Tony 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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