Sunday, July 28, 2013

What I Have Learned About Getting Reviews

Lately,with all the changes that Amazon has been making, the question of reviews has reared it's ugly head once again.  And I say ugly head because this isn't a pretty subject.  People are passionate about the topic and this often makes for impassioned posts, articles, and tweets. There is no right or wrong answer here, because there are now so many opinions about there, the waters are muddied.

However, today I ran across a conversation on the subject of honest reviews in one of the author groups to which I subscribe on yahoo.  Tiring of the topic, I was prepared to just delete it out of my mailbox and move on to the next email.  But, something caught my eye and I found myself reading it.  And learning from it.  And being completely impressed.  Because the party posting IS a reviewer, registered as such with a very credible review site, and she had some amazing things to say.  I knew immediately I needed to spread this information to my community.

So, here are the things I learned:

  1. Reviewers read and review books because they love to read.  And they love the authors.  Of course, I knew this, or at least suspected it, but it was cool to read it from a certified source. Remember, this for the next thing I learned.
  2. Reviewers would love to have your book.  And anything else you might offer. I used to be embarrassed about asking for reviews, but I have changed my opinion on that now.  I'll ask anyone, but I always offer a copy of my book in exchange for an honest review.  
  3. If I am requesting a review on a book I have in print, I offer that book, signed, as well.  And I try to send reviewers signed book marks for their time.  Because they spend a truckload of time on reviews.  And while I do NOT believe it is ethical to pay for a review, I feel offering my book is the gift I give them for the gift of their review.
  4. Reviewers want you to know that it KILLS them to not review your book favorably.  If they are reviewing for themselves, most will contact you and explain why they are not posting a review.  You should be grateful for that.  
  5. If they are writing for a site, they have to post a review. If it is not the glowing 5-star you expect, DO NOT RESPOND NEGATIVELY TO THE REVIEW.  Swallow your pride and your disgust and use it as learning tool.  
  6. Most reviewers tend to be stingy with the 5-stars.  Expect that.  I, personally, am happy with a 3-star and thrilled with a 4-star.  My head is not too big to realize there is a thing or two I have yet to learn, and each new book helps me learn it.  Think of one hit song wonders, like "My Sharona".  That was their 5-star review.  And where was their follow-up?  Non-existent.  My point exactly.
  7. Reviewers don't want you to be afraid to ask for a review.  Most are elated that their opinion is important to you.  Most also would like to know where you want reviews posted.  Some authors are no longer requesting reviews be posted to Amazon, afraid of any measure of retribution.  But, contrary to popular opinion, they are NOT the only game in town.  Authors can have reviews posted on Barnes and Noble, Good reads, Pinterest, publisher's sites, as well as the reviewer and author's own pages.
  8. Lastly, if you read and review as well, offer to return the favor.  Many reviewers are authors too, and your opinion of their work may be just as important to them as theirs to yours.  Give them the opportunity.  I am NOT a reviewer, so instead, I offer to host them on my personal bloggy, this actual bloggy, in fact. I've never been turned down.  :-)


  1. I can not emphasize points 5 and 6 enough. If you respond negatively to a review, that's what people will remember you for and not your book.

    I rarely give 4 or 5 stars; most of my reviews are 3 stars. At 3 stars, I liked it and would read more by that author. Unless you go apeshit and then I won't touch you again for love or money.

    We do enjoy being asked to review a book, most of us, but please read the blog policy first. Maybe we aren't currently taking review requests, maybe we don't read your genre or we read ebook but not print or vice versa. Do your homework to up your odds of getting a yes.

    Also, most reviewers intensely dislike receiving requests via twitter, goodreads, facebook, or other social media. Again, read the blogger's review policy first before asking.

    Overall, this post has good advice. I wish more authors followed it.

    1. Thank you, Bea, for an excellent addition to the list. Yes, please, as Bea suggests, check out the reviewer's guidelines.

    2. Bea, thank you for your answer. As booth an author and reviewer, your revelation that #3 is the highest ranking for some reviewers makes sense of some of the rankings I've received for books.
      I'll also add, wearing my reviewer hat, that when you review for sites some have a policy of not accepting a review lower than three, and they write to the author in the way you mentioned.

  2. I read for pleasure and not to review a book. Once I did that but decided it was a conflict of interest.
    I've gotten 5-star and 1-star reviews and never even left a thank you comment especially when on a review site. It's their job to review my book as it's my job to write it.

  3. Very interesting post, Samantha. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Interesting post, Samantha. #3 caught my eye - I'd never thought about sending a signed bookmark as a thank you. Do you contact them and ask for a snail mail address? And #6 is good to remember. I guess it's like the all A student being crushed at seeing a C on her report card - as an author you want to have all five-star ratings, and three-stars become a disappointment. I need to readjust my expectations and learn from the comments.

  5. As a reviewer myself for a review company and on my personal blog, these are great points and I like to mention the review sites get a ton of requests each week/month so if your book isn't picked up right away, resubmit maybe 6-8 months later to see if something changed, etc.

    #5 &6 are very important IMHO. I had one author scream at me in all caps mind you that their book was easily a 5 and not a 3 I gave them. That right there made me not want to read, buy or even do word of mouth over the book by that author. If an author is going to yell at me over a review, you can bet your last dollar I will not touch that author again.