Recently, I’ve received a rash of requests for reviews for books which are either in direct or indirect conflict with my review guidelines…to the point where I feel like I should address it. As an Indie author myself I more than understand the need to get quality reviews for your current, upcoming, or newly released books…this is one of the reasons I started offering reviews and promotions on my blog. Giving back as well as promoting my own books.
I just think that some Indies are going about the business of soliciting reviews with the wrong attitude. First off, you should not be desperate for reviews. Desperation is never a good thing. You should be seeking reviews, yes, but not in a do-or-die manner. What do I mean by this? Don’t sell yourself (or your book) short. Be selective! You should have standards for the type of reviewer you want to read and write about your book…as opposed to begging anyone with a pulse who’s willing to scribble a comment about it. You should want only reviewers who are open-minded about the genre of books you write, has a history of writing well-thought out reviews, who is willing to post the review at quality sites (well-traveled blogs, Goodreads, Amazon, etc..), and who writes honest reviews. Bottomline: Don’t pursue quantity over quality. Seek good reviewers as well as good reviews.
What to Know…
-Book bloggers are people too! They have likes, dislikes, active lives and goals for their blogs and for their books for those who are Indie authors as well.
-Book bloggers have standards for the content of their posts/reviews. They want to have good content for their blogs, which is why they are selective about what they read/review.
-Book Blogs have an audience and sometimes advertisers that they have to please…and in some instances, a business to run. If certain genres, certain types of posts, etc. are more popular with their follower/subscribers…guess what, they are going to go with it.
What to do…
- Read the guidelines for what genre of books they like and accept, as well as what their pet peeves are.
- Check their website to make sure they are actively accepting requests.
- Read a couple of the reviews that they have posted to see if it jives with the type of commentary you want for your book. (Ex. An indie author recently approached me to review his book and he specifically stated that he liked my reviewing style and wanted my honest opinion. I was quite taken aback, and agreed to review his book even tho it was not my usual choice of book. Striking a cord with the reviewer is easier to do when you know a little about them….thus you should take a few minutes to glance at their blog.)
- Read the submission guidelines to find out what the submission procedure is…e-mail vs. submission form vs. leaving a comment, etc.
- After you have done these four things, then make a decision if this particular reviewer/blog site is right for your book.
What Not to do…
-Don’t just go to a book blogger list and blindly send every blogger on the list a form letter requesting a review. Most people ignore form letters, chain letters, & unsolicited junk mail…which is what a blind request amounts to.
-Don’t be snippy, passive-aggressive, annoyed, or weird, if the blogger/reviewer declines to review your book. Eh, you are asking a blind favor from a complete stranger over the internet; they have every right to say no to you for any reason. (The moon is in the house of Aquarius, thus I don’t think I’ll review this book. Or, the groundhog didn’t see his shadow this year, so I must decline….yep, all perfectly legit.) They owe you nothing…nothing. Yes, seriously. The sooner you accept it, the better.
Ex. I once read a post on Facebook (not my page, thank goodness) from a black author who went on this spew about black people not reading her book…instead, “betraying” their blackness by choosing instead to read books written by white people. This is why she claimed her book wasn’t selling. <insert sarcasm here> Yes, because as a black woman I am obligated to buy every single book that any black person writes… past, present or future. Oh, and every white person who doesn’t buy it is racist! YEAH! (Eh, I love how she ignored all the other races who weren’t buying her book, I guess they had a different reason.) Anyhoo, after I stopped laughing, I was like…WTF?! Is she serious? I thought the site was being punk’d or something.
Take-Home Message: If you can’t take rejection, you’re in the wrong field. Quit writing and go into something else.
-Don’t take it personally if your book is declined for review. It’s not personal…the reviewer does not know you, you are a stranger over the internet. Be disappointed, yes, but not “hurt”.
-Don’t dwell…Keep it moving.
-Don’t try to “convince” the blogger/reviewer to read your book. Just…no. Why would you want someone to read and comment on your book, who really doesn’t want to?? That is a bad idea. You should present your book according to the submission guidelines…but if the reviewer expresses reluctance or says no…let it go, and move to the next blog/blogger.
-Don’t submit your book to reviewers/ bloggers who don’t like or have reservations about the genre or writing style of your book. (Yeah, I know this seems like common sense, but sadly not so much.) I have gotten several review requests for books on my genre/style no-no list. <baffled stare> Why would you want someone who is inherently bias against your book to review it? That will only lead to negative reviews of a potentially good book.
Ex. I don’t like raisins, (I detest them, actually.) and I don’t eat anything with raisins in it. My feelings have nothing to do with the quality of the raisins themselves. They could be the best raisins ever, and I would still hate them. It’s just a personal preference, and no amount of persuasion is going to make me “see the light” that raisins are really great and I don’t know what I’m missing. My dislike of raisins is not an affront to grape-farmers, raisin-makers, or bakeries who put raisins in their breads and pastries. I have no personal feelings regarding the raisin-sellers of America. I just don’t like them…and if someone forces me to eat something with raisins in it, I will always say I didn’t like it no matter who cooked it or how well-made the dish is. Get it? Got it…good.
D. Alyce Domain