How Are We Doing?

Recently Lynda X started a thread on the Potpourri board asking people what they loved about AAR.  While we are appreciative of the sentiment and couldn’t be happier that AAR feels like home to some of you, I’d like to know what you might like – or might not like – about AAR these days.

Since Blythe, Lynn, and I took over, things have definitely changed, including a major redesign.  Some features have gone and won’t be returning (ATBF, for one), others seem to have been on hiatus for some time and obviously we need a kick in the butt to get them going again.  All of us have occupations and lives and finding the time is often difficult.

So, a few questions, but, please feel free to address anything.  Are you satisfied with our message board moderation?  Would you like to see the return of Special Title Lists? Are you happy with our regular posting of reviews these days? What would you like to see us do with the News Blog?

But the big question is back to the title of this blog: How are we doing?

- Sandy AAR

AAR Annual Reader Poll: Voting Closes on January 29th

We plan for AAR’s Annual Poll for months and since January 16th we’ve been frantically entering your ballots. Now, as hard as it is to believe, the AAR Annual Poll for books first published in 2011 is nearly over. Yes, this year’s poll closes at midnight Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, January 29th.

Have you voted yet? If you have, thank you! It’s truly a joy to look at all of your votes and tally the results In the past we would receive a flurry of votes the first few days and then things would die out until the last days of the poll. Not this year. So far, we’ve received a large number of ballots each day since voting opened. This keeps us busy, but very happy.

If you haven’t voted, don’t despair. There’s still plenty of time to vote. And more importantly, your vote can make the difference in many categories. Right now most of the categories – including Best Romance of 2011, Best Romance Hero, and Best Romance Couple – are wide open with just days remaining in the poll.

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Heads Up: The Annual AAR Readers Poll is Coming

I know that many of you are in a pre-holiday frenzy right now, and the last thing you need is more pressure. Then again, it’s better to have lots of warning. If you’re a longtime visitor to AAR, you know what’s coming in January. But if you’re new to AAR, let us give you a heads-up now. Yes, even though 2011 isn’t over, we at AAR are getting ready for the AAR Annual Reader Poll for 2011 romances!

Voting in the 16th AAR Annual Reader Poll will begin on Monday, January 16, 2012 and will end two weeks later at midnight on Sunday, January 29th. The Annual Reader Poll has a long tradition at AAR, and is one of the highlights of the year here.

The categories we used last year worked quite well. By changing the previous category of Erotica to Romantica/Erotica and the category of Worst Romance to Most Disappointing Romance, we were able to announce winners quite easily in all of the categories. So we’re sticking with a good thing and will be going with the same categories this year (see the bottom of this post for a listing of all of the categories  that will be on the ballot this year).

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Looking for a Few Good Women (or Men)

image1fullWhen I was at the RWA conference this past summer, someone asked me how long I’d been reviewing online. “Since 1998,” I replied. Then saw the double take. “1998???”

Yep, that long. I’ve watched AAR go from renegade to respected institution. I’ve seen perceptions of online reviewers change from the Rodney Dangerfield-esque days of “No Respect” to, well, respect. I’ve reviewed in three separate decades of my life, starting in my twenties, continuing through the entire decade of my thirties, and now entering my forties. I’ve watched trends, authors, and publishers come and go.

The point of this is not that I am getting old (my kids remind me of that often), or that I’m a dinosaur by Internet standards, but that I’ve seen a lot of people come and go over twelve years. Not only on AAR, but elsewhere. Life’s complicated, and it’s busy. People have babies, lose jobs, get jobs, move, and burn out. Hang around awhile, and you’ll appreciate what it takes to maintain your interest, your passion, and your love of romance year after year. (Just ask Ellen, who has been at AAR longer than I).

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Imitation is the Sincerest Form of…Theft

plagiarism Have you ever had your home broken into? Even if no one is hurt and nothing is damaged, that feeling of violation remains. What if someone copies your work, puts her name on it and turns it in as her own? Pretty outrageous, huh? Ever since an observant author notified us last week that another romance site called Ramblings on Romance (a new blog, NOT to be confused with the blog of the same name authored by the lovely Kristie(J), who is innocent in all this) has rather blatantly copied material from All About Romance, our feelings have run the gamut from anger to pity to disgust over having been ripped off.

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The FTC Guide Revisions and What They Mean to AAR

FTC Earlier I posted about the revisions to the FTC guides which will take effect on December 1, 2009. So, what do these mean to AAR? This site is not strictly a blog, but we are a set of volunteers providing reviews of books. As many of you reading already know, we receive most of our books free of charge from publishers and authors, so we quite probably fit within the FTC’s guidelines on dislosure.

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The State of AAR: September 2009

Last month we started the first in a series of monthly reports on the status of AAR. We’re happy to report that September was another good month. We added a variety of new content and visits continued to be strong.

We’re especially pleased that once again, 50 new reviews were posted, although this month, only three were DIKs, in contrast to seven during August. Hopefully, both for our readers, and our reviewers, October will bring more DIKs.

Those reviews are the heart and soul of AAR and readers made good use of them in September. There were 62,279 views of the new review page, and 152,055 views of the many reviews available at AAR. Additionally, there were 90,883 views of the advanced search option for the reviews database.

Both of our blogs were also busy during September. There were 18 new posts at the AAR News and Commentary Blog, and 17 at AAR After Hours. I always find it interesting to see which posts generate the most comments. At AAR News and Commentary Blog, aside from the Gabaldon giveaway, the two posts generating the most comments were Abi’s post at the end of the month on The Heavy Hero (or Heroine) and Lynn’s post You Never Forget the First.

Once again, AAR’s Alexa traffic rank increased; it’s up from 97,264 in August to 93,029 (the lower the number the better, and anything under 100,000 is something to be proud of). This is also a 19% three-month improvement.

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The State of AAR: August 2009

While many people were on vacation during August, it was a busy month for AAR staff and readers. We’re proud of what’s happening at AAR and wanted to share some of it with you in a once-a-month report. This is the first of those reports.

A lot of new content was added to AAR in August. As always, our primary focus is reviews, and we posted 50 new reviews – including seven DIKs – in August. In addition to the reviews, we added a variety of other new content, including 20 new posts here at the AAR News and Commentary Blog, and 22 at AAR After Hours.

Both AAR’s own statistics, and those available at Alexa, confirm that visits to AAR have increased steadily over the course of 2009. At the end of August, AAR’s traffic rank at Alexa was 97,264, a very good number indeed (anything under 100,000 is something to be proud of), and up 76 percent according to Alexa’s figures.

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AAR Gets an A+ from

The review from the incredibly astute, lovely, and talented Stephanie Giancola appeared last Wednesday on the site. (Read, please.  We’ll wait for you right here.)

She likes us! She really likes us!

In case you haven’t yet caught on to the phenomena, the site offers both local and national coverage in a variety of areas – including romance novels.  It’s lively and fun and diverse in the subjects covered and has become a daily stop for me looking for UFO news and for Rachel on the prowl for Robert Pattinson gossip. (See, I said it was diverse.)

And, gee, their examiners – as they call their contributing writers – have really good taste, too!

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Public Service Announcement

The message boards are back online!!! After much wrangling, some unladylike language, and finally getting to deal with a truly wonderful, helpful IT person, the boards are back up. From the email I’ve been getting, I know you all have missed it as much as I have, so I’m glad the wait is over.

See you on the boards!

-Lynn Spencer