Hello again, friends! It’s me, Beth! *waving enthusiastically* Since I haven’t gotten myself kicked out of Seekerville yet (that’s mostly my irrational fear and insecurity showing), we get to hang out and chat about reviews! YAY!
As we established last time, I am not, nor do I desire to be, a writer (#ratherbereading)… however, I am (or at least I strive to be) an encourager! A few years ago, I (like many readers) simply didn’t realize the significant role reviews play in the successful launch of a book.
Listen up, readers!
Reviews play a significant role in the successful launch of a book!
Authors need YOU, the reader, to play an active role in book marketing! Maybe I’m the only one around here with a hyperactive need to be needed but that got my attention. Books NEED reviews to increase visibility on retail sites and attract the “right” readers.
I am asking you to join me in this endeavor, reader friends, but I will resort to forcible conscription if need be. We’re going to break this down and keep it simple, here are some things to remember as you embark on your new mission as reader reviewers:
Write the reviews! Be they short and sweet or even quirky (example food swoof), find your own voice and embrace it. You are the very best you there ever was or will be, after all!
What you include in your review is up to you. Simply share what you liked (or didn’t like) about the story or characters or share who you would recommend this book to. What makes a reader (or consumer) review unique is YOUR experience of the story.
Disclose when you receive a copy of the book from the publisher or author! This is non-negotiable. You MUST “clearly and conspicuously disclose” that you received the book free of charge according to FTC rules. Those are the big dogs, y’all… they are not playing!
go the extra mile...
Post your review on multiple sites from goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbook.com, to Walmart, Target, Kobo, Google Play, BookBub, and more!
Share your review on social media! Include a cover photo, tag the author and/or publisher, and pop a goodreads or retail link in the comments!
Spoil the story for other readers!!!! Not even a hint or smidgen of spoileriness shall dare taint thy reviews or great will be the weeping and gnashing of teeth thou whilst surely deserve!!! (If in doubt, restrain yourself with the spoiler feature on goodreads.)
Summarize the story, this is what book blurbs are for (also refer to our first “do not”), focus on sharing your opinions. Your review doesn’t need to be lengthy, a few sentences will suffice, I have also seen recommendations of anywhere from 150 to 250 words as an ideal length for consumer sites.
Attack or question the author’s personal values, or beliefs. It’s okay to disagree or dislike the story but let’s keep it classy, friends!
To review on Amazon, your account must have purchases totaling at least $50 for each 12 month period (excluding Prime membership fees) and your review must not be a requirement in exchange for the book or influenced by the author or publisher.
Here's an example disclosure: "I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are my own."
Authors and reader reviewers can connect through Facebook groups (for example, search “Christian reviewer” then click on the groups tab), publicity groups (such as JustRead Publicity Tours), or individual author or publisher influencer groups (aka street teams). Readers, know the difference between reviewing and influencing. Author friends, please take the time to remind your reviewers about the FTC disclosure when you request reviews.
Now that y’all are equipped with the nuts and bolts of reviewing, Annie, Carrie, and I will share our answers to a few questions generously provided by some author friends.
How do you decide how many and which books to review?
Annie: It all depends on my schedule and if I've committed to it. I have a horrible habit of judging a book by its cover and can never say no to a pretty book. The only conundrum is when I'll be able to review, unless I've already scheduled it on my calendar. I also like to jump around genres, so that has an impact on what I read.
Carrie: I have no self-discipline when it comes to books. I see a pretty cover or a great synopsis and I add it to my 'must review soon' stack. Which is actually threatening to take over my house. But realistically, I don't do more than one review a day - or try not to. That discipline thing again. ;)
Beth: How much time I can devote to reading determines how many books I review (about 2-3 books a week for this year) and I try to choose books in a variety of genres and settings.
How far in advance do you fill your calendar or do you just make a big stack and pick a book randomly?
Annie: My calendar fills up fairly quickly and far in advance, but I do leave a good amount of "free time" for the books I'd love to read but haven't had the chance, or for author friends that sends me last minute requests. I'm also a big stack kind of gal.
Carrie: My calendar basically fills up four months out. So, in other words, I'm 'booked' through September right now. But that doesn't mean that I won't squeeze in another one because of a pretty cover or a great synopsis or a favorite author. I do a lot of blog tours and that keeps me on a schedule - otherwise i get overwhelmed with all the options to read next lol.
Beth: I tried the stack but that didn’t work out so well. Google calendar and Trello are my BFFs so I am scheduled out about 6 months in advance with only a little wiggle room.
|Suzie's summer cut left her chilly.|
What aspects of the story or reading experience do you tend to cover in your reviews?
Annie: I'm more of an emotion-based reviewer. I don't do story paraphrases, but rather how it made me felt, what I thought about the storyline and the characters. Did they evoke some level of emotion from me? I might also touch on the writing aspect too. For difficult or negative reviews, I often pray about it since I want to be constructive in my criticism, but also being kind and showing grace in the process.
Beth: I tend to be character focused and share my experience (for example, kept me up all night or made me laugh out loud) because it helps me avoid spoilers (I also use the book blurb as a sort of spoiler-proofing guide).
Do you review immediately after reading?
Annie: Most of the time I do, but there are instances where I couldn't even go there yet. That has more to do with the book and the storyline, but at times, it's just because I don't have the time to sit and contemplate my review. I'm not one to write my reviews on my phone. I need my laptop for that, and I don't always get to my laptop right after.
Carrie: Mostly. I like to review the book while everything is still fresh in my mind.
Beth: That approach would probably work best but I tend to read more than one book at a time and then have a blogging binge.
What reviewers are eagle-eyed about? Do you look for discrepancies or are you more of a character driven/story driven reviewer who forgives a small error?
Annie: I'm more emotion-based and love a good balance of both character/story driven. I'm not picky on mistakes, but if a book is supposed to be edited and proof prior to release, I'd expect a rather clean copy. Formatting is also big too, especially if it hinders the reading experience. A typo here or there won't be an issue, but if it's throughout, along with grammatical errors, then I do tend to point it out. That said, I also will notify the publisher/author if a second printing or a digital fix can be done.
Carrie: What Annie said.
Beth: Although there are eagle-eyed reviewers, I’m here to enjoy the stories not nitpick so unless there are so many errors that it takes away from the story, yeah… what Annie said.
Are YOU a reviewer?
All reader reviewers get a big hug from me today! Y'all play an invaluable role in the publishing industry!
What reviewing dos or do nots would YOU add to our list?
Speaking of do nots... don't forget to pick up a donut or two (these are super tasty, zero-calorie virtual donuts so don't be shy!) while we visit and chat!!!
Let me know what flavor you want!
I feel obligated to leave this here, just in case...
Beth Erin is a Christian fiction enthusiast, book reviewer, and blogger. She is passionate about promoting authors and their entertaining, encouraging, and redemptive stories. Beth strives to edify and connect with readers and authors at Faithfully Bookish and on social media. She also contributes to the Hoarding Books & Diversity Between the Pages blogs. Beth is a Christian Fiction Readers Retreat associate and reviewer for RT Book Review's inspy category.