A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the importance of reviews to an author. In fact, next week, Bold Stroke’s author Michael Vance Gurley has his own views on the topic as my guest blogger. But this week I want to share some experiences I’ve had in the past month regarding reviews.
Reviews equal publicity.
Part of the reason reviews are important to the many of us writing in the digital age, is that we use them for publicity. When a book is released by a large publisher, you’ll often notice quotes on the back cover from other authors who’ve read advance copies. It helps to have those words of praise in front of the reader from the very beginning.
Of course for many of us, those words of praise are not at our fingertips when we launch a book. When the print edition of my novel Drama Queens and Adult Themes was having its cover art finalised, we had a problem. There were not enough reviews out to quote. We waited a couple of weeks and fortunately some great reviews came out.
We need those quotes.
When reviews of Nate and the New Yorker were first coming out, there was a slow trickle, so I decided to pay for a review tour with a publicity group I’ve used several times. There are two things I like about these publicists – there’s a healthy number of visits to my website during their tours, and there’s a good community feel in the comments on the various blog sites participating.
But more importantly, there are more reviews to quote for publicity purposes, at the least from the reviewers who actually loved the book. Oh yes, there’s honesty in those reviews.
This tour was different from others.
Two things happened during this tour which were odd. The first were two reviews of only three sentences. They brought added publicity to my cause as any blog stop does, but I felt ripped off. To me they were no more than passing comments, and for review sites that already contained many lengthy reviews, my ones made me feel like they were an afterthought. In fact, one of these didn’t really reference the plot of my book. Instead it bestowed the virtues of #loveislove.
It’s all publicity, don’t get me wrong, but there was nothing I could quote. We do, after all, have to do our own publicity, and three general sentences have little shelf life.
Because most of these participating blog sites are American, I’m usually in bed as potential readers start to comment. Imagine my surprise when I found another author hijack my tour. She introduced herself in the comments and said that she’d be online taking questions about her book all day.
When someone asked her ‘what advice would you give your characters before page one of your book?’, she answered that she’d like to tell her character, Sabine, to hang in there!
I checked out this author’s profile and Facebook and found she too had a tour with the same publicists, and seemed to be very confused on what tour she was supposed to be on. Even with my profile pic, the image of my book, an excerpt and a review all related to my book on the blog post, she still felt compelled to talk about her book.
I know I sound disenfranchised.
I’m not. Some extra honest reviews are filling the interweb. As authors we need them out there. They paint a picture through various viewpoints of our writing. And that’s good for both writers and readers.
But after this experience, I’m just going to keep letting the reviews come in organically. The results are better.