Book reviews. Every author covets them and most authors don’t understand them. One of the questions I was asked recently was a double pose. How do I get book reviews? Should I find a service that provides book reviews?
I wish I had an answer to the first part of the question. In fact, I think most new and especially independent authors who do not have the power of front-line publishers would join me. We ask for them, we pester our readers, we remind them.
The problem is reviews turn into a circular argument. One review — good, bad, or indifferent — creates interest in your work outside your immediate circle. Ten reviews get you into 10 new circles. That’s a buzz that catches Amazon’s algorithms. It’s not the number of reviews, per se, it’s the clicks on your book — interest in your book. That’s the value of book reviews.
And they don’t have to be glowing or 5 star (we wish). In fact, as much as I like 5 star reviews, I worry when that’s all I see in my work and in other’s books. I appreciate 3 star and 4 star reviews as well, and, although I’ve received very few 1 star (actually I never have) and 2 star reviews (just one), I learned from them. As an example, I received a 2 star review on Heaven Shining Through because the reader felt the characters “lacked development” and “should have been a novel.” That’s how My Name Is Sam … and Heaven Is Still Shining Through was born.
And they don’t have to be in great detail. A few words about what piqued your interest or what distracted you are worth more than a thorough review.
The question was how do you get them. Hard work. Persistence. Exploring every option available. That’s all part and parcel of — oh, how I dislike this word — marketing.
The first line, of course, is your circle of family and friends. But it has to go deeper than that because, most of the people in your family and friend circle are also in your circle. I found author sites … and joined. I researched reviewers … and contacted them with an invitation to read my work. I developed a contact list of anyone who has expressed interest in my work, be in on my blog or social media platforms. I continue to seek out new venues. I also have a file full of “thanks, but no thanks” from potential reviewers because of genre or time or some other reason.
It’s hard, exhausting work … and it can be extremely frustrating.
Despite all that, the quick, only answer to “buying” reviews is NO! I do not believe in purchasing reviews. I want people to honestly evaluate my work. The temptation is there, I know, but I do not recommend it. I do believe in author exchange but only on an individual basis. What happens too often is a mismatch — you’re not tuned into their genre; they’re not receptive to your genre.
All that being said, I have found the most success with small group meetings and shows. I had a book launch for each of my books, visited libraries and community centers, scheduled book signings, attended selected fairs ad festivals where I had the incredible opportunity to talk to people one on one.
Which brings me to the reminder. I will be hosting a Facebook Live (Virtual) Evening with Author Joe Siccardi July 31, 7 p.m. ET. I will follow the same “live” format — a short overview about the process, an introduction of my three books, Heaven Shining Through, My Name Is Sam … and Heaven Is Still Shining Through, and Wisdom From a Father … one dad’s thoughts on life — and ample Q & A time. If anyone is interested, I will wrap up the night signing books. I have an ample supply, but, just to make sure, if anyone is interested in purchasing a signed book, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can get more details on the evening here.
In the meantime, consider a review … for one of my books or another book you’ve read.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Failing well is a skill.