One-Minute Book Reviews

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.

April 11, 2008

My Favorite Jane Austen Blog

Filed under: Novels — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 3:42 pm
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My first novel, The Accidental Bride (St. Martin’s/Griffin, 2000), has a heroine who loves Jane Austen, so I’ve explored many Austen sites on the Web. My favorite is AustenBlog, which I discovered when it linked to a quote I had posted about the recent Sense and Sensibility adaptation PBS.

One of the virtues of this beautifully designed site is that it has the complete texts of all six of Austen’s major novels in a searchable, easy-to-read format with handsome watercolor illustrations by C. E. Brock. You can find the books in the “Novel E-texts” category on the site.

I love this aspect of AustenBlog because many sites that have the full texts of the novels don’t let you search for quotes. It recently took me at least half an hour to check the punctuation of my favorite quote from Sense and Sensibility: “Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.” I searched for the quote in the e-text posted on AustenBlog and it popped right up.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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) 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 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 One-Minute Book Reviews is the sixth-ranked book-review site in the world on the Google Directory of top book-review blogs

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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” 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.

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) 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.

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 The site is the home of the Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books, published annually on March 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 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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