Monday, March 11, 2019

What Do I Love About Asking for Reviews?

Everything.  The advance copies are ready. That means it’s time to fire up the sarcasm so I can write about my favorite part of being an author, seeking reviews. There are several reasons I love this. The first is figuring out where to send these not-quite-finished books. Review copies are free so it might seem that finding people to accept them would be easy. But reading a book and writing a review does take time. That can be a big ask. (If anyone happens to be thinking, “No, it’s not. I would love a free review copy,” please contact me.)

Any blog or review site that pops up in a simple search will be too inundated with requests to even notice mine. I don’t blame them; I’m only explaining why this process is so time consuming. I usually end up reading reviews on these sites and marking books I might like to read. Then I try to follow links to similar, less trafficked sites. These can be great, too. I get side-tracked reading various posts before I even get to the page that says the reviewer is no longer accepting requests, or retired from blogging two years ago or simply removed the contact info. Then I wonder where my day has gone. Who knew the internet could be so distracting?

This isn’t my first book. It’s not even my tenth. Because I’ve done this before, I can add the list of contacts I used for the last book.

But I have to cross off everyone who didn’t reply or said no to my review request.

Then cross off the people who accepted a copy of the book but never wrote a review.

I briefly reconsider because a new request might remind those people to feel guilty.

Make sure everyone knows I was kidding about that last step.

Cross off the people who no longer have an active blog or review site.

Now I can include the one contact left on the old list. Yea!

Eventually though, it’s time to compose a nice polite review request. This is probably the most fun of all.

First, I consider several greetings before settling on the traditional Dear ____.

Then I mention where I found the email while hoping that proves I read the site’s policies, confirmed my book fits in the categories accepted, and that I am not a robot. (Full disclosure: I still don’t know if I’m supposed to include the poles for traffic lights so I might be a robot.)

Write out the description of the book I’m offering.

Delete that. Insert a link to the goodreads page instead because it has more details.

Delete the link because it might make the message look like spam.

Write the description again and include a cover picture.

Delete that. What if the recipient is using a different email program that screws up the formatting and puts the cover in the middle of the text?

Decide that a link will be okay after all. It will keep the message shorter.

Spend several minutes lamenting that it looks like a form letter no matter how I word it. There’s just no way to keep it short and to the point without saying essentially the same thing each time.

Go back to including the full description.

Wonder how I thought anything that involves cutting and pasting looks less form lettery.

An hour later, send the message that is three simple sentences and a link.

Now here’s the real honesty. These words are difficult to write because of what I’m not writing. My past books have garnered more positive reviews than negative, and that gives me hope. But there have been reviews that included phrases like “cure for insomnia” and “most confusing book ever.” No matter how I word the request, each one I send includes implicit permission to publicly criticize or even abuse something I’ve spent the last few months pouring my heart into. I have to keep my sense of humor or I won’t be nearly brave enough to try again.

[My 13-year-old daughter read a draft of this post and said, “I want a review copy.” I wasn’t sure what to do with a possibly biased review so I’m including it here. “4 1/2 stars Everything Old was very fun to read. At a couple of points, I wanted to yell at the characters, though the “good guys” were overall likeable. If wanting to yell at the characters really bothers you, this book might not be for you. But if you are looking for a good romance with subtle humor, I’d recommend it.”]