Susan’s Promo Tales: Review Musings


A couple of months ago, at the behest of one of my friends, I went on a review blitz. The reviews are slowly starting to roll in, and I’ve got to say a few things about them.

First, I’m still amazed at how many copies of my books I keep giving away to potential reviewers. With the ability Smashwords gives me to hand out coupon codes for free downloads, as long as I can find reviewers who are willing to read digitally, it costs me nothing. Part of the idea is to generate a review, of course. The other part is to hook folk on Trevor and stimulate them to buy the other two books I’ve got out so far — and to encourage others to buy, also.

It’s a great theory. Problem is, I think I’ve gotten one review for every ten coupons I’ve handed out. Maybe that’s an exaggeration; to be honest, I don’t keep track of the coupons I hand out. I CAN tell you that in February (2011), sixteen books were downloaded from Smashwords. All but two were freebies. Some were offered as part of Operation e-Book Drop, some were contest prizes, and some were copies given to reviewers.

Now, a lot of the reviewers I’ve contacted make no bones about the fact that if they can’t write a positive (or even lukewarm) review, they won’t. They’ll read the book, and then move on to the next. Maybe they won’t even finish the book. I don’t know. I also have no problems with that policy; no one likes being known as the person who smeared a book that was everyone else’s favorite.

Ready? Here comes the but involved in this statement.

No, I’m not asking for negative reviews, folks! Not even close. Or even a “Thanks but this isn’t for me” note. I can live with silence.

What I want to say is that for me, reviews hold more than an evaluation of whether or not my book is good. I know it is (despite all that radio silence from all those review copies I’ve never heard about again).

The best reviews, to me, might be lukewarm. They might be full of criticism about what’s wrong, not working, or a total turn-off. Doesn’t sound like that would be classified as a BEST review, but for me, it is. Maybe it’s the years I spent in creative writing workshops in college and graduate school, but for me, this sort of constructive criticism is a charge. It revs up my creative juices — and certainly twists the knife in that sort spot called my competitive side.

The best reviews help me see where I’ve gone wrong. What I can do better. What I’m doing right and need to trust.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should smear my books in an attempt to get out of me the potential that you see. Nor does it mean you should cross that delicate line between being professional in your review and making personal attacks on me.

What it means is that for me, every time I send off a copy for a review, I’m hoping to gain some insight that’ll sell books — but mostly that’ll help me write better books.

Even if you’re sitting here thinking you’re not a professional reviewer and you have no business writing book reviews, I’m encouraging you to give it a stab. Go on. Write down your thoughts about my books. Post them at Amazon, GoodReads, Smashwords, or on your blog. If I can, I’ll link back to it — which means I’ll read it.

And I’ll think about what you say. The hows and whys of your perspective. I’ll carry that into my current projects (yep, more than one. And you ask why I’m spread too thin?) and hopefully it’ll seep into my subconscious the way all those lessons in college and grad school did.

Go on. Charge my creative engines. I dare you.


1 Comment

  1. Alice Audrey

    March 3, 2011 7:15 pm

    You already know I love Trevor’s Song. I’ve come as close to reviewing it as I’m willing to get.

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