7 Questions With Author/Book Reviewer Fran Lewis
Fran Lewis has worked in the NYC Public Schools as a Reading and Writing Staff Developer for over 36 years. She has three master’s degrees and a PD in Supervision and Administration. Currently, she is a member of Who’s Who of America’s Teachers and Who’s Who of America’s Executives from Cambridge.
In addition, she is the author of three children’s books and a fourth that has just been published on Alzheimer’s disease in order to honor her mom and help create more awareness for a cure. The title of her new Alzheimer’s book is Memories are Precious: Alzheimer’s Journey; Ruth’s story and Sharp as a Tack and Scrambled Eggs Which Describes Your Brain?
Fran is the author of 13 titles and completed by 14th titled A Daughter’s Promise. She is working on her next Faces Behind the Stones book: Silent Voices. She is the creator of MJ Magazine and hosts a radio show on MJ Network in memory of her sister, Marcia Joyce on Blog talk radio.
“My Bertha and Tillie Series are geared for middle school children and are based on real life events. Bertha is me and Tillie is my sister Marcia Joyce.”
Sharing her stories with middle school and younger teens is paramount as each story teaches a lesson at the end. Fran hopes to bring back the series one more time.
She was the musical director for shows in her school and ran the school’s newspaper. Fran writes reviews for authors upon request and for several other sites, you can read her reviews on Just Reviews.
In today’s interview, Fran shares some insight on how authors should approach a book reviewer, what details are needed on behalf of the author and how reading has become a full time job. If you too are a writer, please stop by to check the best tips & tricks From Writing To Publishing.
Esther Rabbit: Is book reviewing a full-time job or a professional hobby in your case?
Although I do not require a fee from an author for a book review it is a full-time job and in my case something that I decided to do after retiring from teaching. Reading is my passion and reviewing books and helping authors get their work noticed is something that I enjoy doing.
I’m a speed reader but I do not miss anything at all that the author is trying to convey in his/her novel. The messages that are there and the issues that are present are highlighted in my reviews. Reviews are subjective and the one thing that I never do is write a negative review.
If for some reason I think the novel does not warrant at least three or four stars or a positive rating, I will summarize the book for the author and not post it on any sites that requires a rating.
Esther Rabbit: Many readers/authors would like to know the answer to this question – do you have a preference when it comes to genre?
Reading many different genres is what makes reviewing books unique unto itself. I love reviewing a well written and documented non-fiction account of real-life events whether a memoir or in history.
Mystery/murder thrillers are my favorite from the first moment I received Tess Gerritsen’s novel to review and then so many other well-known authors who have requested my services and interview on my radio show. I love historical fiction, fiction, children’s books, romance novels and biographies. I do not review self-help or erotica novels.
Reviewing books requires that the reviewer really understands the genre, what makes a great novel in that genre and how to communicate the storyline, the author’s skills in writing and creating the novel without any spoilers.
Esther Rabbit: Do authors approach you to read and review their novels? If so, are you open to this approach or would you rather take your pick and review what you consider appropriate?
I receive requests from authors and publishers daily. If the novel or novella is something I want to read, and they consent to sending a print copy I will review the title.
However, my reviews stand as rated and written. At times I do get notifications from Amazon and other booksellers recommending books that I might want to read. There are well-known authors that promote their novels on Facebook and other social media and at times I might comment in the comment section asking if they would like a review from Just Reviews which is my site.
I am really honored that they usually accept and will either send the book along or email me the person that is handling their title. I guess I am open to both approaches.
Esther Rabbit: When authors approach you to review their books, what information would you like them to include?
When authors or publishers or publicists approach me to review a book it helps if the following information is included:
- Summary of the book
- Author’s bio
- Information about when the title is going to be released or has been released
- Press release
- Reviews or accolades for the book
- If the author would like an interview on my show if I enjoyed reading the book and would like to speak with the author
Esther Rabbit: Why do you do it?
I review books because authors deserve someone who will promote their work in a positive way and reads the book and I have been told many times, gets the message and has great insight into what the book is about.
I never expected to review books after retiring from teaching as a dean, administrator, reading and writing staff developer and reading teacher. Working with children with learning disabilities I realized that there is so much knowledge to be learned from reading and understanding print.
My sister before she passed away dared me to review my first book which was a cookbook. I don’t know one end of a stove from another. But I did. I reviewed a cookbook and the author published it on many sites and from that point on I guess it became my passion. Reading is power and gives you knowledge and helping others in the craft is my pleasure.
Esther Rabbit: How did you start book reviewing and what kept you going?
As I said my sister dared me to review books. It can be overpowering at times when you have over 20 books or more to review at one time. Publicists have dates when the book is released, and they hope that my review will be ready to publish on or just after that date.
When I do a review for a blog tour, I have a set time and date that the review must be published so I keep a date book on my phone and on my computer with reminders so that I never forget to post something. What keeps me going? Me!
I am self-driven and when I know that someone is depending on me, I won’t let them down. If I cannot meet a deadline which is rare, I will inform the author or the publisher or publicist telling them I need an extension but that is rare.
Esther Rabbit: Do you charge for your services or do it for the joy of book reviewing?
Personally, I do not believe that anyone should charge for a review which is the reviewer’s opinion about a novel. There are many reviewers that charge a fee and from what I know they cannot post their reviews on Amazon.
I do know that other sites that get quite a bit of attention and most people want their prestigious reviews charge quite a bit for a paragraph and more if you want a longer review.
However, if someone wants me to do a critique of their book before it comes out that I do charge a fee for because it takes time to assess the plot, mood, tone, characters, storyline and more.
Find Fran here:
Are you in the Writing Industry?
Shoot me an email, I’d love to interview you!
And if you’re a fan of Paranormal Romance, check out Lost in Amber:
“A new Interplanetary Alliance ambassador on an earthbound mission.
A handful of genetically altered humans to be rescued.
Meeting her changed everything.“