In case you haven’t read it, there is a part one article on this subject. I just needed to touch it up a bit and add some more basic information, including this time, what an author might try to avoid, or experience an author/reviewer confrontation.
Just as a recap, and as I noted before, reviewers are PEOPLE on the
end of your submission email. Personalize your subs to each individual,
follow the guidelines precisely, check out their “About” section and
read some of their reviews. Target their genre preference. Ask before
sending a review copy. Make no demands, abide by their time constraints,
and do NOT expect public reviews of your book just because they’ve
asked for a copy. Things happen. Reviewers get ill, have emergencies, or
must go on forced hiatus.
Trigger warnings are about your content that might be objectionable.
You would know this beforehand by investigating your reviewer. They
might be a stalwart Christian, or other denomination, who gives notice
of touchy subjects that turn them off. For YA, I have to watch out for
sex, drugs, suicide, underage drinking, needless violence and gore and
other related topics. Yet again, if you have an erotic romance, it will
not sit pretty with a reviewer who prefers sweet romance with HEA
endings. Be careful and be up front. List your possible trigger warnings
and listen to the opinion of the reviewer. If you have a reviewer who
is borderline in reading your book, politely decline. You don’t want to
waste their time. If you force the review, you’d better be prepared for
any type of rating. Most reviewers don’t pull any punches. You're getting a
reader’s feedback. BTW, reviews are for readers–not for you unless you
take notes and realize you can improve your writing by understanding
their analysis. What’s not to like about a free sub-editor or
proofreader? If you have enough review comments that all state the same
problem, then by yiminee, you just might have a major problem!
Try and keep track of the individuals you have sent your submission
to. Some require form subs and sub prefer email. I have used six major
review sites, and it has been a tedious chore just to keep track of
individual reviewers. These persons might be listed in multiple sites
and you don’t want to send repeats. It can get very confusing for you if
you have sent out hundreds of requests. My sent box serves as a small
database, but it does not track the form submissions. If you are unsure
of a repeat request, add a disclaimer right up front. Here’s mine:
If this is a repeat review request from me, my sincerest
apologies. Shirley’s List, Indie Authors Reviews and Book Siren (among
others) have merged their contacts together, and it’s been almost
impossible for me to know where everyone has appeared. If I’m a repeat,
please just flick and swish and make me go away!
Lots of reviewers answer their emails starting with the oldest and
work their way through the list. Others make immediate contact with you.
The point is, don’t send reminders unless they state that you can.
Usually only one. Personally, I won’t send a follow-up. I don’t have any
desire to clog their box anymore than it is. I just move onto the next
sub. You are apt to get questions back, and you’ll need to take the time to
answer them honestly and accurately. Understand that they are feeling
you out as a person, as well as an author.
For gawd’s sake, don’t reply or comment on a review unless you are
just being thankful. Your story will get some harsh and, seemingly,
personal criticism. Do Not lash back at a reviewer in any forum. You
don’t even need to explain your version of the story and how the reader
got it all wrong. These other eyes are not yours. They may see things
quite differently than you do. It’s quite possible that you, not them,
who have screwed the pooch. After 15 straight years I broke this rule,
but did no lash out. I had to inform the reviewer about a gross
inaccuracy that hurt and damaged me so badly, I had to inform her about a
cultural tag she took the wrong way. The word “racist” was used as an
identifier in her review. I’ve had other mentions that have made me sick
to my stomach and have thrown me into a deep depression. These things
are going to happen. It comes with the territory. But there is a limit.
With some reviewers there is a slip of the word like a slip of the
tongue. I’ve had the following words in my review and they were more
than pointed at the story line. They were pointed at me:
Mysogynist, Identity thief, transvestite, plagiarist, racist,
fataphobic, woman-hater and other such monikers. They were grossly false
and most of my fellow authors knew that right away. I mean, when you’ve
been hosed and trashed in a public forum, one of two things or both can
happen; either you run away and hide, or you go ballistic. If you lose
your temper, calm down and contact the accuser in private email. As an
ex-federal police officer with an upstanding record, I won’t stand for
personal comments like those. I warn you, you are going to reap a
whirlwind of my opinion about what you’ve done. Count on it. It’s
reverse honesty. Otherwise, I’m fine with low review scores, even if I
have to scratch my head over them.
REVIEWERS: Watch what you are saying. You can’t take those words back
once they hit the social universe. They are cemented in time and place.
Go ahead and rant, but do it with a little sensitivity and humor. It’s
more digestible that way. Never, ever insult or humiliate an author with
dangerous words or profanity.
AUTHORS: Betcha didn’t know that even the long-time seasoned
reviewers are nervous and anxious about how their writing will be
accepted. They are responsible to a reading public. They get the jitters
too. You’re both getting the jitters. Hopefully, and most of the time,
things work out great for both of you. When there’s lots of comments, it
means the review was exceptional and really nailed it. That’s great for
the author too. It leads to sales clicks. ETA: don’t ask the reviewer
to buy your book. Are you nuts? They might want you to gift them a copy,
and that’s really to your advantage because it boosts rank and earns
Some of your reviewers will be members of, or have access to, Amazon,
B &N, Kobo, Apple, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, FB, Twitter,
specialized groups and the like. You’re talking about a full boat here.
Some may have less contacts or only a few. If you are “wide” which means
your book is listed with multiple retailers, mention this in your
request letter. They will respond with yeses or nos regarding which
sites they can list you in. Don’t insist that they join these groups
just to perk up your numbers. They follow their own policies and do what
works for them.
Gosh, dang it. I think I’ve run out of words. I know I’ve missed
something again but I’m agog at knowing what it is. If it takes a part
3, I’ll pitch out another article.
So I’ll say, let me red-shift out of here!
ETA: I just remembered. It’s up to you, dear author, on how many
paperback copies you want to send out. You can really hit the financial
skids in doing this. You’ll have to say, NO MORE. There is one country
in particular that demands most of the paperback copies. I won’t name
them. But I can see tiny book stores sprouting up all over their
countryside when they’ve accumulated massive paper and hardback copies