This post was originally posted on the William J. Cooke, Notes From A Journey blogsite.
A WRITER’S LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH REVIEWS
For a writer, there is nothing more satisfying than having their book receive a great review. Conversely, there is nothing more painful than receiving a bad one. Still, reviews are part of a writers’ life, and the best way to deal with them is… well, we will get to that a bit later in this post.
First off, you need to get reviews. Reviews matter. If you collect enough Amazon reviews and star ratings, you attract more attention from the all-powerful Amazon algorithms. I don’t know that number—I certainly have not reached it with any of my books, but people do.
Reviews may be acquired in many ways. You may solicit, buy, bribe, or cajole. Any way you can convince readers to spend that extra minute letting others know how they liked your book is on the table.
Amazon isn’t the only place readers leave reviews. I stopped by my Goodreads page the other day to find Cats’ Eyes, the first book in my Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery series, had three times the reviews it has on Amazon. Who knew?
Professional reviewers are an option. They promise an honest, in-depth summary and review posted to several sites. Some pros are free, such as Readers’ Favorite (They have both a free and a paid option) Others you have to pay for, and they aren’t cheap. If you go this route, make sure the company is one that people read and admire. A review off on some obscure website isn’t going to do you much good. Note: I’ve never paid for a review. For me, I don’t think it makes that much difference.
Reviews from friends and family are great, but Amazon may kick them off, especially if the Big A decides the review is from a social media pal.
There are many reviewer sites that will give an honest review on their blogsite in exchange for a copy of your book. Google reviewers and your genre and see what comes up. I know of several for my genre, cozy mysteries. If they agree to review your book, make sure to give them plenty of time, and let them know when if you need it by a certain date, such as for a prelaunch. Don’t harass them, but if you don’t hear in a reasonable amount of time, an email check-in doesn’t hurt.
How to use reviews once you have them:
Don’t let your good reviews just sit there doing nothing— work them! There is a place on your book’s Amazon page for reviews. People read these, so it’s a good idea to fill them in. Keep it short— remember, most people (including myself) have the attention span of a gnat. Use only highlights of the review, and always credit the reviewer.
I also add a few of these summarized reviews in the front matter of my book, or sometimes on the back cover.
Don’t be shy. Put out good reviews in your newsletter or in a blogpost. Always include a direct link to the book for shoppers.
And now, what about those bad reviews?
There are various ways to deal with the eventuality of a bad review. You can read it, take it to heart, and try to learn from it, or you can ignore it. I personally try not to read the nonsense, but sometimes it’s funny. I had one reviewer dislike a book because my character didn’t vacuum enough. With all those cats, she said, Lynley should vacuum a whole lot more. Now really! Do you want to read about someone vacuuming their house? Still, the comment inspired me to add a little more vacuuming content to my subsequent books.
You can get bad reviews for several reasons having nothing to do with your book. Some people are just mean and have nothing nice to say. You need to remember that others may think very differently than you.
Do you have enemies? An evil ex? A jilted lover? A jealous friend? Sometimes these will go after a writer by leaving bad reviews. On Amazon, there is a link to a “Report Abuse” page beneath the comment where you can take steps to have the review removed, but it’s not always an easy task. You can also add your own comment in reply to a review.
Reviews are necessary. A few times a year I put out a plea on my Facebook Author Page asking readers to fill out reviews. I remind them it doesn’t need to be complicated: “I liked it,” is enough.
Do unto others… Reviews work both ways. Have you reviewed the books you’ve read lately?
The Northwest Independent Writers’ Association serves Pacific Northwest writers working to achieve professional standards in independent writing, publishing and marketing. NIWA is open to all published and unpublished writers in the Pacific Northwest Area and represents all genres in both fiction and nonfiction. Click here for more information. We would love to have you join.
Benefits of membership:
Monthly Membership Newsletter – with information about what’s happening in NIWA as well as upcoming events.
Free author’s page and advertising of your books in our online Catalog pages.
Access to the Members Only section of our webpage featuring an Author Resource Guide, Events & Con Listings, plus forms for being featured on our website, plus easy membership renewal.
Opportunity to submit a short story for the annual NIWA Anthology.
We’ve seen reviews that have nothing to do with whether or not it’s a good book, some are downright strange.