I’m in a strange mood today – we’ve just come back from a trip to the mountains and as we got lower in elevation and the more the snow melted away, the weirder I felt. Like our vacation didn’t happen. Also, I’ve been eating nothing but sweets for three days. 🙂
I felt like writing something about reviews and when I logged on to Twitter this morning, I saw this tweet from The Story Siren:
“sending me an email lecturing me for not reading/accepting self pubbed books, makes me want to read them even less.”
Let’s talk about etiquette.
Most of the book bloggers that write thoughtful reviews and don’t trash or over enthusiastically praise (in other words, the ones you want to read your book) have a review policy. Take the time to read it, folks. If they say they don’t read self-pubbed books and you are the author of a self-pubbed book, don’t query them for a review. If they say they don’t read e-books, don’t send them a PDF and complain that you’re too poor to send them a hard copy. Follow the rules.
Your book will not be the one to change their mind. People have to come to things in their own time and the best way to slow down that process is tell them that they’re wrong about something and need to change to suit you. Move on to the next book blogger, there are literally hundreds of them. The indie book collective has lists by genre of book bloggers that read self-pubbed and accept e-copies. That’s a great place to start.
I can’t state this next bit enough – if you receive a bad review, don’t engage the reviewer. This applies to both book bloggers and customer reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, etc. If the review is inflammatory or doesn’t say anything critical about the actual book (I’ve just received a one-star review on Glimpse that only said, “how many pages are in this book?”) then you can ask Amazon or Barnes and Noble to remove it. Otherwise, just let it be.
Readers are smart enough to make their own decisions about whether or not they want to read a book. They will read the good and bad reviews and come to their own conclusions. Rest assured, some people will love your book and some people will think it’s awful.
The work you have to do on yourself as a writer is to get to the point where you don’t care about either. Not all good reviews are going to be, uh, good. Sometimes they’re three word, exclamation point-ridden silliness. Sometimes they say: OMG!! Luv it!! Not all bad reviews are going to be bad. Reviewers that give you low end stars, but write a thoughtful review outlining what they didn’t like about the book – these reviews are not a detriment. Also, I find that most of the time these reviewers will include a line or two about how your book was “not their cup of tea.” Fair enough.
I’m not going to pretend that I had a thick skin about reviews when I first started out, I definitely did not. I do now, because I’ve realized that while reviews are important for getting your name out there and attracting people to take a look at your book, they’re not that important otherwise. No need to stay up at night worrying about them. The people that like your book and review it positively will stick around to read your others, the people that don’t like your book and review it negatively will move on to someone else.
Our job is to entertain the people that want to read our books and to not waste time trying to win over the rest.