Frequently Asked Questions
(A) What's the best way to navigate through
What is the best way to navigate through your reviews?
(B) How often do you update AAR?
(C) I've heard that this site promotes author-bashing
and does more harm than good to the romance community. What's
your response to that?
(D) You do so much for readers. I'm an author.
Am I welcome at AAR?
(E) You have so many forums. Why?
(F) Are there any particular rules to follow
here at AAR? Do you have a Netiquette Guide or Posting Policies?
(G) What is a Desert Isle Keeper review? How can I submit a DIK review?
(H) What is your review policy? How is a book's
grade determined? Why do you even give grades?
(I) Those "F" reviews seem awfully harsh. Why
bother with them?
(J) How do we determine a book's sensuality
(K) Who are your reviewers?
How can I join your review staff?
(L) I agree with some of your reviews, but
disagree with some as well. How can I tailor your reviews
to fit my likes and dislikes?
(M) How are books selected for review? How
do I go about doing getting my book reviewed?
(N) I've read everything by Judith McNaught,
and I'm looking for more books just like hers. Can you help
me find them?
(O) How does AAR make money? What is AAR's
(P) Does AAR pay its staff of reviewers, writers,
(Q) I keep seeing terms and phrases at your
site that I don't understand. Can you give some definitions
for things like DIK status, glomming, tstl heroines?
(R) I'm a big fan of your site. What can I
do to help keep it going?
(S) What is the difference between page views
and visitors? Your home page indicates 3.6 million page views
per month, but that doesn't compute with the number of visitors
you currently have.
(T) Publishers sometimes excerpt your reviews, or read a snippet from one of your articles. Are there any requirements related to the re-publishing of AAR material elsewhere, be it in print or online?
(A) AAR offers so much material - what's the best way to navigate through the site? As a general rule, when you visit AAR, check out what's new by looking at the middle of our home page. We also suggest new visitors access our "About AAR" pages, which is no doubt how you found your way here. Our custom-built reviews database is incredibly powerful; use our Power Search and search among our 6,000 reviews using individual or multiple criteria. We also have a Freefind.com search engine available on several of our pages that might be of some assistance - you can search the entire site from these search boxes.
Look for new reviews on our New Reviews page. For reviews older than 45 days, please access our Power Search page, which offers a multitude of narrow and broad-based searches for your convenience - our Power Search FAQ is extremely helpful in learning how to use this powerful search mechanism.
In order to make your navigation between reviews even easier, the bottom of each review offers a mini-search module by which you can search for book titles or authors. If the review interests you in the author in general, or if the book being reviewed is part of a series (we let you know in the review header if this is the case), or if you see some other book title or author referenced in the review, use this mini-search module.
(B) How often do you update AAR?
AAR is generally updated four or five times a week with new original content but our message boards and discussion lists are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
(C) I've heard that this site promotes author-bashing and does more harm than good to the romance community. What's your response to that?We think that AAR is unique in presenting all sides of issues that interest our readers. Some folks have never been presented with material like ours and mistakenly believe that we must have an ulterior motive for what we're doing. While we do post very opinionated commentary and reviews, we think it's far more interesting to present all sides of an issue. That's why we often post dual reviews and invite anybody who disagrees with what's at the site to state her - or his! - case. Those who do so receive prominent coverage at AAR.
It's also important to remember that, contrary to what you may have heard about our reviews, nearly 50% of all the new books we review receive grades of B- and above. Just about 80% of the new books we review receive "passing" grades. There are those who attribute some of the negative comments posted on our message boards to us, and that's a mistake. While we allow for a free exchange of ideas, we're not censors. Whether you are an author or a reader, you're free to disagree not only with us, but with each other.
Since we invite any and everyone who disagrees with our reviews and/or commentary to be a part of the site, we have a tough time understanding where our reputation comes from. In fact, even though we have asked those who write in to say we "attack authors" in our negative reviews for examples, we've yet to receive a single one. Yes - our reviews are not typical of romance reviews. Our reviews model mainstream reviews found in major newspapers and magazines. In fact, we've reprinted a few negative reviews from U.S. newspapers and magazines invite you to read them. If you still think we go beyond the pale, please
That same mainstream reviews page also features an index linking to our various rants about reviews, articles written for us on the subject, and to some pertinant external articles as well.
(D) You do so much for readers. I'm an author. Am I welcome at AAR? Of course! There would be no AAR were it not for the authors who create the books we love. Because all of us who write for AAR love to read, we love to interact with authors as well. That's why we've conducted more than 70 full-length interviews, have more than 60 Write Bytes online, and nearly 20 Quickies online as well. We love for authors to write segments for our At the Back Fence column and have found that some of our best discussions have arisen from pieces authors have written for us. Several authors have written Desert Isle Keeper Reviews for us too - all authors are welcome to write a review of their favorite romance or the book that most influenced their writing. We also have a Writer's News Message Board for authors to post upcoming releases, booksigning, and contest information. And, we'd certainly love for you to consider joining AARList, our reader/author discussion list, which has more than 700 members.
(E) You have so many forums. Why? Our
5 7 forums are content-specific. Some are used to gather material for future columns, and we need to keep them separate from those where readers/authors congregate just to talk to each other. Some find our AAR Reviews Forum too cantankerous, which is why it's so great that we have so many other forums to visit, including two just added in March 2007 that are off-topic altogether.
(F) Are there any particular rules to follow here at AAR? Do you have a Netiquette Guide or Posting Policies
In general, the rules of Netiquette at AAR are similar to what you'll find at other locales on the 'Net. We do have specific guidelines for members of our discussion lists, and general policies for posting on our various forums.
(G) What is a Desert Isle Keeper (DIK) review? How can I submit a DIK review? The term Desert Isle Keeper/DIK evolved over a period of time beginning in October 1996. The second column I ever wrote online featured the genesis of the idea for the Desert Isle Keeper, aka DIK. That was in 1996. The first use of the actual term “Desert Isle Keeper” – which I found doing a “freefind” search on AAR's live site – was from a 1996 interview with author Al Garratto. And though I know that if I spent more time looking on my hard drive I’d find even earlier references, the acronym “DIK” dates back to at least as early as 1998 and my coda at the bottom of a reader-submitted DIK review for Prisoner of My Desire.
The best way to think about our DIK reviews is that a Desert Isle Keeper is the kind of book you'd want with you if your ship went down at sea. Most of our DIK reviews are written by staff reviewers, but when this site first began, we decided that one way into the mind of authors was for them to share their favorite or most influential reads. And because we like to be organic, we also decided that readers could also submit DIK reviews. We think it's important to differentiate between DIK reviews as written by staff and those as written by authors or readers. While author and reader submitted DIK reviews are edited just as staff reviews are edited, we only consider those staff DIK's as "professional," which is why, if a DIK review is written by an author or reader, it is so noted at the top of the review: (This DIK review was written by an author) or (This DIK review was written by an reader).
An author is welcome to submit a DIK review of an all-time favorite book or a book that influenced their writing. A reader is welcome to submit a DIK review of an all-time favorite book. If interested, please use this online form.
(H) What is your review policy? How is a book's grade determined? Why do you even give grades? We work on a straight grading scale and believe the giving of grades is an easy and familiar way for readers to know at a glance what the reviewer thinks of a certain book. A's are reserved for the most special of books (10%), and F's are only given out if the book is among the worst our reviewer has ever read (5%). As tough as we are, however, we still love to read, and especially to read romance. Therefore, most of our grades fall into the B range. A full 80% of the books we review end up with passing grades of C- or above. Feel free to check out our Reviewer's Scorecard.
Each of our reviewers has different tastes, however, and we don't always agree internally about grades/reviews given. If there is a tremendous disparity between grades, we'll often post a dual review. A review, after all, is nothing but an opinion; we think all opinions are valid.
For a more detailed look at our review policy, please click here.
(I) Those "F" reviews seem awfully harsh. Why bother with them?We work hard for the money we earn, and we're sure you do, too. For lots of readers, books are a luxury, and there's nothing worse than spending hard-earned cash on a disappointing book. While we don't pay for all of the books we review, we do purchase some of them ourselves, so we know what that feels like.
AAR's first duty is to you, the reader. We're a consumer-oriented site, dedicated to helping you find and enjoy the romances that appeal to you. When we run across a bad book, we have an obligation to let you know about it. We're not telling anyone not to buy the book; we're just giving our opinion of it. A reader may love a book we can't stand, and another may be intrigued enough by the review to buy it. All we're doing is letting you know what's out there in the market of published books. Think of us as the consumer's guide to romance!
Because we don't just slap a grade on a book without detailing why it was given a grade of F, or A, for that matter, we're giving you, the reader, a better chance to decide for yourself. For example, say a reviewer gave a book a bad review because it was filled with historical errors. If you are more of a "historical wall-paper" type of reader rather than one who is a stickler for historical accuracy, you will likely enjoy that book more than the reviewer did.
(J) How do we determine a book's sensuality level? We developed our blush factor for sensuality ratings. A book can be kisses only, subtle, warm, hot, or burning. You can learn more about the blush factor system on our Sensuality Ratings page.
(K) Who are your reviewers? How can I join your review staff? We encourage you to learn about our reviewers. We have extensive staff profiles and/or biographies, that you can access through our About AAR section. Some of our reviewers have been reading romance for decades while others have come to the genre within the last several years. Any one who loves to read romance novels and believes she (or he) can be effective in sharing her thoughts and feelings about books can be considered as a reviewer. If you are interested in reviewing for us, you will need to prepare two sample reviews (one for a romance you loved and another for a romance you hated) and send them to us using this online form.
(L) I agree with some of your reviews, but disagree with some as well. How can I tailor your reviews to fit my likes and dislikes? We encourage our readers to find a reviewer who has similar tastes. Start by scanning our Desert Isle Keeper Favorites page and locating a review for a book you also loved. You might also want to check out our reviewer profiles, which can be linked to from our masthead; these list in detail the favorite romances of some of our reviewers. We hope to have all our reviewers participate in this survey eventually. We also encourage you to read our reviewer biographies and emailing a reviewer you feel you are in sync with.
(M) How are books selected for review? How do I go about doing getting my book reviewed? We regularly receive books for review by many of the major romance publishers. Some of our reviewers purchase books they want to read and review those, too. We review more than 50 books a month, many sent by publishers, but some sent by authors. Guidelines for publishers and authors to submit books for review can be found on our page entitled Do You Want Your Book Reviewed?
Our managing editor informs our reviewers of the books available for review and tries to make assignments based on reviewer preference. Some books are requested by multiple reviewers while others are not requested at all. We do our best to match books to reviewers, but cannot always do so.
We love having publishers quote excerpts of our reviews for book covers! As long as All About Romance is referenced, feel free to include the reviewer's name and our URL as well. And if you are a publisher or author who utilizes the Internet for posting positive reviews or review excerpts, please think of us.
(N) I've read everything by Judith McNaught, and I'm looking for more books just like hers. Can you help me find them? Our Features section includes two If You Like...pages - one by style, the other by historic period and sub-genre. These pages help readers who enjoy the particular styles of some lead authors in discovering perhaps lesser-known authors. Also in our Features section is a page for Buried Treasures that might prove helpful.
(O) How does AAR make money? What is AAR's advertising
policy? AAR had an active advertising program for many years, until
site founder Laurie Gold discontinued it in April 2008. With new management
assuming responsibility for the site in October 2008, that advertising program
has been reinstated. In addition to advertising revenues from private clients,
the site also relies on affiliations with Amazon, Google Adsense, and Shop
AAR. Where Amazon is concerned, we post links to amazon.com
at the end of every review at AAR, whether we loved or hated the book. Could
we sell more books and make more money if we tempered our reviews? Most definitely
- but we don't do that. Anything you order from amazon.com during a shopping
session, if you linked to amazon.com from our site, gives us a commission.
Although we do accept publisher and author advertising, our editorial processes and advertising are kept wholly separate, and you'll never find individual books advertised in our reviews section (we make an exception for those books whose proceeds are all donated to charity).
Nobody affiliated with AAR who deals with money from advertisers reviews for
the site in order to maintain a total separation of duties. However, we don't
believe that in order to be unbiased, we have to adhere to the Consumer Reports
school of publishing by not accepting ads from publishers or authors. If the
New York Times can do it, so can we!
If you are interested in advertising at AAR, our media kit can be found here. It contains further information about advertising, pricing, and the like, as well as an online form for you to fill out if you are considering advertising with AAR.
(P) Does AAR pay its staff of reviewers, writers, and editors? No. Everyone associated with the site donates her (or his) time, energy, and creativity. All we get is the copy of the book we review - and the
satisfaction of knowing we've done our best to give you a fair and honest assessment of it.
(Q) I keep seeing terms and phrases at your site that I don't understand. Can you give some definitions for things like DIK review, glomming, tstl heroines? We really have added some terms to the romance vocabulary over the years, some of which have made their way off the site and onto the Internet as a whole. Please see (G) above for DIK review. "Glom" which is based on a real word. We define glomming as that experience romance readers have when they discover a new-to-them author and search far and wide to buy up that author's backlist. Then there are GWHR (glomming without having read) and glom-buying, both of which are defined here.
Another term we've used for many years is tstl, or too-stupid-to-live. That term actually came from a very well-known author who wrote me about it in 1997 and asked to remain anonymous. A tstl heroine does things like going into a dark basement without turning out the lights or goes where specifically told not to by the hero and ends up endangering both with her foolishness.
And, though not developed at this site, you will often find TBR at AAR, which stands for to-be-read.
(R) I'm a big fan of your site. What can I do to help keep it going? The life of AAR depends on many things. The first is that it remains an active and interactive site filled with vibrant content of interest to those who "hang out" here. It also requires a staff of talented writers willing to devote their time to what is often a thankless job. Finally, it requires, unfortunately, cold, hard cash to fund out-of-pocket expenses and help pay for the new site design and database that went online late in 2004. So far most of this has been paid for out of pocket by founder, publisher, and editor-in-chief Laurie Gold aka Laurie Likes Books, and unless additional donations come in, it'll be approximately three years until she can recoup this expenses.
For readers, something that can be done right now is to make use of AAR's associations with Amazon in the US, UK, and Canada. If you take any of the literally thousands of links we have on the site to amazon.com, any purchase of new items (and some used items) you make during that shopping session will give us a commission. Amazon.com commissions account for our highest level of revenue, and they make it tough to maintain a constant revenue stream. Please consider placing your orders through us; we believe this will help not only the site, but you in the long run.
(S) What is the difference between page views and visitors? Your home page indicates 3.6 million page views per month, but that doesn't compute with the number of visitors you currently have.
he statistical package used to measure traffic at AAR provides us with many types of information, including the number of individual visitors we have per 24-hour period. You might come to AAR three times in a single day, and visit a total of 15 pages. That would add 15 to our total number of pages viewed but only 1 to our number of individual visitors. We believe both numbers are important, and both continue to rise. It does help us to know how many daily visitors are repeaters, how many come once a day, and how many pages - on average - our visitors access.
We do have "hit" counters on certain pages because we track certain features for only a short period of time. But many sites that provide hit information aren't providing truly accurate data. Certain hit counters count as a hit each file downloaded when a page is accessed. If a page contains both text and images, all are counted separately, skewing the total. If a page with text and five images is accessed, this might count for six hits.
(S) Are there any requirements related to the re-publishing of AAR material elsewhere, be it in print or online?
All reviews, articles, interviews, and other original content on this site were created for this site by irrevocable agreement between author and publisher. The use of any original material must be properly cited. If used for promotional purposes by an author or publisher, no permission is required, but the material must still be properly cited. For any other use permission must be obtained; if it was created by a member of AAR staff, only the publisher's permission is required. If it was created by an individual outside of AAR's staff, permission must be obtained from both the material's author and the publisher.