Monday, 18 October 2010

After the Sale - Chapter Reviews

Probably one of the most emotional sides to the entire process - when it comes to reviews, rejection is no longer about an editor's personal taste, publishing schedules and/or a story that doesn't quite fit what they're looking for right now. Rejection here is direct from your readers, on a large scale and *bang* right there in the public eye for everyone to witness.

Still, a stinging review is a thousand times better than being ignored altogether. Betrayed got the full range, from avid excitement about this *new author* and lavish praise to *okay, loved some parts BUT...* to *yawn* and even a few *slaps across the knuckles*. The advice (and excellent it was indeed) from multi-pubbed authors is to by and large ignore the reviews and concentrate on writing. Hmm... as a debut author, this wasn't gonna happen despite my best intentions. A singing review blossomed rose petals in my breast and a scorcher blocked the sunlight from my day (LOL) But you know what I'm getting at, each review really affected me (and still does, as some are still coming in). It didn't matter than one reviewer swooned at my hero's brogue while another found it difficult to read - personal opinions, I know, you can't please everyone - but I still felt each and every one.

And still, to be totally honest, the worst review sting comes when you offer your book to a reviewer and they say 'No thanks, I'l pass on this one.'

Which brings to me the business of reviews. Being new to all this, I wasn't sure how much or little to do in this regard. Many review sites request a 3 month lead time in order to synchronise their review with your release date - this is difficult with an e-book because the publishing schedule is much faster than traditional and I, for one, only got my production copy of Betrayed about 6 weeks before it's release date. But, I was suprised to see that some of those reviewers got their review out on time anyway and another thing to keep in mind with e-books - the shelf life of your book is not as rigid as print copies and it doesn't really matter if that review comes out a few months after your release.

Carina Press uses NetGalley for reviews, this means that any reviewer can request your book directly from NetGalley if they're interested. This means a lot of unexpected reviews appearing and it also means a lot more coverage and a lot less work from me - I didn't have to go out and troll for each and every review.

But it also raises the question of whom to send your book to or not. Most of the smaller reviewers use NetGalley, but what if some don't? And it looks like some of the larger sites will also go to NetGalley now and then, but more often than not they're inundated with publishers sending them ARCs anyway. Also, there's the question of sending them an email to alert them to your new book coming as opposed to hoping they'll find you in the masses of other releases - a debut author can easily get lost here. I sent about two emails to these smaller sites, one reviewed Betrayed and the other hasn't--yet. Next time I do think I'll take a more aggressive approach.

I did send Betrayed out to about 7 of the larger review sites - some did my review in time for the release month and I'm still waiting on the others - they have a general policy that if they haven't reviewed your book in x months, then they're not going to - another waiting game, lol 

For the rest, I relied on NetGalley and got some lovely reviews from that.

But there was another dilemma and that was the more acerbic review sites. These site don't hold back on pulling you work to ribbons and then shredding up the pieces. These sites also garner the most interest and even a bad review will reward you with loads of publicity. To send or not to send? I chose not to. It was a coward's approach and I'd the same again if I could go back in time. Not for my first book, but I'd seriously reconsider for consequent books when I've built up a little courage.

And there concludes my not so helpful ramblings on reviews. I think this is a very open area where every author must stick to what they feel comfortable with.


  1. I found these rambings very useful Claire! Definitely some tips in there to remember for future use. My intentions (ha!ha!) for when I'm published is to ignore all reviews...whether I stick to that or not, we'll have to wait and see. This is because of the very rollercoaster you describe, up with a good review, down with a bad one, when - really - it's all about personal taste.

    One thing that bothers me is what you said about the acerbic review sites. That propensity for ripping a book to pieces reminds me that as humans we haven't progressed very far from the Romans cheering the gladiators on: they wanted the best and the bravest in the ring, and then took malacious delight in seeing those brave warriors ripped to pieces.

    An honest review that *constructively* criticises a book is far more helpful to both reader and writer than a review that's nothing more than an abuse of power (that is, the power the reviewer has over the author and her book)in that it deliberately seeks only to criticize for "entertainment" value.

    You can see why it's my intention not to read any reviews of my books when they come out!! :)


  2. Thanks for your post, Claire.

    Luckily my publisher already has a lengthy list of reviewers they automatically send new releases too, so I didn't bother with the hows of getting it out and about.

    Having said that, I've only had two reviews to date, so perhaps I should take a leaf out of your book and get more pro-active about it!

  3. You can still send your book out, Claire. I have heard that this is a great story and I can't wait to read it (roll on Christmas and my ereader!!). Bad reviews do sting and great reviews feel good :) It doesn't matter how many readers a review site has, ultimately the review boils down to the opinion of one person. What do you really have to lose with a bad review? (except pride, innocence, and the day's sparkle LOL?) Anonymity. I can only hope that if I get a real stinker I can at least know a few more people know about my books. Lord knows I love a lot of stuff that gets crap reviews and loath a lot of stuff that gets rave reviews. Everyone is different and it makes the world a better place.

  4. Judy, great analogy to the Romans, I do think it's one of human traits alongside where people stop to gawk at a traffic accident along the road - the sites that are particularly scathing seem to draw a hell load of readers, lol. I also told myself I wouldn't read the reviews or let them bother me... theory vs reality and all that, the best is to try and keep some perspective which I hope to get better at in the future.

    Romy, it's great that your publisher sends out to a long list of reviewers, I don't think it would particularly help if you also sent in separately - in the end, these review sites get so many books to review, it's a bit of pot luck. While NetGalley is a good alternative, it does require the reviewer to come looking for you which is not great for a debut author (although, as I said, I did get some great and unexpected reviews from this source)

    Toni, too true, a bad review is almost better than no review in my opinion. Busy gathering up my courage and hope I'll be less of a coward when my next book comes along :) and CONGRATS on the release of Storm Warning, I loved Sea of Suspicion and can't wait to read your latest - Scotland rocks!