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  • Writing Peer Reviews

    How do I find something I’d like to read for peer review?

    You can search for a manuscript to review by title, subtitle, author, genre, subgenre, about the book, about the author, author notes, audience level and keywords. You may also navigate to another member’s profile and view a list of all the titles that person has posted and reviewed.

    Once you find a book that looks interesting, click on Read and Review. The manuscript will open and a review section to the right of the manuscript will be displayed for you to fill in. Watch this video, Writing Peer Reviews, for more information.

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    What should I know about the Book Review Details page?

    The Book Review Details page gives you a snapshot of all activity surrounding any book in peer review. In addition to seeing the book’s nib rating, version history description, and Author’s Note, you can also read all the Peer Reviews that have been posted for the title, and you can share a book title with a non-member via email, Twitter or Facebook.

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    I don’t have experience giving reviews. Can I still participate?

    Definitely!  We’re a community and that means we help each other. Even if you’re not an experienced reviewer, keep this in mind: you are a voracious reader in a certain literary category. A writer who wants to be successful in that category will find your insight immensely valuable. Think of reviews as thoughtful comments.

    Spend some time reading reviews posted by other members first so you can get a feel for the kind of feedback that is most helpful to writers. You can also find helpful tips for peer reviews in our discussion forums.

     Here are some tips:

    • Apply the golden rule to writing reviews: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Provide the level of detail and use the tone of voice you hope to receive from others.
    • Be as specific about your feedback as you can. Refer to scenes, passages, and sentences from the book; make it easy for the writer to understand and act upon your comments and criticisms. These are all works in progress: writers are here to hone their craft, so they want real feedback to make real progress. Find the balance between constructive and honest.
    • Breathe. Remember, a peer review is just that: honest feedback from another fellow writer.

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    How do I write a peer review of a manuscript I am reading?

    Find a book that you want to review then click the Read & Review button. Once you are in the online reader, there is a peer review section to the right of the manuscript you are reading. Simply fill in the text boxes, provide a star rating, and submit your review. Watch this video, Writing Peer Reviews, for a step-by-step guide on how to write and post reviews.

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    What information is required on a peer review?

    You must enter at least 140 characters in the overall feedback section before you can post your review and assign a nib rating. Please note, the character count does not include any quotes you highlight from the manuscript. You can’t post a review until you assign a nib rating to the overall review section.

    Also, if you want to assign a nib rating for optional criteria box the writer selected, such as character development or voice, you must enter some text in the review category to leave a rating. You must assign a nib rating to each optional category where you entered text before you can post your review. If you don’t want to assign a nib rating for the optional criteria, simply leave those sections blank.

    Here are some tips for when an author requests additional feedback on the optional criteria:

    • Point of View: POV isn’t an easy element to conquer, but when your story is told through the right eyes, it makes all the difference. Ask yourself: Does this POV work for the story I’m reading?
    • Voice: A strong, engaging and fresh voice is key to capturing a reader’s attention. Ask yourself: Is the writer’s voice compelling?
    • Character Development: Not only do characters need to be relatable, but they also have to grow and learn over time, just like real people. Ask yourself: Are the book’s characters engaging and believable? Do they grow over the course of the narrative?
    • Plot: Without an intriguing plot, there can’t be a story. Ask yourself: Is this book’s plot believable? Is it confusing? Is it entertaining me?
    • Dialogue: Dialogue doesn’t have to be perfect; it has to be real. Ask yourself: Does this book’s dialogue sound genuine? Is it consistent for each character, and is his or her dialogue distinct?
    • Pacing: A story must always move forward with a speed and rhythm that feels natural and unrushed. Ask yourself: Is the progression of this book’s narrative compelling? Is it keeping my interest?
    • Setting: In most fiction, setting should take on qualities of a character — be believable, detailed, well-drawn and powerful. Ask yourself: Is this book’s setting (place and/or time) convincing? Are the details making the story come alive to me?
    • Continuity: Even with multiple plotlines, a story needs to flow, make sense, and follow a full narrative arc. Ask yourself: Are there loose ends or inconsistencies in this story?

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    I have entered text in overall feedback, but it won’t allow me to post my review. Why?

    Make sure you have entered at least 140 characters, and at least some text in each criteria box the author selected for review. Please note, the character count does not include any quotes you highlight from the manuscript. You must also assign a nib rating to each category you entered text for before you can post your review.

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    I have entered text in the review category text boxes, but I can’t post my review. Why?

    Double check your character count and nib rating. The Post Review button will not be activated until you enter at least 140 characters in the overall feedback section. Please note, this does not include any quotes you highlight from the manuscript. You must also assign a nib rating to each optional category where you entered text before you can post your review. 

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    Can I save my review for later?

    Yes, simply click the Save for Later button. You may come back later to edit and update your review. Please note, it’s possible the writer could post a new version of their book since your review was last saved. You have the option to finish your review for the old version or navigate to the newer version and leave a review there. 

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    Can I quote text from the manuscript as part of my review?

    Yes, click in the review category where you would like to reference text from the manuscript. Next, click and highlight the text you would like to quote, and then click Quote to automatically enter the text you would like to quote. You may only highlight two paragraphs at a single time of selection.

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    Why can’t I copy and paste text?

    This prevents plagiarism. You can use the Quote feature in order to easily copy a few sentences you wish to directly address in your review.

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    Why am I limited to the amount of text I can quote in a review?

    This prevents plagiarism and protects the work of Book Country members. As a guideline, you want to quote just enough text so the writer has a frame of reference for the point in their manuscript where you are providing feedback.

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    How does the writer know the difference between the quoted text and my typed text in a review?

    The quoted text will be in italics and have quotes around the text. The review you write will display in a regular font style.

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    What do the nib ratings mean?

    Book Country uses nib ratings to help writers understand how much work is needed on their book and how ready the manuscript is for publication. Think of the nib ratings on a scale of rough draft to final draft. One nib means that the book needs a lot of improvement and five nibs means that the book is polished and ready for publication.

    Here’s how we think about the nib ratings:

    5 nibs — piece is publication-ready
    4 nibs — piece needs some editing and minor revisions
    3 nibs — piece needs significant revision, perhaps another draft
    2 nibs — piece needs several more drafts and maybe some reconceptualization
    1 nib  — piece needs significant redrafting as well as reconceptualization

    Everything on Book Country is a “Work In Progress” and every book, even ones by bestselling authors, has room for improvement. That’s why we’re sharing in the first place!

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    I am trying to assign a nib rating to a review category, but the system won’t let me. Why?

    Make sure that you've entered text in all of the requested feedback criteria fields, and that your overall review has at least 140 characters or more. You cannot assign a nib rating unless you do so. Please note, quoted text from the manuscript you are reviewing does not count towards the minimum character count.

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    Can I edit my review after I have posted it?

    No, make sure you double check your review before you post it! You will not be able to edit later.

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    How many reviews per book can I submit?

    You can submit one review per version of a manuscript. So, if you leave a review on the first version of manuscript, you may offer a review of the second version after the author posts it.

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    Why must  I submit a review before I can post a review?

    Book Country is a writing and publishing community. We believe in the importance of helping others to succeed. That’s why ask you to read and review at least one other person’s manuscript before posting your own.

    Many Book Country members tell us that they learn a lot about what their book need from reading and reviewing the work of fellow writers.

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    How many reviews can I complete overall?

    We encourage you to post as many as you like! There is no restriction on how many peer reviews you post overall.

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    How do I report abuse in reviews?

    Click on Report Abuse next to the review, and an email will be sent to our administrators. We will then determine if the review should be deleted. Please note that if it’s determined the review should be pulled, the overall nib rating will recalculate without the abusive review.

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    I am trying to search for a particular title, but it is no longer available for peer review; why?

    The writer may have moved their book out of peer review to our publishing tools or they may have pulled their book down for peer review.

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