Ok, so you’ve sweated over writing your story, gone through the torture of edits, navigated the tricky shoals of formatting and finally have a published story. Now to let the world know that it exists and find folks who will sing your masterpiece’s praises. Simple, right? Definitely NOT!
Consider that a reviewer commits at least 1-2 hours, often more like 3-4, to read and review a particular story. Combine this with the explosion of published and self-published titles and it is no wonder that so many great titles are lacking thoughtful reviews. A reviewer who takes the time to give a thoughtful evaluation (more than…”I liked it” or “this story was awful”) is quickly overwhelmed by requests and sadly, the joy of having a new tale to read does not necessarily compensate for the need to actually get recompensed for one’s time.
Start by reaching out to folks who have written to you praising your work. Politely ask whether they would be willing to write a review for you AND possibly even cross-post it to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, the publisher’s site, etc. You might also want to ask if you can quote it elsewhere in the event that you really like some of the things they say. Some reviewers have their own blogs and are hospitable for authors to come by and visit, others charge to host or advertise. Don’t forget to mention (particularly if you are participating in a blog tour that features reviews) that you have no issues with the reviewer writing a less than glowing review but would appreciate the opportunity to be notified if the reviewer considers the story to be less than ‘good’. Diplomatic requests to simply feature the title itself and post the less than complimentary review later should be considered if you are participating in a tour that is directing readers to that reviewer’s site.
In exchange, don’t forget to go by and visit those blogs that are featuring your work. Leave a comment (or several throughout the day if possible). Vote ‘this review was helpful’ on Amazon, ‘like’ it on Goodreads or Barnes and Noble’s site and ask some of your friends or family to also vote. That’s an easy way to thank someone for their time and hard work.
Cross-posting can be pretty frustrating…logging into sites, dealing with the eccentricities of each one, fighting off (or at least learning to ignore) the trolls that sometimes appear, so be grateful when a reviewer is willing to cross-post a review. Don’t forget to ask if they can put it on the publisher’s website as well (if applicable). A thank-you note is always appreciated…and it is even more thrilling if the review is quoted somewhere…in your newsletter, on your blog…or…in/on your book itself. Reviewers are thrilled to see their words being shared (you’re an author, you know how good it feels when someone likes what you have written!) and once you have found someone who obviously likes your work, try to keep the lines of communication open so that you can ask that person about subsequent titles. Please remember that this is a time commitment and try to give a reviewer a copy of the title well in advance of when you want the review posted and then send a polite reminder a week or two in advance of the preferred date.
Remember not to get into arguments with those who write critical or hurtful reviews, better to take the high road and either thank them for their opinion or ignore it completely but by all means, make sure you thank those who are willing to write a review with constructive criticism as well as those who are positive and supportive. Above all, remember that every person has a different opinion so don’t obsess over what is being written. If there is something to learn, go ahead and do so, but if somebody is being malicious, ignore it, remember that there are plenty of nutty folks in the world!
And please, if you are an author who is exchanging reviews with a colleague, don’t forget to return the favor by writing a nicely considered review as well.