Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Writing Wednesday: Reviews Reviews Reviews

So. We all know that reviews are Important. With a capital "I" of course. And good reviews do more than make an author feel good. Although that's really Important, also with a capital "I" (in my opinion.)

Back in the day, there was nothing better than having your book make it into the New York Times Book Review section, or one of the NYT Bestseller Lists. And that's still an important milestone, don't get me wrong. But reviews have become more democratized and widespread with the digital revolution...

With the onset of Amazon as a bookselling powerhouse, reviews gained even more importance.

Amazon Reviews not only help other readers decide to spend their money on a certain book but also help Amazon choose which books to recommend to their online buying audience. The more reviews a book has, the more likely Amazon will be to recommend it to other readers.

Goodreads is another great resource for readers to find reviews by other readers and determine whether a specific book is a good fit for their own reading tastes. Both of these sites are open to the public and have the advantage of letting the reader write whatever they want and grant as many - or as few - stars as they wish.

Blogger Review sites are also an interesting and increasingly popular source for finding reviews, especially if you're able to find a blogger or group blog that reviews a.) books in the genre you typically like to read, and b.) bloggers who have similar tastes to your own. Some sites are well-established review sites with large and consistent followings. Others might be like me, and do reviews once in a while.

Reviews help readers decide to take a chance on a new author. They also help indie bookstores and shops decide whether to stock a book by a new author, or one that hasn't made it to the NYT Bestseller list. (Yet.)

None of this should be news to anyone reading my blog. But what does it all really mean, and what can an author do about garnering good reviews?

First things first - write the best book you possibly can. Put the time and effort into editing and polishing your words until they sparkle. Find an agent or a publisher and get your book out there.

Then... do some work. Send out email requests and Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) to friends and fellow authors who read your genre. Research the various bloggers and review sites who have given favorable reviews to books similar to yours. I mean, if you're writing about vampires don't send the book to a reviewer who has already stated publicly that they hate all vampire books, sparkly or not. When I say "Research" I don't just mean find a list and email everyone. Do the homework first. 

And then... follow up. Send thank yous to friends who give you good reviews. Remind them to post their reviews to Amazon to help other readers connect with your book, (something I still need to do with a handful of people!)

And if you get a less than stellar review? Don't sweat it. Your book won't be everyone's cup of tea. Just like some people prefer, say, gummy bears over M&Ms, your story won't appeal to everyone. Take a deep breath and move on to the next reviewer. 

Reading reviews is like riding a rollercoaster - you have to take the ups with the downs, and just enjoy the ride.



  1. I also do book reviews, usually mid month, and occasionally more, if I've been reading a lot.

    If I like a writers style and genre I will offer to review any future books. I try to showcase writers that I know, but also literary books that many haven't read. Trad or self-pub.

    One thing I find annoying are how many book reviewers are unaware how to do a book review without spoilers! It's like the movie trailer that shows too much.

    Someone said in a blogpost yesterday that there is a difference in critiquing rather than reviewing a book. Absolutely! This message needs to get out.

    1. I agree with everything you said - and have heard lots of whining from authors who hate the spoilers in reviews of their work!

      I think a good review can go over the synopsis or blurb a little, but should also touch on why the reviewer liked or didn't like the book, and that might fall under critiquing. I think it's important to know if the characters are likeable, if the dialogue is believeable or wooden, if the storyline flows quickly or moves at a snails pace...

      That said, there are all kinds of ways to write reviews. Bottom line (IMHO) they shouldn't be straight book reports, but they should say why you liked or didn't like the story.

      And I'll have to check out how you write reviews now! I'm curious!


Go ahead - leave a comment! You know you want to! But don't be Anonymous - that'll just get you deleted. And who wants that?