Last week I watched a Facebook Live broadcast by the Empowered Author Group. It was facilitated by Sam Missingham and Katie Sadler. The chat covered a range of topics from how to deal with reviews, how to encourage readers to leave reviews and what to do with those reviews when you get them. I jotted down the points that resonated with me.
- Reviews are subjective and what one reader hates, another will love. Anyone who’s ever been in a book group will know that a single book can generate a whole range of love/hate discussion.
- Authors need to develop a thick skin. This is not just for reviews but for an author’s life in general. The knock backs are many and we have to develop the skills for dealing with them.
- Many authors never read their reviews. If this is you, it can be useful to get a trusted friend or partner to read them to extract any constructive comments that be used in the writing of the next book. For example: A popular character could make an appearance in a sequel.
- If you are ever tagged in a positive social media comment, always respond with a thank you.
- The question was asked about how useful it is to get reviews from friends and family. In theory, Amazon does not allow reviews from friends and family, some will get through and can create a useful starting point. However, be aware that if these reviewers usually favour a different genre, their reviews on your book may mess up Amazon’s algorithms. For example, if your brother usually reads Westerns but reviews your Romance novel, Amazon may start showing your book to Western readers and this may limit your potential for sales. It can cause similar confusion on your ‘Also Bought’ lists. It might be better to get friends and family to recommend your book on their own social media and in real life. Or perhaps they could request it in the library or order it through a bookshop.
- Actively encourage readers to review or rate your book using your social media presence.
- At the end of each book put a polite request for a review.
- Build up a group of early readers or a ‘Street Team’ who will be happy to receive and review an early copy of the book and to shout about it for you. (Early readers can also be found by making your book available on NetGalley but this can be an expensive option unless you have a publisher willing to pay.)
- Blog tours are a good way of generating reviews. Build your own tour (Reedsy has a list of bloggers) or pay one of the excellent tour organisers to do it for you.
- When you get good reviews, use them for marketing purposes. Put them out on social media and in press releases.
It’s not easy to encourage reviews – most of us probably never thought about leaving a review until we became writers ourselves. So prize those coveted words of praise. And remember that even bestsellers get some bad reviews.
If you fancy writing a greater length about a book you’ve enjoyed, the Marlborough LitFest 2022 Love Books Competition gives you that opportunity (closes 1st July 2022).