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2/2020 NOTICE - To fight back against spam comments, I am closing comments to all older posts. Current blog posts will still have comments open. I apologize for this inconvenience.

Wednesday, March 4

Dear Author with No Reviews / IWSG




We've decided to do something different and have TWO book options for you to choose from. You DO NOT have to read both books unless you truly want to.

The Lovely Bones
Chill Factor
Discussion Day is March 25.

We will have open discussions with a few optional questions for The Lovely Bones and Chill Factor on March 25. We will pay both books equal attention.


Join the book club: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/214387-the-insecure-writer-s-support-group-book-club 


The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a safe place for insecure writers of all kinds.


Dear Author with No Reviews,

Last year, I saw several authors (not from IWSG) complain about not being able to get reviews for their books, no matter what they did. They panicked because reviews = sales. The thing is, it is hard to get reviews, and it’s even harder now than it was, say, five years ago.

Reviews are very important to authors. It's true. That's why you may see posts from authors on social media encouraging readers to post reviews. (These types of posts are gentle reminders. They're not trying to be rude or selfish.)

With self-publishing growing every year, with small publishers signing dozens of authors a year, and with many authors publishing several books a year, no wonder it’s hard to get reviews, because all of these authors are looking for reviews, too.

Reviewers are back-logged. They either don’t respond to review requests anymore or have to pass. Even if they accept, there’s no guarantee that they will finish the book. Or like it. And the important thing to know is that they aren’t required to post a review, even if they accept a book to review.

Every author is facing these odds. (Unless, of course, you’re a big name or are published by one of the Big 5 with a team pushing your book.)

Simply put, this is just the way it is. And, again, everyone is struggling to get reviews (and sales). Honestly, it sucks, but that’s the publishing climate we are in, and we have to accept it and adapt.

Reviews may not pour in, but you should cherish every little one that you get simply because they don’t come easily or often. And, please, don’t hate on any reviews that you do get, like a four-star review that is nit-picky (I did see a post ranting about this), because a four-star review is awesome. Take it!

There’s a saying that reviews are for readers, not the author, so if a four-star review gets you down, don’t read your reviews anymore.

I don't actively go looking for newly posted reviews of my books, and I am much happier for it. Once you come to term with these things, you will be, too.


Updated to Add: Amazon does make it extremely tough for people to post reviews and for authors to keep the ones they have. Half the time, I can't post reviews there. Many commenters have mentioned Amazon turning down reviews, but there's a reason why I didn't talk about Amazon in this post, and that's because Amazon is not the only place where reviews can be posted. Reviews anywhere are helpful.



89 comments:

  1. Great advice about reviews! They are hard to garnish. And with Amazon and other sites constantly changing their review rules and such, it's getting even harder. But the positive side is that if you're able to get a few reviews from reputable sites - successful writing/book bloggers and contest/awards sites - the sting is slightly less.

    Psst...just noticed your note about comments and spammers. What is up with spam comments? I'm not blogging near as much as I used to. I wonder if that's why I've received so many, recently.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. That's another thing...Amazon does make it harder for people to review and for authors to gather reviews.

      I don't know. The spammers are out of control, but this method has helped a lot.

      Delete
  2. Even a few good reviews is better than nothing!

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  3. There is no pleasing everyone, so I write what I love and toss it into the world for that one person who will cherish it. Great post! :)

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  4. I always appreciate your POV. You have given such good advice over the years, thank you.
    I can NOT recommend any parent to read Lovely Bones. I have so many friends (yes they are parents!) that raved over it when it came out. I couldn't. I barely made it through. Yes, it's well written (at least till the end IMO), but to me it was so horrifying to think of a child of mine like this that I could not recommend it to anyone. I might be over sensitive, but really, I couldn't. Your novels, on the other hand, I can recommend highly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lisa!

      That's why we decided to offer two book selections this time...because during the poll several people said they wouldn't want to read The Lovely Bones if it won.

      Delete
  5. Great post. As a reader, I would save my 5 star rating for my absolute favorite books. Five stars would mean something special. Then I became a writer and realized what the ratings felt like from the other side and what giving a rating would mean to authors I connected with online. Giving a four star review was now fraught with all sorts of feelings. Should I be honest? Should I be more kind than honest? It's not an easy place to be.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Four star reviews are good, in my opinion, even if they nit-pick at something. I give four star reviews all the time and don't say a single bad thing about the book. For me, it just wasn't a 5. We all have our own opinion of what a 5 is.

      Delete
  6. both books look great. i love your thoughts on reviews. i used to be so backlogged and am still trying to get to waaaay overdue reviews i 'promised'. nowadays, i have backed off accepting review books so i can stay current. and i used to take so many review books i couldn't read anything else. i love helping out authors, but reading is personal to me and i would hate for it to become a burden.
    sherry @ fundinmental

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    1. I thought about you while writing that part. I'd hoped you'd appreciate that. You're one of the hardest working reviewers I know. :)

      Delete
  7. I write reviews and have a list posted on my blog for those I've read and reviewed this year. I asked folks for submissions via FB, and I have to say, I was a little disappointed in the quality of writing in so many of them. I won't review a book unless I can at least give it 3 stars but even that feels harsh. :)
    I though Lovely Bones was a great book, but so very, very sad! I highly recommend it! Great writing, horrifying story, but real life. Have your hanky ready.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When asking for submissions via social media, you have to be cautious and vet them. You never know what you may be getting, unfortunately. I've seen this happen a lot. That's why I don't go to social media asking for things. My blog is another story. Here is where I'd feel confident in asking for reccomendations/submissions.

      Delete
  8. I think I've got all of two reviews for the ten books I currently have out! It's hard for people to find a book or want to buy it if there are no reviews. I fully accept blame for not approaching anyone for reviews, out of fear of being rejected.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't let the fear of being rejected stop you. When a reviewer decides not to read/review your book, it's only based on their preference. And the same goes for negative reviews; it's their opinion.

      And that's the thing...if an author doesn't attempt to approach reviewers or get reviews (like by offering advance reader copies) then they do have to accept that reviews won't be pouring in. You have to do something to get a few.

      Delete
  9. One of the things I enjoy is seeing a new review pop up when the work has been out for a bit. The idea that readers can pick up and enjoy your novel, your stories, etc at any point in the present and future is amazing to me. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I've noticed new reviews pop up when one of my books hasn't been reviewed in many months, and it makes me smile.

      Delete
  10. Reviews I think are impoertant to the writer, Thanks for a good interesting post Chrys,

    Yvonne.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are. They are very important. But still hard to get. That's why authors are having to remind readers that we need reviews. Any reviews.

      Delete
  11. Reviews are so important - and you're right, every author I know wishes they could get them!!

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  12. I don't read my books' reviews anymore either. It stressed me out, even the good ones. I'm fine with leaving them to the readers.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm always delighted to get a review of one of my books. I don't look or check on them though. It's remarkable how few readers take the time to do it. It doesn't occur to them to share their thoughts on the book. Although, I notice now Amazon does email you after a few weeks to ask for your review on a book you purchased there. SIGH. I just let it go.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Many readers don't realize how important reviews are. And many yet don't even know how to post a review. Then were are countless who only review books for certain authors. It's unfortunate.

      Delete
  14. I'm one of those authors who believes reviews are for readers. I don't look at mine, and I am happier for it. For me, it's best to focus on things I can actually control...and getting readers to leave reviews is definitely not one of those things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true. We can't control reviews or force readers to post reviews.

      Delete
  15. I try and leave reviews for books when I can. Sometimes I get a bit behind though. I haven't published anything yet but I can understand how important reviews can be and also how hard it is to get a review you don't agree with.

    I had problems with spam too and had to close some comments.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I don't go after reviews, either. I have very thin skin so I'm better off not reading negative stuff (though most of my books are 4.5 or over). Still, I'm not convinced there's a relationship between reviews and sales. I'd like to dig into that more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Readers use reviews to help them decide whether or not to buy a book. Bad reviews can even get a reader to buy a book...to see if it's as bad as people say. That's how the two work together. :)

      Delete
  17. So true, getting reviews had become tougher. And yes, I am grateful for everyone I get.

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  18. Backlogged is an understatement. I know they love to read, or they wouldn't be in the review business. And the fact that they take the time to comment is awesome. A gift actually.

    Well said, Chrys. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is an understatement, but the only way I could think of describing it.

      Thanks, Anna!

      Delete
  19. As someone who has written hundreds of reviews for my blogs and dozens for print publications, I have gotten very selective on accepting new reviews. That said, a four star review for me is an excellent book. Five stars are reserved for either books that would be an all-time favorite or one that has the potential to change points of view on a particular topic (most of my reviews are of non-fiction works). Keep up your good work! I have so many books to read right now with some projects I'm working on that I won't have time to add any more books this month!

    www.thepulpitandthepen.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As an author, four stars for me is excellent. :) And reviewers need to be very selective now, what with all of the requests they get. It's their right.

      Delete
  20. Good, realistic look at one of the facts of author life. Thank you, Chrys.

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  21. Exactly. There are so many books and the reviewers are swamped. It used to be send out 10 requests, get 1-2 takers. Now you have to send to 20 to get those numbers.

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    Replies
    1. Yup. That's that 10% statistic that I find is true. Send out 10 requests, you could get 1 review. Send out 100, you could get 5-8, with 10 being the max but unlikely.

      Delete
  22. You have a good perspective on reviews, Chrys. I am trying to write more 4-5 sentence reviews of books I read to help. But it's hard to keep it up.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I've also noticed that several book bloggers aren't posting all that much anymore. It's sad. I think people are just inundated with life stuff and don't have the time. That's why we should post reviews as much as possible (and I am terrible at doing this).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is sad. Life is just getting more complicated and busy for all of us.

      Delete
  24. It was so difficult to ask my readers for reviews. But I did. Nicely, I think. It hasn't brought me any reviews though, and I suspect you're right, people just don't have time. Thankfully, they're reading.

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  25. Great advice! I think I would want to avoid reading my reviews. The bad ones would just weigh on me too much. Although the good ones may be hard to resist...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL! It was like that for me in the beginning, but when looking for the good ones, you see the bad ones.

      Delete
  26. Great insights, Chrys! In my discussions with friends who are readers but aren't writers, they often don't get the connection between reviews and authors. An amazing number of them simply don't want an online connection to their Amazon profile. God forbid you leave a good review for a book that turns out to break some unknown PC rule. Look at some of these meltdowns on GoodReads. As authors, all we can do is write our best stories and hope readers will take a chance from the millions of choices out there.

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  27. I'm very sparing with my 5 stars... To me 5 stars means this is a book I would keep on my shelf and reread or that it has had a very profound affect on me. I think 4 stars are great and I hand them out very liberally and would certainly appreciate having bunches more myself.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Four star reviews are great! I personally love mine. :)

      Delete
  28. It is tough. I used to do quite a few reviews but now there just doesn't seem enough time to review and write too. I sill do what I can, even though Amazon doesn't like me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean. I struggle to read and post reviews, too.

      Delete
  29. Amazon doesn't allow you to post reviews if you don't spend enough money on their site. And it has to be actual money spent. Gift cards don't count. It doesn't matter if you've posted numerous reviews in the past, if you aren't spending real money, you can't post reviews. The problem is, EVERY author asks for reviews on Amazon. Which means they don't know about this, think everyone spends hundreds of dollars on there, or just don't care.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yes, Amazon does make it tough. There are many rules. Reviews get taken down, etc. I can't post reviews half the time because of some vague "connection." But I wouldn't say that authors think everyone spends hundreds of dollars on Amazon, and I definitely wouldn't say they don't care. They ask because it's what they need to do. Just as people who sell other products ask for reviews. An author shouldn't only ask for reviews on Amazon, though. I never specify where I want reviews posted but let readers and reviewers decide where they want to review: Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Amazon (if they can), Audible (for audiobooks), etc.

      Delete
  30. Yes, as the above comment says, Amazon turns down my reviews, but not all the time. Puzzling. Trying to force us to buy more from them They also detect when we're friends with the author and take it down. So it's not a simple equation - ask for reviews and get them. Often Amazon won't allow them and you've wasted your time. That said, I don't bother about the number of reviews a book has. If the 'read inside' is good, I'll buy it.

    I've got a marketing expert on my blog. Maybe you'd be interested.

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    1. It's definitely not a simple equation of asking for reviews and you'll get them. That's precisely why it's so hard. There are many factors at play. That's what authors don't realize when they vent about struggling to get reviews, and that's why I created this post. :)

      Delete
  31. When my books first came out, I must confess that I checked on sales and new reviews just about every day. Now? I rarely ever look. That way, when I discover a rare new review, it's a big happy surprise. Like a gift from a reader to me. Because I know how much I appreciate those reviews, I write them for every book I read. I figure a book is a gift from a writer to us readers, and the review is our thank you note.

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    Replies
    1. I did, too! lol It was pretty unhealthy for me. It fed in to my depression. I had to learn the hard way not to look at sales and reviews. Now, I never look at sales. I only come across a new review on accident, and it's always a nice surprise. :)

      Delete
  32. When my first book was coming out, I worked my butt off getting that baby in front of people and asking for reviews. And it worked, to some extent, but it was relentless, exhausting and so not fun at all in any way. It's super frustrating, too, when you put hours of work into recruiting reviewers only to have Amazon use some mysterious algorithm to decide those are invalid in some way and take them down. Now, I just mention from time to time in social media or in my author newsletter that reviews are helpful. I save the energy for writing the books. @samanthabwriter from
    Balancing Act

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too! It was a lot of work, but was still easier back then. Now, I put in the same effort and get nothing. So, I've decided it's out of my hands, to accept what happens, value the reviews I get, and be grateful. :)

      Delete
  33. Your post is so true! Every word.

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  34. You are so right about reviews. They are hard to come by. And when you’re introverted and can’t ask, well, it’s hard. Great post, Chrys!

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    Replies
    1. I know what you mean. It's hard to ask for reviews as an introvert. It goes against our very nature.

      Delete
  35. Reviews are hard to come by. As a reviewer, I fight a huge backlog problem and cringe every time I turn somebody down. And Amazon...well, they don't make life easier, do they?

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    1. You're one of the reviewers I thought about when I wrote this post. <3

      Delete
  36. As always, an informative post. You're right, nowadays it's hard to get reviews, so if and when you do, whether it's good or bad, treat it like a blessing. Thanks for sharing.

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  37. I am terribly worried about getting reviews for my college memoir once I finish it and [hopefully] get it published. Thank you for a very informative post, Chrys. All Best to you!

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    1. Don't be worried. I have four reviews for one of my releases, but I think you have a great group of people behind you who would be there when you release your memoir. I'll be there. :)

      Delete
  38. Good advice! Especially about not looking for reviews. Even just making it something you do once a year or something will help—in a year, you ,ay actually get something, and it feels good!

    I’m having trouble with spam comments, too, and getting notices about them from posts I’ve followed. Ugh.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I had to set old posts up for moderation. It doesn't always work, so I may have to shut them off, like you.

    Reviews are hard to get and I am guilty of forgetting to post reviews. I actually have a list of books I have read and need to post reviews for them. I always appreciate a nudge, I get busy and forget everything.

    Congratulations on the new book! When the time comes and you need any help, be sure to let me know!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Amazon has banned me from posting. I now post on BookBub, Barnes and Noble, Library Thing, and Good Reads, and I'm way behind. And my poor books are crying for reviews. I hope to do better this year. Congratulations on your latest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amazon is silly, but I'm glad you post elsewhere.

      Thanks! :)

      Delete
  41. I remember having a difficult time posting reviews on Amazon. Thanks for opening my eyes to all of the alternative review sites.

    Julie

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    Replies
    1. Amazon does make it hard. It lets me post a review every once in a while.

      Delete
  42. Nice advice on book reviews. I wrote a whole book about the culture of book reviews, which of course, only has one review. LOL! I know reviews are for readers and I look forward to writing reviews for readers. Some people shy away from reviews if they can't give a book a high rating, but I once got a high rating from someone who clearly hadn't read my book, based on their review. I don't know if they hated my book or just didn't read it, but I saw no point in the fake review. I review all books now as a reader first, author second. I'm honest and always appreciative of the fact that someone put their creativity and effort out into the world to be judged by others. In the end, it's just my opinion, not a golden ticket or a death sentence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How ironic. lol

      When I've looked at reviews for other author's books, I've seen 5 star ratings with reviews that say they hated it, and 1 star ratings with reviews that say they loved it. lol

      Delete
  43. Two scenarios, three if my book scenario is counted. One man gave me his book, I read it and posted a review. He had given many copies away to people and had 50+ reviews. A client had a book with 30 reviews, and they were all one star on Amazon. 101 Introductory: Exotic Dancing. Why were there so many people giving one star? They were pressured by the strip club owners/managers. I posted a five star because it helped the author get out of the business and get a master's degree. She has a career she can do when nothing is perky now. The 3rd example? I gave many copies away and did not ask for reviews from friends and relatives and churches for an infertility book to help people who go through the grief of miscarriage and infertility surgeries. The book is selling for $500 a copy and more because the people I gave copies to turned around and sold them for more than the cover price without giving me a review.

    ReplyDelete

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