We write here at 4F, 1 H. We have in guest authors talking about writing their books, so after some years, I thought I would turn the tables and bring in someone who reviews books all the time. Please welcome Donna Feyen, the woman behind a wonderful community service, “More Than a Review”.
Thank you for agreeing to join us, Donna! We have so much to talk about.
First, tell us about your life, where you live, your family, (including your daughter in the military), your pets, everything!
Thank you so much for inviting me. I live in NW Arkansas. My husband, Ray and I have been married for 18 years. He owns his own business. We have two rescue dogs; Lucky and Miney. That is so hard for me to write as we just lost our oldest rescue, Dallas in October. She had a great life with us but we miss her.
Our daughter, Emily is in the Army National Guard. We brag on her a lot as she was the top, number one soldier out of her entire Basic Training class. She is currently working full time for the National Guard in their HR department.
Fun facts about me in addition to being an avid reader: I am an Elvis fan and dress up to celebrate his birthday at my corporate office each year. I am also a Third Day fan and the band started recognizing me at their concerts. I cannot choose a favorite book or author. To learn more about me you can also visit my “A Few of My Favorite Things” on my Pinterest Board.
Please tell our readers what More Than a Review is about and explain your rating system.
More Than a Review is more than a book review or a book blog. In addition to a traditional review, we assign ratings to four content categories; sexual content, violence, profanity and drug/alcohol use. We have a rating system of 1 through 5 for each category to help the reviewers be consistent with the ratings.
You cannot judge a book’s content by the cover. Our goal is for people to choose books that match their content preferences. Truly it helps the reader and the author.
Recently another huge feature of the website has been the author video interviews. Authors are the most fascinating people.
Was there one defining turning point made you decide to start your website?
There was; I had read two books within a short time of each other that had content that surprised and disappointed me. You truly cannot judge a book content by its cover and sometimes even by the author. I was telling my sister that I wished there was a way to know the content before you start reading a book. She convinced me I was not the only one who would be interested in this. She and a couple of my friends encouraged and supported me throughout the creation of More Than a Review.
How do you, personally, choose books?
My personal genre is romantic suspense. I cannot handle torture or lots of violence. I also do not like books that are sad or depressing. If Oprah recommends it, I will not read it.
I have also chosen books because I liked the author after meeting them and interviewing them.
Do you hear feedback from readers who appreciate your rating system?
Yes, more and more readers are concerned with the content they are reading and that their kids are reading. Personally, I think this is a result of publishers thinking that certain content is popular and trying to push that content into books.
Do you ever hear from authors whose books you have reviewed and rated?
Authors are thrilled when you review their books. I think readers underestimate the significance of a book review.
You post reviews from members of your site. Do you accept reviews of ALL books, or just Christian and the more gentle/cleaner kind?
I welcome reviews from readers for all books and genres. However, it appears as if the majority of my audience is more interested in mainstream genres.
How do you find reviewers? Who can review for MTAR?
I love reviewers and I am always on the lookout for more. I get so many requests to review books that I cannot read them all. To be a Reviewer, send me three of your previous reviews. Reviewers can post reviews for any books that they read and they can accept ebooks that I offer for a review. Reviewers will never be asked to read/review a book that they are not comfortable with. I ask that reviews are posted within 30 days of receiving the free book. If anyone is interested they can contact me at email@example.com.
I have seen a number of your video interviews on Facebook and on your website and you also offer audio interviews. Authors can submit their books for review to MTAR, as well. These are produced with great care and offered in varying levels for varying fees. Please give the writers reading this an idea of what they can expect for their money.
Interviewing authors is one of those things I lose myself in. I started doing it for free because I wanted to meet some of my favorite authors (Lynette Eason). And quickly realized this is my passion. I have met the most amazing people. After a couple years my husband, very sweetly asked if I might try to pay for the expenses related to the book conferences I was attending So I upgraded my equipment, learned minor video editing and produced video interviews that are marketable for the authors. The authors have all rights to the videos, and I share them on my social media pages to help the authors get more readers.
I think the reason the interviews are so well received is the authors (even the introverted ones) feel very comfortable with me and they can tell I am truly interested in them and it comes across in the interview. It is hard to get noticed with 1000s of books published every day. When a reader connects with an author they want to try out their books. A video interview is an easy and affordable way to create that connection.
Is this a full-time job for you? Do you expect to continue MTAR well into the future?
More Than a Review is my passion and not my full-time job. I juggle it with a full-time job. I absolutely see More Than a Review continuing well into the future and growing.
Thank you again, Donna, for being with us today. Please give our readers the links to your sites so that they can see your work for themselves.
I realize that there are many questions that others may have for Donna. Please, leave a comment.