Monday, April 18, 2016


By guest Vince Mooney

Chicken or Egg? Which comes first? Do best selling books generate lots of reviews or do lots of reviews push sales into the best seller category?

Probably a little of both. In any event, as my grandmother was want to say, "Good reviews are like chicken soup, they can't hurt."

"Find the pot of gold for both writers and readers" 
It seems intuitive that receiving wave after wave of great reviews could spur a writer to the 'pot of gold' at the end of the writing rainbow. Such reviews may also lead legions of readers seeking 'keeper' books to 'pot of gold' stories.

Is generating great reviews at the top of every author's marketing efforts? Sadly, this is not the case.

Author Efforts at 'Getting Reviews' Awarded Only One Star!

Why is so much potential going untapped?

Consider this: advertising agencies have spent millions of dollars creating, perfecting, and constantly testing what motivates people to act how advertisers ask them. The key term here is 'ask'!

It has been well established for over 100 years that if you want people to do something, you have to ask them. In fact, there is this acronym in salesmanship training: "ABC" -- that is, "always be closing" -- the sale.

What Advertising can teach us
about getting reviews
Here are some important points direct response advertisers have discovered over the last 100 years.

1. You must first get the prospect's favorable attention. If you don't do this nothing else you do has any effect.

2. You must demonstrate a need or benefit for the product.

3. You must prove the product will perform as promised. (Demonstration, free sample, testimonials, guarantee.)
4. You must show the benefits received are worth more than the cost of the product.

5. You must ask for the order.

6. You must make it easy for the prospect to respond.

7. You must create the urgency for customers to act right away. If prospects put off making a decision, they usually will not buy. Period.

Many of these marketing rules apply to authors who want more reviews.

For example authors must:
"You'd write me a five star review, wouldn't you?"
Even best friends don't write reviews. 
1. Ask for the review. ABAFR (Always be asking for reviews). When authors talk to fans, comment on posts, act as guest bloggers, do book signings and end their books, they should ask for reviews. (If authors don't think asking for a review is important to do, then why will readers think it is?)

2. Show readers how important reviews are and how much good they can do for an author's career. (Authors should also show how appreciative they are to receive reviews. Fans, and all people, want to be valued.)

3. Prove their case. (Many readers won't read a book until it has received sufficient reviews. Other readers want to be sure a book has qualities that may only be found in other fan reviews.) Let fans know that if they like a book, one of the best ways to help is to write favorable reviews.

4. Reveal how even short reviews can do a great deal of good for an author. Also show how a competent review can be written in a few minutes -- especially if the review is written immediately after reading the book.

5. Encourage supporters to click that 5-star reviews were helpful. As a reviewer myself, I can tell you I am rewarded and feel good when I get an email that says "another person has found your review helpful."   

6. Develop many ways to ask for reviews that are persuasive, friendly and appreciative. Develop what doctors call a 'bedside manner'.  It is not easy to be gracious and sincere about reviews and not seem to be self-serving. It's hard and many authors just avoid the issue altogether.  

7. Make it easy for a reader to write a review. Have a 'by-the-numbers' review recipe to give readers.

8. Learn a way to create urgency that will motivate readers to write the review as soon as possible after reading the book. This is the short time period when it is the easiest to write a review. (After a reader has started reading her next book, it becomes much harder to write a past review. The reader's interest is in enjoying the next. After all, they are readers -- not review writers.)      

Question: Do you put much weight in a review that has less than 15 words total?

“Doesn’t really matter... I look at the stars first. Then I'll see if the comments align with the rating."  Myra Johnson

"I don't care how many words total." Tina Radcliffe

"Nope, because for me, it's in the stars, my friend, although when someone goes to the trouble of crafting a really nice review, it does bless me." Julie Lessman

"No way! One of my favorite reviews is "AWESOME!" :) or "She had me from the first page." Often less is more when it comes to reviews!" Ruth Logan Herne

No, unless the 15 words communicate something profound about the book."  Sherida Stewart

" Depends. An AWESOME!!! review I'll pay attention to. A 'this book is good', or 'this book stunk', I'll ignore." DebH
Solving author/reader puzzle


Authors and Readers Have Different POVs on Reviews

If authors want more reviews, they need to think like readers, not writers. Many authors are primarily interested in how many stars the reviewer gave the book. They are happy with even a one word "Five star" review. This is so easy to do that authors may not understand why fans won't make this tiny effort.

Readers are different. Many fear writing and posting a review where the public can read it. To them this is like the fear of public speaking. Writing a book review brings back memories of dreaded 'book review' homework. They may
Fear: How some readers see writing a review
fear their comments could make them look shallow or uneducated. 

When some readers see a book has 100 or more reviews, they may feel their review is not needed and even worse, won’t be valued. If the author does not make an effort to ask for a review, readers may not feel a review is that important.

Writing a review can be complicated and time consuming -- especially when it is the first review made on a given website. For example: Amazon requires an account to post a review. In addition the reviewer must buy something on Amazon before the account can be activated. (A free Kindle download does not count) Getting this account requires a credit card and providing personal information.

What a review-shy first time reviewer needs is a simple 'by the numbers' instruction sheet on how to open an account and post a review. Authors can include a page on their website on how to do this and direct fans there.

Why Authors Don't Get More Reviews

1. They don't ask for reviews in a sincere and appreciative way.
2. They don't want to ask for a review more than once or at all.
3. They don't feel reviews are that important anyway.
4. The only reviews they feel they need are in RT and other big magazines and genre websites.
5. They don't offer ways to reward their readers who do write reviews.

"...the criteria for writing the review is did the book take me away? The analytical part of me may pull the book apart afterwards...but the question is...while I was reading was I entertained all the way to the end? 

"If the book did that then I review. If it did not then I close it and start the next book and do not review." Tina Radcliffe

Unsure how to write a review?
Check out these tips

Solutions to the Problems of Getting Reviews

1. Ask for reviews in a friendly persuasive way.
2. Show how it is easy to write a review.
3. Provide step-by-step instructions on how to set up accounts to post reviews on Amazon and other sites.
4. Provide an easy recipe for writing a competent review.
5. Develop ways of rewarding readers who do post reviews. 

Sample Review Outline

1. Write a short headline saying something you feel is important about the book:

     "This time travel romance was a fun escape!"

2. Say something about how much you liked the book:
"This was a nice 'feel good' read that I didn't want to end."

3. Say what you liked most about the book:

          "I liked the fun of traveling thru time with the dashing hero."

4. Say how well the story held your attention:

"This was a hard book to put down once I started. I was really entertained the whole time."         

5. Tell if you'll read more books by this author and/or if you'll recommend the book to friends.

"I've already recommended this book to my best reading friends and have downloaded the author's sequel."

That's all you really need. You don't have to describe the plot as that is always done on the website or in the book's blurb. All that is needed is your reactions
Show appreciation for favorable reviews!
to the book.

I am working on a future "Review Writing Program" with data bases for each of the five sentences mentioned above. A reviewer can just select a given sentence from, say 25 samples, in each data base. The sentences could be given in any order and the review would read perfectly. Any number of the sentences may be used, from 1 to 5, and the review works fine. Readers would likely change the wording here and there to better match their true reactions to the book.

This program would be positioned as an aid in helping readers create reviews that honestly reflect their opinion. It must be made clear that this is not a way for authors to write their own reviews. I'll have more on this program in the future.

Writers, how do you generate reviews? Readers, do you find writing reviews difficult? What helps you get a review written?

Mention in a comment if you want in on a chance to win Janet Dean’s The Bounty Hunter’sRedemption in either eBook or print. Additionally, Vince is throwing in a Kindle edition of Sandra Leesmiths The Price of Victory and Janet Dean's Courting Miss Adelaide. Three winners announced in the next Weekend Edition.

Villagers who have won any Seeker book, please take this post to heart and review.   


Helen Gray said...

I very much appreciate reviews, including your great ones, Vince. But I find it difficult to ask for them.

Coffee is brewing.

Marianne Barkman said...

I write reviews. I really do. Then all of a sudden I'm asked not to. So I don't. But even the books I win I usually review

Tina Radcliffe said...

Lots of good information in here, Vince. Thanks so much for compiling it.

Helen has the coffee and I have the bagels and cream cheese.

I like to write exactly the emotion I feel when I close a book, instead of analyzing things.And I find if I pause and embrace that emotion, I can remember it and write the review later if I am swamped.

I truly feel that if you can embrace that, then you are doing the author a favor. If you have to analyze then you tend to review the book you WANTED it to be instead of the book you read.

Laura Conner Kestner said...

Hi VINCE! Thank you for this post. I was so nervous when I posted my first book review on Amazon not long ago! I've done product reviews for purchases before - the "this product just as described" version - but as a writer I was truly concerned about just saying "this was a good book." Books are such a labor of love that I feel a huge responsibility to get a review just right. But having said that, I don't really feel comfortable doing an in-depth review with plot points, dialogue samples, and comparisons to other authors, either. You were spot-on when you said, "this is like the fear of public speaking." I'm definitely intimidated by the whole process. It seemed easier writing my 80,000 word book, LOL.

Now that I have a few reviews under my belt, I've settled on a "middle ground" version - something that's comfortable for me, but hopefully still beneficial for the author. I've pasted two of them below, one for DEBBY GIUSTI'S Plain Danger, and one for JULIE LESSMAN'S Glimmer of Hope, both 5-star reviews. I would appreciate your opinion on whether this sort of broad overview is helpful, or if I should try harder to master those in-depth reviews.

I wrote this one for DEBBY GIUSTI'S Plain Danger: "I love inspirational romance and suspense, and when someone puts them together the way Debby Giusti does, the reader ends up with a “must read” book — and in my case, a “must read it all now” book. I started reading “Plain Danger” a little after 10 p.m. intending to read for just a few minutes before bed. At eleven I was still reading, and as the suspense built I found myself looking over my shoulder with every creak, squeak and rattle of my old house. But I couldn’t put the book down. I trusted that Carrie and Tyler would be okay—that their faith would grow stronger, their spark of attraction would blossom into true love, and the bad guys would be brought to justice—I just didn’t know how Giusti was going to make it all happen. But she did, and threw in a happily-ever-after, too. I’m a big Debby Giusti fan, and can’t wait to read more of her work."

I wrote this one for JULIE LESSMAN'S Glimmer of Hope. "As a voracious reader I often find myself, mid-book, wondering “who wrote this?” and then taking a quick peek at the author’s name again. That’s not necessary with a Julie Lessman book. That easily-recognized but difficult-to-define “author’s voice” is evident from page one in Glimmer of Hope. And the reader is all the better for it.

I’ve heard Lessman’s work described as “edgy” and I must agree that GoH lives up to that description. But a quick look at television or social media and it’s obvious that many of the issues Lessman addresses are relevant to today’s readers. GoH is a prequel to Isle of Hope which features the same characters as they struggle with infidelity, betrayal and deceit. Thankfully, their hope and faith in God is more powerful than the consequences of their past actions and decisions. I will definitely be reading more Julie Lessman books."

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Terri said...

Hi Vince, great article. I never thought about asking for a review, but I know I read every review posted about my novella.

Asking is something I'll definitely need to do when I publish another book.

Vince said...

Show, Don't Tell

When it comes to 'asking', 'thanking' and 'showing appreciation', it may help to consider the writing advice to "Show, Don't Tell".

Asking a reader to do a review of your book is like 'telling'. It is direct. Asking can be hard for some authors to do. There is always the possibility of rejection.

Showing is indirect. It is showing the reader that you would like it if the reader wrote a review. One way to do this is to thank readers in general for all the reviews that they have posted on your books.

Bill O'Reilly on "The Factor" begins every show by saying, "Thank you for viewing tonight." Lester Holt on NBC news ends each show by saying, "Thank you for watching".

If an author thanks people in advance for the reviews they have written in the past and for those they may write in the future, that is an indirect way to ask for reviews. It 'shows' that you want to get reviews.

Just a few hours ago I was watching the end of an old Lawrence Welk show on PBS. They ended the show by thanking those watching at home and for the applause the audience gave them. One actor said that "Applause is like food to an actor." Then a group of singers sang the "Applause" song. They did not ask for applause. They gave thanks and thereby showed that getting applause was appreciated and valued.

The key here is to show by your behavior that you would like to get reviews and that you value them. Think of many different ways to do this.

There could be a dedication in your new book to all the wonderful readers who have left reviews on your past books which are like food to an author or something like that.

Perhaps we can cover many different ways to show more ways to ask for reviews without directly asking for them.


Vince said...

Hello Helen:

It is natural to find it hard to ask for reviews. See my comment below on "Show, Don't Tell". I think the key is to learn to 'ask' indrectly the by many things you do as a writer.


Christy Olesen said...

Hi Vince, great topic. As a writer I fall down on asking for reviews. It's that shy-of-self-promotion thing. I need to put a request at the end of my books.
As a reader, I write short reviews. Two or three sentences, what I like, how I feel, etc. I get irritated when I'm looking through a string of reviews and people are posting, like you said, a book report.

Vince said...

Consider this:

There are many authors who have said, "I never read reviews". I'm sure most readers have heard some of these authors say this. Well, really, why should a reader write a review when the author is just going to ignore it?

Authors who want to get a lot of reviews need to show readers that they value reviews, that they are important for a writer's career, that they help make future books even better, and so on.


Vince said...

Hi Christy:

It could be that 'review' is not the best term anymore. In the old days, reviews were by professionals or skilled amateurs. I reviewed for many years in the Tulsa World but I was given books in my area of interest or job. Those were like book reviews. Today reviews are more like how you, as a reader, liked the book, just as if it were any other consumer product, say, like pizza. A term like "Your Thoughts" might work better and be more like what they really are.


Vince said...

Hi Terri:

Perhaps it might be best to use the 'not ask, ask' approach: "I won't ask you to do a review but I will say this: I read all my reviews and I appreciate all those readers who are nice enough to post how they liked my book. These comments can help me write better books that please my readers even more."


Tina Radcliffe said...

One thing I don't believe writers who do not have a book up on Amazon or another online retailer for sale understand is that no matter how professional we are as writers, no matter how we distance ourselves from our work-determined to consider our work as a product that is not US. It is still US.

So we can say that reviews are not personal, but actually deep down inside, they are.

Deep down inside it does hurt when our baby is kicked in the head.

So I for one do say that I don't read reviews. I say that for several reasons.

1. I don't want readers to ever feel that they cannot be honest.
2. I don't want to be addicted to reviews.(MANY AUTHORS ARE ADDICTED TO READING THEIR REVIEWS!! )
3. I write because it's my ministry. Period.
4. I don't believe for a minute that Nora Roberts, James Patterson, Lee Child, sit around wondering how they are going to get reviews.

If you write they will come. I suppose I really believe I need to keep writing and if at first I suck, I'm going to hope that with each book I get better.

Bottom line is that I can't please everyone.I don't write for everyone either.

Of course I read reviews. But I read them when I am online checking something and actually stumble upon them. I don't make a habit to read my reviews.

I am very appreciative, but I am NOT going to buy, bribe or in any other way beg for reviews. Period.

I understand how the system works. I get that I need 50 reviews for Amazon algorithms to kick in. I get that mass market authors have publicists sending out 100 books to get those reviews and my publisher doesn't do that,...but I firmly believe that my time is better spent writing the next book, instead of begging for reviews.

Tina Radcliffe said...

That said, Vince, you are correct. We do need to thank people who write reviews and I now make it a habit to mail out advanced copies to people who took the time to write a review. I do not ask them to write a review when I send out a book, nor do I look to see if they did. I appreciate their time and am saying thank you with that book.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Vince, thank you for this treasure trove of wonderful information, and thanks for being here today!

I love good reviews. I mean, I love them... And bad ones don't bother me, they are thankfully rare so why let an occasional mis-step ruin the long journey? That would be plain foolish, and I purposely try not to be foolish because I'm inadvertently foolish so often!

I do read reviews, and sometimes I'd like to do the very UNAUTHORLIKE THING of responding....

And thanking them on Amazon.

I'm not sure why that's bad. I actually think it might be good because I like people. I might take a test book and see what happens if I reply to all the reviews.

I love Tina's phrase: If you write it, they will come.

I've always believed that, and I keep writing, tweaking, writing and I think the end result has proven it (at least I hope it has!!!!) I believe that this year, including novellas, I have 10 works releasing.... All but one novella are written, and only one still needs "polish" and then it's on to 2017....

One thing I've noticed about publisher vs. publisher: While LI doesn't send out review copies to readers, I do now.... And while some of my other publishers send out a lot of review copies, (with lovely reviews, thank you all!) it's up in the air what will push sales and notability.

So this year I'll be studying my own rhythms to see how things balance out, and it will be interesting to see how the end game plays out. I'm a numbers person, and sales numbers often are dictated by availability in the marketplace and online... and price.

Helen, I'm enjoying the coffee!!!!

Janet, thanks for having Vince on today. Well done!!!

Cindy W. said...

Thank you for the great post Vince! I write reviews. I love writing reviews unless the book didn't meet my expectations. But I am never mean in my reviews and try to explain why the book didn't meet my expectations...usually it's because something within me didn't 'click' and it's not really the author's fault and I let my blog readers know that someone else could find the book extremely good but it just wasn't my 'cup of tea'.

Many blessings to you all today.

Cindy W.

The Artist Librarian said...

I like the idea of wording it as "your thoughts" rather than a review --I think you're right Vince, that it comes across as less intimidating.

As a reader, I like longer reviews. As someone who is part of several book blogger programs, it really irritates me to see other people post the minimum 3 sentence or whatever the standard is for the program with generalizations of "I really enjoyed this book" --Please tell us why! Of course for those that are just reviewing on a retailer's site with no obligations to review, a few lines are fine, I can't expect it, though I like to see two paragraphs at least.

I think that's why it's hard for me to do just rate and do a short, couple sentences review, because it's not the type of review I like to read and see. I know authors and the retails just look at the four/five stars, but ... I just can't.

Unfortunately, that means that the books I end up reviewing on retailer sites are normally those that I received for review purposes ... Over half of the books I read every year probably aren't reviewed, though I do rate everything I read on GoodReads. Ironically, I will jot down short thoughts and reflections (no more than a paragraph) on some of these --I think it's because I treat GoodReads as a way for me to personally document what I read. =)

Jackie said...

Great post, Vince. I really appreciated the help on headlines. I never felt comfortable with those.

I like short positive reviews. They make me want to click buy and start reading the book.

Have a great day!

Jill Weatherholt said...

Great stuff here, Vince! Since so many of us are limited with our time, I prefer to read and write short reviews. Personally, I would have a difficult time asking someone for a review. By the way, that's a great photo of you!

Christina said...

Vince, this post is a gem! I'm busy getting ready for my second book to release in just 10 days and boy can I use this. I'm so not comfortable with asking for reviews. My first book finally has 20 reviews but I'll admit that at least a handful were through the help of a virtual assistant who helped with the launch. This time I'll be working at getting reviews and I'm already shaking in my shoes. This is another 'printer' post for me.
Thanks so much.
Please throw me in for the ebook :)

Caryl Kane said...

VINCE, thank you for this post! As a reader, I find writing a review intimidating. I appreciate your simple guidelines. Last night I finished reading JULIE LESSMAN's APMP. I loved it and I left reviews on both Goodreads and Amazon.

Have an awesome day!

Debby Giusti said...

Great post, Vince! Thanks for addressing such a difficult topic. I never ask for reviews...after reading your blog, I've realized my error. In anticipation of your posting today, I checked the reviews for my latest release, Plain Danger. Found a lovely review from your wife and another from KAV. Both warmed my heart!

I'll be away from my computer this morning, but will stop by this afternoon. I'm be eager to read the various comments.

Sending hugs to you and Linda!

Sally Shupe said...

Great post! This one resonated with me: When some readers see a book has 100 or more reviews, they may feel their review is not needed and even worse, won’t be valued. If the author does not make an effort to ask for a review, readers may not feel a review is that important. - Usually if I see a book already has many reviews, I won't leave one. I figure with that many, mine would just get lost anyway. I love writing reviews. I like getting early copies of a book and being the first one to leave a review. It's like the greatest present! I would love to be entered for a print copy of Janet Dean's book The Bounty Hunter's Redemption. And I will leave a review! Thanks for a great post, Vince!

Vince said...

Reviews Offer Different
Values to Different Authors

If you are an Indie author, selling almost exclusively on Amazon in Kindle format, reviews may well be your lifeblood and one of your best hopes of establishing a writing career. Reviews anywhere will be a major component of your marketing efforts.

However, if your books are on the shelves for thirty days, in 100's of Wal-Marts nationwide, then reviews might not be that important -- except for RT reviews that are synced to your books release to help shoppers. These authors may not feel the need to get reviews. Yet, reviews on Amazon for Kindle books can help sell the backlist. In a way, this second life for their print books, makes them akin to Indie authors in that eBooks represent an expanding income potential.

Sometimes we don't see a need when that need is not required for what we are now happy to get but it may well be required for getting over the next horizon. And not getting over the next horizon sometimes means leaving a lot of money on the table!


Myra Johnson said...

Vince, this is a fantastic KEEPER post!!! Thank you so much for this comprehensive look at the art and skill of writing effective book reviews--AND for the tips on how authors can be more effective in asking for reviews! I will definitely be bookmarking this post and rereading it often!

Vince said...

Hi Laura:

Loved your two reviews. My wife had the same reaction staying up past bedtime to read "Plain Danger". I also think you are dead on with "Glimmer of Hope". My reviews are similiar in loving Julie's unique voice.

As for reviews from non-professional reviewers, I think the reader should leave the type of review that they want to write and hopefully will enjoy writing. I like writing reviews for very good books. It is fun. When I give a five star review, I alway try to justify the high rating by telling what the author did best. Sometimes I give quotes from the book.

In short, I think people should write the kind of review they are comfortable writing. I would like to see review writing as being fun for the reviewers. That could become a theme: "Write a review and join the fun!"

Well, one can dream.

Thanks for you comment.


Wilani Wahl said...

Thanks for your timely post. I have tried to encourage my friends to leave a review for the books they read, but their answer is always I am not a writer. This post I will keep so when the time comes that I have a book published, I will have ideas for getting people to post reviews.

I was in a quandry yesterday as to how many stars to give a book. I struggled because there were 3 things that as a Christian I had a problem with. The fact that people in my church tell me they buy books based on my review added to this scenario. I finally decided on 3 stars. Then stated the problems in a loving and kind way as well as what I loved about the book. I also said that I would be reading the next book that comes out by that author. I contacted the publisher since they were the one who gave me the early copy to read. I offered to remove the review if I needed. The publisher said to leave it because they wanted honest reviews and she liked the way I handled it.

Please put me in the drawing for the Price of Victory and Courting Miss Adelaide.

Have a great week everyone!

Kav said...

Well, I do review...a lot. Six books a week usually but that's because I have a review blog so I'm writing for daily posts. I hate thinking up headlines though. Usually resort to a lame one word like Awesome! LOL Wish sites wouldn't require that. And I'm trying to be more concise in my reviews but I'm not entirely successful. Sigh. Once a review is written though, it's pretty easy to cut and paste it onto multiple sites. I do that first thing in the morning and then it's done for the day.

Oh -- and a trick I developed to help writing the final review -- I read with a post-it note tucked into the front cover of the book. When something noteworthy hits me as I'm reading I just jot it down on the post-it note and by the time I've finished reading I have the skeleton of a review.

Tracey Hagwood said...

Hi Vince,
As a reader who reviews, this is an interesting topic to me. I had never thought about just how beneficial reviews were for writers until I started following this blog and read some of the comments about it. Then I started reviewing more books and reviewing books available on a advance reviewing site. It would be impossible to review everything I read, or I wouldn't get to read as much as I like.

So, my thoughts:

Re: short v. long reviews, Review sites are looking for reviews with at least 75 words. Some people reading reviews don't like longer reviews, but if I'm going to review, I follow this guideline. Some people prefer short reviews, although I saw a review reader actually leave a comment for a reviewer once that had only two or three words that said something like, "why did you even bother", ouch. I like to talk about the books I love, so I'm one of those reviewers who doesn't have issues with coming up with "my thoughts".

Re: reviewer feedback, reviewers are encouraged to know that someone has read their review and found it helpful just as you said in your tip #5. This also helps a reviewer move up in the reviewer rankings which is noticed by publishers when they are deciding whether to release an ARC of their book to you. So not only do reviews help authors, helpful votes for reviewers are appreciated too.

Re: five star reviews, This is a topic I struggle with regularly, to review or not review. Not all books are 5 star, so what is your opinion on leaving four star (or even three star) reviews? Are they helpful to the author or should only five star reviews be considered? If a reviewer only leaves five star reviews, doesn't that somewhat water down their objectivity as all books can't be five star? I wish there was a 1-10 scale as so many books are 4.5 and if there was a 1-10 scale that would be a 9. There is too much room between a 4 and 5, I see some reviewers stating 4.5 in their review, but then are forced to choose one or the other in the stars.

I would love to hear your thoughts :)

Vince said...

Hi Tina:

I agree with you in many ways. My person advice, which I have said ever since I first learned about Seekerville, is not to read reviews! Some best selling authors never read their reviews but they do have a trusted person who does. This person will pass on any really useful info that will help the author.

Also, I perfer thanks in general to a whole group and not to the individual reviewer. Giving a great deal of thanks for a 5-star review may empower that same reviewer to hurt you with a 1 star review on a future book.

I believe that thanking all the nice people who took the time to post reviews is the best policy.

However, while I would suggest not reading reviews yourself, I would never suggest you tell the public you don't read them! That's no way to get more reviews.

Also, when the big authors say they don't read reviews, they are really talking about the professional newspaper and magazine reviewers. In the past many of these reviewers were failed writers getting even with the successful ones. It made sense not to read them. But the world is changing. Old habits need to be modified to the new realities.


Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, VINCE! I GREATLY appreciate reviews from readers who share their thoughts and make time in busy schedules to write one. A LOT of thought goes into many of them, and I especially appreciate ones that tell what in particular they liked (without spoilers!) so I can attempt to deliver again on that element in the future.

But, like Tina, I don't regularly HAUNT review sites for my books because I think you can too easily get addicted to that, letting them dictate your emotions and dominate your thought life. And, as Tina mentioned, deliberately hurtful ones...well, HURT--and make it harder to write the next book. Or write at all. An author can't go back a year or more in time and rewrite a book to suit an individual reader. We all have different tastes and come to a book with varying backgrounds, needs and expectations. But I attempt to LEARN from all comments.

I write--to the best of my ability--the story that I believe God's planted in my heart. So I'm coming to recognize that every book I write won't "hit the spot" with everyone who reads it, as wonderful as that would be. But due to positive reviews and emails/letters from readers, I can know my stories ARE touching hearts and bringing a few hours of enjoyment to many. That encourages me and, along with "God prompts," keeps me going.

So thank you, Reviewers, for taking your valuable time and energy to read my books and post reviews!!

Mary Connealy said...

Vince this under your sixth comment: It is not easy to be gracious and sincere about reviews and not seem to be self-serving.

This is something writer's struggle with from day one, I mean from day one of even writing the book. Writing is a humbling business because of it being so PRIVATE. Your neighbors don't know, your MOTHER, not unless you tell her. So your little private world you've created needs to be ... ahem ... unleashed on the world.

Then after telling people you KNOW, you have to tell editors/agents. Then you get it published and you'd think that'd be the big thing but nooooooooooooooooo! Now you've got to market the thing. Now you've got to ask the WHOLE WORLD to approve of your book.

And that includes asking for reviews.

The whole thing is just NOT writing. And writing is what we love. Very dangerous feeling!!!
I appreciate reviews so much and they do NOT need to be long.
I sometimes read the synopsis reviewers include because I'm interested in someone else's perception. But mainly it's the stars and the actual words of review that get my attention.

PS I try to not read a whole lot of reviews. Although I have learned some things about how readers react to a character that I think I can learn from.

Vince said...

Hi Ruth:

Get this: when I was reviewing for the book section of the Tulsa World, some of the books I got to review came with PR info on the author inserted into the book as well as a wonderfully written review that the reviewer was free to use--all or in part!!! Reviews in newspapers are highly valued by publishers.

If there is one rule out there about reviews it is this: never comment about a bad review. Let it die. Besides, the reviewer has all the time in the world to think of a cutting comeback.

I'm with Tina in thinking a review of my book would be a criticism of me personally. Some comments are personal: "This is an example of lazy writing. Even a minimum of research would have revealed there was no bridge over the Mississippi in 1804."


Mary Connealy said...

I've noticed politicians in their speeches (which I mostly avoid) usually end with, "And I'm asking for your vote this Tuesday...."

I've just always thought that must be something they understand is wise. I mean c'mon if they've just been on stage for like an HOUR talking you'd think THAT would be the 'asking for your vote'
But to say it out loud, very clear, close the deal.....if politicians at the very highest level are doing it, it's a lesson to us all.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Good Morning Vince What a super post. Most readers and sadly, writers, don't get the review issue. Reviews on Amazon are key to an authors success. And the more reviews, the better. Julie really gets this and has been amazing in how she garners so many reviews.

Thank you for writing this and helping people understand the importance of a review. Your reviews are always so detailed. But most reviewers do not have to write all that detail. I barely get 100 words in my reviews, but they say what they need to say.

Thanks again for contributing to Seekerville. Have fun today. I"ll be back to read the other comments later. Have an appointment.

Mary Connealy said...

The only review on Amazon I ever comment on was for 'In Too Deep' a review that warned all readers that it was PORN!


So I put in a comment that said, "This must be a review for a different book. There is nothing that even remotely be called PORN in my sweet Christian romance."

I think Missy commented too, because of course I told the Seekers. Maybe there was even more in the comments. I can't remember now. And then after that, I think I found it again once so it's still there. I did ask Amazon about it, you can protest reviews. But as far as I know it's still there and I've never pursued it.

I didn't yell at the reviewer (cyberly) or get otherwise upset because I'm sure it WAS pasted on the wrong book. It had to've been.

Sandra Leesmith said...

BTW, I can't tell you how many books I've given away and all I asked for them was a review and how FEW people ever wrote the review. Many told me they loved the book but they don't write the review. I think a lot of it is that people think they have to write a dissertation. Really all we need is the stars and a few comments. does this well. They make their review really easy. Stars and three questions. Yay

Sandra Leesmith said...

Mary When I see a review like that, I feel really sorry for the person. They obviously can't be that stupid, so they really are attacking the Christian element which means they have religious issues. So we need to pray. smile

And to anyone reading reviews, that would stick out like a sore thumb and you just have to discard it. I rarely pay attention to really bad reviews on a book because we all have such different tastes. Someone is bound not to like my style of writing. But if ALL the reviews are bad, then that tells me about the product more than the occasional bad review.

Kav said...

Hmmm...this post has me thinking. Maybe we could turn things around and, instead of authors asking for reviews, readers could do the asking...or encouraging fellow readers to review. This weekend, Martha on the Facebook page Avid Readers of Christian Fiction challenged us to post a review of a book we read in the past but hadn't reviewed. Imagine if everyone reviewed just one 'old' book a week?

Vince said...

Good Morning Myra:

Thank you for your kind comments about my post. You encourage me to be a guest again. Also people get energy from nice comments and honest compliments. I think there is real power in thanking readers and fans for the reviews they have given your books over the years. This will encourage them to write more reviews and perhaps more importantly, it may encourage fans who like you and your books to write their first review. After all, they would like to be valued as well.

Example: What if you are speaking at one of the Reader Appreciation events and you start your talk with this:

"I want to thank all who have taken the time to review my books over the years. Good reviews are like food to authors and I appreciate you all."

Now, you have asked for reviews indirectly, but it in no way seems self-serving. It also shows that you consider getting reviews to be very important. After all, you gave these thanks at the very start of your talk.


Vince said...

Hi Cindy W:

I'm with you. I love to write reviews but for me these days I only want to write 4 and 5 star reviews. I don't have a blog and I don't see myself as a consumer advocate so I don't write bad reviews. I did when it was my purpose on the newspaper. This means I don't review most of the books I read.

The fun for me is showing what an author did really well and hopefully attracting fans for that kind of work to the author. I think a good review will help match up fans with authors they will most enjoy.

You have a harder job than me in that your readers will want to know why a book might not be for them. To me that's 'work' but someone has to do it.

Thanks for you comment.


Edwina said...

I always write reviews for the books I win and the books. I may not be right on time, but I do write the reviews and post them on my blog, Amazon, Goodreads & B&N, if the book is listed on their site.

Please put my name in for the drawing!

Thanks for a great post!

Vince said...

Hi Tina & Ruth:

I like your comment: "I love Tina's phrase: If you write it, they will come."

This is like the saying; "If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door."

However, for this to happen, the world has to know you've built the better mousetrap...and it really has to be better.

Great reviews can help achieve this goal.

Even God is said to favor 'the bigger battalions' as well as "God helps those who help themselves."

Just some food for thought, mostly.


Vince said...

Hi Marianne:

You wrote:

"I write reviews. I really do. Then all of a sudden I'm asked not to. So I don't. But even the books I win I usually review."

I'm not sure why you were told not to write a review. I know Amazon does not like authors trashing other authors' books or having a group of authors working together to give 5-star reviews to each others books.

However, if you bought the book and you have a screen name and it is a verified review on Amazon, I don't see how that would ever be a problem.

What do you think?


Tina Radcliffe said...

Ha, well obviously I DO READ REVIEWS or how would I know who to send thank you books to? LOL.

But the point I am making is that for me, I do not purpose to read reviews.

I will say that I do read reviews before I buy a new author. Not to see if the book is "good" or not. There are a few elements that I avoid when reading do to my personal emotional history. We all have those things in life we choose not to relive again or that trigger emotional responses we prefer not to visit.

That's what I am looking for.

Also, I think that non readers don't understand one thing about writers...we are very vulnerable. Maybe just me. LOL.

I cannot watch the news when I am writing funny. I can't talk to people who are downers. I can't watch sad movies either. As much as I try, I cannot compartmentalize the emotions I am dealing with when writing a book.

You can't have it both ways. I am channeling my characters, I am in their world and I have to guard that world carefully when I am writing.

I can tell you that going online and reading a review that tells me I suck is a sure fire way to shut off the creative flow.

Missy Tippens said...

Vince, we're so glad to have you back! What a great post. That's so true that posting a review can cause fear like speaking in public!! I know I feel that way when I post reviews but had never really been able to put that fear into words.

Caryl Kane said...

KAV, I love your post-it-note idea! I'm going to use it too! Thanks for sharing!

Vince said...

Hi The Artist Librarian:

I think you are doing the kind of reviews that are right for you to do. Not everyone can write detailed reviews. We need those who can do so to keep up the good work. I'm a little like you in that I don't pay much attention to very short reviews. I read the longest ones first. But a 1000 word 5-star review 'spends the same' as a one word 5-star review when they list to total starts for the book.

What I don't like most are reviews that can be written by just reading the book blurb. I've seen my share of these because of mistakes the reviewer makes that proves they never read the book. An honest one word "Awesome" is far better than five sentences written from the blurb on a book the reviewer never read.

Honest is best.


Vince said...

Hi Jackie:

You wrote:

"I like short positive reviews. They make me want to click buy and start reading the book."

This is so true if the reader is in the mood for a specific theme or type of book and the review says it is one of the best 'hidden child' books they've ever read. If I'm looking for a 'hidden child' theme romance, I'm hitting that 'buy now' button right away, too.

Thanks for your comment.


P.S. What this shows is very important. A Kindle review on Amazon is 'at point of purchase'. It can get the prospect to click the "Buy Now" button and close the sale. In marketing that is highly prized for its effectiveness. It's all too easy to forget about buying a book you read about in the newspaper a few days ago.

Janet Dean said...

VINCE, thanks for this terrific post! Lots to mull over. I'm a writer and still find writing reviews intimidating. LOL

I appreciate reviews, long or short, and read them as they're validation like great contest feedback. Rarely a reader is upset by the amount of faith in the story. But I write the story I feel God has given me.


Vince said...

"Hi Jill:"

Thanks for your comment on my photo. I like it for the good times it makes me think of...and for the good times yet to come.

Short reviews are fine if they hit the key point! They can be far better than a long review that does not tell readers what they most want to know.

As for asking for reviews, see what you can come up with that is 'indirect' asking.

"Tell me what you like and would like to see more of in my books. I'll see what I can do. A review is a good way to do this."

Something like that.

Thanks again.


Vince said...

Hi Christina:

Good luck on your new book release. Twenty reviews is a good start. People look at the number of reviews and the average of least on Amazon.

It might help to think in terms of a goal. If you have 20 reviews, why not shoot for 200 on the next book? Think of ways you could get 200 reviews. When you think 'bigger' you often get far different ideas than you would otherwise.

Just give it some thought over time. Going for 200 might get you 50.

Thanks for you comment.


Meghan Carver said...

Good morning, Vince! What an amazing and thorough post! Thank you! So, I've added to my to-do list. I need a page on my website explaining and encouraging reviews.

As a reader, I appreciate the encouragement that even a sentence is helpful. Like Janet said, I find writing reviews intimidating. But they are so helpful to authors, and I really should post more reviews.

Janet Dean said...

TINA, some days I can't watch the news and live joyfully, much less write. I love your sense of humor! Great advice to protect our creativity from negative reviews. Thankfully most are encouraging.


Vince said...

Hi Caryl:

Thanks for you comment on my post. Doing a short review on a long book, is a talent in itself. However, with Julie there are so many good points to talk about, it's easy to write a valid 5-star review. I find the hardest part of writing a Lessman review is making the review good enough to do justice to the quality of the writing. If APMP is your first "Boston" book, you have a world of reading enjoyment available in your future.


P.S. I really liked "A Light in the Window" which takes place before APMP.

Janet Dean said...

MEGHAN, writing reviews will get easier the more we do it. I love Kav's tip to write thoughts about the book on a Post-It note. One of my favorite reviews was a reader quoting from the book, telling me a sentence had impacted her to change. That was both encouraging and humbling.


Vince said...

Hi Debby:

I'll tell Linda you liked her review. That was her first. I had to set up the Amazon account and buy something, another Seeker book, to get Linda her own account. But it is still hard to get her to sit down and write even a short review.

It's not easy to get some people to write reviews and when you ask them, you may make them feel bad that they don't do it. That's not the goal. This is why I feel 'indirect' asking is the way to go.


Vince said...

Hi Sally:

I'm like you. I love to be the first one to review a new book. I especially love to be the first one to review a debut novel. Also when a book has over 100 reviews, I feel like the author doesn't really need any more.

If 'reviews are like food to authors', then I'd rather give the 'food' to the hungry authors. It just makes sense. In appraisal we call this: "The highest and best use".

Thanks for you comments.


Janet Dean said...

VINCE, I will never forget the thrill of reading the review you wrote for my debut Courting Miss Adelaide, and many lovely reviews since. I'm not sure you--and other reviewers like you--realize what an encouragement you are to writers.


Vince said...

Hi Wilani:

I agree with you. If people rely on your reviews before buying a book and a book is three stars or less, then I think you have to be honest about the stars or not post the review. Since people don't base their buys on my reviews, at this point in my life, I just don't post less than four star reviews.

Also sometimes books I don't like other people love. They don't see the faults I see so for them it really was a great reading experience. I see no need to discourage them from buying.

I like the positive way you gave the three star review. Often it is not what we say but rather how we say it that makes all the difference.

Thanks for your comments.


Vince said...

Hi Kav:

You wrote:

"Oh -- and a trick I developed to help writing the final review -- I read with a post-it note tucked into the front cover of the book. When something noteworthy hits me as I'm reading I just jot it down on the post-it note and by the time I've finished reading I have the skeleton of a review."

I do the same thing with a Kindle. I bookmark the location and leave a note if needed. Some great points are very hard to find again. And it is these things that tend to make great headlines or lead sentences to the body copy. They are also easy to forget as you get more involved in the plot.

Thanks for your comments.


Jeanne T said...

I admit, I still get nervous about writing reviews. I tend to put them off because I want to take the time to do a thorough write up. Some of what I'm reading from you, Vince, takes some of that pressure off. Thank you for that! As I have a couple books to review now, I am taking your words to heart. :)

Great post!

Laura Conner Kestner said...

Thank you for responding to my comment, VINCE. I'm learning so much today. The comments have been informative and interesting as well. As always, I love starting the week with a visit to Seekerville!

Vince said...

Hi Tracey:

You made a lot of good points. I do think reviewers should write the kind of reviews they are comfortable writing. That way you get the best reviews overall.

Authors who wish they got more reviews and good ones at that should always click on 'this review was helpful' button. They should also do it for their fellow authors as this is free.

There is a saying in business: "What gets rewarded gets done." This is said to be the GMP -- Greatest Management Principle.

It is best to reward reviewers who gave good reviews on your books. If they think your books get more 'clicks', then they may think your fans are more receptive to their comments and thus review your books more often or at least first before getting to other books. It just doesn't make sense not to do this.

About five star reviews and 'grade inflation' that is a problem. I think today that less than five stars is like missing the grade by how much the review misses the five star mark.

I've seen four star reviews that were much better than many thoughtless five star reviews. I'd like to see a 10 point rating system like the movies. I've seen 7.6 on a movie with thousands of reviews. That's pretty exact.

I think the whole star system depends on the site. Amazon seems to be four or more stars or forget it. If I think a book is at least 4.5 then it gets 5 stars. Less than 4 I don't post.

Thanks for your comments,


Mary Connealy said...

Tina you send thank you books?

Good idea.

I've had fair luck with cash

Barbara Fox said...

Hi Vince,
I really appreciate this post because I struggle with writing reviews and your guidelines are very helpful.

I read a lot and I’ve just now gotten to the point that if I don’t enjoy a book, I don’t finish it. I used to read everything to the end because someone took a lot of time to write it. And I’m really good at skimming things that bore me.

But I would not want to write a review that hurt an author or made them feel badly.

I finish a book and I either Adored it, liked it or it was meh! I hate books that are loaded with errors. Anymore I can recognize a fast self publish job. (But at the same time I know how easy it is to make mistakes) I don’t want to analyze characters or review someone’s writing style. I don’t want to sound like an author or even like I know anything about the author. What good is a review if it sounds like I’m plugging someone I know?

If I write a review I want it to encourage someone else to read the book.

I read reviews to see if a book fits my reading criteria. My reading tastes change continually. If I see consistently low stars on an author I don’t know I don’t bother with the book. But if I love an author I will read everything cover to cover to cover that I can, regardless of the ratings. And of course, I get frustrated when I run to the end of what an author has written.

But. . .questions

I buy books strictly from Amazon. It’s convenient and I can load products on any device I have. Amazon doesn’t want authors to make reviews and while in the realm of publishing I have done little, there is one small children’s book (that completely and totally needs to be revamped) on Amazon under my name. Is it okay for me to review? And what about later when I’m no longer camping out on unpubbed island, what happens to the reviews I’ve written?

Other than Amazon and Goodreads, I’ve not been aware of other places to write reviews. Do you think there are other readers with the same lack of awareness problem?

Last question. How important is Goodreads? (this is a genuine question, not a sarcastic one)
I lied. One more question. How important is iBooks?

Thanks :-) I apologize for hijacking the comments

Debby Giusti said...

Great comments. I just read through all of them!

Sending a huge thank you to Laura Conner Kestner!!!

Thank you, Laura, for your wonderful and thoughtful review of PLAIN DANGER! I mentioned it to my hubby last night, saying how special it was to read that the book had made you stay up later than expected as you kept turning the pages!!! And looking over your shoulder when the house creaked. For a suspense author, you're words were golden! :) Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

And thanks to all who have reviewed my stories. I appreciate each comment and the time and effort needed to come up with a review.

Vince said...

Hi Glynna:

I think you have it right. All reviewers are not equal.

A book does not really exist until it is 'played' in a reader's mind. Otherwise it is more like 'sheet music' is to actual music. Unfortunately reading is a performance art depending, like a cd, on the equipment it is being played upon. That's scary when you think about it. But that is the way it is.

I believe one should encourage and reward reviews but not read them (but don't tell readers that!) However, have someone you trust read them and pass on what you really should know. This probably should be a CP.

Come May first, it's back to Hunter's Ridge.


P.S. I just made a discovery: if you ask for reviews, it gets people to read your book which may be in their TBR pile. This is really important for motivating readers to buy your next book because if they already have a book of yours that they have not got to reading yet, then the will be less likely to buy your new book. Here's the assignment: get readers to buy your book, then read the book, then post a review. No one said it was easy to be an author.

Debby Giusti said...

Vince, I like your idea about authors clicking the "this review was helpful" button. Do you think Amazon will allow the "like" to go through? They can get picky at times.

Also like your mention of giving general thanks to all reviewers during talks and appearances. So easy...and thank yous are always appropriate. Great tip!

Thanks for all you did so that Linda could post that first review. I appreciate both of you! :)

Janet mentioned your review of Courting Miss Adelaide. I feel the say about The Officer's Secret. You were so gracious with your review and award! A treasured memory, for sure!

Debby Giusti said...

Vince, so true about a reader not buying book 2, if they haven't read book 1.

Janet Dean said...

BARBARA, must re-check Amazon policy on authors writing reviews but thought we could within their guidelines.


DebH said...

Vince used my answer in his post! Vince used my answer in his post! Vince used my answer in his post! *swoon*

well, maybe not swoon, per se, but a bit of a thrill nonetheless.

I review the books I win here in Seekerville as a thank you to the authors who are so generous. I also review books for authors who have asked if I want to be an Influencer (although I'm not sure I can really influence anyone really).I try to keep my reviews short, but if I'm fresh off a really good read, I do tend to get verbose. I also like the little feature on my Kindle that gives me the opportunity to review right after I finish a book. Actually, I try to review right after I'm done reading any book - otherwise I may forget. Of course, the books that keep me up 'til the wee hours of the morning because I couldn't put it down - well, I never forget to review those - but I do it the next day after a good nap.

I feel stupid sometimes though, when writing a review because I forget the hero and heroine's names. This happens a bunch. Apparently I get caught up in the emotions of the book and draw a blank while waxing poetic on my enjoyment. *palm to face moment* I think I'll try KAVs post-it note idea.

Oh, and I do like to see notes from Amazon when someone finds a review I've written as helpful. As for Goodreads, I signed up, but that site is so confusing I've never been back after failing a couple of attempts post reviews. I've no clue how to use the site. Maybe I'm just dumb.

I have, of late, started copy/pasting the book cover of the book I just read/reviewed and post it on my Facebook page. Usually with a short note saying: "just finished a good book, check out my review if you're interested"

DebH said...

Thanks for the great post, VINCE

Janet Dean said...

VINCE, that is a hefty assignment! LOL


Julie Lessman said...

WOW, VINCE, this has to be the MOST COMPLETE blog ever written on reviews, which does not surprise me in the least, my friend!! SO glad you plan to put together a "Review Writing Program" because this is a key subject that is often overlooked in author marketing strategy, and you are just the guy to tackle it!

YOU SAID: "It has been well established for over 100 years that if you want people to do something, you have to ask them."

LOL ... bull's-eye, as usual!! Sooooo simple, yet sooooo profound!! I am the type of person who does NOT like to ask anybody for anything, but I recognized early that reviews are key because I knew they were for me when I bought a book. So I developed a way to "ask" and give the reviewer something back via my review contests, which are now frowned upon by Amazon.

I used to give a $50 gift card to the top poster (the most reviews posted) along with naming a key character after them in my next book and a signed copy. The next two winners won a lesser character named after them and a signed copy, and then I always had a 4th winner from a random drawing of all participants who posted at least one review. They won a very minor character named after them and a signed copy because I wanted everyone to have a chance to win whether they posted one review or more. I attribute this contest as the #1 reason I have so many reviews.

But since Amazon put the clamps down, I now longer give gift cards away, only name a character after the winners, and character contest for Isle of Hope will probably be my last one because of Amazon guidelines.

YOU ALSO SAID: "Encourage supporters to click that 5-star reviews were helpful."

This is the first I heard of this being important, Vince. Did you read it somewhere that it is important to readers? Or just to Amazon?

Excellent post, my friend -- THANK YOU!!

Janet Dean said...

DEBH, the back cover blurb helps me remember the hero and heroines names. They're on the Amazon site.


Julie Lessman said...

VINCE SAID: "Make it easy for a reader to write a review. Have a 'by-the-numbers' review recipe to give readers."

LOL ... I actually did this, although mine is as verbose as my books. ;) Here it is:

1.) Go to Isle of Hope on Amazon (
2.) Click on the blue hyperlink to the right of the five gold stars that says "52 customer reviews (or whatever # of reviews have been posted).
3.) You'll see a gray box that says "Write a customer review," so click on that, and it will ask you what you thought of my writing.
4.) When you click on whatever response you want, that brings up a few more questions and a place where you can select how many stars you want to give the book and a place to type a review.
5.) The review can be as few as one word or line, stating what you thought of the book.
6.) Let me know when you post it, and I will enter you in the contest, okay?

YOU SAID: "When some readers see a book has 100 or more reviews, they may feel their review is not needed and even worse, won’t be valued."

LOL ... I know that's how YOU feel because you've mentioned that before, but that never occurred to me nor is it important to me. What is important is supporting people I love whose books are worth it.


Vince said...

Hi Mary:

You wrote:

"Now you've got to ask the WHOLE WORLD to approve of your book.

And that includes asking for reviews.

The whole thing is just NOT writing. And writing is what we love. "

I know the above is truly heartfelt but it is a little dramatic, too. Authors do not have the reach to ask the whole world anything. They also do not have a duty to do so. What authors need to do is reach and then ask 'prospects' to read and review their books. That is a much smaller target audience.

As for it being 'not writing'... well, indirect asking can be writing as when: you thank those in the acknowledge of your new book who left reviews in the past, when you write on a Seeker post, at the top or the bottom, that you want to thank those who were kind enough to post reviews of your books and when you add at the end of your book in a 'note to the reader' how you would love to hear their ideas for writing more books so you can better increase their reading enjoyment. Posting a review is a great way to do just that.

Just try and think of as many ways of asking indirectly for reviews by using your writing skills as possible. Then do some of them.

Just ideas. Thanks for your comments, they made me think of more solutions. I like that.


bonton said...

Thanks for your interesting post, Vince - I always enjoy your posts and comments!!

I review on a regular basis - unfortunately, I don't have near as much time as I would like to read/review books other than those for which I commit to influence. I'm not a swift reader of books and prefer to savor the words.

I must admit that at times I have a problem saying "no" to requests to read/review books. Especially to authors who have debut releases, or few published books - I appreciate their work and want to do what I can to help make readers aware of that work.

As with Kav, I take notes as I read books to review. I tend to write longer reviews if also using them as a blog post and giveaway.

I agree with numerous reviewers/authors in their desire for a wider review rating range - I've written some 5-star reviews I've felt to be perhaps a little less deserving than the highest rating, yet better than a 4-star rating in the limited rating range provided.

My desire is that I always do justice to the authors and their books I review, therefore, I pray before writing each review.

Please enter my name in the drawing for the book giveaways. Thank you!!

Vince said...

Hi Sandra:

I'm not sure giving books away for free is the best way to get reviews. In a way, people don't count. It's readers who are set up and know how to post reviews and who do post reviews who count. Get the books to them. You might ask, they would like a book to review? If not, don't send it.

Thanks for your comment. We need to learn more ways to ask for reviews that work, cost little or nothing, and that are more 'showing' than 'telling'.

Any ideas from anyone will be appreciated.


Vince said...

Hi Sandra:

I twice posted reviews on Amazon that went to the wrong book and stayed up after I told Amazon about it.

One book was up twice on Amazon because the author was selling it under two different names and two different editions.

The other post went to the right author but wrong book because I mentioned the other book in the review.

It is possible that a review can wind up on the wrong book. Also, I think that the computer problem that caused the problem, tends to cause the same problem again when Amazon thinks they have corrected the problem. (From their end it looks to be corrected.) And that is why the problem stays up even after you tell Amazon about it.


Janet Dean said...

BONTON, excellent idea to pray before writing a review! Thank you for sharing it.


Vince said...

Hi Kav:

You wrote:

"Maybe we could turn things around and, instead of authors asking for reviews, readers could do the asking...or encouraging fellow readers to review."

This is a great idea if it could be done. It would be like politicians asking their supporters to help get other voters to the polls.

They could be called "Review Boosters".

Keep the ideas coming and we will all benefit!


Vince said...

Hi Edwina:

From all you do you'd have to be on every author's "A" list of review prospects! You're in the drawing for sure!

Thanks for commenting and for helping the writing community.


Vince said...

Hi Missy:

The fear of speaking in public and the fear of posting a review where the public can see it may be similar. Perhaps we need a Toastmasters for book reviewers complete with a very easy 'ice breaker'. We could call it "Review Masters" and new members could begin by posting, with help, a three line review on Amazon. The whole club could cheer once they do this.

When they find out this will not kill them and people want them to do well, they may get hooked. I've seen lots of people who would get sick the night before having to give a speech, go into Toasmaters and within a few months, you couldn't shut them up or get them off the podium.

Thanks for you comment.


Vince said...

Hi Janet:

Loved your comment about writers still having problems writing reviews. It reminds me of classroom school teachers who would tell me, "Just because I'm a teacher does not mean I don't fear speaking in public to adults!"

Thanks for the great job on the layout of today's post. It came out better than I could have imagined it. It is a real honor and pleasure to be a guest blogger on Seekerville.


Vince said...

Hi Meghan:

I'm with you. People like to be appreciated. And when an author is appreciative for reviews received it also shows the author considers review writing valuable. This is important. If the author acts like reviews are not important, then why should the readers think reviews are important? It's somewhat like parents who drive their kids to church but who don't attend themselves.

Thanks for joining in the conversation today.


Vince said...

Hi Jeanne T:

Thanks for your comment about reducing some of the pressure of writing reviews. Like Janet said, they do get easier the more you do. The thing is: they don't have to be perfect. Like Woody Allen said, "Most of life is just showing up."

Just do the review!


Vince said...

Hi Laura:

I like your comment about starting the week with Seekerville. My wife, Linda, had the privilege of meeting three Seekers in person and afterward she was amazed that they were just like the nice ladies she knows at church. I said, "Well, if Christian Fiction writers are not going to be wonderful folks, there's no hope for the world."


Vince said...

Hi Barbara:

I have very much the same views on reviewing that you do. In fact, as I get older, and I measure years by how many I have left and not how many I've lived, I don't have time to read a poor book. I give up fast.

You can get over 1,000,000 free books on Amazon. It's surprising anyone buys any books when there is no chance to ever read 1% of the free books that are available -- and many of these are classics!

I really can't tell you about Goodreads. I tried once to post a review and it was so intrusive, I just gave up. I like Amazon, The Christian Bookstore, and Barnes and Noble. That's it. I will do no more. But that's just me.

About Amazon and no author reviews, I think this is designed to stop abuses. One author was trashing a competitor author and got caught. One reviewer was being paid for writing thoughtful five star reviews. Some authors had deals to review each other's books in a group effort. These moves hurt the integrity of all the Amazon reviews.

I feel if you bought the book, use a screen name, and are not part of a dishonorable scheme, then it is okay to post a review on an author's book -- even one you know. Just be honest. It must be the review you would have posted if you did not know the author.

I must say I pay the most attention to reviews that are verified.

Thanks for your comments.


Janet Dean said...

Exactly, VINCE! Another problem for me is the time it took to write a review. Your tips will help me be speedier.

I'm the one to be thanking you for this post and for being such a great guest!


Vince said...

Hi Debby:

You wrote:

"Do you think Amazon will allow the "like" to go through?"

I'm not an Amazon author so I would not know. I know when I do a review, the helpful button is missing. They won't let me find my own review helpful. Why don't you try liking one of the reviews on one of your books. I would think you could click on it; however, the button could be missing. Good question. Thanks.


CatMom said...

Thorough and helpful post, Vince - - thank you!
I enjoy posting reviews to help out my author friends and show how much I appreciate their HARD WORK in creating awesome stories. :)
I will admit I do better when I go ahead and post the review immediately after finishing a book (while it's still fresh on my mind!).
I used to think that I had to do a certain amount of words in my review (not a particular number, but enough so it made a good paragraph or two). Now I realize it's not necessary to make a lengthy review, but the important thing is letting other readers know I REALLY enjoyed the book!
Thanks again for sharing this post. No need to enter me in the drawing, as I already have those wonderful books. :)
Blessings, Patti Jo

Debby Giusti said...

Vince, good suggestion.

I just clicked "yes" to "was this review helpful" for Laura, KAV and Linda's reviews. Will they receive feedback? I didn't realize the message went back to the reviewer. Nice incentive from Amazon to encourage more reviews. :)

Chill N said...

VINCE, I'm confused about why reviews in RT are considered so important. I can understand how any writer would appreciate a good review but I continue to ask romance readers if they know what RT is ... and most don't. Maybe I'm hanging around the wrong crowd :-)

So much information to ponder. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge!

Nancy C

Vince said...

Hi DebH:

It's a wonder you're surprised to be quoted in my post. You make good, thoughtful comments and I always enjoy reading what you have to say: even when I don't comment myself that day.

I had the same Goodreads experience you had and I never went back after a few failed attempts at posting a reveiw. Never again.

I also have problems with the hero and heroine's names but I always paste the Amazon blurb on the book at the bottom of my computer page so I can have that info very quickly. Some times I set up a future review page with the art for the cover and the blurb and even sometimes the sample chapter if the author provides one. This helps if a lot of time has passed since I read the book. For me a lot of time is over a week. But then I read five or more books at a time and let them compete for my attention.

I just love it when one of the books I'm reading grabs hold of me and causes me to leave all the other books behind until it is totally read. Those are well written books.

Perhaps you can use some of these ideas.



Tracey Hagwood said...

Here's what I've learned through trial and error about reviewing on Amazon and Goodreads (which is owned by Amazon I believe).

Reviewers will not see who the helpful vote came from on Amazon, they will only see that they have a helpful vote, which will boost their overall rating in the long run when added to the number of books reviewed.

On Goodreads reviewers will get an email stating the name of the person who liked the review. I was thrilled this month to get a "like" email from reviews I did for Denise Hunter and Tessa Afshar. The benefit to an author for a Goodreads review is they can be posted in advance of the book being released, giving the book some advance buzz, the purpose of an ARC. On Amazon reviewers have to wait until book is actually released.

Vince said...

Hi Julie:

You're just amazing. You proved my points in many ways. You wanted to get a lot of reviews so you figured out how to do that. And then you did it. And then Amazon didn't like it. OMG!

Like I said, when you set your goals high, different ideas occur to you that you would never have thought of before. Here's a true story. A big NYC ad guy, highly paid, came to San Diego to run an ad agency. He joined a local church and they came to him to help with their annual fund rising program. They needed a new event because they had to raise $10,000 and their last three attempts fell far short of that.

The man said, "I don't think I can help you. I don't know how to raise $10,000."

"Weren't you a top guy in a big Madison Avenue agency?"

"Yes, and I was in a very big church. Our events were geared to raise a million dollars."

"Well, we'd settle for a million."

"I could try. I'll need some celebrities. Who in the church has celebrity relatives?"

In the end the event failed from the ad man's POV. In fact, it was the worse event he ever managed. It only raised $100,000.

It looks like you've been doing the things for a long time that I've just written about here today. (Great minds).

If one has the nerve to ask God for help, it should not be that hard to ask a mere human.

Don't expect readers to be mind readers as well. Only husbands are mind reders! : )


Vince said...

Hi Julie:

About reviewing books with over 100 reviews. Well, I review your books even though only me and you are likely to read them -- and I'm not too sure about you.

APMP has 1002 reviews! You should be illegal! :)

You need to do a review post yourself and with your success, you should give a seminar on the topic at the national conferences.

BTW: Yes, I really like getting the emails that say another reader found my review of a book helpful in their buying decision. I mean, I'm human.


Vince said...

Hi bonton:

I just loved your comment:

"My desire is that I always do justice to the authors and their books I review, therefore, I pray before writing each review."

This is what I do before I give a speech or seminar but I also do one additional thing: I tell myself that I love these people that I am going to speak to and that they are friends who I want to help find what they have come to find. This is where I ask God's help.

If I can feel the love, all the stress of giving a speech disappears.

I think there is another aspect of doing reviews that has not been mentioned and that is:

Keeping the joy of reading alive and reading as a reader enjoying the experience and not reading as a reviewer doing a job.

That's why I want to buy the books I review. I want 'skin in the game' and I know if I don't like a book, I'll stop reading. Duty will not trump reading enjoyment.

Read as a reader and not as a reviewer.

Thanks for your comments.


Vince said...

Hi CatMom:

You've all three of those books! That makes you a Super Seeker Star!

I agree on writing the type of review you want to and writing what will show the reader what about the book makes it enjoyable. My major question is always: Why did you like it along with how much you enjoyed reading the book. For most readers it's all about the fun you get from reading the book.



Vince said...

Hi Debby:

It's good to know that authors can click the helpful button on reviews of their own books. I'm sure Linda will get hers just as I get mine. Now I wonder how long it will take to be sent. I'm sure she will get a kick out of getting the email. I'll let you know when I know.

Thanks for doing this. It could give Seeker authors an edge in getting reviews as I don't think many authors know or do this.


Keli Gwyn said...

What a wonderful post, Vince. You've given me so much to think about. I've been hesitant to ask for reviews because it seems so self-serving, but I might be able to handle an indirect approach that is bathed in gratitude for the reviews readers have already left.

I can certainly "like" the reviews that have been left for my books on Amazon and Goodreads. I didn't because I've heard so many times that we authors aren't supposed to thank readers for reviews publicly. Personally, I like thanking people for the nice things they do for me, and taking time to get my book, read it, write a review and post it is very, very nice.

I love your idea of having a Why and How to Review page on my website to help educate readers. I'm going to add one. As soon as your Review Writing Program is up and running, I'll link to it there.

I know what fabulous reviews you write because you left one on A Home of Her Own that moved me to tears when I happened to discover it. I can't thank you enough for that.

Tanya Agler said...

Vince, thank you for reminding us readers (especially those of us who are writing and working toward the goal of publication) about the importance of reviews. For me, it's totally a question of time. I often get caught up in the next book or something happens at home, and I forget to post a review of a book I really loved. While it doesn't take long, I tend to simply forget, but I have been very fortunate lately to read some excellent books that do deserve four or five stars. A couple of extras: I try to not leave a review for a book that I disliked and I also try to not let the seller impact my reviews (one time I ordered a paperback and the mailman left it out in the rain and it was permanently damaged through the cardboard) and I always roll my eyes whenever anyone gives one star to a classic because delivery was slow. Sorry to get off on a tangent about a pet peeve when your blog is on target about the importance of leaving a review.

Please enter me in the book giveaway drawings.

Vince said...

Hi Chill N:

You asked why RT reviews were so important besides the circulation of the magazine. Well, there was a time I subscribed to RT just to get the reviews on Harlequin line books that were only on the bookshelves in stores for about a month. Sometimes the books were taken down before the month was up!

I wanted to know which of that month's new books were 4 star rated and higher. There were many choices to buy each month and I knew nothing about the authors or the themes. Low star books really were not very good reads. RT was really my only way to get these reviews in time for buying the books while they were available to buy.

A really good RT review for such books was probably the best marketing tool they had. This was before eBooks but there are still a large number of readers who will not mess with eBooks at all.

RT reviewed all the Harlequin lines and I was interested in all of them. To me, RT is the best of the magazine reviews.

That's why I think RT is so important.

Thanks for asking. I bet a lot of new readers who like eBooks also wonder about RT.


Vince said...

Hi Tracey Hagwood:

I didn't know that about Amazon and Goodreads. I just wonder if knowing who liked your review will reduce the clicks?

Do you know where you get more 'likes': Goodreads or Amazon? That would be interesting to know.

Thanks for your comments. They are very helpful.


Sherida Stewart said...

Vince, this post is great! I've written reviews, but still muddle around with the best way to write them. Others have asked my advice on writing reviews.....and I will direct them to your post. I especially like your Sample Review Outline and the suggestion to write the review immediately after finishing the book. I appreciate authors who do take the time to thank me for reviews. Yes, I like to feel appreciated. :) Great thoughts!

And I saw my comment in your post. Eeek! Generally, I do like to read read reviews longer than 15 words to get a better flavor of the book....but I agree reviews don't need to rehash the blurb and there should be NO SPOILERS given. Knowing how hard an author works to develop the plot, revealing the fun surprises in a review is so disappointing.

Please enter my name for Janet's Courting Miss Adelaide since I have the other two books. Thanks!

Tracey Hagwood said...

I started using Goodreads to keep track of my number of books read and then for the yearly book challenge they have. Later, when I started reviewing books in advance of release day on Netgalley I would post on Goodreads to get the book some early attention, then transfer that review to Amazon on release day. I rarely get likes on Goodreads and don't review for that purpose there, I don't think anyone uses Goodreads for that purpose, it's just icing on the cake if it happens.

If you track your profile on Amazon, that's when you'll find out if you get likes on your reviews and like I said those likes are anonymous, so no concerns about helpful votes being affected by knowing who liked it. I read and like other readers reviews, some are so insightful and helpful when it comes to making a book purchase.

Vince said...

Hi Tanya:

I think some people doing book reviews on Amazon, where they can also buy toasters, treat the review as if they just bought a consumer product. In that case, bad delivery is part of the purchase experience and can be part of the review. Perhaps the problem was due to packing and not FedEx.

So we can expect reviews like this. Hopefully we never write reviews like this. A book review is about the book. However, I did once suggest readers not buy the Kindle version of the book because it was unreadable. The author's footnotes appeared in the body copy and not the bottom of the page. However, the print version of the book was fine.

I did feel I had a duty to warn the reader about this major problem with the Kindle version. The print book got 5 stars.

That's just life. Sometimes a 5 star book will draw a 1 star reviewer. C'est la vie.



Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi again Vince You are so right. Giving away a free book definitely did not work. They were happy to get the free book, but often when you get something for free you don't appreciate it. Now I purposely seek reviews from reviewers and I do offer a book to them. And I have been blessed with some wonderful reviews. -- Yours being some of the best. You see things in my books I didn't even know I had written. chuckle. I think that is so funny and amazing. Goes to show you how we get used to impact others when we don't even know it. And you have done that for me. There have been many comments you made, that really helped me through some tough decisions about my writing. And you probably didn't even know that you had. smile Thanks for being there.

Book reviewers know what they are doing so it is wonderful to be able to ask them fo the review.

I know that when you purchase a book from Amazon, they send an email about three or four weeks later asking how you liked it and asking you to write a review. That is interesting, but I don't think everyone responds to those all the time. I know if I'm busy and get one of those it can get buried in my email.

So are you enjoying your day? It is always a joy to have you with us, Vince.

bonton said...

VINCE: such a wonderful idea to pray for your audience before speaking to them!! Hopefully, praying for the readers of my reviews will entice them to read the Christian Fiction books I review.

I do buy books which I review, in addition to the ones I receive free. I could be wrong, but feel Amazon also tends to take reviews more seriously when they have numerous verified book purchases from the reviewer.

Re reviewing through the enjoyment of reading vs reviewing because it is my job: I do try to find out as much as possible about an author and his/her books before agreeing to review for them, therefore, I'm more assured I will enjoy his/her books.

S. Trietsch said...

Do reviews on Goodreads
Have any weight?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Today was a work day here at the farm. School was out and it was crazy fun and just plain crazy, too!

So I know I'm joining back in late, but am I the only one who (while I love so much of Amazon) doesn't think it's wise to let them micro-manage so much of my career?

It was an Amazon thing to push for more reviews...

But then once you had them, the systems shifted so that it didn't seem to matter as much. Price mattered, and frequency of publication for indies, and purchases for traditionally published books.

So while Amazon was directing things, the numbers mattered, but I wonder if they matter so much now?

I see stats on indie publishing through e-readers still gaining ground, but I don't see numbers supporting large #s of reviews.

I wonder if it means all that much?

Or if beloved readers still do what they always did and pass on your name and your book to their friends because they loved them?

Maybe both?

I honestly don't see the big correlation between sales/placement and reviews that we saw two years ago.... and if you can be guaranteed of anything in this biz today, it's that it is constantly changing!

What do you guys think?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Vince, I agree wholly about the RT reviews. They've been mighty good to me throughout and I'm so grateful that they've reviewed most of my books. It gives me as an author a measure... and it's kind of why I don't understand folks not loving 4 Stars... If we love 4 Stars from RT, why do we fuss over 4 Stars on Amazon?

I never get that, I'm thrilled with those 4 star reviews. And because review ratings are subjective, I'd say thanks for the 3 stars, too.

I pay no attention to 2 star and 1 star reviews because out of the tens of thousands books sold, to have a smattering of low reviews is probably more therapeutic for them to get it off their chest than bothersome to me.

Of course I'm not an overly sensitive person, although I am a total sap for a good story!!!!

That's such a fun combination to be!

Vince said...

Hi Ruth:

You wrote:

"Or if beloved readers still do what they always did and pass on your name and your book to their friends because they loved them?"

Yes, this has always been the key to ultimate success. In marketing it's called a book that has legs. The book itself is its best salesman. Ideal would be having many books with legs that not only sell themselves but that also sell every other book in the author's backlist.

However true this is, it's a little like someone saying, "Just write a million selling blockbuster and all this marketing stuff will matter very little."

Of course, if you have a book with legs and you also get a lot of reviews that spread the word, you'll see an even faster growth in sales.

I don't know about Amazon and algorithms but I'm sure interested in hearing what others can add on this topic.



Ruth Logan Herne said...

I'm going through all these fun comments, and I just hit Tina's about reading a review that says we suck... and it shuts off her creative flow...

It fires mine.

I'm not kidding, if someone goes on the attack, I get all-fired focused and write killing pages.

Not pages of death, but pages to show I'm the one in charge of the keyboard and that nobody with an attitude is going to get the edge.

Okay, how funny is that???? And yet Tina and I are a lot alike in many ways, we just have these few variances of (oh, wait, SENSITIVITY because I have none, I'm fairly immune) and Tina's a little more gentle-hearted.

And because we both hail from Western NY, it's obviously not a New York thing!

And she's not a Yankees fan, but I love her anyway.

Vince said...

Hi Ruth:

The thing about RT and four star reviews is this: in all the years I've read RT, I've never seen them give a five star review. They have at least two grades above four stars but they are still four star plus creatures.

On Amazon five star reviews are so common it makes anything less seem somewhat lacking. But I still think that this is fair because the quality of the reviewers is so uneven.


Chill N said...

VINCE, thanks for the answer about RT :-)

Nancy C

Ruth Logan Herne said...

For RT the 5 Star review was retired when the magazine's founder passed away... and it was a lovely tribute to her.

So they've got the 4.5 Stars, and 4.5 Stars Top Pick, etc, but I really respected the way they honored a woman of strong vision....

and now they're bringing it back, I hear.

I will hug my four-star reviewers, and even my three-star because honestly, they make it look real, don't they? :)

I love and appreciate reviews, I truly do, but even more I love those e-mails from people who've lost a child or a dog or the love of their life, and knowing whatever story that was, helped them.

A little humility behind the noisy New Yawkah! :)

Tracey Hagwood said...

Hey Ruthy,
Speaking of reviews, I loved, loved, loved A Second Chance at Love, you get me every time!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Tracey! I'm so glad you loved it, I loved writing Ann's story... I just wanted to go back and fix everything for her but she had to find her own way.... and are you over-the-moon in love with Solomon????

And Hattie McGillicuddy is one of my favorite all-time characters, LOL!

I'm planning a trilogy of the three Eichas sisters, and I don't know if it will be traditional pubbed or indie pubbed, but Tracey, I'm having the time of my life with these historicals. Thank you so much, my friend!!!! :) And the trilogy starts with Rachel's story and there might be a certain lumberman (the great lumber wars of the 1880's and on, from Minnesota/Wisconsin) who gets knocked out of his comfort zone on page one and never quite gets his equilibrium back... How can we not love, love, love that???? Watch out, Sebastian Ward, cherubs with arrows are headin' your way!!!!

Tracey Hagwood said...

Oh I love Solomon! And you used one of my most favorite scriptures for renewal and moving forward, low the winter is past, perfect context!

Tracey Hagwood said...

CAN NOT WAIT for the Eichas sisters stories, write faster, LOL! I'm sure Hattie will be all up in their business, for their own good, of course. I especially like how you're doing her follow up at the end of the stories :)

Walt Mussell said...

Vince, this short sample review format you provide is nice. I know that your reviews tend to be detailed and awe-inspiring. Reviews like yours make a writer want to live up to what you said even more.

Glynna Kaye said...

VINCE -- Just got home a bit ago, so am reading back through the day's comments. This discussion is so interesting! Thank you so much for joining us in Seekerville again to share your wisdom and marketing experience! (Now if I can just get up the courage to ASK people to review my book when they tell me how they enjoyed it!) And I think Walt's 100% right--your enthusiastic and well-written reviews make a writer want to live up to what you said about the book! :)

Vince said...

S. Trietsch:

I don't review on Goodreads and I don't know if the reviews are effective in selling books. I'm sure someone here who does review on Goodreads should be able to come up with an answer. Thanks, that was a good question and one I'd also like to know the answer to.


Vince said...

Hi Walt:

You wrote:

"Reviews like yours make a writer want to live up to what you said even more."

That is one of the nicest things a writer has ever told me about my reviews. If the book is really an outstanding 5-star work, then I do feel I should try to give it a 5-star quality review. This is when doing a review is very intimidating to me.

Thanks and please always let me know when you have a new book out. I have a special interest in Japan.


Vince said...

Hi Glynna:

You wrote:

"(Now if I can just get up the courage to ASK people to review my book when they tell me how they enjoyed it!)"

What if you said something like this:

"Thanks so much. Comments like that make my day and make all the hard work of writing a book worth while. I'm very thankful when readers leave comments like that on Amazon because they can interest other readers in my books. Thanks again."

It just seems to me that there are lots of ways to ask for reviews that are indirect. It's like a doctor having a great bedside manner. Each author might really benefit if they could come up with their own indirect way of asking for reviews that works for them. It's worth the effort because I see it as a 'career' thing.


Leslie McKee said...

I review for RT. They recently brought back the 5 star review, though it will likely be seen infrequently as it has high requirements. I have never given one out, but that's not to say I never will.

Julie Lessman said...

LAURA, I thought your review of AGOH was OUTSTANDING and very in-depth, my friend, so I wouldn't change a thing, but I'm anxious to read Vince's response. :)

CARYL, thank you SOOO much for the great review on APMP -- it blessed the socks off of me, my friend! Most people hate Charity and don't want to read her story next, but I promise you by book 3 in the series, you will LOVE Charity and she becomes close with the family, including Faith. You now have 4 pts. in my contest, so GOOD LUCK!

VINCE SAID: "As for reviews from non-professional reviewers, I think the reader should leave the type of review that they want to write and hopefully will enjoy writing. I like writing reviews for very good books. It is fun. When I give a five star review, I alway try to justify the high rating by telling what the author did best. Sometimes I give quotes from the book.

I couldn't agree more, and I absolutely LOVE when reviewers give quotes from the book in their reviews!!

VINCE ALSO SAID: "Thanks for you comment on my post. Doing a short review on a long book, is a talent in itself. However, with Julie there are so many good points to talk about, it's easy to write a valid 5-star review. I find the hardest part of writing a Lessman review is making the review good enough to do justice to the quality of the writing."

See? This is only one of the MANY reasons I love you, my friend!! ;) THANK YOU!!


Vince said...

Hi Leslie McKee:

What a pleasant surprise to have an RT reviewer on Seekerville. I'm not sure that has happened in the many years since I've been coming to Seekerville.

I'd like to thank all the RT reviewers who covered all the Harlequin and other monthly romances who helped me so much when I first became interested in romances. To my way of thinking RT reviews were always right on target and could be fully trusted. In all the years of relying on RT reviews there was only one review I objected to and that was a one star review of a Lucy Gordon romance which I gave four stars to. I'm sure I'd read all of Lucy Gordon books at that time and considered myself a Gordon expert. But it must be hard on RT monthly book reviews when you have four similar theme books to review in the same month. By the time you've read three 'hidden child' books in a short period of time, a fourth one can't be that well received.

Whether you have four stars or five stars what really counts is your consistency. I also knew that if a book was four stars or four stars-plus and it was a theme I enjoyed reading (and I'll never read a book with 'billionaire' in the title), it was going to be a superior read.

I always felt and experienced that I could trust RT reviews. Keep up the great work.

Thanks for stopping by.


Vince said...

Hi Sandra:

You wrote:

"I know that when you purchase a book from Amazon, they send an email about three or four weeks later asking how you liked it and asking you to write a review. That is interesting, but I don't think everyone responds to those all the time. I know if I'm busy and get one of those it can get buried in my email."

I think those notices are to keep authors happy. I don't need to be reminded to write a review. Also, since I usually find two or three free books a day to download, I get two or three of those write a review requests a day on books I probably will never read anyway.

I do 'defensive' downloads on books that I think I might enjoy reading. There have been times when I didn't act and download a book I liked only to see it go back to full price which I paid because at that point I really felt I needed to read it. No more. If a 'free' book has over 100 good reviews and it is one I could like reading, I download it.

This is why I think it is so important to take efforts to get people to read your books they already own and have not yet read. To really build a career authors need to get readers to read their books. I call this 'after the sale marketing' and I think it is a lost art.

Thanks for your comments. It really is a joy to be a guest on Seekerville. I just love the way my post was laid out. And isn't that double rainbow photo beautiful?


Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Vince Yes, that double rainbow was gorgeous. I love it when I see those.

I'm glad you enjoyed your day. I think Seekerville is a wonderful place to be and that is mainly because of folks like you. Have a great week and thanks again for all you do.

ohiohomeschool said...

I try to lave reviews, but honestly--always feel mine are kind of bland. I worry they don't really matter. I see those long reviews and know with 7 kids including some with special needs I will not be able to do that. But after reading this, I may try to do more.
Becky B.

Julie Lessman said...

VINCE SAID: "About reviewing books with over 100 reviews. Well, I review your books even though only me and you are likely to read them -- and I'm not too sure about you. APMP has 1002 reviews! You should be illegal!" :)

LOL ... Trust me, I read them, although only in the beginning of a release, usually not later. And yeah, I hit the 1,000 mark on reviews for one book -- YAY!! Now ... if they were all five-star, I would have a FB party!! ;)

BTW: Yes, I really like getting the emails that say another reader found my review of a book helpful in their buying decision. I mean, I'm human.

LOL ... sometimes I wonder because I swear you have the brain of a mega computer, Vince, you know, like on Person of Interest? Do you watch that show? I almost watch NO TV, but my daughter got us hooked on it, and we LOVE IT!! It stars Jim Caviezal of "The Passion of the Christ" fame.


Julie Lessman said...

VINCE SAID: "Don't expect readers to be mind readers as well. Only husbands are mind reders! : )

LOL ... VERY true ... both about the readers and the husbands. My husband has become an excellent "mind reader." It's called survival of the fittest! ;)


Leslie McKee said...

Vince, thanks! I stop by when I can. Tina even twisted my arm to do a post on reviewing last year. I actually do review the Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense lines, in addition to books in the inspirational, mainstream, and mystery categories.

We do have some general guidelines to follow, so that helps. That's something I dislike about Amazon reviews, for instance. "1 star - I hate it." No further explanation. That's not helpful to the reader or writer. I've found that authors can handle bad reviews or fewer stars, but they do like to receive constructive reasons for the rating. Personally, I overlook many of the 1 and 5 star reviews, particularly when there's an overload. As a psych professor once told me, "Nothing is ever ALWAYS or NEVER." I think RT is respected in the industry because they ARE consistent in reviews, follow guidelines, and give constructive feedback. I know readers are spending hard-earned money on books, so I want to do what I can to help them choose a book they'll truly enjoy.

Katy C. said...

Great post.
First, as a reader (an only a reader!) I don't mind author's asking for reviews at all.

Second, I love what you said about writing a review being like public speaking. Honestly, I feel much more comfortable speaking before an audience (or even better, singing before an audience) than I do writing a review. For me what is most intimidating is that I know authors read the reviews. I want my review to reflect my thoughts accurately but I also don't want to hurt feelings or devalue an author's work. This is especially true when I'm reviewing a book I've won in a drawing or received as a gift for reviewing. There can be a lot of pressure to give a 5 star review when maybe I feel like the book is actually only 3 or 4 stars for me.

Amazon's I like it/I love it system is also hard for me because I tend to be enthusiastic about whatever I'm reading right now. I can thoroughly enjoy reading a book and it still may not really be a 5 star book. That makes it harder to review also. I would much rather write my thoughts than give a star rating. Star ratings seem really ambiguous to me.

I just skimmed through some of the comments above, but I love that Ruth Logan Herne has contacted reviewers with thank yous or positive thoughts on reviews. I have only heard once from an author (not from Seekerville), and that was when I changed a review from 5 stars to 4. Even though I still said really positive things about the book she was really offended. I will try never to do that again, but that experience has really colored my thoughts on leaving reviews.

Thank you for the guidelines you gave above. They are practical and easy to follow. I will definitely be bookmarking this article and referring back to your review outline.

Vince said...

Hi KatyC.:

You wrote:

"I can thoroughly enjoy reading a book and it still may not really be a 5 star book. That makes it harder to review also. I would much rather write my thoughts than give a star rating. Star ratings seem really ambiguous to me."

I think most readers and authors would agree with what you've said above. Given that Amazon is a rather free-style review site, I think you might consider how I treat a book that I really enjoyed reading but that is not really a 5-star book.

I give the book 5-stars for what it did so well that I fully enjoyed the book. Then in the body of the review I explain this and mention that in other areas it was a 4-star read. This way the author gets 5-stars for providing a very enjoyable book from my POV and this in turn ups her average star rating. It also allows me to be frank in the review.

For Example:

"All My Heroes Are Sandwiches" Gets 5 Stars for Wacky Reading Enjoyment! Loved it!

I haven't had such a good time reading a romance in years. The wacky fun never stops from start to finish. To be honest, there are some who might give this book four stars because of some plot inconsistencies, however, I read for the sheer enjoyment of it and in that department, "All My Heroes Are Sandwiches," is a five star success!


I think you can always give five stars to a book you really enjoyed as long as the five stars are for what it was about the book that make you enjoyed it so much. In the above example the review reader can decide if it is a four or five star review for themselves. Thanks for your comments.


Vince said...

Hi Leslie McKee:

I remember your post. You did a major review guest blog here at Seekerville. You had over 200 comments. That is super!

I hope you'll be able to come back. Anyone who found my post here useful should surely enjoy your post which they can find here:

That post is really worth a look for anyone interested in book reviews.

You wrote:

"I know readers are spending hard-earned money on books, so I want to do what I can to help them choose a book they'll truly enjoy."

Back before eBooks I read the RT reviews so I would know just which romances to buy at Wal-Mart when the next month's books were put out on the shelves. You had to buy them before they were gone back then. Since I did not want to spend time reading book blurbs, (I noticed that women would not approach the romance books if a man was there looking at the same books), I just approached the Harlequin line section and picked out my pre-chosen books and was gone in less than a minute.

Over time I did notice that many women would spend a lot of time looking at all that month's new releases in several lines. They would put books down only to pick them up again. Sometimes they had to choose just one book. That was probably all they could afford to spend on romances. It was sad to watch a woman torn between two romances. She wanted both of them but had to reluctantly select just one of them. I'm sure they couldn't afford RT either.

Then there were women like me. They would approach the book shelves, immediately select four romances and be back shopping. They would not take more than a minute. I really think they were RT readers.

So you are very correct in helping fans select the best romances each month in order to allow them to get the most for their hard earned money. For some fans it really is a matter of money.

Hope to see you back again!


Leslie McKee said...

Thanks so much, Vince :)

Yes, I've seen that happen in the book section, too. I've helped a few people out at Walmart before, who just looked overwhelmed surveying the various books, trying to decide on one. The women have always been very appreciative for the advice and guidance. I had a co-worker who'd go through RT and note whether it was a book she wanted to buy new, used, or check out at the library. She was amazed to learn I wrote reviews for them.

I'm sure I'll see you back here in Seekerville!

Beth Erin said...

Such a helpful post, Vince! Thank you so much for sharing all the great information about reviews. I never posted reviews until I learned how important they are to authors.
Now I am even book review blogging and I think I am enjoying the books I read and review even more because of the connection with the authors.
I am able to encourage other readers to pick up a positive book and encourage the authors writing those books! It is incredibility intimidating and I am just a little fish in the big pond but I am excited to learn and grow!