Authors, to quote Fight Club, “you are not a beautiful or unique snowflake.” You’re a writer and guess what? You’re in good company because there are a lot of us. We write because we love stories and because our passion can only be satisfied by the written word. We write to communicate, to inspire others. Be grateful for every single person that takes the time to read your work. Time is valuable–more precious than money. If you want someone to go a step further and not only read your book but review it, be respectful. In my recent experience as a book reviewer, I have come across a few authors that struggle with that last part so I’ll elaborate. I only have three things to share, but these are important so hold on to your butts and listen up!
1. Provide a copy of your work: An author asked me today if I had read his book yet. I told him no because I had not received a copy. He told me that he thought I should support indie authors and buy the book. Keep in mind, this is someone I have never met and whose work I am unfamiliar with. I was floored. Reading a book can take anywhere from an evening to a few days depending on length. For me, reading a book for review takes longer since I need to stop and take notes. Then I need to copy those notes from my Kindle and write the review. Sometimes, that part is easy. Other times, not. In short, I’m giving every author I review days of my time–time I could be using to write my own novel, play with my kid or read something else. That is support. So no, I won’t be reading that particular author’s work even if he somehow finds his way to the bestseller list.
Most reviewers, including myself, are not paid for their reviews. We offer reviews because we love books. Authors, whether you realize it or not, you are asking for days of a reviewer’s time when you request a review. The least you can do is provide a copy of your work. This isn’t a loss for you. A positive review will increase your readership and your book sales. Also, I am usually given electronic review copies. When I love the book I almost always end up buying a physical copy for my personal collection. I will also seek out additional work by the author and have even been known to buy more than one copy of a book so I can get one signed and keep one for reading. If your work is good, you should have no trouble finding people willing to buy it. Just don’t be an asshat. No one want’s to read an asshat’s book.
2. Familiarize yourself with the reviewer or publication: Visit the site(s) the reviewer writes for and familiarize yourself with their reviews and review policy (if they have one). Make sure your book falls into a genre that they read and that it fits their guidelines in terms of length and format. Your research will result in more acceptances, particularly if you show that you have read the reviewer’s work and explain why you think they would be interested in your book. This also means fewer surprises for you. You can rest assured that your baby will be in competent hands and will receive a fair review. Remember the goal here is to get your book to readers. Book reviewers are gatekeepers to many readers but, they may not be the readers for you. By taking the time to familiarize yourself with the reviewer, you learn about their subscribers as well.
3. Support reviewers: Many book reviewers are, like you, looking for readers. Before you submit a request to any reviewer, show your support by subscribing to their site. Once you get a review, share it through your social network and be sure to thank the reviewer.
I’m always annoyed when an author that does not follow my blog makes a request. For one, it leads me to believe that they have not taken the time read my work or my review policy (see #2). If an author can’t take the time to read a simple blog post under 1,000 words, what makes them think I should read their 200-400-page novel? Bloggers are usually savvy networkers so a little support on your end can go a long way. The reviewer will often return the favor by following you back and/or sharing your work through social media. Even if they don’t, their review alone will likely be shared across their network leading to more readers, likes, subscribers and followers for you.
Final thoughts: I’m a reviewer. I am also revising my first novel, so I consider myself to be an author as well. The author of an unpublished 98,000-some-odd-words that need to be rewritten but an author none-the-less. The other day, I posted the first chapter of my novel and was pleasantly surprised to have a few authors leave feedback. These are authors that I am a fan of and their support meant the world to me (that’s right Auralee Wallace, Brian Moreland, and S.R. Carrillo. I’m talking about you) and you better believe that when these authors request a review, I will bump their books to the top of my TBR. I’m not sharing this to encourage authors to bribe me with feedback, but to remind you that a little support goes a long way. Reviewers are writers too, and when you support us and our projects that support will almost always be valued and reciprocated. That’s what networking is all about.
That said if you’ve made it to the end of this post that means you have read nearly a thousand of my words and for that I am grateful. Those of you that have read this are likely the ones that don’t need advice on etiquette or networking, but I appreciate your time all the same. To me, you are a beautiful and unique snowflake. Thank you.