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Proper Care and Feeding of Your Book Reviews

Reviews Blog part 2: for the Writer

For the first part of this, I asked readers to leave a single sentence and a couple stars and call it a review. But then it occurred to me—getting people to leave their opinions is not the only struggle in the big bad game we call book reviews. What happens after you get them? And thus we have blog number two: for the writers.

So you’ve got some reviews on Amazon. Excellent. Congrats. 90% of the reading population gets their fiction fix from Amazon at this point. Unfortunately, less than 1% of them will leave a review. Oh they may have liked it. Maybe even really liked it. They may have even told their friends, or even you. But they’re probably (even after reading the first part of this) not going to leave a review. Because why? I have no idea. If you figure that out, let me know.

So let’s, for this portion of the show, think outside the box, beyond the storefront, to review sites and journals and other places. To this I say, have a hit list. Where do you want to be reviewed? (Again, I’m not talking about Amazon anymore) Who do you trust because they’re thorough and honest and if it’s not good, they won’t fluff it with Atta’boys. Where are your heroes reviewed? Your peers? Make a list.

Now contact them all.

Yes, all. Because a.) they won’t all be able to get you on the TBR schedule, and b.) many of them don’t have the same audience—grow your audience by spreading your reviews out.

What to say? Easy. Short and sweet and “hey, I have a book, would you like a review copy?” Because yes, you’re going to give away copies of your book. Whether they prefer printed review copies or are kind enough to take arcs, ebooks, and/or pdfs, you are going to give away your book. With a smile. And a prayer.

So now you have a list. You’ve sent the book. (Jump forward in time…) And they’ve reviewed you! Now what? Because this is the spot where my thought occurred the other day. So now that we’re all up to speed and have these reviews, those not on the storefront, what do we do?

Sure, we post them on our blogs, our websites, our twitter feeds, and our facebook pages. We point and smile and say, “look what I did!” It might get liked, it might get shared, and you get that warm fuzzy feeling.

But then, like everything we post, it get swallowed by the neverending feed monster and disappears into the depths of posts forgotten. The archives. The annals. The things forgotten beyond the “load more” button.

Then someone wants to buy the book and they wonder what others thought of it, so they look at the reviews on Amazon or B&N or where ever. And they see “didn’t finish it, it sucked.” Or they see positive reviews in the form of single sentences and a smattering of stars because those readers read the first part of this two-part blog. But what if they were looking for that in depth review. What if they were wondering whether or not Cemetery Dance or Rue Morgue or Gingernuts read it and what their thoughts were? They would have to dig to find those buried in the feed monster. But they won’t dig. They won’t hunt. If you don’t provide it, they won’t ever see it once it’s been swallowed.

So to combat this, I’ve done the following, and gladly welcome others to do the same.

First, I’ve taken the juicy bits of the reviews, and put them on the product page of Amazon or B&N in the “reviews” portion between the back cover copy and the readers reviews. You can get to this section through Author Central (amazon), or in your book details on B&N, or by having your manager and/or agent take care of this for you. (I also use these little blips, blurbs and highlights in ads, tweets, gentle reminder posts, etc)

Then, I took those same juicy bits and put them on the individual book pages of my website, with links to the full review. And just like that, those pretty words they said are no longer lost to the ever scrolling feed demon. Now if that reader finds you because of a different book and goes looking through your catalog, they’ll be able to click and read those journal reviews. You’ve saved them. Shared them and kept them safe for future sharing.

And that’s it. Get the reviews. Share the reviews. Post them in a place they won’t disappear forever… and then get to writing the next thing. Because no matter how good this book is received or reviewed, the question on everyone’s tongue will be: What’s next?

 

pssst Leave a Review

Reviews Blog part 1: for the Reader

Reviews are something every writer fears, loves, needs, wants, and often begs for. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to reviews lately, and two separate ideas started formulating, so I’m going to do two separate blogs. One for the readers, and one for the writers. This one is for the readers…

It started when I was looking around google and did some quick math. Scary math. Terrifying math that made me want to curl up in a corner and rock for a bit.

According to Statista—about 50,498 new fiction books were published in 2013.

That’s 138 books a day.

So the day a new book comes out, it is immediately competing with 137 other books.

137.

And that’s just the day it came out.

The next day, it’s now competing with 274 new books (previous day, plus new day—because *new release* is longer than a twenty-four hour period). And then on the third day, it’s competing with 411… and by the end of the first week alone it is competing with 959 other *new releases*.

959.

Absorb that.

Not to mention the 4,000 books that came out the previous month, but the readers hadn’t had a chance to grab them yet. So now do they buy one of those 4,000 they were thinking about, or one of the new 959, or yours?

Keep in mind, that data is from 2013, because the consensus among the pollsters, librarians, and other book nerds since then is that there is no longer any way to come up with a true number due to the sheer amount of self-published books which have no ISBN or other way to track them.

Which means the number is actually higher than 959 at the end of one week. 1,000 maybe? Probably more?

And this is why the authors you know, love, follow, stalk, read, etc. literally beg for reviews. Because we need to somehow hold our book a little higher than the other 959 that week… and those reviews help more than you can imagine.

But what is a review? First of all, for the purpose of this blog, I’m talking about them as if they were a product review for that new toaster you got—whether it was on Amazon, B&N, etc. Secondly, we’re not looking for in depth literary reviews. We’re not looking for a book report. We’re not even looking for a breakdown of what did and didn’t work. David Wilson actually just brought this up on facebook recently.

Sometimes I wonder if readers don’t leave book reviews because they think they need to write something like you would read on a review site, or in a magazine. Reader reviews on Amazon are more likely to be considered useful by sites like Bookbub if they are short, just say something like “great story line, loved the xxxx character…” Or mention very briefly a theme. If it looks like someone sat down to write a formal review, it also looks either paid, or like it came from a friend trying to outdo themselves.

If you’re interested in the comments and conversation spurred off that post, check out the thread.

Regarding the reviews themselves—he hit the nail on the head (hehe, there’s a pun in there if you know him). We are literally looking for, hoping for, asking and begging for, nothing more than a number of stars (as you see fit), and a single sentence.

A single sentence.

What did you actually like? Was it the characters? Was it the storyline? Or perhaps the twist at the end? Without giving anything away, say something short, sweet, concise, and toss some stars at it like shiny yellow punctuation.

That’s it.

Why? Because yes, we want to know if you liked it or not—especially if we’re debating a sequel or using a character elsewhere. But we also want to somehow hold that book a little bit higher than the other 959 people who released their books that week… and your single sentence and smattering of stars can actually help us to do that.

So please, care for your favorite author enough to give their work a (brief, one-sentence) review.

I recently changed the information on my Amazon account so that I, too, can leave reviews when I finish reading. Because I read a lot of books, and it’s horrible to ask for reviews but not leave them. So if you’re worried about someone knowing it was you, change your info. Remove your last name. Use only initials. Do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable enough to share your opinion.

I’m leaving reviews. Are you? Have you read something of mine? Did you put a sentence and some stars on Amazon? Could you? How about that other author you just read? They could use a little one-sentence love, too…

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— · Rosie's Bookapalooza · —
October 5, 2019
Johnstown, PA

— · Merrimack Valley · —
Halloween Book Festival
October 12, 2019
Haverhill, MA

— · 2nd and Charles · —
Horror Writers' Panel
October 26, 2019
Harrisburg, PA

— · Read and Scream · —
Chester County Library
November 2, 2019
Exton, PA

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