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Friday, February 15, 2013

Everybody wants some...reviews, that is!

 "Review Word On Stage" by Stuart Miles
pic by Stuart Miles
As writers, we live in hope (or dread) of one thing: reviews. Those little bits of code that equal praise. We send our books out—or someone else does—to various review sites and bloggers hoping for the best. Sometimes it comes; sometimes we get coal. It’s the nature of what we do. Writing is art and as such, subjective. Some people will love what we do; some people will hate it—or worse, rip it to shreds.

Getting those reviews are sometimes just as big a struggle as getting our work out there to begin with. Let me take you back a ways and give you a little perspective. I’ve been writing reviews of books I’ve enjoyed for about ten years now. A few years ago, I opened a blog and said publicly I’d like ARC’s if anyone thought my opinion worth a darn. Not knowing the deluge that would ensue, I said yes to a few titles. I enjoyed them so I posted my thoughts on site. Then I got more requests, and more, and more. Soon I was backed up six months, and the authors’ release dates flew by before I could get to them. It soon became a pain in the neck. Then life intervened with its own pain. Yet, I was obligated now to keep reviewing, so instead of pitching a fit, I said “sorry” and shut down my bloggy inbox and plastered big ole “NO ARC’s” signs on my sites while I dutifully worked on the backlog. Because it’s time consuming and when you’re walking through hell, it’s even worse! I know, believe me, I know!

 However, reviews are lifeblood to writers, right?

As soon as I published, I went looking for those reviews. Stupid, you might say? Well, I went out knowing some might turn me down.

I also knew what I think we could call the “Guidelines instead of rules” of seeking said reviews. 1) Be patient. The reviewers might have a year-long backlog, heck they might not even get to you, but even a posted review six months down the line might garner you a sale. Second rule: apparently, this is from Amazon. Doesn’t matter how many 5 star reviews you have, they might remove a few just to give you a new gray hair. I’ve seen this happen to friends of mine, and boy, is it frustrating!

Guideline #2: I’ve seen myself: Don’t sweat 1 star reviews. Even they can garner you sales. Yes, I’ve seen folks get sales from 1-star, “absolutely hated this book!” reviews. I’ve even been known to purchase a book from such a review, so, there. Woohoo for bad publicity! ;)

Heck, even Anne Rice gets a balance of bad reviews and look at her.

Yet, as writers, we still hope and pray to get those good reviews. I guess my best advice to authors seeking those reviews is, as with the whole relay race that publishing is, just be patient, don’t sweat the timeline, or the ratings, no matter what anyone tells you.  Reviews will come when they come, and readers, if you read a book?? Help us gals out, please review it somewhere, anywhere!! (Amazon!) (pretty please?) *lol*

Just a little something I’ve learned in my short little published life that I thought I’d pass along in case it’s of any use. ;) Good luck, and may all your reviews (and reads) be five stars!


  1. Juli, your post was so spot on. Each writer needs those reviews, but many readers don't take the time to write one. Bless those who do and write favorable reviews!

  2. In the Wild, Wild West of today's review world, I don't know that reviews mean very much any more because very few of them are actually reviews from a journalistic standpoint. I think of them in terms of the Pareto Principle -- the 80/20 rule. Only about 20% are credible. 80% are comments made from the reviewer's own agenda. What might that agenda be? Who knows? To sink an author he hates for whatever personal reasons? To showcase his own cunningly sharp snarky wit? To support an author he loves for whatever reason?

    The 20% credible reviews just underscore the point that what one treasures, another loathes, and vice versa.

  3. *nods* Yes, Joan, that's the question isn't it? If they do help at all. Another nail in the post, I get miffed by our reliance on newspapers for those reviews. I know in my area only three books get highlighted a week, and they're never in the genres I read. I really wonder if anyone reads the ones on Amazon or Goodreads; I know that *whispers* I almost never do unless I'm on the fence about about a book. Whether or not I thought it a two or three star as opposed to being absolutely in love with it. On the other hand, I have friends who swear my reviews of their books have helped them. So, *scratches head* I really don't know what to think on the subject. LOL Hence, my post!

  4. Actually, I don't buy books based on reviews. I have requested a few,just 'cause I need folka to think someone has red my books.