The number one fear of any author is—Reviewers.
It’s bad enough if a reader doesn’t like your book. Most readers, if they don’t like your book, will keep it to themselves. Or, at the worst, they will keep it within their immediate circle of friends. Or, if they have a big mouth, they’ll keep it within their book club or community.
Since it’s their job, reviewers will broadcast their dislike of your book to the whole world! Their distaste used to be confined to the subscribers of whatever publication they were writing for. But now, with the Internet, a reviewer’s hatred for a particular book is broadcasted throughout cyberspace for everyone in the universe to see exactly how bad your book is.
That’s enough to scare any writer into wanting to lock their baby up in the trunk of their car like a murder victim and never let anyone read it.
Yes, you can do that.
But, like a parent protecting her child from the outside world by locking him up in his bedroom and never letting him step outside, it’s not a realistic option. Children who are over-protected don’t develop a tough enough skin to deal with all that life has to throw at them. As scary as it is, sending them out there where they can fall down and skin their knees is a good thing.
Likewise, any writer wanting her book and career to be all it can be, needs to “author-up” and get her book out there into the hands of reviewers … who may or may not like it.
Yes, some reviewers may not like your book.
I was surprised to learn not too long ago that many authors don’t send their books out to reviewers for precisely that reason. One author shocked me with the announcement, “I don’t let strangers review my books.” I was still wrapping my head around that statement when he went on to say that he knew several authors who don’t solicit book reviews. Those who did would stipulate to the reviewer, “If you can’t give me 5-stars, then don’t bother posting any review at all.”
Yet, these same authors scratch their heads and wonder why they have failed to find their audience and can’t break through to have good book sales.
Book reviews are FREE advertising. With every review site that your book is featured, more and more people are learning about it. I have had reviewers contact me asking for copies of my book as a result of reading about it on other book review sites. I send them the books, they read it, and then yet another review is posted for even more readers to learn about my books.
All it costs me is the cost of the book and postage, unless it’s an e-book, in which case, it costs me NOTHING! Beat that price for advertising!
Based on successful reviews for my previous books, I had almost eighty reviewers WAITING for the advanced review copy of Shades of Murder when it was released in May. That’s almost eighty websites that would publicize my latest book upon its released. Many of these reviewers read the e-book version, which cost me nothing.
Did I have a guarantee that all of these reviewers were going to love Shades of Murder as much as they loved the other books in the series? No. I was confident that they would since they loved my previous books, but there was never any guarantee. I considered it the chance I had to take to be a professional author. It’s worth the risk to get the word out there about my books.
Here’s the way I see it. I publish my books because, in my heart, I know I’m a great writer. If I didn’t think I was good, I wouldn’t be investing my time and effort into writing and publishing my books. To me, authors who clutch their books to their breasts and refuse to show them to reviewers have a lack of confidence in their own writing.
Breaking through to the big time is not going to happen if you keep your book a secret from reviewers.
What if the reviewer doesn’t like your book? That’s one thing that I can guarantee. Not everyone is going to love your book.
Being a Mom, that’s something that I can understand and deal with.
The other night I prepared Tuscan Ribeye for dinner. I marinated the steaks for four hours before putting them on the grill. They came out juicy and melt in your mouth delicious. I also put equal amount of love into preparing garlic mashed potatoes with fresh garlic and butter drizzled in it. I topped off the mashed potatoes with fresh chives. They were so beautiful I didn’t want to eat them! Then, for the vegetable, I broiled parmesan tomatoes. The parmesan and tomato were the perfect accompaniment to this a meal that had my husband rubbing his tummy saying, “I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.”
My son shrugged his shoulders and said, “Eh!”
Lesson: You can’t please everyone.
I put my heart and soul into that dinner. It was with pride that I presented it to the world (okay, the dining room) and only pleased half of my audience. My son would have been happier with a cheese dog and fast food fries.
Likewise, you can spend months slaving over a storyline, invest money in an editor, and hand picking a cover, and have a reviewer say “Eh!” She would have preferred it if your deep thinking, spunky protagonist that saved the world was a vampire with big boobs.
All right, so you’re thinking, “Yeah, Lauren, you don’t have to tell us that not everyone will love our books. We know that. That’s why we’re keeping them locked up in the trunk of our cars and not telling anyone about them. If a reviewer doesn’t like them, THEY’LL TELL SOMEONE ABOUT THEM.”
Here’s a news flash for you: As long as your book is for sale to the public, bad reviews can still happen—even if you aren’t soliciting them to reviewers.
My first book, A Small Case of Murder, has a couple of really horrible reviews posted on Amazon. The first one appeared over a year after its release. I was depressed for a week before my husband suggested I look up the other reviews this reviewer had posted on Amazon. I found that she had posted one. It was a five-star review for a rap CD entitled something along the lines of “Kill All the People”. Of course, someone like that wouldn’t like a book about a functional family with a Christian protagonist.
Every bad, spiteful review I have received, I did not solicit. They were posted by readers who had come upon the book themselves and felt compelled to vent about their hatred for it.
As I have learned from readers and reviewers, hateful and spiteful reviews are not taken seriously by readers. The best way to combat them is, when you find such a review, to click on the button below the review saying that it was not helpful, and have your friends and family do the same.
The second line of defense against unsolicited bad reviews is to solicit reviews that will be positive from professional reviewers. Generally, professionals don’t post hateful criticism. They will find something good to say, or say nothing at all. Yes, they will be honest, but they won’t be hurtful and you may find the criticism helpful.
For the first two books in my Mac Faraday Mysteries, I have had a couple of reviewers comment, nicely, that they would like to have a cast of characters listed in the front of the book. So, in Shades of Murder, I have listed a cast of characters, and will do so with future books. A couple of reviewers for Shades of Murder have already commented on how helpful that was for this mystery dealing with dual murders.
Here’s another surprising note about criticism, it gives your book creditability in the eyes of some readers. Believe it or not, I was dancing around the house a couple of months ago when I received my first two-star review for It’s Murder, My Son, which was released over two years ago.
Have I lost my mind? I was dancing about a two-star? Yep.
Here’s why? Many readers view books with only positive reviews with suspicion. Maybe it’s the society we now live in. A while back I had read a thread in a book forum in which a lot of writers and readers commented that when they come upon a book on Amazon with forty or fifty 5-star reviews touting the book as the best thing since Gone With the Wind, they regard the reviews with suspicion, especially if there are no four, three, or two or one-star reviews. The suspicion grows deeper if the book and author are unknown. How do you get so many highly positive reviews without anyone knowing about you or your book? There are many readers who will assume all of the reviews were by family and friends of the author. When I brought up the matter in my book writing class, I was surprised to find that many of my students feel the same way.
I read not too long ago about an author who went into Amazon, using various different accounts, and posted dozens of five-star reviews for his own book. Then, he bragged about it in a blog. Amazon found out about it and pulled all of the reviews.
Reviews that state some form of objective criticism for a book gives it credibility. Readers take that book and the reviews listed for it more seriously. Thus, when I got my first two-star review for It’s Murder, My Son, I proceeded to dance around the house. After two years, It’s Murder, My Son has credibility!
Lesson to be learned: Even a critical review can be good for your career.
Writers, what are you waiting for? You have a book that you’ve labored over and now it’s ready to push that baby out of the nest and send it out into the world to the applause and acclaim of reviewers—who will pass on the word to your audience—which will open the doors to the authorship that your books and you deserve.
Go get ‘em, Tiger!
About the Author
Literary Wealth’s blog host, Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award. A Reunion to Die For was released in hardback in June 2007. Both of these books are in re-release.
Lauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The first two books in her series, It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. The next book in this series, Shades of Murder, was released May 2012.
Lauren’s sixth book, Dead on Ice, will be released in Fall 2012. Dead on Ice will introduce a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, in which Joshua Thornton will join forces with homicide detective Cameron Gates.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This spring, two books written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.
She lives with her husband, son, and two dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:
Blog: Literary Wealth: https://literarywealth.wordpress.com/
Gnarly’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/GnarlyofMacFaradayMysteries
(This is going to be such fun!)
Name the Dead Porn Star in Dead on Ice:
Dead on Ice is the first installment of my new series: Lovers In Crime. Taking place in the Chester, WV/Pittsburgh area, Lovers in Crime revolves around the budding romance of Small Town WV Prosecutor Joshua Thornton and Pennsylvania State Police Homicide Detective Cameron Gates.
In Dead on Ice, Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of a missing porn star. The case has a personal connection to Joshua because the star’s mummified body is found in an abandoned freezer in his cousin’s basement. It doesn’t take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué Hollywood legend’s roots were buried in their small rural town, something that she had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept it off her road map, too. Because when this starlet came running home from the mob in 1985, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.
The Winner must come up with both the Stage Name and the porn starlet’s Real Name. Send an e-mail to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Put: Dead on Ice Porn Star in the Subject Line of the e-mail. You must supply your contact information in the e-mail. The contest will run from June 1-July 30. I will select the winning names and winner. The Winner will receive a gift basket with print copies of all the Deep Creek Lake Mysteries (autographed), Lovers in Crime Coffee Mug, and an autographed copy of Dead on Ice when it is released in the Fall.