One-Minute Book Reviews

September 4, 2008

Warning to WordPress Book Bloggers: A Splogger May Be Stealing Your Posts – A Victim’s Tale, or My Fight to Keep My Site From Turning Into a Really Bad Polish Joke

How to protect yourself from a spam blogger targeting WordPress literary sites

If you write about books or literary topics on a WordPress.com blog, watch out for sploggers who may be stealing your posts. Sploggers are spam bloggers, people who “scrape” posts off your site (typically using the RSS feed) and post them on their own. They may then sell advertising against your posts, so they earn money from your work.

Worse, sploggers keep people from reaching your posts through search engines, because their URL appears on your posts instead of yours with no link. If this happens, you pay a double price: Your work is stolen and you lose the traffic you would have had if your work had appeared under its own URL on a search engine.

Any blogger can become the victim of splogger – the risk isn’t limited to literary or WordPress bloggers. But if you are both of those, you have a reason for extra caution right now.

Since August 12, my posts on One-Minute Book Reviews have been aggressively scraped by a Poland-based blog that claims to offer “books and reviews from all over wordpress.com.” The splogger appears also to be lifting text without linking from many WordPress blogs besides mine, including Stuff White People Like, which recently earned a widely publicized book contract for its creator.

I can’t link to the offending splog, which would send traffic to it. But if you’d like to get a sense of how the scam works, go to Technorati www.technorati.com and search for “Janice Harayda” (not “One-Minute Book Reviews”). Look at the URL for any of my post–Aug. 12 posts, such as those about the children’s books Read All About It! and Lyle, Lyle Crocodile. You will see that my URL oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com doesn’t appear on these posts (as on pre-August 12 posts) — the splogger’s URL appears with no link to my site. The splogger’s fake posts have preempted my real posts, so you can’t here from there.

This mess remains unresolved. But in trying to protect my work, I’ve found that you can fight sploggers. Here are some tips based on my experience or on ideas from WordPress Forums or Support:

1. Search for your site on Technorati and other blog search engines at least once a week, ideally every day. Use the “Contact” form on Technorati to report copyright violations or other abuse.

You may also want to:

2. Go to stolen.wordpress.com to report the abuse or learn more. WordPress may be able to provide an e-mail address for the host of the site if there’s no contact information on the splog, as there usually isn’t.

3. Send a “Cease and Desist” letter to the site if you can and, if not, to the host or a search engine that lists it. You can find sample letters for the different parties here: www.plagiarismtoday.com/stock-letters/.

4. See the responses to my cry for help on the WordPress Forums for other helpful ideas: en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/technorati-refusing-to-recognize-valid-wp-url?replies=7

5. Get in touch with support@wordpress.com if you are still having trouble.

6. If the splog has advertising from Google AdSense or another agency, use the contact information the agency’s site to report the abuse. To do this with AdSense, search the site for “Report a Policy Violation” www.google.com/adsense/.

7. Search the Internet for terms such as “fight sploggers” or “protect yourself against sploggers” for more ideas.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

September 2, 2008

Are Blogs Inferior to Books? (Quote of the Day / Sam Anderson on ‘Ultimate Blogs’)

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 3:38 pm
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Snobs and throwbacks may see blogs as inherently less worthy than even the worst books. But the gifted critic Sam Anderson made a sturdy counterargument in a review of Ultimate Blogs: Masterworks From the Wild Web (Vintage, 368 pp., $14.95, paperback) nymag.com/arts/books/reviews/44480/, an anthology of writing from 27 sites that captured the interest of editor Sarah Boxer. The lesson of Boxer’s book, Anderson said, is this:

“The best blogs set fire to the dry abstractions of official culture — Greek myth, affirmative action, cosmology, presidential politics — with the spark of immediate, personal enthusiasm.”

Anderson added:

“A print anthology of blog writing seems, at first, to be a deeply paradoxical genre — roughly the equivalent of a cave painting about digital photography, an eight-track guide to ripping MP3s, or a Claymation documentary about the high-tech magic of CGI. In a book, hyperlinks are dead on arrival, animation is frozen into grainy stills, emoticons are ruthlessly suppressed, comments are disabled, and updates take years instead of minutes. And yet, for some of us, the combination makes a certain intuitive sense …

“Most of Boxer’s selections don’t read like a new species of writing, but very like close cousins of the once-venerable print genres that have been forced out of public discourse by the shrinkage of major American media: passionate arts criticism, critical theory, colorful polemics, and above, all the personal essay. Sometimes it seems like blogging is just the apotheosis of the personal essay, the logical heir to 500 years of work by proto-bloggers such as Montaigne, Charles Lamb, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy Parker, and E. B. White. I see no reason for drawing an artificial line between screen and print.”

Read more about Ultimate Blogs here www.randomhouse.com/vintage/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780307278067.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

August 6, 2008

Is It Easier to Get a Novel Published When You’re a Critic? And Other Questions I Haven’t Answered on One-Minute Book Reviews

Filed under: News,Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 5:49 pm
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Amy Munnell interviewed me for her attractive blog 3 Questions and Answers and asked a few questions I don’t deal with on One-Minute Book Review, such as: How did being a critic affect my career as a novelist? Some of the things Amy asked about come up a lot when I speak at writers’ conferences, and if you’re interested, you can find my answers here: 3questionsandanswers.blogspot.com/2008/07/interviewwith-journalistnovelist-janice.html. Thanks, Amy.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

June 17, 2008

8 Things You Find Only on One-Minute Book Reviews

Filed under: Blogging,Books — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:40 am
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Delete Key Awards – Totally Unauthorized Reading Group Guides – Backscratching in Our Time – Gusher Awards for Achievement in Hyperbole in Book Reviewing – Classic Picture Books Every Child Should Read – Books I Didn’t Finish – Book Awards Reality Checks – Jan the Hungarian Predicts

1. Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books. One-Minute Book Reviews gives these prizes annually on March 15 to authors who aren’t using their delete keys enough.
oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/category/delete-key-awards/. The blog for Powell’s books calls these awards “arguably the second-best online literary award after the TOB’s Rooster [co-sponsored by Powell’s].” www.powells.com/blog/?author=20.

2. Totally Unauthorized Reading Group Guides. These guides encourage you to consider both the strengths and weakness of books (not just the strengths, as publishers’ guides do). They also have elements you won’t find in publishers’ guides – for example, they often quote from negative reviews.
oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/category/totally-unauthorized-reading-group-guides/.

3. Backscratching in Our Time. Inspired by “Logrolling in Our Time” in the old Spy magazine, this category calls attention to authors who have praised each others’ books, often in blurbs. oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/category/backscratching-in-our-time/.

4. Gusher Awards for Achievement in Hyperbole in Book Reviewing. These awards recognize over-the-top praise in book reviews. They appear on Fridays unless no review was too out-of-control to qualify that week. oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/category/gusher-awards/.

5. Classic Picture Books Every Child Should Read. Reviews of books for children and adults appear every Saturday and sometimes include an installment in the “Classic Picture Books Every Child Should Read” series. oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/06/07/classic-picture-books-every-child-should-read-jeff-brown-and-tomi-ungerers-flat-stanley/

6. Books I Didn’t Finish. Book critics typically tell you why they liked or disliked book, not why they decided to not to review certain books all. This series tells you why one critic gave up on some books. books.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/category/books-i-didnt-finish/.

7. Book Awards Reality Checks. This series considers whether books that have won major awards, such as a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award, deserved their honors. oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/05/27/man-asian-literary-prize-reality-check-%E2%80%93-jiang-rong%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98wolf-totem%E2%80%99/

8. Jan the Hungarian Predicts One-Minute Book Reviews predicts the winners of major book awards in the newest series on the site, added in June 2008.

One-Minute Book Reviews was the sixth-ranked book review site in the world on the Google Directory of “Top Arts and Literature” blogs as of May 30, 2008:

www.google.com/Top/Arts/Literature/Reviews_and_Criticism/. It has ranked among the Top 10 since the fall of 2007.

If you like any of these aspects of the site, I’d be so grateful if you’d link to them or post them on sites such as Digg. I use a free WordPress template that doesn’t allow me to show widgets for Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon and similar sites, and I’ve compiled the list partly for that reason. A thousand thanks to all the visitors who have put One-Minute Book Reviews on those sites regardless.

Janice Harayda is a novelist and award-winning journalist who has been the book columnist for Glamour, the book editor of the Plain Dealer, and vice-president for awards of the National Book Critics Circle www.bookcritics.org. Jan was named one of “25 Women Bloggers to Watch in 2008″by the site Virtual Woman’s Day virtualwomansday.blogspot.com/2008/01/women-bloggers-to-watch-in-2008.html.

One-Minute Book Reviews does not accept books, catalogs, advance reading copies, print or electronic press releases or other promotional materials from editors, publishers, agents, or authors whose books may be reviewed on this site.

(c) 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

May 28, 2008

The Book Club for People Who Don’t Like Book Clubs – Coming June 1 to One-Minute Book Reviews

Filed under: Blogging,Blogging News,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:58 pm
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Imagine: a book club with no required reading.

It’s coming soon to this site. On the first day of each month, beginning June 1, One-Minute Book Reviews will provide an space where you can recommend any book you like or vent about one you didn’t like. The book doesn’t have to be new or to have been reviewed on this site. You may leave comments about “your” book on the first day of the month or any other in the month.

I’ll get the discussion started by adding a few comments on a book that I’ve reviewed recently on this site that made an especially strong impression for good or ill. Then you can jump in with comments on that book or any other: new or old, children’s or adult, mass-market or scholarly.

Hope to see you there, and thanks for visiting One-Minute Book Reviews. To learn more about the club, please click here www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/05/23/.

Jan

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

April 23, 2008

A Quarter of a Million Visitors for One-Minute Book Reviews … With Never Any Pictures of Grammatically Challenged Cats

Filed under: News,Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:41 pm
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Need some good news to cheer you up after all those gloomy articles about the economy, negative campaigning and dying book-review sections?

One-Minute Book Reviews recently had its 250,000th visitor … with never any pictures grammatically challenged cats.

There, now don’t you feel better?

[I’d love to know how to translate the number of visitors into hits, which should be much higher. Anybody know how to do this? Jan]

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

January 19, 2008

Are You Undercommunicating the Vision of Your Blog ‘by a Factor of Ten’?

Filed under: How to,Nonfiction — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:17 pm
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Explaining your goals more often or clearly may help you build your site

 

By Janice Harayda

Not long ago, I wrote about a paperback on how organizations change, which I recommended as a holiday gift for managers. But the more I’ve thought about the book, the more it’s seemed that the Harvard Business Review on Change (HBSP, $19.95) www.hbsp.harvard.edu makes a point that could also help bloggers who want to build their sites by attracting more visitors, gaining more links, or generally becoming more competitive. The point appears in an article by John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School and an expert on corporate turnarounds. Kotter lists eight reasons why organizations fail to make changes that would help them stay competitive, including “Not Establishing a Great Enough Sense of Urgency” (Error #1) and “Declaring Victory Too Soon” (Error #7).

But the point that caught my eye was “Undercommunicating the Vision by a Factor of Ten” (Error #4). Kotter argues that the leaders in any field don’t spell out their vision once or twice and hope that people will buy into it (or worse, fail to articulate a vision at all and hope people will figure it out.). Leaders “incorporate messages into their hour-by-hour activities.”

Kotter’s advice might sound comically absurd to many bloggers. How can you weave your vision into your “hour-by-hour” activities if you post once or twice a day, as I do, or less? And yet, Kotter has a point. Most bloggers seem to convey their vision pretty much the way I did when I created One-Minute Book Reviews http://www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com: I described my aims on my “FAQ” and “About” pages and hoped that visitors would click on the links to them.

But these pages got much less traffic than others on my site, far less than 10 percent of the most popular posts. Based on that figure, Kotter was right: If I wanted people to understand my vision, I was undercommunicating it by a factor of 10. Worse, I can’t compensate for this adding information to the header on my blog, because I can’t customize the template.

So after reading the Kotter’s article, I made a few changes with the aim of conveying my vision better. These three seemed especially helpful and might work for you, too (though if could customize my header, that might be best of all):

1) Add a regular tag line to the bottom of posts, explaining what your site is “about.” Mine consists of just one sentence, “One-Minute Book Reviews is for people who like to read but dislike hype and review inflation.”

2) Update your FAQ and post the changes both on the FAQ page and as a regular post, so visitors to your site will see the questions without having to click.

3) Keep visitors up-to-date on changes in your mission. If your thinking about your vision has evolved since you put up your FAQ or “About” pages, explain the changes in a regular post.

Have you taken any steps to communicate the vision of your blog that you think would help other bloggers? If so, why not share your views by leaving a comment?

Janice Harayda recently was named one of 25 “Women Bloggers to Watch in 2008″ by the site Virtual Woman’s Day virtualwomansday.blogspot.com/2008/01/women-bloggers-to-watch-in-2008.html. One-Minute Book Reviews is the sixth-ranked book-review site in the world on the Google Directory of top book-review blogs www.google.com/Top/Arts/Literature/Reviews_and_Criticism/.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

January 9, 2008

Janice Harayda of One-Minute Book Reviews Named One of 25 ‘Women Bloggers to Watch in 2008′

Have you been visiting One-Minute Book Reviews since it was running around in Pampers just over a year ago? Consider yourself a visionary.

Janice Harayda, editor-in-chief of One-Minute Book Reviews, has been named one of 25 “Women Bloggers to Watch in 2008″ by the site Virtual Woman’s Day, which aims “to bring together women from around the world to network together, learn together and grow together” virtualwomansday.blogspot.com/2008/01/women-bloggers-to-watch-in-2008.html. Heidi Richards, creator of VWD, also publishes We, a quarterly magazine about women.

One-Minute Book Reviews has had a policy since its launch in late 2006 of devoting at least 50 percent of its posts to books by female authors.

(c) 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

October 27, 2007

Are You Spending Enough Time on Your Blog to Get the Results You Want? Quote of the Day (Deirdre Day-MacLeod)

Why do some blogs succeed and others fail? Part of the answer may lie in how much time their creators spend on them, Deirdre Day-MacLeod suggests in her new book for teenagers, Career Building Through Blogging:

“According to a study of bloggers conducted by the University of Massachusetts, 31 percent of bloggers spend one to four hours per day doing research for and writing their posts,whereas 65 percent spend less than one hour. The study concluded that: 1) blogs take time; 2) blogs should be planned; 3) blogging is about interaction; and 4) the writing in a blog should be clear, real, focused, and above all, interesting.”

Deirdre Day-MacLeod in Career Building Through Blogging (Rosen Publishing, $29.25) www.deirdredaymacleod.blogspot.com. Her book is a part of Rosen’s Digital Career Building Series for teenagers, which also includes Career Building Through Digital Photography, Career Building Through Interactive Online Games and Career Buidling Through Podcasting.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

June 29, 2007

What’s Unique About One-Minute Book Reviews?

Filed under: Books,Reading,Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 4:42 pm
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One-Minute Book Reviews recently passed its six-month anniversary, and I celebrated by redoing its FAQ page. Here’s the revised version. If you enjoy the reviews and readers’ guides on this site, I’d be grateful if you’d forward this post to others who might enjoy them.  Thanks for visiting One-Minute Book Reviews.

Jan Harayda, the One-Minute Reviewer

What is One-Minute Book Reviews?
One-Minute Book Reviews is an independent blog devoted to short reviews of new, evergreen, and forthcoming books. The reviews are written by the editor-in-chief of the site, Janice Harayda, who has been the book columnist for Glamour, book editor and critic for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, and vice-president of the National Book Critics Circle www.bookcritics.org. The site is the home of the Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books, published annually on March 15 http://oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/03/15, and the Totally Unauthorized Reading Group Guides. You can find all the guides by clicking on “Totally Unauthorized Reading Group Guides” in the “Categories” column at right.

Why have a blog just for short book reviews?

The number of Web sites and blogs about publishing news, trends, and gossip recently has surged. There are far fewer independent sites or blogs just for reviews. And publishers pay for the reviews on some sites, so they’re hardly objective. I wanted to help to close the gap with sophisticated and witty reviews, including artful takedowns of overrated books and appreciations of underrated books, that aren’t influenced by all the hype.

Can you really read any review on this site in a minute?
You can read my one-sentence summaries of each book in less than a minute — maybe two or three seconds. You can find the summaries by clicking on the “Books in a Sentence” category. I also try to keep the regular reviews short enough so that you can read them in a minute or so. But I include extra text for people who have more time. At the bottom of each review, you’ll find my choices for the best and worst lines in the book. You can skip these and the other extra material.

What kinds of books do you review?
All kinds. That includes new and older fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and books typically bypassed by the review sections of newspapers, such as self-help manuals. Nothing is off limits.

How often do you post reviews?
As often as possible. On days when I don’t post a review, I often post a quote on a literary topic. Reviews of books for children and teenagers appear on Saturdays.

Why do you post readers’ guides, too?
Publishers haven’t created guides for many books that groups might love. For example, they often don’t publish guides for new hardcover nonfiction or for classic works of fiction. The guides they do post are part of a marketing plan intended to sell books. They may appear to be objective, but they are far from it. Publishers’ guides do not quote unfavorable reviews, encourage you to compare a book to others suggest that you are reading anything other than a flawless work. On that level, they don’t promote the lively debate about the merits of books that most book clubs enjoy.

How can publicists and others submit books to you for review?
They can’t. I don’t accept books or promotional materials from editors, publishers, literary agents or book publicists.

Why don’t you accept free books from publishers?
I agree with that pillar of newsroom ethics that says that journalists shouldn’t just avoid conflicts of interest — they should avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest. If I accepted free books from publishers, how would you know that the reviews on these pages hadn’t been influenced by the freebies?

If you don’t accept books from publishers, where do you get them?
Sometimes from the library. Those of us who live in New Jersey get a fantastic benefit for our tax dollars. You can walk into almost any public library, fill out a card asking the staff to buy a book, and get your wish as long as you want a title that would enhance the collection or appeal to others. If I can’t get a book from the library, I may try to borrow it from a friend or buy it online or elsewhere at half price.

How can people bring books to your attention if they can’t send them directly?
They can’t. Getting reviewed on One-Minute Book Reviews is a little like winning a MacArthur Foundation grant. You can’t apply. You just have to get lucky.

You can find out more about the blog by reading the “About One-Minute Book Reviews” page on the site.

The reviews on One-Minute Book Reviews may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author except for brief quotations that do not violate fair-use provisions of copyright laws. Publishers who quote from reviews in ads or elsewhere should credit: Janice Harayda, One-Minute Book Reviews. For permission to reprint longer passages or full reviews, send an e-mail message to the address on the “Contact” page on this site or write to: Janice Harayda, 41 Watchung Plaza, #99, Montclair, NJ 07042, and enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope. If you send e-mail, please mention your request in the subject heading so you don’t get mistaken for a spammer.

If you would like Janice Harayda to speak your book group, please visit http://www.janiceharayda.com and click on the page labeled “For Book Groups.”

Home page photo credit: (c) Michael Stahl

(c)2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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