The Review Debate
As an indie author, I’ve had to learn a lot about the process of reviews. As I’ve heard said so many times, reviews are the lifeblood of an author. With more reviews comes a higher publicity ranking on sites like Amazon and Goodreads, which means more people click your book, which means more sales.
All that’s to say, there’s a raging debate about author reviews right now. Especially in the self-published author hangout spots. How do you get more reviews? What’s ethical in asking for reviews? Is it okay for authors to review other author’s work? How much work should you do to get reviews?
Questions, questions, and more questions. And ultimately, it comes down to an author’s own sense of morality. While some things are obviously wrong to anyone with sense, i.e. paying someone to write a positive review without ever actually reading the book, other aspects are a little harder to nail down. For example, should an author review other author’s work, perhaps as part of a review exchange?
My Personal Opinion
So, I’ve decided to let you know my personal opinion. Now, before any of you other authors or readers with differing options start slam-basting this post, let me remind you that I’m entitled to my own opinion. If you don’t like it, don’t read my stuff anymore. I’ll be sorry to see you go, but that’s really all there is to it.
Okay. Onward and upward.
I review books. Obviously, if you’ve taken a look at my blog lately. I’m a little obsessive about reading and I’ve come to love writing reviews. I review books from indie authors and big publishers and pretty much whatever I felt like reading that day. I don’t think that my status as an author diminishes my status as a reader. I read the book, and I’ll tell you what I thought. Maybe being an author myself sometimes makes me a harsher judge on things like weak characters or bad grammar, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m a pure bred fiction junkie.
What about paying for good reviews? Nope. Won’t do it. End of story.
Gifting a book to a reviewer in exchange for a review? Sure. That’s an easy way to thank someone for choosing my book over the thousands of other great reads available.
Paying an intermediate to distribute my book to other reviewers? Can’t afford it, but don’t see a problem with it. Its a service, and often the person getting paid isn’t even the one reading the book.
Exchanging reviews with other authors? Personally, this is the most sticky of all the points in the grand review debate. If both sides are completely honest, well, you’ve got a good thing going. The problem is that you really have no idea what you’re getting yourself into when you set up something like this. What if their book is horrible and you have to give a bad review? Will that affect how they review your book? What if they never actually do review your book? I’d just rather stay away from the whole thing in general.
There is an alternative, though. You can go out to individual reviewers and solicit reviews in exchange for copies and spend hours and hours searching out and reading policies on various blogs. It’s a hassle. You do get some gold in with all the dirt. But it does take time.
My Favorite Solution
Or. You can do what I did. Join a book club. My club of choice is the Rave Reviews Book Club, which you’ve probably heard me raving about before. Yes, pun intended. The idea behind this is that you put your book out in their listing under your genre, and then go about your reviewing business. Choose books that sound awesome from the list, write an honest review, and repeat. Other club members are doing the same. If your book sounds like their kind of awesome, they’ll purchase, read, and review. The focus is on sharing the reviewing love rather than being all self-centered and do mine! do mine!
I’ve gotten some awesome reviews that way. I’ve also had a few people email me and say “lady, you need some help. I’ve found typos!” Which are completely the bane of my existence. I swear I read Havoc’s Cry at least a dozen times, had three editors read it multiple times, and STILL have people chatting me up to say “oh, you know there’s a difference in rogue and rouge and I’m pretty sure you used the wrong one.” To be fair, she’s right.
Now, is this an instant success solution? Nope. You’ll probably review a lot more than you get reviewed. Especially at first. If you’re not okay with that, than the spirit of this club is probably not for you. Me? I read more than I’ll ever write. So I love sharing the love, so to speak.
And what’s more? The people I’ve met through the club are really awesome PEOPLE as well as great authors. They’re kind and fun loving. Pretty much all of my new best-author-friends-ever are members of RRBC. I’ve gotten to feature some of them on this blog through the spotlight tours as well as tweet up a storm for #PushTuesday, which are just more great ways the club promotes its members. But you know what I love? The email from Tamie Dearen saying thanks for reading her books. The tweets from Rachel Medhurst about how much she loved the review. The hundreds of times my book and blog has been retweeted through the club by various awesome members. Those are the parts that make authordom so worth the hours of labor.
So maybe I diverged a little from what this post was originally about. But hey, I’m an author. I like to write :).