Getting Reviews

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

maryland

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As I was brought up to be polite and not to nag or boast, the world of self-publishing has been a complete reversal of that training!
Only this week (I am extremely slow) did I find out how other writers got reviews. They wrote off to OTHER writers and sort of cross-pollinated. That's how the Amazon and Goodreads reviews appeared, as if out of the blue. No money crossed hands, obviously, but the balloon lifted magically. I had of course written reviews for writers, in 'real life' magazines as well. But, being polite, never thought of going out and asking direct for anything reciprocal if they had not responded spontaneously.
So, learn from my mistakes, with luck!
 

The Second Moon

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Thanks for sharing this. I self-published a book on June 20th this year and have yet to get any reviews. Too bad I have a a very rare and extreme form of social anxiety (selective mutism), so asking for reviews might be very tricky for me...
 

maryland

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Quite agree! I crossed my fingers, sent off a couple of requests (writers group in real life and other authors) and almost vowed to hide from the computer for a week. Being pushy is in some peoples' nature, and that is why they get to the front. I've only just worked out the nuts and bolts of that. Three have said yes already, which is why this should be spread to other people with a new book.
 

CathleenT

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No, you don't have to be pushy. You just have to be willing to review other books. I've posted about this a bunch of times on AW. It would be nice if the info disseminated, but I suppose I need to say this at least one more time.

You don't want to blindly trade with other authors. The whole Amazon no-no thing isn't something you want to screw with.

Instead, join a goodreads Reading Round. Go to goodreads and select Community from the top bar menu. Select Groups from the drop down. Then I just click on Review Group, but you may need to enter it into the search box. Go down to Reading Rounds. https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/78683-review-group.

As I type this, I don't see any open rounds. You have to keep an eye on it. But basically, you join a group with ten authors. Everyone agrees to read and review four books. A moderator ensures that no reciprocal reviews occur. Amazon knows about Reading Rounds, and they don't violate their terms of service.

I've used them a bunch. It takes me about three rounds to get my reviews above the twenty mark, which is my goal. Books that get reviews tend to attract other reviews.

Mostly it's good, but I've gotten a few reviews that made me grit my teeth (spoilers). The moderators are pretty helpful. Just make sure you follow all the rules.

Whatever you do, don't click on the many offers of people who'll sell reviews. The other place I'd steer you to is Hidden Gems, which will cost, but the reviewers don't get paid, so it's considered okay. I do very well there, but I'd try the Reading Round first, since they tend to be kind. Hidden Gems attracts a crowd of reviewers who read a lot, and some can be jaded. I've heard that some people have regretted using it, so I'd avoid it if you're in ANY doubt on your editing--line, story, proofreading, whatever.

I can tell you what hasn't worked well thus far--the email list. I've got around 1100 on mine, and I get maybe three reviews per book out of it. But again, I don't want to be pushy. Those people are on my list for them, not me. They'll stay only as long as I entertain them.
 
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maryland

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Thanks for that warning, Cathleen T, yes , I know about Amazon's ruling. It is a tricky area, as I see several writers reacting and giving reviews to each other, some well-respected too!
 
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Bolero

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I have a suspicion that mailing list importance varies with genre, but that could be unfounded. Not spent time chasing that down.
Also it might be good for sales - letting readers know there is a new book there - but getting sales is not a guarantee of reviews.

Anyone got any comments?
 

Scott Talbot Evans

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No, you don't have to be pushy. You just have to be willing to review other books. I've posted about this a bunch of times on AW. It would be nice if the info disseminated, but I suppose I need to say this at least one more time.

You don't want to blindly trade with other authors. The whole Amazon no-no thing isn't something you want to screw with.

Instead, join a goodreads Reading Round. Go to goodreads and select Community from the top bar menu. Select Groups from the drop down. Then I just click on Review Group, but you may need to enter it into the search box. Go down to Reading Rounds. https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/78683-review-group.

As I type this, I don't see any open rounds. You have to keep an eye on it. But basically, you join a group with ten authors. Everyone agrees to read and review four books. A moderator ensures that no reciprocal reviews occur. Amazon knows about Reading Rounds, and they don't violate their terms of service.

I've used them a bunch. It takes me about three rounds to get my reviews above the twenty mark, which is my goal. Books that get reviews tend to attract other reviews.

Mostly it's good, but I've gotten a few reviews that made me grit my teeth (spoilers). The moderators are pretty helpful. Just make sure you follow all the rules.

Whatever you do, don't click on the many offers of people who'll sell reviews. The other place I'd steer you to is Hidden Gems, which will cost, but the reviewers don't get paid, so it's considered okay. I do very well there, but I'd try the Reading Round first, since they tend to be kind. Hidden Gems attracts a crowd of reviewers who read a lot, and some can be jaded. I've heard that some people have regretted using it, so I'd avoid it if you're in ANY doubt on your editing--line, story, proofreading, whatever.

I can tell you what hasn't worked well thus far--the email list. I've got around 1100 on mine, and I get maybe three reviews per book out of it. But again, I don't want to be pushy. Those people are on my list for them, not me. They'll stay only as long as I entertain them.

The GoodReads reading round sounds like a good tip.
But I'm against building a mailing list. I know a lot of people say to do it, but my feeling is, I hate receiving promotional emails so why would I want to send any?
 

Woollybear

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I've seen posts on facebook bemoaning how much effort was put into a mailing list only to have it produce squat for the writer. The authors who use it well claim that it is an art form to itself. How often to mail, what to include, who to cut off the list, how to encourage readers, and so on.

That was enough for me to decide it's not worth it, to me, to work on an email list and newsletter.

I joined this part of goodreads in August, reviewed a book from the list, and another book from the list, and have received two reviews from other participants in that time.
 

CathleenT

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Sorry, but I didn't want to leave the impression that an email list is something that isn't worth the bother. It hasn't been a good source for reviews. I haven't found a better way to interact with readers, some of whom can become actual fans. I've got a few, and it's a good feeling.

And because it's something you grow into, it's best to start when you don't have much following, so you can get a groove.

Go ahead and dislike it all you want. Every job has stuff you'd rather not do, like grading papers in teaching. But if it works and I don't do it, I figure I only have myself to blame. YMMV.
 

Polenth

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It's important for writers to realise what they have time for and what they're actually good at doing. In my case, I don't have the content for a mailing list, so it'd be a waste of time and cause unnecessary stress. I do well at Twitter, so I focus my time on that. Though we all need to get out there somehow, it isn't compulsory to use a specific method.

I also found that seeking out reviews was a waste of time. My most reviewed book had no review copies sent out. It turned out it was better to focus on writing a book with some "trendy" promotional hooks, than spending a lot of time begging for reviews on a book that didn't interest people. I'd note I'm not talking about writing a book to a formula or anything like that, but having an element where you can say "This book has X!" where X is something people actually want.
 

CathleenT

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You're just saying that because you were smart enough to write a book with werecockroaches.

The word alone is enough. : )
 

maestrowork

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In my experience, peer / traded reviews (with other authors you know) can only get you so far, and also at times the reviews are biased (because those authors know you personally). Certainly it is a good place for book blurbs, if you happen to know someone who's well published. I've learned recently that book lovers on Goodreads, for example, use paid services like NetGalley or BookSirens to get ARCs from authors or publishers, and the latter use the services to provide ARCs for potential reviewers. It does cost some $$ but at the same time, you tend to get some coverage and also relatively more unbiased reviews (that means, they may be negative). But unless your intention is to get as many positive, 4 star reviews as possible. It's a good way to get reviews onto Amazon or Goodreads. To me, email list for reviews is just spam, and I don't like it (as both the author or reviewer). I'd rather someone asks me personally, or using a 3rd party service like NetGalley. Just my $0.000002
 

janeofalltrades

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Story Origin is a free app (it's in beta) for readers and authors to connect. It's also about exchanging newsletter swaps with other authors. That's how I'm distributing my ARCs to hopefully get early reviews.
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away