Writing Novels That Sell with Adrienne deWolfe

Welcome back guest columnist, Carrie Slager, who reviews books for The Mad Reviewer blog. This is Part II in Carrie's series. You'll find more  tips in Part I of her series, Tips for Dealing with Book Reviewers.]


Last week I touched on the subject of getting reviews from book bloggers. Now obviously you, as an author, would like to get good reviews as much as you can because they can help sales.

So what can you do to get a good review without resorting to cheating by paying for one? Here are the top 5 ways:

1. Treat the reviewer with respect.
Writing Resources and Tips for AuthorsI know, I know, this seems like a no-brainer. I’ve been blogging for a year now and have come to the conclusion that courtesy obviously is not the norm. Some authors treat book bloggers like crap because they are doing reviews for free, and the internet tends to make things more impersonal. If I had $10 for every time an author addressed me in a general reviewing form letter, or used the wrong name in an email, I wouldn’t have to worry about a day job.

In a perfect world, your treatment of the reviewer should not affect their opinion of your book. This is not a perfect world. As I’ve discovered, it is much easier to be kinder to an author whose books weren’t all that great than to one who was utterly rude. If you’re treating reviewers badly, they’re more disposed to get into Vicious Rant Mode when reviewing your book. Why risk a mediocre or even terrible review because you didn’t mind your manners?

2. Target your reviewers carefully.

Although I personally don’t have a niche (I fly under ‘young adult’ reviewer but will review pretty much anything) a lot of book bloggers out there do. If you’ve written a science fiction novel, don’t you think that a romance reviewer will be kind of annoyed at your request?

The easiest way to get a good review is to target your reviewers carefully. Make sure that your book falls under their reviewing criteria, and that it would also appeal to their reading tastes. A quick 5 minute search around their blog should give you a general idea of what they review, so take the time to do your research.

3. Have your book proofread beforehand.

This is more for self-published and, to a lesser extent, independently published writers. I honestly can’t stress how important proofreading is. It’s inevitable that at least one error will slip by, but there is a huge difference betwen ritin’ that loks lik tis and a couple typos here and there.

A lot of reviewers are avid readers and have a firm grasp of the English language (or whatever language they typically review in). They will not be happy if you make mistakes no ten-year-old should make. They will mock you to the high heavens if you don’t know the difference between your and you’re or too, to and two. Maybe not all reviewers are as cruel in that aspect as I am, but there is absolutely no excuse to have mistakes like that slip through.

4. Send out lots of queries.

Newsflash: not everyone will like your book. Shocking, I know. You will get bad reviews; live with them. That doesn’t mean that your writing isn’t good or that the reviewer is a horrible troll. All it means is (usually) that the book was not for that particular reviewer.

That is why it is so important to send out queries to lots of book reviewers. Reviews aren’t like publishing, where multiple submissions are bad things. It’s okay to query lots of book reviewers!

If you have 20 book reviewers accept your books, you’ll probably get 1-5 bad reviews, but that also means you’ll have 15 four- or five-star reviews. If 100 book reviewers accept your books, you may get 10-30 bad reviews, but you’ll also have 70-90 good reviews, right?

Books with only good reviews on Amazon look suspicious to most people (it looks like you paid for good reviews.) Although bad reviews sting, they add to your credibility. Contrary to popular belief, most bad reviews don’t turn readers off either, so there’s no harm in getting bad reviews once in a while. If all your reviews are bad you may want to consider a new career, though.

5. Pay for good reviews.

I am in no way advocating for writers to seek out reviewers and pay them to write falsely positive reviews.

But, technically speaking, paying for good reviews is a way to get good reviews. If you are considering this route, heed my warning: if someone finds out you are paying for good reviews, you will lose all credibility online.

Paying for a good review is fraud in most people’s eyes and (even worse) lends to the perception that you could not get a good review without paying.

If you are an indie or a self published writer, the indie/self published community will tear you to shreds. They’re working hard for acceptance into the mainstream, so by paying for good reviews, you are not only destroying your credibility, but theirs as well.

If you feel that you can only get a good review by paying for one, go for it. Just don’t expect me or 99% of reviewers/bloggers/readers/authors to defend you when the truth comes out.


About Carrie Slager

Writing Novels That SellCarrie Slager is a bored young woman living in Saskatchewan, who spends most of her spare time reading books, writing about books or talking about books.  She decided to stop bothering her non-bookish friends about books by starting a blog and bothering complete strangers on a daily basis.  The Mad Reviewer is her first, and so far, only blog.  It is officially dedicated to YA novels, although she will read anything she can get her hands on.  Her hobbies include reading, writing, memorizing useless trivia, teaching herself Italian, wasting time on Twitter, and more reading.  Carrie loves talking about herself in the third person. Connect with Carrie via Twitter @TheMadReviewer.