April Round Robin topic is suggested by Victoria Chatham: Reviews. Love 'em, hate 'em or totally ignore them. Amazon tells us the more 4 or 5 reviews the merrier, but how to get them?
To review or not to review – that is the question! I find it odd when another writer tells me they never read reviews. Really? I always read them. Maybe not ALL of them but I do read them for a lot of reasons.
As a reader, I read reviews to get an idea if this is a book I really want to spend my time and money on. One thing that really irks me in this day of self publishing is authors who throw the book out there thinking grammar and spell check is good enough and fail to get the book properly edited. Maybe if I wasn’t a writer myself it wouldn’t bother me so much but a book full of misspellings and improper grammar drives me nuts and I can’t get past it. So a couple reviews that mention this problem is a definite NO for me to bother downloading. But other comments about the type of story, the depth of characters, or even just a description of characters might make up my mind for me. For instance, I love stories about military people, but hate stories about millionaires and beauty queens. I grabbed up a book on sale that happened to be set in the area I grew up in – just because I knew all the places and it sounded fun. Turned out to be a fantastic book and I can’t wait for the next one by this new author.
As an author, I read my own reviews. Partly because patting myself on the back requires uncomfortable contortions, but more because I learn from the reviews. If I let myself be open about the critical comments it can only help me grow as an author to avoid those pitfalls in my future books. Likewise, when reviewer after reviewer has the same or similar positive comments, I know what I’m getting right. I don’t write books for the benefit of critiquers and editors, but for my readers and reading my reviews helps me to know and understand what my readers liked and didn’t like and work harder to meet their expectations with each new book I write.
As for GETTING reviews – that’s the tough question. I’ve had readers who write me gushing emails telling me how much they loved my book, but when I ask for a review tell me they don’t know how to write one. I’ve been known to suggest they copy and past the email they just sent. I have four kids who love my stories, three of them daughters who read the kind of books I write anyway. But one of them says she just “doesn’t do reviews!” Not even for good old MOM! I’ve run contests offering a drawing from all the names who write me a review. I always ask for a review when someone tells me they loved my book. One other thing I did was to create a bookmarker with my logo on it and the comment that if they enjoyed this book please consider writing me a review. I put one in every print version of my book that I sell, both at book signings and in books on consignment at local bookstores. I slip them into books at B&N for the length of time my books show up on their shelves as well. But on the whole I find trying to get reviews is difficult. Now I’m going to check out all the other visits to this Round Robin blog to see what other ideas I can try.
Dr. Bob Rich