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Use Good Judgment When Asking for Reviews

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger on Jul 16, 2013 4:27:44 AM

Reviews are an important element of a book-marketing campaign, but some authors exercise poor judgment in securing them. Here are my thoughts on where they go wrong, as well as some suggestions for how to do it right:

 

DON'T ask friends and family to post reviews.

 

An author's loved ones would never say anything negative about her book. How would you feel if you bought a book based on its glowing reviews, then found out they had been planted by the author's friends and family? I would feel cheated, and I imagine you would too. So don't do that for your own book.

 

DON'T trade reviews with other indie authors.

 

This is a bad idea because it puts both authors into an awkward position. If Author A thinks Author B's book is terrible, is Author A really going to skewer Author B's book? Of course not. Reviews need to be completely objective to be credible, and the nature of this arrangement keeps that from happening.

 

DO reach out to prolific reviewers who have posted reviews of books in your genre.

 

It may take some digging, but you can find them. For example, many reviewers on Amazon list their contact information in their profiles.

 

DO ask readers who proactively tell you they enjoyed your book to write a review.

 

If someone takes the time to contact you with positive feedback about your book, by all means, ask him to put his thoughts into an honest review. It would never occur to many fans to post a review, so if they reach out to you, there is nothing wrong with suggesting they share their feedback with a public audience.

 

For any review system to maintain credibility, the reviews must be objective. That doesn't mean they will all be positive, but at least they will be honest, and that is more important. For more tips on getting reviews for an indie book, check out my webinar on book marketing at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

-Maria

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

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Jul 16, 2013 11:04 AM ShellieJ    says:

Those are tips to live by, I would never ask family to review my books as the fear of only receiving good marks, the viewing audience however,such as customers are excellent sources to go to as well as professional writers which is almost like finding a needle in a haystack, their out there,as you said Maria is finding them and asking the right questions. I've made a couple of mistakes which I've learned from in the past few month, I asked a good friend for a review, it wasn't what I expected and it was too nice of one. To grow as a writer is to receive constructive criticism.

Marketing and branding your material is a constant struggle for some, I know it first hand, it is keeping with it and not putting it on the sidelines, otherwise people will never discover you and your writing potential.

Thank you Maria for the helpful tips to keep growing as a writer.

Jul 16, 2013 3:33 PM PatrickG    says:

I think it's strange that people have a sense of ethics about books that they wouldn't have about pizza cutters or socks or a box of Wheaties.

Books are another commodity and customers should evaluate reviews independently. I think a publisher has an obligation to sell their book as hard as possible without being dishonest.

What's the difference between review exchanges and blurbs from known authors? If I know Steven King, I'll ask him for a blurb and send him a copy.

I'd absolutely agree that trading reviews based on a preview is unethical but I don't think ethics exist to create hurdles to selling product... And if you're legitmately supplying a copy to an author and not forcing them to review then I see no issue there, nor do I see an issue in selectively promoting positive reviews as a publisher. I feel like this is what customers should reasonably expect from product manufacturers, just as people can reasonably expect Wal-Mart to cite all the negative aspects of unions and none of the positives... or the latest Michael Bay movie to focus on positive reviews... or the latest video game's website to only link to 4 and 5 star reviews.

That doesn't mean there shouldn't be independent reviews but I don't think it's the publisher's job to be independent... and I'd tend to see a publisher as being unprofessional if they push that kind of independence and think more lowly of their product. If you promote one star reviews for your book, I'm going to assume you don't properly consult any PR specialists and that there must be worse reviews still that you aren't sharing.

In my mind, it's the job of firm's to be advocates in the same way defense lawyers are. Don't LIE but you're not exactly supposed to be wholly impartial either in your capacity as publisher.

As an author, sure, be impartial. Take criticism to heart. Admit when you could do better. But not when you have your publisher hat on.

I'd personally expect a publisher to single our and target reviews they expect the best reviews from. Doesn't mean they will be but no book is for everyone and your publicity budget needs to go where it's effective, not try to form some kind of arbitrary "universal standard of truth" in reviews.

Jul 17, 2013 10:29 AM wordwan    says:

Hi, there. Thanks for your posts....

 

Reviewing or encouraging is a large part of what I do so I have looked a little deeper than most at this issue.

 

For starters, the writer of this blog post wants you to look at her content or provide you a service. That skews anything she tells you right there. You have to realize that; realize the context of anything you read.

 

ANYthing you read.

 

Some feedback:

 

A very famous writer, in Britain, has crowed about the fact that he used sock puppet accounts to comment on/promote his own work. Do you really think that any writer, below him in the book foodchain, is doing any less?

 

Do you not have loved ones who can offer you objective opinions? I see a problem there. Anyone who is serious about their art should be able to find friends, writers or whoever is at hand to give them the feedback they need.

 

Unless you live in Disneyland, then ignore this post.

 

I wandered into Amazon not too long ago and found some reviewers lamenting the fact that a high scoring reviewer on Amazon 'fakes' reviews. I also feel Amazon has an approved 'approach' to reviews and reviewers and you should understand that too.

 

One more thing: there's a difference between advertising and reviewing. You realize that don't you? Walmart advertises its stuff; it's not obliged to 'review' it, giving you pros and cons. *grin*

 

And reviewing something doesn't mean being negative/critical either. If your best friend only wants to say 'WOW' take that review and add it to your pile.

 

Understand the context of ANY feedback you seek.

 

Thanks.

 

Heather

wordwan

Jul 17, 2013 5:44 PM ShellieJ    says in response to wordwan:

I sure do appreciate you're objective criticism Heather Wordwan on this topic and issue.

I will take that advice with me.

Jul 23, 2013 12:45 PM DudeLit    says:

This is fantastic and so true.  I already knew this as personal etiquette and have always adhered to it anyway, but still its nice to see it in an article. 

Aug 19, 2013 4:43 PM Kmilton92    says:

Great Point! You learn something new everyday. Personally I prefer a honest reviews. Again Great Article.

Aug 19, 2013 9:09 PM Raam    says:

Dear Maria... thanks for this post. I especially liked your writing style. No wonder you are so much accomplished.

 

Reaching out prolific reviewers is a cool way - I agree. However, giving a few tips on where and how to find such reviewers would have been a great resource for new authors. I reckon there must be some place on the Internet where new authors can offer their books for honest reviews.

 

Createspace has tied up with two such services - Kirkus Indie and Foreword Clarion. Both are paid services. There may be other that may be free or inexpensive.

 

Nevertheless, I loved you style and the information. Thank you!

 

Raam Anand

Founder, TheSpeakingTree.org - A Movement Against Unethical Marketing

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