Thursday, January 26, 2012

Treating Book Reviewers and Bloggers With Respect

Part of your job as an indie author is to find book reviewers and bloggers to review your book.  There are dozens of them out there. You can find them by searching facebook for pages about books and about your genre, searching on yahoo or google, or asking other authors that you are friends with.  Once you have a large list, you should be contacting a couple of dozen right away.  Then, every week or so, add three more. Keep a log of who, what and when.
Before you contact them, go to their website or blog and carefully read the instructions on how to request a review.  Please note if they say they are closed for reviews or do not review indies.  If either of these are mentioned, do NOT request a review from them.  You will not be the exception and you will only irritate them.

If they do accept indies and are not closed, then follow the instructions completely.  Send what they ask for in the first email and only send that.
If they accept your book and did not ask for everything up front, they will give you further instructions.

Once accepting, ask them kindly if they will post on whatever book sites and selling sites you want the review on.  Remember, they do reviews for free and out of the love for books, so they do not "owe" you reviews on any sites.  If they do not post on every site you want, don't be rude.  Most at least post on Amazon, B&N and Goodreads.  That is fair to expect and request.  Some will post other places, too.  Just ask.  Never demand. If they don't do other sites, don't get angry.  Reviews on the three I mentioned will still benefit you.

Provide all information that they ask for.  Make sure you have a copy of your book cover photo, a description, your buy links, your social media links and can either send them a .pdf or .mobi if they want OR be willing to send them a gift cert to either Kindle or NOOK.  It only costs you the price of your book and when they redeem it, you get a sale.  Some do not read books electronically.  So, send them the paperback.  Yes, it costs more.  Still, the review costs you nothing and can benefit you greatly.  If you don't have your work in  paperback and they don't have an e-reader then graciously say so and find a different reviewer.

It is fine to ask when they expect to have the review done.  Some are within weeks, most a month or two...and some of the big ones can be several months.  I have a review that I requested last fall coming in July 2012!  That review site is greatly respected and I feel it is well worth the wait.  What does it hurt me?  Nothing.

If they don't give you a general date, don't harass them weekly.  In fact, don't harass them at all!  If  a month and a half goes by, a polite email asking if they are now able to provide a target date is fine.  Don't bug them often or you won't get reviewed!  Remember, they are doing this for free.

Ask them if they will let you know on the day the review goes live so that you can push the review with social media.  You can tweet and facebook the link to the review on their site or blog, and that gives them exposure too.  In fact, you should.  Some don't let you know ahead of time, just when it is live.  Some don't show you the review until it is live.  Some do.

Do NOT pay for reviews.  How can a paid review be fair?

Last and most important:  Do not argue or be rude or defend your book once the review is done if it is less than you expected.
You asked them to review your book, not be your friend. They are not obligated to love, or even like, your work!  Not everyone likes every book!  Chalk it up to either someone not liking your style or needing to improve your writing skills, depending on what the review says.  If it says the book is full of errors, shame on you.  The book should not be published if it is not well proofed and edited.

If it says the characters were not developed or story did not flow, perhaps you need to work on those things in the future.  If other reviews are good and don't mention that, perhaps it was a style that they don't like.  Once you get several reviews, you will know if certain points come up over and over again.

Remember, three stars is not a bad review.  Authors are starting to think anything less than four or five stars is an insult to the book.  Three stars out of five means they liked it!  They liked it enough to read it all and would tell others it was decent.  What is wrong with that?

Even two star and one star reviews can help you.  It just depends on what is said.  I got a two star that said there was too much sex in my book.  Right after that review I had a burst of sales!  I am not going to argue if there was too much, too little or just the right amount, as it does not matter.  If I see a review that says there was too much description of scenes, I won't buy it but others may love that.  I like a lot of dialog.  So a one star review saying too much dialog would inspire me to buy.

Do not leave comments about reviews on the review sites.  It looks tacky to readers.  You look defensive and unprofessional, no matter how professionally you respond to bad reviews.  Just don't.  Seriously. Responding to good reviews makes it look like you are friends.  Leave it be. Seriously, don't. Remember this: reviews are for readers not authors.  You can thank them for their work via a private email.  And that is all.  No rebuttal.  Got it?  :)  We have lost too many fair reviewers because of abuse by authors.  If all we end up with are reviewers that kiss authors butts, then reviews are pointless.

Bitching about a bad review on kindleboards (even their writer's cafe) or other chat rooms is not advised.  Readers see that and think much less of you.  Reviewers see that and don't want to work with you.
Yes, we all strive for four and five stars.  It is great to get those.  But you earn them, dear author.  You earn them.  You are not more special than the rest, you are not entitled simply by publishing our work.  You earn them.

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