Saturday, July 9, 2016

Book Reviews--The Scoop

Posted by: Marie Harte
Today I thought I'd talk about book reviews, a topic near and dear to my heart. Not only am I an author, but I'm now the owner of Romance Junkies, a romance book review site that's been around since 2003. We review tons of books each month and offer near-daily contests and prizes to our readers.

I've been writing professionally since 2004, and since that time, some things have drastically changed. Book reviews are still important, but I think now they're more important than ever. With so many books being published daily, just writing a good book won't get you tons of readers. It's all about discoverability. The more reviews you have on Amazon, for example, the higher your chances are of being found. Amazon uses algorithms to assess book ranking. The more reviews, along with sales of course, the higher your ranking.

I didn't used to put much stock into reviews. Hey, everyone has an opinion about a book. Some people love books I tried but could not get into. I've loved a book or two that other readers didn't care for. As an author, it's tough not to pay attention to bad reviews, which can ruin your day, or good ones that make you feel like you could totally school Hemingway.

But in the end, a book review is just one person's experience of something they read. Good, bad, or ugly, they tell other readers that something about this particular novel was worth a read. Now getting reviews? That's the hard part.

There are tons of book bloggers, review sites, and friends of friends who say they'll review your book but don't. From Romance Junkies's perspective, I can tell you how we review books.

  1. Author/Publisher/Publicist sends us a book review request. 
  2. Author/Publisher/Publicist sends us print books or Netgalley ARCs (or PDF copies).
  3. Myself and the RJ ebook coordinator culminate a bimonthly list and send those lists out to our reviewers. 
  4. The reviewers choose what books they want to read.
  5. Reviewers post reviews. We only post positive reviews, from 3-5 hearts. If we can't connect with the book, there is no review. (Note, we offer real, honest reviews. Sometimes books have problems that don't necessarily detract from the overall enjoyment, and we'll talk about them. But we do not trash authors or books, and we're not snarky.)

So there you have it. Our reviewers choose. I also know a lot of other review sites are like this. So if you're a new author or don't have a wide readership, how can you get someone to notice you? Get beta readers. Friends and family, at first, can help build buzz. Offer giveaways for copies of your boo, asking for reviews. In the back of your book, post a note asking the reader to review the book. Exchange reviews with other authors. I try to help out authors by encouraging our reviewers to try new reads. But I never know what will get picked up. With the volume we get from traditional publishers alone, in both ebook and print, it's tough to keep up. Heck, I don't always get my book reviewed!

It's what the reviewer--a reader--wants. But I'm a reader, and I write what I like to read. In the end, I'm happy to just be doing what I love...though a review never hurt. Am I right?

Cheers, and happy reading!

Marie Harte
New York Times bestseller
Owner/Operator of Romance Junkies

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