Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Kindle 3G Winner and Changes to Dear Author

On Sunday we started a giveaway asking for input from DA Readership and we really appreciate the comments. Not all of the suggestions are things that we can undertake to improve today, but they provide aspirational goals for the site. However, there are some changes we can implement right away. First, though, our winner.

Winner

Laura P says:
August 7, 2011 at 11:08 pm
I agree, reviews searchable by author would be nice.

Congratulations, Laura P. Remember that commenting throughout the month of August will enter you to win the September Kindle 3G with Special Offers.

Content Changes

On to the changes. For content, I heard that readers would like to see the following:

  • summary posts of what we are reading
  • shorter, quicker reviews of books that don’t get longer reviews
  • more consistent tagging.
We are going to start posting weekly or biweekly reports from various reviewers of what they are reading, starting with Jaclyn and Shuzluva today.  Some of our reviewers aren’t comfortable with that format and won’t be doing them, while some are more comfortable with the shorter summaries.  Hopefully this will provide you with more variety.

Consistent Tagging

On the tagging issue, we are going to go back and clean up the tags when we can, but as we have over 2,000 book reviews at this point, it will be a challenge. However, going forward, we will tag according to a template.  Here is our proposed template:
  • Author
  • Press
  • Genre (Historical, Contemporary, SFF, PNR, Erotic)
  • Broad sub genre (m/m romance, BDSM romance)
  • Professions of characters
  • Type of plot (police procedural, friends to lovers, etc.)
Let us know what else you would like to see.

Coming Soon Catalog

On the issue of Coming Soon catalog.  Some of you may not have realized this but the Coming Soon catalog of covers is organized by date.  This catalog is generated using the Calibre OPDS software.  I’ve used “tags” as the way to organize the books into monthly releases.  The naming protocol is year_date:  2011_08.
Tags Monthly Index Coming Soon
However, I can definitely do a monthly database of releases that is searchable and sortable.  I created tables for the September and October catalogs here.  I update the Coming Soon catalog about once a month. At that time, I add new books and clean up the database for the following month.

Searching

I implemented a new “Advanced Search” feature.  You can find it on the navigation/menu bar and it is titled “Adv. Search”. I had to truncate it to get it on the same line as everything else.  You can search by author, title, reviewer, keyword, and grade (grades are categories).  This should make it easier for you to find content.
Advanced Search screenshot

Index of Reviews

I have someone working on this and we should be able to generate some kind of index of reviews by November.

Backlists

I have an idea about this and am working with someone to create a form that authors can fill out and then it will populate a new page that readers can use to search backlist titles.

Threaded Comments

 

[poll id="240"]

Reviewer Pages

We are going to create a reviewer page for each reviewer that will contain a brief bio, books that they are reading, and a bulleted list of all the books they’ve reviewed here at Dear Author.  Hopefully that will debut in the end of September.

That’s all for now folks.  There were other great ideas but those will have to wait until 2012 to be implemented.

 

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

62 Comments

  1. Loosheesh
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 09:36:02

    Thanks for the changes, both new and upcoming. I’m really looking forward to the Index of Reviews and the Backlists.

    And I hope the majority vote for threaded comments – I like them so much better than the old style.

    (Congrats to Laura P!)

  2. Carolyn Jewel
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 09:37:51

    Those are all such great suggestions!

    I wonder if you won’t end up subcategorizing the tags for Press to account for imprints, though. It’s messy, this categorization thing.

    The difficulty is that publishers have internal structures that make sense for them, their accounting department and, possibly, book buyers (not consumers) but those structures make nearly 0 sense to consumers who mostly don’t care and are confused by it anyway, as, in fact, I am at times.

    What’s needed is a tagging system (limiting this to the “Press” category) that tracks that internal structure so that someone who cares/knows can find things that way while at the same time allowing someone to search for “Avon” without unnecessarily limiting the results by excluding “Avon Impulse”

    My apologies for such a geeky post. I bet there’s a librarian somewhere who could offer some great advice about a tagging system that works for readers.

  3. Minx Malone
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 09:42:53

    Wow, the changes sound awesome. I can’t wait to see the new and improved DA.

  4. Cady
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 09:46:15

    I really appreciate you listening to us and making changes from what we said

  5. Carin
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 09:47:48

    These sound like great changes! Thanks for all the work you put into this site! I think I’m most excited about the “what we’re reading” posts, but all of it sounds good.

  6. Joanna K.
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 09:49:50

    Excited about the upcoming changes. I can imagine what a huge task it’ll be to clean up all tags. 2000+ reviews, just wow.

    Congrats to Laura P. for winning the giveaway! :)

  7. Nadia Lee
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 09:49:53

    We are going to create a reviewer page for each reviewer that will contain a brief bio, books that they are reading, and a bulleted list of all the books they’ve reviewed here at Dear Author.

    Is this going to contain preferred subgenres and/or tropes they like or dislike? :)

  8. JenM
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 10:37:26

    One of the best things about this blog, and one reason everyone loves it so much is that you are so responsive to your readers. I can just imagine how much work this blog is to maintain. Thanks for all your hard work.

  9. Shannon Stacey
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 10:44:24

    Oh no! Threaded comments are winning and I hate threaded comments with the blazing passion of a vengeful Greek billionaire. Is this like the DABWAHA, in which we can lobby and trashtalk and bribe?

    Probably not. *sigh*

  10. Rebecca (AnotherOne)
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 10:53:38

    Some blogs ask readers to help on big projects like updating tags. I am thinking of sheldon comics where readers write up what the characters say, etc. and then they are verified before being used. I don’t know if that would help with the 2000+ posts, especially where you need consistency. I work with data and am always having problems because things are entered differently; X.Y.Z Co., XYZ Co., XYZ Company, etc.

  11. Ridley
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 11:06:45

    Threaded comments appeal to lurkers. We’re going to be outvoted by the people who stop by once a day at night to read a long thread in one go.

    They’re a bloody goddamn hassle if you’re trying to have a long conversation, but much easier to read if you’re not a participant.

    Not pleased.

  12. Na
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 11:16:54

    I’m looking forward to these changes. I’m glad this site is so active in site maintenance and making changes for improvement.

  13. Cara Ellison
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 11:21:31

    I’m excited about the changes. I’m particularly interested in the reviewer index; I’d like to see what they really like, what they’ve read (like a list of Jane’s reviews or whatever) and what is on their to-be-read list.

    Fun!

  14. Carolyn
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 11:30:02

    I’m not exactly a lurker, because I do post sometimes and have submitted a couple of First Pages.

    I find the threaded comments easier to follow, especially in a long thread. So many times I’ve scrolled back up to see the original comment because the poster didn’t quote it. In a long thread, that gets tiresome and time consuming.

    The threaded comments I dislike are the ones you have to click to see what was written. This is a nice compromise and I hope it wins out.

  15. MaryK
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 11:38:38

    summary posts of what we are reading

    I’m looking forward to this. Even if it’s just “I read X. It reminded me of Y because of Z. I liked it but it has a cliffhanger ending. (or) There’s no HEA.” Giving just a bare bones reaction to the book could be very useful especially if it’s outside the Romance genre.

    I can say from my own tagging experiences that it’s a pain in the butt. In Calibre, I can’t remember from book to book whether to use “historical mystery” or “mystery”, “historical” or if it’s Science Fiction Romance or SFR. You might consider creating a standard list of tags for your reviewers to pick from to help with consistency.

    Someone in the suggestions post mentioned a review request feature. I think that’d be cool though I’m not sure how it would work.

    Y’all put so much work into DA that I feel bad complaining or offering suggestions. I certainly don’t have the time or motivation for informative blogging. I really appreciate the content you offer here.

  16. Patrice
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 11:40:20

    Congratulations Laura P!

    And good job on responding to the feedback for DA. As was said before, it is great to see you take action on reader suggestions. Lots of people ask for feedback, but too often they never act on it.

  17. Ridley
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 11:55:32

    Yes, well, now I have to scroll up every single time to make sure I didn’t miss any new replies.

    Again, helpful if you read threads in one go, but awful if you’re participating multiple times throughout the day.

    There are more lurkers/casual commenters than there are active participants, so it’s not surprising that threaded comments are winning. The only people they annoy are regular posters.

  18. Lynn S.
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 11:58:23

    And your displeasure has been neatly threaded. Maybe if we go back and forth griping about it, thereby creating a colossal thread, they’ll rethink it;)

  19. Linda Hilton
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 12:16:48

    I guess it depends on what you mean by “lurkers.”

    I don’t post a lot, but I do read several times a day, and I prefer the threaded format to keep track of who’s replying to whom/what. It also helps me formulate my occasional replies.

  20. library addict
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 12:27:02

    Congrats to Laura P.

    I like the proposed changes. Not a fan of the threaded comments, but cest la vie.

    And yay on the tagging template.

  21. Ridley
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 12:27:24

    Ok, I refer to people who just read comments from start to finish. If that’s what you do, threaded comments are awesome.

    If, however, you’re visiting a post’s comments multiple times an hour – say for a Tuesday discussion – and talking to multiple people, threaded comments mean an end to just reading the new comments at the bottom and adding to the discussion, answering multiple points in a single post.

    Instead, you’ll have to read all 50-60-70-80+ posts again to see what you’ve missed and reply to eleventy thousand threads individually in an increasingly fractured and disjointed conversation.

    They penalize active participation.

  22. MaryK
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 12:31:14

    But now, with threaded comments, nobody has to quote anything. That makes it harder for people who are reading by subscribing to comments. Now, I have to click through to the website more often to figure out what’s going on.

  23. Nadia Lee
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 12:36:44

    I agree with the following:

    Instead, you’ll have to read all 50-60-70-80+ posts again to see what you’ve missed and reply to eleventy thousand threads individually in an increasingly fractured and disjointed conversation.

    Hence, I’m not a fan of this new format.
    So I don

  24. Robin/Janet
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 13:06:01

    Anyone else having the following problem with the threaded comments: as the comment window gets smaller within a threaded convo, I have to scroll down to keep what I’m typing visible in the window. And I can only scroll down to where I’m typing, so I have to keep interrupting my comment to scroll and type/correct errors from not seeing what I’m typing. Very, very frustrating.

  25. Susan Reader
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 13:11:37

    Please go back to the old-style list of comments! Threaded comments are annoying. As Ridley said, they fracture the conversation.

  26. LibrarianLizy
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 13:13:26

    This looks really good. I’m excited to see the new changes and am especially excited about the better search feature and an index.

  27. Keishon
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 13:13:48

    I can go either way regarding threaded comments. They look pretty nice on the site.

  28. Janice
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 13:28:01

    Wow, I’m so excited for the changes. This makes your excellent blog even better. Thanks for all your hard work! It’s much appreciated.

  29. Ros
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 13:45:38

    No, they enable multiple conversations. Which is a really good thing, especially on the round-up posts.

  30. graceg
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 13:52:23

    I vote with Ridley on the threaded comments.

  31. library addict
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 14:21:39

    The other thing I do not like about threaded comments is that it doesn’t add to the number of replies, so you have to scroll through all of the replies just to see if there is anything new. Or am I the only one who doesn’t subscribe to threads and goes by the number of comments?

  32. Robin/Janet
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 14:29:13

    I also go by the number of comments. Otherwise I’d be subscribing to so many threads I’d feel overwhelmed and just check out.

  33. library addict
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 15:37:46

    I was wrong. Looks like it does add to the number of comments at the top of the thread, just not with an actual number on the side.

  34. Jayne
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 15:38:34

    Me too. Others have already mentioned the other reasons why I don’t care for threaded comments.

  35. Stacie Mc
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 15:41:10

    Thanks for the mention of the coming soon catalog. I went to check it out and I love this feature. I’ll be checking it monthly from now on to plan my book buys.

  36. Ridley
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 15:44:29

    Does Worpress allow you to turn threading off/on per post? Could we compromise and turn threading off for discussion posts like Tuesdays’ letters of opinion and on book reviews?

    Also, it’s extra annoying on the mobile theme, since you really do have to scroll through everything every time, since there’s no “recent posts” widget. Long discussions will be impossible to participate on from a phone.

  37. Lynn S.
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 16:09:02

    I do see how the threads would make it easier for the author of the post to respond to individual comments but just looking at all the comments and replies on this one post, and on this thread in particular, I would think it would be more confusing for someone who is only able to check in after work. I’m also noticing that you’re not able to respond to specific comments within the thread unless they are written in reply to the original comment that started the thread. Makes for a pretty lined-up thread but it’s not exactly easy on the comprehension skills. This one right here is confusing the crap out of me and I’ve been following it as it is occurring—I have a very lenient boss, otherwise I’d have to be numbered among the “lurkers” through necessity not choice.

  38. Lisa J
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 16:16:50

    Thanks for listening to what works/doesn’t work for us. I really like the table of monthly releases better than the covers.

  39. Lynn S.
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 16:33:45

    @Robin/Janet No. 16: Jumping off the thread wagon now to reply to your comment window issue. That comment window does act weird and definitely gets narrower within a thread. Have you tried typing in your word processing software and then doing the old cut and paste. It saves you from those internet hiccups and it works really well for me when I’m feeling long-winded.

    @Ridley No. 24:

    Does Worpress allow you to turn threading off/on per post? Could we compromise and turn threading off for discussion posts like Tuesdays’ letters of opinion and on book reviews?

    Ridley, if you’re still monitoring, this is one option on replying back to someone without joining a thread. Also if you wanted to respond to someone within a thread without joining the thread you could probably use the lettering system meaning that Ridley No. 9(A) would be your first displeased response regarding threads. Too much?

  40. Ridley
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 16:45:28

    Brain hurts, too hard.

  41. Robin/Janet
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 16:50:26

    If threaded comments stay, I’ll have to do that, because I’m already frustrated to an extreme level, and it’s only been a short time with the new format. Thanks for the suggestion!

  42. Robin/Janet
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 16:58:01

    I’m wondering if threaded comments appeal more to people who want to participate on a limited or exclusively local basis within threads. For those who engage on a more global level, threaded comments can be a frustrating deterrent.

    Also, replying within mini-threads that go past a couple of comments seems kind of complicated, because the reply button doesn’t show up on every comment.

  43. Connie
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 17:31:40

    I’m so glad to hear about all these improvements done on the DA website, especially the inclusion of an “advance search” option that I proposed under the previous post.
    Keep up the good work, DA team!

  44. rose
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 17:40:59

    Well I am one of those people you feel will like threaded comments, a lurker and I hate them! If that is the only option for viewing threads on a message board or comments on a blog, I just stop reading the blog comments/ message board . I find threaded comments to be a waste of my time because I do end up rereading a comment I have read in the past. I also hate having to scroll back and forth as to many replies to a comment dictate you have to do.

  45. Diane
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 19:17:48

    That’s a lot of changes but should be better for all of us!

  46. Angie G
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 21:00:52

    Lots of exciting things are in store for us here. Thanks so much for all your hard work!

  47. Lynn
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 21:40:47

    I also do not like the threaded comments. Although mainly a lurker, I do generally visit the site a couple times a day and enjoy just being able to scroll down to the last number that I read on my previous visit and go from there. I am not sure I have the patience or time to go back thru the threaded comments looking to see which ones are new.

  48. Laura P
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 22:42:40

    I’m so excited…. I can’t believe I won! Thank you!!! I can’t wait to try out my new kindle.
    Thanks for all you do for your readers.

  49. Harj
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 00:01:55

    If your content is stored in a db, I could help as I’m db developer. Or would it be possible to allow readers to tag reviews as per your guidelines?

  50. Courtney Milan
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 00:15:13

    Is it wrong that I’m considering sock-puppetry and IP address shenanigans to shift the vote against threaded comments? HATE.

  51. Honeywell
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 02:39:02

    I already ticked the hate box earlier but it’s so annoying to have to read through an entire thread all over again to catch any new posts–like I just had to do with this one–I thought I’d post my hatred as well.

  52. Nadia Lee
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 03:56:49

    I am. Also it looks like my comments sometimes get cut off or something. I have no idea why. :-(

  53. Christine M.
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 07:17:28

    Count me as one of those who were for the threads at first but after a couple of days…. really not liking them. I may have to revert to subscribing and reading everything in my emails… at least i won’t have to scroll through all the threads.

  54. Klio
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 07:30:46

    I seldom post a comment, but I do tend to check in to read a couple of times a day–on my way to and from work, whenever I need a midday mental health break (if I squint, I can call it work related; but I haven’t tried that excuse on my boss yet). And I usually love threaded comments, since that is absolutely what I prefer on every other message board, and I voted for threading. But I’ve been convinced otherwise–it does change the tone of the conversation, away from a sort of big table with a bunch of people taking turns and all gabbing together, into little clusters of conversations isolated from each other where you don’t get to meet everybody at the party. That works well in some places, but… Can I change my vote?

  55. Jane
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 08:23:28

    I’m definitely leaning toward the non threading of comments because it is harder for active commenters and I don’t want to punish those people who contribute to the site by commenting.

  56. Loosheesh
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 10:34:01

    @Klio: If I could, I’d change my vote also; from the other responses I can now see how troublesome threaded comments can turn out to be.

    A little OT, can someone please help me out with the quoting thing – the main reason I was all gungho for the threaded comments is that I’m not sure how to use the HTML tags to quote part of someone’s comment. Am I supposed to use ” blockquote cite=”” ” and put the quoted portion between the exclamation marks? I tried that once and I don’t think it worked; not sure what I did wrong :( Thanks in advance :-)

    (And yes, I’m a major lurker; usually, anything I want to say is already said so much more clearly by someone else :-D)

  57. Jane
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 10:41:31

    @Loosheesh You don’t have to use the quote. If you hover over the bottom of the comment, there is a “reply” link. Click it and it inserts the name and the link to the commenter to whom you are replying.

  58. Loosheesh
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 11:04:45

    @Jane: Thanks Jane; the “Reply” button will work for me. I wasn’t aware that the name link would take me to the exact comment that is being replied to, especially useful for instances where someone makes more than one comment.

    (in my comment above (before Jane’s), I meant to say quotation marks, not “exclamation marks”.)

  59. MaryK
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 12:05:51

    @Loosheesh: If you do want to quote something, you can use blockquote within <'s at the beginning and /blockquote between <'s at the end of the quote. It's one of the few HTML thingies I know how to do.

    ETA: Although, I obviously can't fake code.

  60. Loosheesh
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 16:19:19

    @MaryK: Thanks MaryK! Between what I learnt from you and Jane, I won’t need threaded comments :-D

  61. Julie VJ
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 17:12:01

    Thank you for advanced search feature.

    Add my vote for NO to threaded comments (and I am mostly a lurker). I check back several times a day and prefer to catch up with the most recent comments at the bottom of the list.

  62. Kelsey
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 03:16:35

    I am so glad that you are going to be tagging more consistently. Some days I just want to read certain types of books and this will make it so much easier.

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