There are a lot of threads that keep popping up in one form or another on the forums I visit. Some involve topics that are fun to discuss while others make me want to use the force to choke someone out. One of these topics has to do with reviews. I have a lot of thoughts on this topic so I decided to share them. In the interest of appearing sane, I split my ramblings into four parts.
Reviews are very important to readers and writers. For the reader, they can be a source of unbiased information about a book they are interested in. For the author, they can be a source of constructive criticism, a major boost to your ego / mood / sales or a kick in the pants. I can understand authors wanting to get as many good reviews as possible. Even a negative review can be helpful.
What I don’t understand is the need to submit your book to each and every review site out there. I was amazed by how many authors leap at the chance of getting a review without looking at the reviewer’s web site and his or hers past reviews. Not all review sites and reviewers are created equally. Each one is different. Some cater to different types of readers and books. It’s important to pick the right review site for you and your book.
You could have written the best fantasy story ever but submitting it to a romance reviewer because your book has a romance subplot might do more harm than good. A reviewer who loves Christian books might not like your book that tears down organized religion and casts Jesus as an alien.
There are sites where submitting your book to them is like volunteering to stick your head into a wood chipper. There are reviewers who seem to take special pleasure in ripping apart books. Look at their past reviews. If you see that no book submitted to the reviewer was good enough to warrant a three star review or higher review and their criticism boils down to “you fail”, why submit your book to this person? Is it the vain hope that your writing is better than all the people who submitted before you?
Finally, there are sites that happily charge for reviews or try to get money from an author in some other way. Offering advance copies and free books to a reviewer is fine but the moment someone asks for a fee to review your book, just walk way. Be wary of anything that seems like a “bait and switch”. For example, a reviewer who reviews your book then offers to edit / proofread you novel to correct the problems they saw for a fee.
I guess what I’m trying to say is be smart about who and where you submit your book to. Also keep in mind, a review is only helpful if someone reads it and the reviewer has some credibility.
When you find a reviewer or site that you want to send your book to, submit your book exactly the way they request it. Include all the information the reviewer asks for. Reviewers, especially the good ones, have a lot of books waiting to be read and reviewed. They post their submission guidelines for a reason, please follow them. The easiest way to make sure your book doesn’t get reviewed is to not follow their guidelines. Once your book is reviewed, try to point people in its direction. Some reviewers might post a copy of their review on Amazon, others might not. In the case of the latter, you can ask the reviewer to post their review someplace else in addition to their site or ask for permission to quote them.
Okay, that’s it for now. Part Three will be up in a couple of days.