When it comes to getting your book reviewed, there are a LOT of places to choose. Some are legit and esteemed, while others are scams and window dressing for digital thieves. Face it. Anyone can start a website or blog and do book “reviews.”
But despite all of this choice, why is it so hard to get a review--and find out about it???
As authors, we often hear complaints about publishers/editors/agents taking their sweet time in responding to a query or submission, but what about reviewers and/or review sites?
I've read submission guidelines for review sites that can be just as off-putting as trying to submit your unsolicited manuscript to a major publishing house. Words and phrases like "we cannot/will not contact you" or "do not contact us", etc.
I'm not making excuses or even addressing the pushy people who bombard places demanding updates, etc. but those of us who wish to act with professional courtesy.
Volume of submissions plays a large part in this. But, just like with manuscript submissions, authors and agents and publishers who send their books out to review would appreciate
1) Hearing about the status of their submission ("Yes, we got it"; "No we didn't, please resend"). Glitches happen. But it would be nice to know that you can follow up on the receipt of a submission without being told to F-Off whilst earning a permanent black mark against your name/publishing house for daring to initiate contact.
2) A good estimate on how long it will take for the review to happen. If there’s an X-month back log, fine. Could you tell us?...Please? Popular, high-ranking sites/blogs or even individual reviewers get backlogged or have to deal with personal/corporate issues, have vacations. Life happens.
3) NOTIFICATION THAT THE BOOK WAS REVIEWED. In this day and age, authors want to know that their work has been reviewed—especially if it was a good review—so they can TELL THE WOLRD. If a reviewer or review site can’t bother to inform that a review is up, they are missing out on a lot of free word-of-mouth publicity that could bring new people to their site/blog/whatever.
All of this could be (should be) in the submission guidelines.
I'm of the opinion that a good reviewer/review site will at least NOTIFY a person that their book has been reviewed and when/where it will show up. It's not like we're asking for (or demanding) a glowing review, but we would at least appreciate NOTICE.
I do reviews for New York Journal of Books and they have made a name for themselves in their mission to publish reviews just after midnight on the day of release. Doesn't get much clearer than that for a time of arrival.
Any reviewers out there? What are your thoughts about all this?
What about those of you who have sent your book off to be reviewed? What ticks you off about the process?
Who/what/where do you recommend as a good place to seek a well-written, unbiased review?
IMO, I think the best thing that indie reviewers can do--apart from writing excellent reviews--is gain a following and charge for ad space on their site/blog/magazine/whatever as they grow in popularity.
Think of some of the more popular review sites/blogs out there and you'll see that many of them sell ad space--and that space ain't cheap. The reason it ain't cheap is because they have built a not only a loyal following but a huge following, and have established a reputation. It may have taken years, but they've done it.
For example, we just recently paid for an ad campaign for one of our books on the RAWSistaz Literary Group site. They don't accept payment for reviews, but sell ad space. They get tons of submissions for reviews and it can take a while for your review to appear, but we decided to invest in an ad because it will reach part of the target audience for this particular book faster than waiting on their review--which we may do at a later date. But not only that, their site is awesome. It is a resource and not just a "review" site.
Reviewing books has a cost. There's the cost of the book (if it's not sent by the author/publisher), but there's cost in the amount of time it takes to read the book and write the review. I don't think people remember this.
Time IS money.
I don't begrudge a reviewer who wants to get paid for their time in some way. At least paying for ad space can remove the ethical question somewhat, but I'm sure if people want to get picky and say "why let someone pay for an ad on your site, especially if the book wouldn't meet your standards?" To that I say see my answer above about time and money.
If a reviewer wants to charge for their review--they can--and they will find people willing to pay. They just won't review any of our books :)
To each, his/her own.
We've never paid for a book review because in our opinion that's not a review but a paid endorsement. Nothing wrong with that, if that's what you want to do but call it what it is.
I know there are some people and places that accept payment or donations. Even the esteemed Kirkus Reviews has/had a pay-for-review option with their Kirkus Discoveries but many (not all, but many) authors and publishers look down on Kirkus Discoveries review as being paid advertorials (and poorly written) and not as prestegious as a Kirkus Review and a way for Kirkus to cash in on those books their "normal" review doesn't review--like PODs and self pubs.
Some of the bigger, high traffic sites make money by selling ad space on their sites. You don't have to have them review your book, but if you want to pay to place an ad where it's bound to get a lot of visibility--go for it. It's a win-win.
But, if you find a place that accepts payment for a book review and you're comfortable with it, then it's your right to do so. It's your money and your choice. :)
Great post, btw.
I think what scares me most about reviewers and bloggers not getting back to me is this simple fact: If they liked it, they would've contacted me and I would've most certainly heard about the review.
But it won't stop me from trying to find my audience. And that's the key. Send it out to people you feel would really get your style and your story. Don't shoot for "big", shoot for "right".
What ticks me off about the process? Learning about a growing segment of readers and their utter dependency upon reviews to make up their mind about purchasing a book! I can understand doing research about major purchases, but not total reliance upon the opinions of others about books to read.
This is what puts pressure on authors and drives them and publishers to buy reviews. I did extensive research on the topic and a blog post in August titled "Honest Reviews?" http://allonbooks-thekingdomofallon.blogspot.com/2011/08/honest-rev...
The demand has gotten out of hand and in ways I refuse to participate, even if it means I don't have the hundreds of reviews every so-called media specialist says I should have.
Wow! I MUST follow SheWrites more closely - finding the time is the problem. What an excellent discussion thread! Hi Sue Ann, you and I know each other from iUniverse. I agree that ForeWord Clarion is an excellent review site. They seem to give very honest reviews and if it happens to be one that doesn't suit the author they offer an opt out clause. What astounds me about some of the reviews I have read from other "indie" reviewers is the terrible grammar! I always wonder why an author would even consider such a reviewer.
Zetta, I wasn't aware of the option of buying ad space and the positive results that might be achieved through that. Does SheWrites have a list of those websites anywhere or suggestions as to a few reputable names? ( I made a note of RAWsistaz, thanks!)
Thanks to all for the excellent information and opinions shared here. Shawn, I'm going to read your post about reviews now.