Tag Archives: reviews

Expecto Review-O

patronusIf you remember that part in Harry Potter where Sirius is getting his soul sucked out by the Dementor, you’re okay in my book. If you remember that Harry used his Patronus to defeat the dozens of Dementors, you’re more than okay in my book. If you know the Patronus charm is summoned by good memories and it’s extremely powerful, well, why aren’t we drinking beer together more often?

Now, you might be asking what the Patronus charm has to do with book reviews, and it’s pretty simple. Reviews are an author’s happy place, they let us summon our Patronus, and an author with many honest reviews calls forth an animal more powerful than most: confidence. Confidence, when wielded properly, will defeat any other negative spell cast at us by life. Our Patronus will kick its motherfucking ass.


And that, in all honesty, is the mythical power of the review. Reviews lend credibility to our work. For one thing, it proves someone, somewhere is actually reading us. Now, for some of the bigger authors, that might not be a big deal, but us small press and/or self published folk, that knowledge is a big deal. It’s a confidence builder, one of the larger ones, probably more so than whether the review itself is good or not. Now, let me explain that last statement…

If you give us a five star (or whatever the high rating is where you’re leaving the review), we’re just going to nod our heads and be like, “Fuck yeah, that’s my book. I wrote that shit, I know how good it is.” We’ll more than likely puff up our chests, thump it once or twice, and go on about our business. We’ll probably post it up on some social media site with a big ass grin, but that’s it.

1starThe reverse is true when it comes to a bad review… well, mostly. If we’re smart, we’re privately going to tell you to take a flying fuck at a rolling donut, or give you the finger and tell you to sit and spin… that when your elbows hit the ground, the ride is over. That’s privately, because, you know, that’s our book, our baby, and we wrote that shit. If it’s a low-rated critical review, we’ll be nicer in our personal and private flaming, and then sit down to consider what you wrote. We probably won’t share it on social media, unless we trying to point out what a dick/twat you happen to be for writing a bad review. For the record, that’s an author faux paus, and should never be done.

As a side note, I (and most other authors) prefer critical reviews… whether they’re high or low rated. I want to know what readers thought, specifically, every time. I may not agree with you, but I damn sure respect your opinion on the matter. For example, here’s a 4-star critical review of They Are Among Us and a here’s a two-star critical review of Necromancer.

Both of these are phenomenal reviews, but more than that, it’s proof that people are reading my work and making informed judgements on it. That’s awesome, what’s what keeps me going. Not whether my book is rated 4.77 stars on Goodreads or 3.87 on Amazon or 2.31 on LibraryThing. Just that you’re reading what I’m writing.

And the only way I really know that is if you leave me a review. You can tell me you read it, but unless I sit down and quiz your ass, I’m not going to know for sure. But if you leave that review (good or bad) with details, well, then I do know. And that I appreciate, and it gives me balls to keep writing more, to cast my Patronus spell, use the confidence you’re giving me to buffer any self doubts, kill those soul-sucking dementors called fear and loathing, and ultimately protect my dying godfather, Chris’s fiction.

That’s why you leave reviews, more than anything else. Sure, it raises awareness of our work and may (but probably not) lead to more sales, more exposure, but most of us aren’t in this to get rich. We’re in it for the love of story, to share our hidden truths about the world with you. And that’s why you’re here, too, Brownies, isn’t it? Because you love to read, you love to be transported into other realms, whether they’re horrific or fantastic. And to do that, you need writers, and we need your reviews.

So, please, if you’ve read a book, review it. On your website, Amazon, Goodreads, perhaps LibraryThing, or some other book reading site. Just do it. We all benefit when you do.

Tune in next week as I talk about the importance of being earnest…

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[Guest Post] “Dude, you suck!” by Tony Acree

tonyacreebioTony Acree is the author of the best-selling novel The Hand of God and its sequel, The Watchers. He’s also the owner of Hydra Publications, a small press focusing on all genres of speculative fiction.

I met Tony at Fandomfest a couple years ago. He was loud, boisterous, fun. We drank expensive scotch, bullshitted some, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But it’s history still in the making. We cross paths often at conventions and book events. To use a cliche, the man can sell ice to Eskimos. The wisdom he imparts below regarding reviews and their usefulness is a must read for anyone with a book out.

“Dude, you suck!”

In life, and especially in writing, you can’t please everyone. In fact, when it comes to writing fiction, I’m a firm believer if you haven’t pissed off someone, you’re not taking enough chances.

But how do you handle it when you get that first bad review? Or even worse, you aren’t getting any reviews at all? Well, let’s take a moment and talk about both those situations.

When your novel makes it into print, you want people to take a chance and read it. Reviews are one way to convince the wary book reader to part with his or her hard earned cash. It goes without saying you can badger your friends and family into reviewing your book. But how to get others to do so?

One way is to find a group of beta readers who love to get ARCs (advance reader copies). Offer up ARCs in exchange for a review. Ask other authors you know if they will read and review your book, or if they know people who do ARC reviews. Social media is your friend. You can’t be afraid to ask. There is not a long line of people just waiting to review your book, unless you’re giving them something in return. Bourbon always seemed to work for me. Want me to review your book? Offer up some Fireball and I’m in!

Reviews are also important because most sites which will promote your work during a sale require a minimum amount of reviews to be considered. Through social media, occasionally ask your fans to please drop by Amazon and write a review. Always remember to include a link so they can go right to your book. Make it easy for them to do so.

When you get a particularly good review, share it via Facebook, your blog or on twitter. I would avoid the “I just got a new 5* review” post, because they can see that easily enough. But if the review gave some insight into your book the reader would find interesting and helpful, share it. You want to offer reviews which will peak the readers curiosity.

So now you’ve done all that and the reviews are coming in. Except Burt in Sioux Falls hates your book and thinks you should find the nearest cliff and take a #*&% flying leap. We’ve all been there. And the first thing you want to do is hunt Burt down and rip out his throat and … well, you get the picture. But that’s the wrong way to look at the occasional bad review. (If you are getting one bad review after another, I can’t help you. Time to go back and do a few rewrites.)

I have seen authors get into quite the back forth with people who write bad reviews. DON’T! Not once, not ever! If you tend to thank everyone who writes you a review, then do the same for the bad one. Offer them a thanks for sharing their opinions and then move on.

Having the occasional bad review, in a strange way, will lend more weight to all the good ones. When I go to look at a book on Amazon and I see nine five star reviews, I wonder if they author has nine friends and he got them all together one night and held a gun to their heads while they wrote their reviews. Seeing a dozen four and five star reviews and the occasional two star review make sense.

And we can’t forget the trolls. Engaging with them on a bad review will only lead to more pain and suffering. And tracking each one down and exacting revenge is not practical, no matter how gratifying it would be.

More importantly, if I stop by and read reviews about your book and see you getting pissed off at every bad review, it will make me wonder about how mature you and you writing might be. Authors who blast bad reviewers come off looking whiny and insecure.

Getting a string of good reviews can open up a dialogue with your fans. I recently got a review and then a private message from someone who read the books and enjoyed them. We now correspond on a regular basis as she lobbies for who gets to live in the next book. (I can make no promises) Reviews will also raise your visibility. When people check out my novel, The Hand of God, and see over sixty reviews, that carries some cache.

Don’t get frustrated if you find it hard to find people to review your book. With any luck, word of mouth will take care of your book for you. And one more tip: I include my email address in the back of each book. When I sell one in person, I ask people to then email and let me know if they loved or hated the books. When they do email me, I ask them if they have time to leave an Amazon review. Doesn’t hurt to ask.

I hope this helps. In the comment section of Chris’ blog, let me know what you thought of this post. Just remember, authors don’t always follow their own advice. Not that I would hunt you down. Much.

Enjoyed this blog post? Be sure to follow Tony on Twitter and Facebook!
To find all of Tony’s writing, click the link for his Amazon Author Page.
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