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Friday, 11 February 2011

Marian Perera guest post

Today we have a guest blog by the wonderful writer and book reviewer, Marian Perera. I've followed and enjoyed reading Marian's blog for the past year, so was over the moon when she volunteered to write a guest post for us. Linking in with recent topics about marketing and promotion, Marian is looking at how a writer can set about getting more reviews for their work. Since she's been on both sides of the fence, I think she's pretty much the perfect person to write about this.

I also have to thank Marian for introducing me to romantic fantasy through her wonderful debut novel, Before the Storm. How I missed this genre for so long I have no idea...

Getting More Reviews

By Marian Perera

Being on both sides of the the review fence is an enlightening experience. I review both books and ARCs on my blog, but when my first novel was recently released, I wanted to get it as many reviews as possible.

That meant not only researching review sites but being aware of what etiquette was most likely to result in positive responses. Most reviewers enjoy books, spend time on their (unpaid) work and don’t like hurting feelings, either by declining a book or by giving a negative review. So there are a few things writers can do to maximize their chances of getting a review.

1. Personalize your request and be aware of reviewers’ requirements/guidelines.

It’s very much like querying an agent. Show the reviewer that the request is for them specifically, as opposed to being spam that’s gone out to thirty or forty other people, keep it relevant to the reviewer’s genre(s) and make sure that the reviewer is fine with whatever format the book is in.

It doesn’t hurt to proofread such a request either.

2. Make excerpts/book readily available.

Best not to send attachments, but a link to a chapter or two on the author’s website gives the reviewer a chance to check a book out further. Even if I don’t request a book, I often read the first few pages.

3. Take refusal or criticism gracefully

It doesn’t matter what the response is – whether reviewers decline, write a critical review or shred the book. The author should stay professional. At the very least, that will leave reviewers and readers with a better impression than if the author argues or complains.

An author once contacted me for a review of an e-book, but after reading the opening chapters and coming across a certain problem, I declined the book and explained why. He followed up with an email that acknowledged I had a lot in the TBR pile and therefore he wasn’t re-requesting a review, but if I followed the link (link inserted), I’d see that the problem had been addressed.

I did, and it had. That left me with a very favorable impression, and if this author writes something else I’d be more than happy to take a look.

4. Thank the reviewer for their time.

Even if the feedback wasn’t what the writer hoped for, a thank-you can mention the reviewer’s time, effort, honesty, objective comments and constructive criticism.

There are also a few things writers are better off not doing…

1. Don’t expect a reviewer to bend their guidelines.

Every reviewer has different guidelines – some only want self-published books, some only want books from major publishers and so on. I’d be fine with a brief, polite explanation of why I might want to consider a book outside what I normally review, but I’d be less happy about anyone pressing the issue.

2. Don’t request a grade.

A writer I know once sent me a message asking for a five-star review on Amazon for his book. Fortunately someone more tactful than I am explained why such a request was not a good idea.

3. Don’t respond to a negative review.

“No author has the right to whine. He was not obliged to be an author. He invited publicity, and he must take the publicity that comes along.” -- E. M. Forster

Responding to a negative review to defend the book is the natural reaction, but like many knee-jerk reactions it needs to be restrained. It’s unlikely to change the reviewer’s mind about the book, and it usually just draws more attention to the critical review (which may be the last thing the author wanted).

Worst-case scenario? It snowballs into a vituperative online argument between the author and readers who are now even less likely to buy that author’s books.

It’s also natural to want support and reassurance after receiving such a review. But it’s a better idea for a writer to confide in family or friends, rather than – for instance – criticizing reviewers or readers on the writer’s blog or discussion board. On the Internet, such comments get Tweeted instantly, and preserved for ever.

A few – very few! – authors have responded to such reviews with wit and humor – my favorite is Carla Cassidy’s reaction to the review of her novel Pregnesia. But unless an author’s certain of pulling this off, it’s safer not to try.

Sometimes we’ll get reviews, sometimes we won’t. Sometimes it’ll be a balanced, enthusiastic writeup that results in good sales… and sometimes it won’t. But it’s all part of the difficult, uncertain, challenging and wonderful process of being published.

Marian Perera studies medical laboratory technology (final year of college!) when she isn’t writing. Her first novel, a romantic fantasy called Before the Storm was just released in paperback, and she blogs about writing, publication and every step between the two at Flights of Fantasy.

Before The Storm

In Dagran society Alex is a "mare", a woman used by the nobility, until her owner gifts her to his greatest enemy, Robert Demeresna. Robert wins her trust, but this mare is a Trojan horse, her owner's weapon in the battle to come. A battle fought with steam engines on the fields of Dagre, and psychic magic in the arena of her mind. read Chapter One Here.


Marian Perera said...

Thanks very much for the guest blog, Gemma!

Gemma Noon said...

Hi Marian, thank you very much for coming to the project. Am enjoying Before the Storm, btw!

MC Howe said...

Hey Gemma, what happened to your other blog. I was getting updates in my reader, but when I visited - poof!

Sorry, I don't mean to interrupt, just a concerned reader.

Gemma Noon said...

Hi matt!

Don't worry it will be back, I just needed to take a break as we are in the middle of a load of stuff right now, and I didn't like leaving it without any new updates.

Hopefully I'll be on top of things in the next few weeks, but thank you for the concern - nice to know people read it!

Gem x