Writer Wednesday: The Review Hullabaloo
Hello authors! It's another Writer Wednesday and today we are going to go over a few factors of The Review Hullabaloo. Now some of you may be asking if this was an excuse for me to use the word Hullabaloo for it's old timey goodness and rhyme factor, and you would be correct, BUT in today's competitive book market, reviews can sometimes make or break a release, and for Indie authors, it presents an extra hurdle to cross. So, what exactly is all the hullabaloo about reviews?
What Reviews Do For You
First and foremost, reviews help sell books. They add to the sell factor in several ways.
The Hype Train: If you manage to land some decent industry reviews or accumulate early reviews through Netgalley, ARC Readers (Advanced Review Copy) through your publisher, or your own personal street team, these help create hype for your book and get the word out to potential buyers in indie bookstores, chain bookstores, and libraries.
A Note on Review Resources: If you are an Indie author, some of these methods may be more feasible than others. Many industry level reviews come with a hefty cost such as Kirkus and Publishers' Weekly, though quite a few, including Publishers' Weekly do have low cost or free options. There are also several respected indie review resources such as Readers Favorite and InD'tale Magazine which have a smaller price tag, good reach and good reputation. There are services available to help authors get their book up onto Netgalley for a reasonable cost. This could be worth working into your budget, particularly for first-in-series and stand alone novels. If you are facing a tight budget, it might be worth investing the time into building a street team and seeking out review groups online. (Facebook, for example, has thousands of review groups, many with conduct policies in place to protect author and reader.)
Release Day Boost: Early reviews have another benefit, especially on platforms like Amazon. Having a handful of reviewers post on release day can help boost a book's rank, get more eyeballs on it, and help push those early initial sales. A solid five to ten reviews can help make a difference and is a reasonably attainable number for an author to secure.
Accumulative Buzz: On the consumer level, reviews can catch a buyer's eye. For indie books, reviews can help a buyer take a chance on a book they might not otherwise. This includes reviews accumulated over time. Ratings and reviews that come in long after release date continue to help a books viability, boosts a book's visibility, and, like word of mouth, a handful of enthusiastic reviews can be a selling point for a title.
Reviews are important for books, but there is also a downside that should be acknowledged.
The Review Etiquette
A hullabaloo is a fuss or commotion. Authors walk a delicate line when it comes to reviews. Reviews are important for several reasons but a bad review can be painful and draining. There is a common strain between literature, music, and film/ theater that despite the extreme time committed to the creative process and refinement, the end product becomes a consumable commodity. In the case of books, which are often the result of years of work, either the author or publisher much affix a reasonable affordable price to the consumable product, which is then bought by the reader. The reader, as customer, has no actual obligation to review the product; authors can only encourage and hope that they do so.
To compile the complication of this process, reviews are entirely subjective. A reader can love or hate it and the content of their review is a base of opinion. As an author, once a work becomes a product, it is important to separate yourself from the creative endeavor you put into it to a degree. General rule of thumb to remember is: Reviews are not for the author, they are for the reader.
You may get tagged in low rated reviews. You might watch your rating fluctuate up and down as reviews begin to accumulate. You might go weeks or months without receiving a new review. While good reviews can provide a much needed boost of serotonin, a lower rating review can feel like a gut punch and might be better to avoid reading reviews as much as possible. As an author, you have to take it all in stride. "Bad" reviews do not necessarily make or break a book, and most aren't truly bad. There are myriad reasons for a reader leaving a lower rating. In some cases, they may actually help you find the right audience. Some readers may not enjoy certain elements of a story that other readers do. Not every reader will like your story. Some of the most popular best selling books on the market still have a slew of low rated reviews.
It can be an exhausting process trying to get authentic reviews for a book. As an author, it is hard to watch our stories struggle to find their audience, but there is an upside. There is no time limit on finding readers or getting new reviews. You can find new readers to love your book a month, or months, or a year after release.
Resources & Further Reading