s final format. These are done a different way, but generally speaking mine are formatted and in the final stages of editing. There might be minor revisions before publication.

Lottery Style ARCs vs. Permanent ARC list: There are two ways to get an ARC from H.M. Ward – either by Lottery or via the Perm ARC list.

More than 99% of the reviewers get their ARC via Lottery Style.

How: Signups are announced on the Facebook page as we approach release date and you must apply for each book you wish to receive, every time.

What’s the difference? Permanent ARC list recipients get ARCs automatically, without applying, with the understanding that they have to review ALL of the ARCs that are sent to them. To get on that exclusive Perm ARC list, they had to do several things. (explained below)



All ARC reviewers have to start here. This is the type of ARC that most of my readers apply for. It has to be done every time, for every book you want to receive an ARC of. This allows the reviewers to pick and choose what they’d like to review. It also gets you on my radar to be shoulder-tapped for the Perm ARC list. The lottery style ARC has minimal requirements and is open to everyone who would like to apply.

As stated in the name, it’s lottery style, which means that a select number of people who signed up will receive the ARC. Just because you didn’t get it one time, doesn’t mean you won’t be chosen the next and it doesn’t make you less eligible for Perm ARC if you didn’t get randomly picked. So sign up and give it a shot.


  • NO LINK OR A BAD LINK TO AN AMAZON REVIEW of an H.M. Ward book. This is the most common mistake. Do NOT copy/paste the actual contents of the review. I need the permalink. To do this: find your review, right click on “permalink” or keep your finger pressed on “permalink”. Choose “copy link” and paste it to the application form. To make sure the link works, SIGN OUT OF AMAZON and try your link. If it brings you to page with ONLY YOUR REVIEW, then we’re golden!
  • Empty fields: I can’t send an ARC to someone who doesn’t provide a full name (first and last).
  • Mistake in email addy: Precious ARCs have bounced back due to this. Make sure your email addy is correctly entered on your form.


There is a lot of confusion as to what the Perm ARC list is about, so I listed a bunch of frequently asked questions on the topic. If you are interested in making the Perm ARC list, please read through, as I’ve had people asking me why they haven’t made the cut yet, without knowing what the requirements are and what the selection process is.

  • Only 0.05% of my reviewers are currently on the list, so don’t feel bad if you’re not on it yet.
  • The selection process is 100% by invitation / shoulder tap based on your reviewer performance
  • If you applied for Perm ARC in the past, I still have your name on file. If you didn’t, don’t worry, this is not the only way to get on my radar (see FAQs at bottom of post)
  • It requires HUGE trust on my part to add someone on the perm ARC list
  • it adds HUGE responsibilities your part.
  • The selection process is also VERY TIME CONSUMING, so people are being added on gradually
  • The best way to make it on the list is to keep on improving your reviewer profile by doing all the things listed in the Perm ARC criteria list below.


  • I need a WORKING LINK TO YOUR REVIEWS ON AMAZON IN YOUR LOTTERY ARC APPLICATIONS (see how-to in the Lottery section above). If you gave me a bad link or no Amazon link at all, I have no way of finding you.
  • Past Lottery ARC activity THIS IS MY RADAR. This is where I see you first. You need to have a consistent history of applying for ARCs for ALL of my stories/series/genres. As a Perm ARC’er, you will receive ARCs for ALL of my new releases and are expected to post reviews for them.
  • Reviews to ALL books/series as they come out, not just selected titles, and this includes the co-authors, standalones, non-Ferro books, etc. If you don’t read all formats or titles, stick with the Lottery ARCs
  • Review promptly: Your reviews should be posted RAPIDLY after the book’s release (i.e. during release week).
  • ARC to Review efficiency For every ARC you receive, you should have a review posted on Amazon. That’s the deal. An ARC for a review.
  • Number of H.M. Ward reviews on Amazon: although not a deal breaker, if I have to choose between 2 equally kickass reviewers, someone with 50 reviews will have a better shot than someone with 10 reviews. NOTE: Copy / pasting the same review 30 times doesn’t count.
  • Quality of reviews: Your reviews are HELPFUL to future readers and SPOILER FREE. A review is not a summary of the story, it is your impression on what you read and why you liked/disliked a product. Dude, don’t get character names or plot lines wrong in the review. Saying that you loved when Peter and Hallie were competing for best wedding photo shoot in THE AGREEMENT may be a deal breaker. Your reviews have meat to the bone (not simple one to two liners). Repetitive reviews that are copy/pasted from one volume to the next don’t count. I’m looking for die-hards here! 🙂
  • Social Media Sharing: Some of you have been awesome at sharing posts on social media. That doesn’t go unnoticed. 🙂 If you are a die-hard social media sharer, this will most definitely increase your chances!
  • Number of places where you post your reviews: General rule of thumb, the more the better however, this is not a deal breaker. Amazon is the absolute prerequisite. Others are bonuses if I have to choose between two equally awesome reviewers
  • Voting reviews helpful reviews up and unhelpful reviews down on Amazon: This is part of the review process, it helps future readers to see the best reviews at the top of the page. Personal attacks towards an author and that have nothing to do with the actual book can and should be reported.
  • You do NOT engage in arguments or fights with other reviewers when you do not share their opinion, as this reflects negatively on the author. Again, personal attacks towards an author can and should be reported. Amazon deletes reviews that are defamatory, slander and abusive.
  • You submit the error correction form when you receive ARCs: When you find errors, typos and inconsistencies while reading the ARC, you let the author know rapidly so that she can fix the issues PRIOR to publishing by using the provided form. Do not post publicly that the ARC contains errors. ARCs are only partially edited.


Still have questions regarding Perm ARC? Read these PERM ARC FAQs:

Do you still have my PERM ARC application? I do. 🙂 None of the applications were deleted

I didn’t get to apply for PERM ARC, will there be more open sign ups? No, but don’t worry. There are better ways to get on my radar, as a die-hard ARC reviewer

How do I know if I made it on the PERM ARC list? On occasion, an email will go out, congratulating you on your acceptance onto the list. When things get busy, you may not get the congrats email but you will get an email saying to be on the lookout for Perm ARC only ARCs going out soon (that should clue you in) or you will receive an ARC that wasn’t open to lottery sign ups (another good clue that you made it!) 🙂

Where am I on the PERM ARC selection list? Will it be my turn soon? There’s hundreds of people that want on that list and it is constantly evolving, based on real time reviewer performance. There’s no specific way of saying for sure. If you’ve kept up with your reviews and have followed the requirements listed below, your name should remain towards the top of the list.

If I haven’t made it yet, does that mean that I was rejected? No. Unless you’ve violated the Lottery ARC terms or it’s clear from your reviews that you don’t like my work, no one gets rejected. Whenever spots open up, ALL applicants are looked at to select the next few Perm ARC’ers.

I applied for PERM ARC, should I still apply for lottery? YES YES YES! Frequent applications to lottery ARCs are a crucial factor in determining who will be selected next for Perm ARC. It tells me that you still want to be an H.M. Ward Perm ARC reviewer. If  you don’t apply for lottery ARC, I have no way of knowing that you REALLY want this.

Since I first applied for PERM ARC, I’ve added a whole bunch of new reviews. Will those be taken into consideration too? OF COURSE! That’s why it’s important to keep up with your awesome reviews

What does it take to make it on the PERM ARC list? (see requirement list above)

Do I have to review ALL of your new releases to be eligible for PERM ARC? YES! This is the whole point of the Perm ARC list, to give easy ARC access to those die-hard reviewers who were reviewing every single one of my releases the moment the book came out. It’s a form of thank your for being so amazeballs! As a Perm ARC’er, this will be your first and most important responsibility. If you only read certain series, THAT’S GREAT TOO, but maybe Perm ARC isn’t for you… but keep on applying to Lottery ARC, for the titles you want.

How many books do I have to review to be eligible for PERM ARC? There’s no magic number, but keep in mind that choosing someone for the Perm ARC list is based on the person’s current reviewing habits, so the more, the better (and copy/pasting the same review 30 times in one mad dash doesn’t count!).