Recently, the topic of reviews came up. I see it and hear it in online forums, blogs, webinars, advice books, and practically everywhere else. In a nutshell:
“At every opportunity, authors should ask, beg, borrow, or steal in order to get plenty of reviews for their books.”
I think a review is more meaningful if it is given because the reviewer decided it was worthwhile to take valuable time and effort away from other things to share a few comments. After all, reader reviews should be given by readers to and for other readers. A heartfelt, unsolicited review means a lot to everyone concerned. Personally, I am just too busy writing to chase reviews.
This is heresy as far as most “author advice” people go. To them, sales equal success, regardless of the quality of the thing being sold. I simply feel that the best thing I can do is to put out a good story that people will want to read when they hear about it.
I’ll promote. Certainly. I’ll post about my work. I’ll engage with readers. I’ll put out press releases from time to time. I’ll advertise. I’ll provide copies to established editors/reviewers. If they want to give a review, whether a positive or negative one, that’s up to them. There’s a bunch of things that I am doing or that I am willing to do. And there are a few things I will resist doing as long as I possibly can (which I hope will be forever), things that many authors do as a matter of course. But not me.
I will not…
- Put a “give me a review” Call-to-Action inside a book.
- Host a contest where the entrants must leave a review in order to qualify for the contest prize.
- Buy reviews.
- Make up reviews from invented, non-existent reviewers.
- Ask my friends, family, or acquaintances to write a review.
- Write a review in order to get a review (“review trading”).
- Do a favor or provide a service in exchange for a review.
- Hound readers for a review
- Beg visitors at my kiosk for reviews.
That about sums it up. I won’t ask you for a review unless you are in the business of giving reviews and you want material to review. Thus, I won’t devalue your review ahead of time if you do give one. And if you don’t want to give a review, I certainly won’t think any less of you! I think of it as a kind of three-way pact between me and my readers and my reviewers.
Will this stance put my stories at a sales disadvantage? Probably. Will it take longer for people to discover my stories? Probably. In the long run,
But I’ll sleep better.
I am now stepping down from my soapbox.
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