Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Rant on Reviews

When it comes to promoting my books, I haven’t always been the best and definitely not the most proactive. I wish I could say it’s because I’m so modest or that my books are so amazing, my work speaks for itself. The truth of the matter is I’m not good at self-promotion.

People ask what my book is about and I struggle to come up with an answer. Even now, I can’t think of a good example of a bad answer! This is probably why I struggle to come up with those taglines that are supposed to draw readers in, after your cover of course.

When This Time was released, I made a conscious decision to invest more time and money in promotion of my novel. One thing I did, which I’ve never done before, is actively solicit reviews of my book. I offered reviewers a free copy of my book in exchange for their honest review being posted online for whole world to see. You have no idea the effort it takes to do something like this, not to mention the anxiety is causes a writer!

Querying a reviewer is much like querying an agent. Each reviewer has different specifications with regard to how they want to be contacted. Failure to follow their criteria can result in your work being passed over for review much like an agent would pass over the chance to represent you. And much like agents, reviewers are inundated with requests for reviews, particularly from emerging authors looking for more exposure. As a result, reviewers are sometimes forced to be choosy when it comes to what books they’ll read.

Then there’s the amount of time it takes, both for the initial response and the final review. The number of authors asking for their books to be read means that reviewers are often backlogged in completing reviews. The waiting game can be nerve wracking, but it’s part of the process.

I have to confess it’s not the querying the reviewer or waiting for the response that’s the worst for me. It’s getting that notification the review has been completed and posted online for anyone to see. In that split second before I click the link, I’m a mess. My heart beats twice its normal speed and my fingers actually shake over the keyboard because this is it. The moment of truth is here.

I am now going to find out if someone liked my book or thought I should make sure I don’t quit my day job. And not just anyone either. I’m going to find out what a perfect stranger thinks and believe it or not, that’s an opinion I trust more than those of my family and friends. Not only am I going to know, but anyone who cares to look will know. Not to mention, this is all a direct result of something I asked for. Good or bad, I have to live with that reviewer’s opinion and I have no right to be indignant or angry with her because I asked her to read the book and tell me what she thinks.

I’m happy to say that so far, all reviews for This Time have been favorable. Most are four stars and I think there’s been one five star review. For those who aren’t familiar with the rating process, five is the highest number of stars a book can receive.

Asking for book reviews is hard. Waiting for the reviews to take place is harder. Reading the reviews and fighting the urge to respond is the hardest of all.  As difficult as the process can be, I wouldn’t change it. Reviewers validate the work of a writer. Reviewers get the writer more exposure which equals more readers. And most of them do it for free; something every writer should keep in mind the next time they're frustrated. 

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