Interview Series with Book Reviewers: Jonel Boyko

Before I get to the interview I would like to update those of you who read my post about my Amazon Kindle Countdown sale currently in progress. I wrote on Monday that since the sale is occurring on the US site I couldn’t see the sale price since I live in the UK and I was unsure if the sale price had actually gone into effect. It has! And this morning Marionette was ranked 13th for best lesbian romance and 21st for best lesbian fiction. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me spread the word about the sale. It ends on March 8th.

Now that the housekeeping stuff is done, let’s get to the good stuff. Today I’m continuing with my interview series with book reviewers. Indie authors know that reviews are vital for a novel’s success. Jonel Boyko is joining us to tell us a little about herself and how she approaches book reviews. She’s an active reviewer and has over 600 reviews on Goodreads. Also her blog Pure Jonel is a wonderful resource. Please hop on over and check it out. And now here’s my guest:

Q~Please tell us a little about yourself

I live in a mid-sized town about an hour and a half outside of Toronto.  When I’m not relaxing on the couch reading (with the help of my two dogs and my cat) I can generally be found at the barn spending time with my horse.

Q~When did you start your blog Pure Jonel?

I started my blog in December of 2012.

Q~What prompted you to become a book reviewer?

Honestly?  It was my sister.  I was telling her about a book that ‘she just had to read’ (apparently the fourth must read that week) and she suggested that I put it in writing.

Q~You have an eloquent page on your blog about your thoughts on reviewing. Can you tell us the highlights? (Please click on the link above to read the whole piece.)

I think that the key aspect to writing a review is the whys.  As a reader you either like or dislike something, but telling people why that adds substance to your review. Simply summarizing a book isn’t a review, it’s a synopsis and the author provides that when posting their book for sale.  Also, keep in mind that if you’re simply writing reviews to get free books you’re not doing anyone any favors.  Authors sending you copies of their work is an added bonus not a right.

Q~How many requests do you receive on average per week? How many books do you read per week?

I receive anywhere from half a dozen to 20+ review requests a week, but won’t necessarily accept them all.  I’m not doing myself or the author any favors accepting a book that doesn’t spark my interest.  I tend to average about a book a day while reading, but this depends on the type and length of book I pick up at the time and of course, life does play a big factor as well.

Q~What are you looking for when an author requests a review?

A blurb about the book is key.  I can’t tell if it interests me if you don’t tell me what it’s about.  Also, a ballpark timeline for a review.  I have a section on my blog that states my current expected turn around for reviews, so take a peek and see if that works for you.

Q~What mistakes do authors commonly make that irk you when they are submitting a request? Any pet peeves?

One time an author emailed me for a review and spelled my name wrong in the email. That still bugs me to this day and is the kind of thing that will really turn me off. My theory is that if an email is that poorly written and with such disregard then I’m leery to see the editing in the novel itself.  I don’t think I made it far enough into that email to even see what the author’s work was about.

I’ve also had a rash of authors lately who have emailed me a copy of their work with an email that boils down to ‘review this’.  Considering that I’ve never had any contact with these authors before, the assumption that I will drop everything to read their work makes me giggle.  Please be polite when requesting a review from anyone.  Assuming that I will review your book is worlds away from asking me to.  Personally, if I’m at a point where I have a large list of books to review I’m more likely to review those coming with a polite email request than ones with a demand.

In general, however, I find that if authors are going to make a mistake with their review request it will be 1 of 2 things.  The first is lack of information.  Without a blurb and review deadline I don’t really know what you’re asking for.  The other is an unrealistic review deadline.  Keeping in mind that reviewers aren’t paid and probably have jobs, families, etc as well as other books on their list the number of new authors asking for a review in a week astounds me.

Q~Do you have a favorite genre? One that you hate?

I fully admit that I’m a sucker for cowboys and Alpha male types.  Give me a book with one of them and I’m golden.  That said, I do like to read pretty much anything fictional, unless it’s slasher-esque.  I don’t do gory, bloody, Saw type work.

Q~What advice would you give to authors seeking reviews?

Ask, don’t assume.  But ask, ask, ask.  And take a look into the reviewers past reviews before requesting to find reviewers who read the genre you write.  You’ll get more favorable reviews that way.

Thanks Jonel for stopping by today and sharing your thoughts. I would like to thank you for your dedication to books and your support of authors.

Where to find Jonel:





About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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39 Responses to Interview Series with Book Reviewers: Jonel Boyko

  1. I’m so glad your novel is doing well. Yippee!! I’ve added it to my Goodreads selections and posted that on facebook. Hope it helped. Supporting authors is so important, especially the ones we know and call ‘friend’ – cyber or otherwise. Which is something you do so well in spotlighting other writers. I love your interviews. Nice!

    • TBM says:

      Thanks for helping me spread the word. I agree, authors need to stick together and for the most part I’ve met so many writers who are so helpful and supportive. We all understand how hard the job is.

  2. Colline says:

    Well done on your sales TBM 🙂

  3. OMG–I’m so happy for you, TB! Your book is awesome, and you must be really excited. Thanks for the introduction to Jonel, as well. It’s fascinating to know more about the review process. And thanks to Jonel for sharing a bit about how you work. Hope your week is going well. Happy Wednesday to both of you!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • TBM says:

      I’ve learned so much about the review process this past year. And when you’re book is done, I’ll help as much as I can to get the word out and reviews for you. So excited to read your mafia memoir.

  4. First of all – Wahooooo!!!! Congrats my friend – these stats don’t surprise me at all :). As for this interview, it was very interesting with a lot of great points made by Jonel. Now I have to head over to her blog to try and figure out where she lives, since I also live 1 1/2 hours out of Toronto.

  5. That’s an interesting guest post. Mainly because I was discussing reviews the other day with someone who had read my fantasy selection from last year, and he said he liked the style of my reviews. We agreed that retelling the story is a total waste, one par saying this book is about, should suffice. The important part is to say this book is good/bad because of ….. a) b) and c). Which is exactly what Jonel is saying.

    I’ve currently got three to review on the computer, incl yours, I’m just struggling to read on the computer, and again, as Jonel says, balance everything else.

    And on reviews, I was looking for my draft Breaking Dawn one on the comp to finish it off. And can’t find it!! Aaaaaagh. I’m not rewriting it again, because I’d put quite a lot of work into it. It’s probably saved under Block Management 😀 You know my views about it by now, but I did want to write it out a little more thoughtfully than our brief exchange, plus say why it wasn’t – to me – a successful ending, plotwise (not that there is a plot) to the series.

    I doubt I’ll find it between now and tomorrow, so I’ll stick to reviewing the last couple of great books I read, a mediocre teenage fiction one, and a rather better one, as I’ll be looking for the sequel. With any luck, tomorrow or Friday *should* be book day.

    • TBM says:

      I don’t like including a summary either in my reviews. I used to, but then just started pasting the summary from Goodreads so people who stop by will know what the book is about and then they can read my thoughts.

      Oh no, you lost it. I’m so sorry to hear that. I know you worked on it and took your time. Good luck with the other review post.

  6. bulldog says:

    Great interview… not sure she’d be interested in reviewing my book…

  7. Beth Ann says:

    This gave me a lot to think about when “I” do reviews of books for Goodreads or my blog—definitely some great thoughts here such as the “whys”. Thanks for the link and the great interview. And congrats on the great stats on Amazon! You rock, TBM!

    • TBM says:

      yes, why is an important question. And it can be a simple place to start: why did you like it?

      Thanks Beth Ann!

      • Beth Ann says:

        Thanks to you! Hey—I won a book off your giveaway –another one to read on my Kindle!!! Thanks!

      • TBM says:

        I hope you enjoy. I can’t remember which one you won. I gave two away this week. I like to find homes for books 🙂

      • Beth Ann says:

        The Gravity Between Us. Between the books I have won on Goodreads and other giveaways like this one I have tons to read!!! Better get to it!

      • TBM says:

        that’s right. That’s a cute story. Payton is such a sweetheart. I’ve won a few from Goodreads. I need to get going on those. I need a few months off to just read.

  8. Sherri says:

    Another great interview and a lot learned from Jonel. Sounds like the book sales are coming along very well TB, congratulations 🙂

  9. Congratulations on the increase in book sales…great news! Great interview…I can see why she was turned off by the author who misspelled her name in an e-mail. I would feel the same.

    • TBM says:

      I’ve heard that misspelling the reviewers name is quite common. I understand people are in a rush, but come on, double check the name.

  10. Awesome. I find it laughable that someone would send their book demanding you review it. Who do they think they are? I’ve had a few requests myself from people whom I know and even some I don’t, and although I’m always happy to review a friend’s book, it’s nice to be asked politely.

    • TBM says:

      I’ve received a few emails or messages from authors that say my book is free on Amazon right now and I need reviews and then nothing else. Should I drop everything so I can read and review their book when they can’t even say hello or thanks?

      How is your book coming along?

  11. Jonel says:

    Thanks so much for having me today! It was a blast. 😀 I’m glad my thoughts seem helpful to many of you.

    • TBM says:

      It was a pleasure and I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. Not only am I trying to learn more about the whole indie process but many of my readers are as well. Much appreciated and I hope you had a great day yesterday 🙂

  12. Some authors are really pushy. I’ve had people find me through my blog, Twitter, Goodreads, or Amazon reviews page and send me messages as if I’ll drop everything I’m doing to read their book. It even happened in real life once…a guy badgered me about a 900 page manuscript, which I did not end up reading.

    That’s a lot of requests a week!

    It was great learning more about reviewers in this series.

    • TBM says:

      900 page manuscript–that’s a massive request. And then badgering makes it only worse. I don’t mind receiving requests for reviews and I’m always happy to take on a book when I like the sound of it, but rudeness doesn’t go over well. I have lots of books on my TBR and I’m always honest that it’ll take me weeks if not months to review the book. Most authors are fine with that and understand. Some have been kinda rude.

      I’m liking this series and I’m glad I started it. I’m learning from it.

  13. “And this morning Marionette was ranked 13th for best lesbian romance and 21st for best lesbian fiction”.
    Congrats! I am very happy for you, TBM. I enjoyed the interview. Have a great week!

    • TBM says:

      Thank you. I’m enjoying this interview series and learning about Indie publishing from a different angle. Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

  14. The Guat says:

    This was so awesomely helpful! Dude thanks for posting it. I’m just catching up with all my blogs because as I’ve tried to dedicate and push myself into finishing a project other stuff fell through the cracks, but glad I had the time to read this. Very cool. I like this interview series. Very cool. Hope you have a good Friday.

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