Have you ever wondered how somebody gets to hang their shingle as a "book reviewer?" Would you like to know how to make "nice" with a reviewer for your own book? Carrie Slager's guest columns have the answers. This post is part one of a 2-part series.
Tips for Dealing with Book Reviewers:
From the Trenches
By Carrie Slager
Guest Columnist for WritingNovelsThatSell.com
Since there seems to be a bit of confusion out there about book reviewers in this new digital age, I’ve compiled some Frequently Asked Questions that I think all authors and bloggers should know about book reviewers.
What is a book reviewer?
To put it simply, a book reviewer is someone who reads books and reviews/analyzes them. Whether they do it for fun or for a living doesn’t matter—they’re book reviewers.
How do I become a book reviewer?
The supposedly ‘easy way’ (and the main one I’ll be discussing) is to run your own blog and post book reviews on it. These people are can be referred to as book bloggers, as opposed to professional book reviewers, who review books for a living in large magazines and newspapers. However, I will be switching back and forth between the terms, since they are used interchangeably. Like being a writer, being a book reviewer is neither mystical nor glamorous—it’s just what we do.
What does it take to be a book reviewer?
Discipline. I review 99% of the books I read in order to keep up my daily posting regimen. Most bloggers don’t post at this crazy speed and don’t even review all the books they read, which can be a waste of time. However, it does take a certain amount of discipline to plunk yourself down in front of your computer and write a 300+ word review every single day.
A love of books. Can you imagine doing something every day that you hate and not getting paid for it? Of course not! That’s why a love of books is essential for every single book reviewer out there. You have to be an avid reader and a decent writer because not only do you have to read, you have to write coherently in order to convey your thoughts to other readers. You have to have an interesting and engaging writing style in order to separate yourself from the literally millions of book reviewers out there!
I’m an author and need more reviews for my book on Amazon. How do I get it reviewed by a book blogger?
There is really no easy answer for this question, because every single book reviewer is different. However, most book bloggers, if you look around their site, have a review policy. This is usually in the FAQs tab, but can also be a separate tab in some cases, depending on the layout of the site.
Next—and I cannot stress this enough—read the policy. I am a relatively small blogger, but I have received literally dozens of book review requests from authors who have not read my policy. These are summarily deleted without even considering the book. Most reviewers have a similar attitude towards these types of requests.
After you read the policy, follow it! Some reviewers only review new books, but most will review everything from ARCs to classic literature. I generally do not limit myself by genre, but a lot of reviewers will only stick in their comfort zones or have blogs that specifically review sci-fi/fantasy or romance/erotica or nonfiction.
You are not an exception. You may think your book is special, that the reviewer will love it anyway, but that’s not the point. By not following a reviewer's policy, you are disrespecting the reviewer, and that attitude is not likely to go over well.
What can I expect of a book blogger when my book is reviewed?
Well, first you should know that scrupulous reviewers will give you an honest review. It will not necessarily be good. Most of us feel no obligation to a complete stranger to praise their book to the high heavens if we hate it.
You can, of course, pay for a good review, but if it ever comes out that you’ve been buying reviews, you can expect to lose your online reputation. Your online reputation is everything in the blogging world, and word-of-social-media spreads quickly.
Remember when Sue Grafton called Indie Authors lazy? Or when Jacqueline Howett exploded in the comments section at BigAl’s Books and Pals? If you don’t remember these incidents, Google them, and you’ll see how the book blogging communities exploded. The same thing will happen if you’re caught paying for good reviews.
Do not try to get book reviewers
to change their reviews if you don’t
like what they say.
~ Carrie Slager, The Mad Reviewer Book Blog
Secondly, most bloggers will ask you for a PDF or a Kindle formatted ebook so they can read your book on their ereaders. Some reviewers will only accept print copies, so it’s best to read their policy and find out what they expect you to provide -- if you fit all of the other criteria.
Third, you do not have power over most reviewers. I personally send a copy of my review to each author a week before I publish it as fair warning. However, this is not an invitation for authors to comment on the review.
Do not try to get book reviewers to change their reviews if you don’t like what they say. If you get a negative review, just say “I’m sorry you didn’t like it, but thanks for your time.” It’s not a personal attack, so move on to the next reviewer. You can’t please everyone, as the saying goes.
Well, those questions are the ones I get asked most often as a reviewer. If you have other questions, please leave them in the comments section, below. I’ll be dropping in on the conversation from time to time. Next week, I'll be posting part 2 in my series right here, at WritingNovelsThatSell.com.
About Carrie Slager
Carrie 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.