Saturday, October 18, 2014

How To Garner Reviewer Interest - Part Two

Hello again, dear readers, and welcome to part two of our exploration on how authors can find reviewers for their novels.

Last week I discussed the varied differences in expectation between authors and the reality of the life of reviewers.  We looked at what reviewers go through and how we decide on what books to accept into our never-ending TBR piles.  I told you there's the highway (automatic deletion) and the right way (consideration) to approach reviewers when asking them to review your novel.  So guess what we're going to talk about today?

The highway.

Yes, those far too numerous requests that end up being an automatic trash dump.  Reviewers receive so many of these over and over again that we just want to bang our heads against a wall and end it all.  It's all about professionalism and setting the right tone from the greeting to the close.

Remember, you're a published author now - a business - so treat it as such in all respects.

So if you want to know what you and countless others might be doing wrong when approaching reviewers, this post is for you.


The Highway

1.         The genre:  It’s glaringly obvious when an author sends me a request to read romance that he/she hasn’t taken the time to read my blog review page.  I make it very plain that I’m not interested in reading straight romance, erotica, or horror.  My favorites are thriller, mystery, and suspense followed by occasional fantasy a la Lord of the Rings.  I’m willing to try most genres, but an interesting sounding thriller will always take precedence over YA.  Always check a blogger’s reading likes and dislikes.  We put lists on our sites for a reason.  Don’t waste your time or a reviewer’s by sending flat-out romance to a thriller enthusiast!

2.         Book title:  Missing.  Yes, missing.  Happens more often than you think.  If a reviewer has to spend a bunch of time searching through a five page email trying to discern something that should be in the first paragraph, it’s pretty much going in the trash bin.

3.         Author name/pseudonym:  Yep, missing yet again.  Often!  You’ve no idea how frustrating it is not to have any idea to whom you’re corresponding.  I even try to figure it out from the email address – sadly many are just cutesy ones with no sort of identifier.  If you’re going be an author, create an author dedicated email that is easily identifiable – and remember to reference your name at least once in your email, even if it is only at the close.

4.         Book blurb/synopsis:  Excluded – seriously!  Many authors simply place a link to the novel’s purchase page or back to their website and expect reviewers to click on a link from an unknown person.  Nuh-uh.  Not happening.  Then again, sometimes the blurb is just too darned uninteresting.  This most important element is too often left to chance.  Some use their sales synopsis while others write up loooong and convoluted descriptions that don’t really say anything.  I’ve even seen where someone will have their book blurb and then another section to state what the book is really about.  Seriously?  If you need to describe your description, something’s wrong.  Where’s the element of excitement?  The tension?  The stakes?  Stay tuned for how to write a strong blurb – coming to a chapter near you.

5.         An “honest” review:  Let me make this as clear as I can.  Telling a potential reviewer that you seek an “honest” review is like telling them that all of their reviews up to yours have been less than honest.  You couldn’t wound us anymore than with a statement like that.  We reviewers work hard to keep our opinions straightforward without any outside influences.  Saying you want an “honest” opinion is a HUGE slap in the face.  Just DON’T!

6.         A free book:  Umm, you’re asking me to review your novel.  Of course you are going to give me one.  Stating in a request that you are offering a free or reduced price book basically tells a reviewer how little you know about how the review process works.  It projects an unprofessional image.  I’ve even had authors who, once I’ve accepted their novel for review, simply send me the link to buy their book.  Ain’t gonna happen!  Understand this, if you didn’t already – if you’re requesting a reviewer to spend their personal time to read and write a review of your novel, a free copy is expected.  End of story.

7.         I’m new:  So quick question – would you ever say you’re new to a potential client while in your day job?  I didn’t think so.  It immediately places doubt in the mind of said potential client, and they’re likely to move onto a more experienced employee or firm.  Saying you’re a new author does the exact same thing.  Don’t ever short-change yourself in this manner.  You may have been writing novels for five minutes or five, ten, twenty years and just now decided to take the plunge into the realm of indie publishing.  Approach a reviewer with confidence and project a professional image regardless of how long you’ve been writing.  You’re a legitimate, certified, bonafide author now!

8.         Listing accomplishments:  Good rule of thumb here – if you’ve won a novel writing award for this particular book or a previous novel in your publishing quiver, a reviewer would love to know.  If you’ve won awards for poetry, journalism, employee of the month, etc. (in other words, anything outside of novel writing) don’t mention it.  It won’t mean anything to most reviewers.  Sorry, but that’s the cold truth.  If an accomplishment has absolutely nothing to do with novel writing, leave it out.

9.         Other reviewer excerpts:  Emails pile into my inbox incorporating excerpts of other reviews a particular novelist has received.  It’s always nice to celebrate when someone gives you a glowing review, but share these with family and friends – not potential reviewers.  Better yet, put them up on your sales channels!  It goes back to that thing in number five about avoiding outside influences.  This isn’t going to help you and in fact could hurt in the long run.  Reviews are subjective – the opinion of the individual reviewer.  We really don’t care what someone else thinks of your novel.  Keep repeating this to yourself until the desire to include unnecessary fodder in requests diminishes.

10.       Links, links, links:  UNLESS a reviewer has specifically requested website links to include in your initial correspondence, don’t include any.  None.  Most of us won’t even click on them.

11.       Attachments:     Once again, UNLESS a reviewer’s guidelines specifically state to do so, do not include your book cover, author image, eBook or PDF file as an attachment with your initial email request.  When we want them – if want them – we’ll ask.

12.       Reviewers submission instructions:  Self explanatory.  You just didn’t read them.  Reviewers put instructions up to HELP you and to save everyone time.  Read it.  Do it.  If you choose not to, shame on you because your request is heading for the trash bin.  This leads me to another thing – repeat after me.  Always check to see if a reviewer is currently accepting reviews.  Again.  Always check to see if a reviewer is currently accepting reviews.  A third time.  Always check to see if a reviewer is currently accepting reviews.  Most reviewers will reference if they’re not currently accepting reviews when the reading pile gets too big.  If a reviewer has closed submissions, abide by this please.  It’s a huge time-waster to send requests to reviewers who have closed acceptance.  You’re just another great, big “delete” if you do.


This segment was short but hopefully not too sweet.  It's just the cold, hard truth most of us need to hear from time-to-time.  You want to know what's really ironic about these don'ts I've shared with you?  I closed out accepting anymore reviews for 2014 on August first, posted it at the top of the review submissions tab on my blog, and every day I still get additional review requests.

It really is amazing how many authors never take even a smidge of their time to check one simple thing.  I get that sometimes we as authors feel that sense of desperation creep over our minds.  I get that it takes far more work to market than most of us ever dreamed when we decided on indie publishing.  But never forget to treat your writing as a business and maintain a professional image and demeanor in regard to said business.

And if you ever need a hand to hold or a shoulder to cry on (digitally speaking, of course) touch base.  I'm always willing to help a fellow indie author with advice or encouragement - provided you bring your own tissues to the table.

Stay tuned then next Saturday when I'll discuss with you the right way to submit a novel review request to a potential reviewer.  Until then, happy reading and writing!

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