An indie author friend of mine was commiserating about a lack of credible reviews on her book. I can feel her angst. I wonder about that all the time.
It was highlighted this week when I saw a book share from a very good friend. It was released just in June and already had 467 ratings. It was published by a high profile publishing house, complete with hype and a cadre of reviewers. I’ve a grand sum of 55 spanning four books since March 2018. My friend, who independently published in August this year, has just two reviews.
Part of the disparity, of course, is the publishing choice you make. Most of my reviews came for my novella, Heaven Shining Through, which was published through Xulon Press. Indies face bigger challenges because we have to rely on our own circles to generate input — which really is what reviews are.
As writers, we tend to think our silvery words are the best ever written. As poets, we hope our words move people. As fictional writers, we hope our stories entertain. As non-fictional writers, we hope our words inspire. But what we hope for is immaterial without feedback. As I’ve said before, even negative feedback — low rating — matters. As writers we can grow or refine our style, correct flaws in substance, be encouraged to continue to share our minds with a greater audience.
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.
To answer my friend’s question, I mentioned the first line for receiving reviews comes from 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.
As I told my friend, the answer to how do you get reviews is hard work, persistence, exploring every option available. That’s all part and parcel of — oh, how I dislike this word — marketing.
It’s hard, exhausting work … and it can be extremely frustrating.
I would love to say my circles — your circles — work. Many of my followers have read my books; some have posted reviews. Many others, however, have not. In my wishful moods, I often wonder the trajectory my writing might take if all of my 3,433 followers (1,120 blog, 1,324 Twitter, and 989 Facebook) read any or all of my books and posted a review … Wow! In addition, those 3,433 followers expand exponentially since most have a different circle.
Plug! Plug! I do have four books in my catalogue. First was the novella, Heaven Shining Through, followed by the novel My Name Is Sam … and Heaven Is Still Shining Through. Both are available as e-books and paperbacks, and Sam is also available as an audiobook through Audible. In addition, there are two collections of short stories, Wisdom From a Father … one dad’s thoughts on life. Volume 1 was released just about a year ago, and Volume 2 was released just last week. Both are also available as e-books and paperbacks.
So, once again, consider a review … for one of my books or another book you’ve read.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting. — Paulo Coelho