I have in the past offered advice to authors seeking book reviews. Until now, the advice came entirely from my own rather haphazard, quirky reviewing experiences. Clients ask me all the time for marketing advice, and since I am a marketing cretin, mine is not much good.
Today, I get some help from someone who likes reading at least as much as I do. Today we have the perspective of an acclaimed reviewer with an impressive body of work: ajoobacats, who seems to read and review about as many books in a year as there are business days. She has a significant audience, and authors seeking to promote their books are very fortunate to land on her reading schedule. In this guest post, she shares what you need to know and do–and not do–if you hope to shift into that promotional passing lane. Without further ado, and with my thanks for her willingness to share what she has learned:
So You Need a Book Review…
I am a prolific reader and reviewer. In 2015 I read 235 books and reviewed the majority of them. I am ranked within the top 1000 Amazon UK reviewers. I have been receiving book review requests since I registered myself on various websites like Tweet Your Books, The Indieview, Netgalley etc in 2012. I receive a heavy stream of review requests from authors and publicists, the majority of which I have to pass on as there aren’t enough hours in the day. However, if you want your book to be in the small percentage of books I and other keen reviewers read and review, here are some tips on how to approach a reviewer.
Remember reviewers are voluntarily donating time to review your book to help you market them, simply for the reward of reading. Most of the reviewers you approach are enthusiastic bibliophiles, who have towering to-be-read piles of books and are inundated with book choices both free and paid from numerous sites on the internet. Those that like the sound of your book description really do want to like your book.
Firstly, and this might seem very obvious, but is frequently overlooked, see if the reviewer reads the genre your book belongs to. I get a huge number of review requests to read Non-Fiction books by writers who have obviously not read any of my blog including the guidelines page which outlines what type of books I read. Requests for such reviews often get deleted without even opening them. Why? Well, I don’t enjoy every book out there and in order to maximise my chances to spending the finite time I have on this earth to read on books I have a greater likelihood to enjoy I must limit my choices by genre.
Try to approach a reviewer like you would want to be approached by a stranger asking for your time. You’re more likely to get someone to read your book if you are personable. Rubbing people up the wrong way does not entice them to give you time or anything else. When you contact the reviewer do so according to guidelines given on their blog or profile. Just like you reviewers are busy and need to organise themselves in order to devote time needed to read and review. If a reviewer has given a certain email contact for book requests, please do use that email to contact them. Personally, when I get review requests by other means I’m less likely to accept and read that book. I compile my reading list according to the date I receive a review copy by email.
Make sure you understand the reviewers policy completely. Not all reviewers will leave a review if the book doesn’t appeal to them. I personally do not write reviews for books I would award two stars or less and do not routinely publish three star reviews on my blog. Reviewers who are accepting review requests are usually bombarded by review requests and for most their extensive reading lists are booked weeks in advance, but a lot of them do try very hard to get reviews published in time for book release dates, provided you give them a reasonable period of time (for me 6-8 weeks) to plan the review according to your book release schedule.
Please try not to heckle the reader. The majority have other jobs and obligations and if they keep having to answer emails from you about how the book is going it slows them down. Also, it can be very difficult to have your work criticised and I personally hate writing negative reviews and do so very reluctantly, so if the reviewer does not give you a favourable review, please just move on. There will be other readers who will like it, but if you give up based on a small sample of reviews you may never find those readers. If the same points keep coming up on review it may be prudent to find an alternative proof reader or editor. Unfortunately, it’s not a level playing field and reviewers reading your book are also probably reading big publishing house books too which have been expensively marketted, edited and packaged. The scale of rating your book will be the same as the one they apply to other books, so it isn’t realistic to expect typos, errors and other editing issues to go unnoticed because you’re an independent writer. If you’re charging money for your book, the reader has a right to a certain level of quality from your work.
In summary, marketing your book may not be your most favourite part of being an author but if you’re trying to reach people a little research and information about them will cut down in the time you spend effectively requesting reviews. You may do everything I’ve mentioned above and a reviewer still may not pick up your book, but with several thousand readers/reviewers out there and finding the right ones is definitely rewarding. Organising contact with a group of reviewers who share the same taste in books as you will pay dividends in the long run.
To read more of ajoobacats’ work, you can visit her blog, its Facebook presence, or Pinterest., I’m not very good at social media, and made an unsuccessful attempt to create a link to her Twitter presence, but the blog has one that I presume will work. I took the time to read a number of her more recent reviews, and was impressed with her insight. I believe you will feel likewise.