Reviews, Blind Dates and Free Dogs

There’s a fragile link between Indie authors and book bloggers that reminds me of comedienne Wendy Liebman. “I’ve been on so many blind dates,” Liebman says, “I should get a free dog.”

What makes this funny is her profound exasperation. We can only imagine the clumsy invitations, the awkward dates that followed, and, quite possibly, a Liebman declaration to flat out give up dating.

The authorial equivalent of the date is the review. As with dating, no one has perfected a successful process to secure a review. But there are steps you can take to boost your odds and create a favorable impression.

Some tips to consider:

Research the reviewer. Get on the Web and find out who you’re pitching. Don’t send a vampire story to a blogger who only reviews Christian literature. Most reviewers have guidelines on their sites. Read the review policy carefully.

Adjust your expectations. This isn’t Santa’s lap, so don’t expect five stars from every reviewer. Most feel a responsibility to deliver honest critiques. That’s how they build their reputations.

Do it yourself. Don’t get someone to act as an intermediary with a reviewer. Involving a third party is like a high school kid getting a friend to chat up a girl he’s too shy to approach. Reviewers want to hear directly from authors.

Let it go. Know going in that some will not like your work. By responding to negative reviews, you extend a conversation you’d rather have die a quick death.

Know thyself. Be able to explain yourself and your work quickly and clearly. Include links so that reviewers can learn more if they want. Be ready to send a digital or hard copy of your novel if one is requested.

Get back to basics.  No one owes you a review. Be polite. Send your query, but wait to be asked before sending a book. Do not suggest ways to review your book. And don’t pester about when the review will come out.

One reviewer told me that authors “need to learn to be assertive without overbearing, yet develop a backbone to take criticism.” Another said, “The only deal-breaker is calling me the wrong name. It drives me crazy.”

As for finding reviewers, do a Google search and you’ll see more than you could ever query. They’re also all over Goodreads and Twitter. The key is to remember that it isn’t a numbers game; it’s a new relationship that must be treated with respect, each time, every time.

Any tips to add here?

8 Comments so far »

  1. Stephen Woodfin said,

    Wrote on May 23, 2012 @ 3:33 am

    Good advice. Also if the reviewer asks the author to provide something, like a 3 page synopsis, for instance. The author should send it to her right away. And 3 pages means 3 pages, not 10 pages of snippets about the book.


    Steve Piacente Reply:

    Indeed, Stephen, 10 pages when the request came in for three is a major turnoff. Thanks for your comment!


  2. david bethel said,

    Wrote on May 23, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

    I’ve found good success finding reputable reviewers via LinkedIn. And once I decide to send my book for review, I don’t fret about what might come back at me and look ahead on the list at who I’ll query next. Gotta have confidence that you will be reviewed favorably. Or what’s the point?


    Steve Piacente Reply:

    Years of writing behind the scenes for some critical customers has given you a tough hide, David (a good thing)! Writers who have never worked for newspapers, PR firms, agencies and the like can be a bit more sensitive. That said, you’re right on point and others will benefit by adopting this perspective. Thanks for weighing in!


  3. Melanie Saxton said,

    Wrote on May 23, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

    Hi Steve, I love the way you said, “By responding to negative reviews, you extend a conversation you’d rather have die a quick death.” This is so true. Some reviews are unfair and some reviewers do not read entire books. However, that’s life in the world of words. Any media savvy type in this situation will instinctively know to ignore what you want people to ignore.


    Steve Piacente Reply:

    So true, Mel. Thanks for dropping by!


  4. karensdifferentcorners said,

    Wrote on May 23, 2012 @ 9:44 pm

    I want reviews good or bad as long as they’re constructive. Don’t post I hate your book and not tell me why. How am I supposed to learn? Reminds me of my son’s oncologist he had. Many people didn’t like his bedside manner because he wouldn’t sugarcoat or pussy foot around, he came out and told you like it was and I admired and simply adored him.


    Steve Piacente Reply:

    Thanks, Karen, and funny how so much of this transcends writing and reviews, right?


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