Hey there, kids. It’s Michelle Roth here for another Freaky Friday. Today we’ll be talking about reviews. How to request them, how to react to them, and what they can do for your fledgling new book and how you should never respond to them directly.
Reviews are a necessary evil. As much as you’d like to publish your new baby and let the critics sort it out, they usually don’t. The majority of people that read your book (whether they like it, hate it, or love it) will NEVER leave a review. There are some folks out there that review religiously, for which authors are grateful, but the average joe.. or josephine, doesn’t. Unless it pisses them off so badly they “can’t EVEN”, or moves them to tears, they just don’t bother.
How do you get people to review your book?
You give it away to a select few.. these might be people you know in real life or people that you’ve connected with on social media. Bloggers, reviewers, and super fans will likely seek you out. As much as it might pain you to give it away, they’re ultimately doing you a favor. The *LEAST* you can do is to give them a free e-copy.
Are there down sides to this? Hell yes. Some people will take your book and never bother to review it. Some people will upload your book on file sharing sites or give it away to their friends. Some people will read your book and totally fucking HATE it. All of those outcomes are suck-tastic, but let’s delve deeper, shall we?
I had a few real life friends who never bothered to finish the book I gave them. That stings.
“Oh. I’m so excited for you. You’re a real live author! I want to read your book.”
I stopped talking to a couple of people over that. I poured every bit of myself into that first book. People took the free copy and didn’t even bother to read it or follow through on the simple request to write a review on Goodreads. I’m not talking about.. took 2 months to read it because life is insane. I’m talking.. took the book, and two years later, you’re still waiting.
So, yeah. That’s going to happen, most likely. Prepare yourself for that.
Some people will tell you that your book was so good that they lent it to their friend. *head explodes*
They don’t do it to be malicious. Hell, they think it’s a compliment. It’s your job to KINDLY school them.
A book on Amazon costs $4.99. Your publisher gets 70% of that. That’s $3.49. You get 40% of THAT. So each book nets you 1.40 roughly. It’s a small amount of money, but when you’re making so little off each of those books, it adds up. Ebooks are not lendable unless the publisher allows it. If they allow it, they will tell you. Most do not. Moreover, as an author, YOU probably do not.
Or they may blatantly upload it. It sucks. You have to troll those torrent sites and send DMCA takedown notices. It’s difficult to know who did it unless you manage to watermark your book somehow to distinguish one copy of a freebie from another. If you find yourself being pirated, I recommend that approach. You will quickly find out who among your advance readers is a malicious dickweasel.
The third undesirable outcome… they’re just not into your writing. Ultimately, that’s fine. Not everyone WILL be. Does that mean that you have to give this person book after book so they can be hum-ho about them? Absolutely not. Use kindness and your best judgement on this one.
Whatever you do.. for the love of all that holy and good and right in this world… DON’T EVER RESPOND TO A NEGATIVE REVIEW. Don’t comment. Walk.. the .. fuck.. away. There is nothing that you can say that won’t leave you looking like an asshat. Trust me on this. I’ve seen it a ton of times.
They have shitty reading comprehension? Don’t comment.
They mixed up your book with another one… send a note to the website (Goodreads, Amazon, etc) directly to have the review taken down. BUT DON’T COMMENT.
They give huge spoilers? Contact the website about blocking the spoilers or giving some kind of warning. (But don’t comment)
They were a giant meanie and thought your hero was a wimp? Don’t comment.
Are you sensing a theme here? Because … seriously. Don’t comment.
They can be right. They can be wrong.. It doesn’t matter. It’s your job to write the books. Ultimately, how it makes them feel is up to them. Other than taking constructive feedback about your writing style, there’s nothing you can gain from bad reviews. They will make you feel like shit. Even when you know the reader missed something in the story, it’s best to not engage. When you argue with them, you’ll never change their minds. They’ll just be more likely to trash your next book.
I got a little bit ranty, there. *wipes brow* So sorry.
So I hope this helps you guys some with regards to reviews. We’ll touch on something less angsty next week. Swearsies!