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Thursday, March 7, 2013

How to Get Your Book Reviewed

There's no big secret to getting reviews. It does, however, require a great deal of work and research.


Recently, I got an email from BTS eMag, telling me I received not one, but two reviews. One each for True Believers and Mistress of the Stone. Not only that, but they also featured an excerpt from Mistress of the Stone.

BTS eMag (The BTS stands for Book and Trailer Showcase) is a very slick and professional magazine that covers a wide gamut of romance titles and is run by the delightful Myra Nour

Is this not a terrific looking magazine!

I never approached Myra. I was invited to submit an excerpt and received the two (glowing) reviews all due to another reviewer who loved my work so much she recommended me for the magazine.

Getting featured on BTS and receiving two reviews was a glorious stroke of luck, but there are ways to improve your chances.

If you wrote a good book, do your homework and ask for reviews from reviewers who not only read your genre, but who are well-respected in their circles. How do you find this out?

This is where the hard work and effort comes in. You can't hide all year and then venture out only when you want something from someone. No business works that way.

The reviewer who recommended my books (now retired) was very active in the reading community. I knew this and kept my ear to the ground. When she blogged about a topic I was interested in, I commented. If she asked for book donations to give away as prizes, I gave more than what was expected. 

In other words, I interacted, participated, and showed interest in her work.

You can't do this with every person you meet, but if you pick a few respected book bloggers and develop a rapport, you'll find people who will gladly help spread the word about your work.

A few tips:

• Stay active in the reading community. You don't have to comment on every post, but be aware of what's being discussed so you'll remain informed.

• Don't complain. The internet remembers the whiners (in vivid detail).

• Don't ask for something without giving back to the community. Reviewers don't owe you anything. But they will remember the people who contributed to their bloghops and contests.

• Mingle widely. Many authors stay cocooned inside a tight little community because it's safe. It also insulates them from the real world. 

Is it time-consuming? You betcha. But if you believe all a writer should do is write, then you've been watching too many Hollywood movies. 

In the real world, the most important task is getting to know as many people as possible. The more people you know, the better your chances of getting your work recognized. 

A book becomes popular not because how good it is, but by how many people know it exists.  Click to reTweet this quote.

Reviews are one way of doing that.

Next week, I'm hosting an author who does that very thing extremely well. If you don't already know him, I'm going to introduce you to Giacomo Giammatteo.

You are going to love what he has to say. 


R. Mac Wheeler said...

Oh, you tell me what I know, yet this hermit curmudgeon struggles mightily with all this networking and socializing stuff.

Arg...I whine.

Wait. Didn't you warn about not whining?

See. I'm just not good at this.

(he crawls back into his den)

LD Masterson said...

What? You mean my publisher (if I had one) isn't going to do all that marketing stuff for me? I'm so disillusioned.

Mike Keyton said...

Sound advice, Maria. Much the same sentiment about giving and recieving is to be found in the New Testament, too. Ref widening circles, that should also include 'non writing' circles if you want 'readers'. I have no ulterior motive, nor book to promote, but who knows, one day my various Liverpool forums may come up trumps. And it's always nice news to see good reviews - Good on you.

PS Sheri and Clay are looking forward to your next guest : )

Giacomo Giammatteo said...

Maria: Great advice. It's always nicer to get into a conversation with someone as opposed to listening to them go on and on and....

Maria Zannini said...

Mac: We need to get you back to Florida.

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: I think by now most people realize the publisher isn't going to do anything for you unless you warranted six figures.

What I see instead are people whining because they just want to write.

Oh sure. And I want to be 27 again. But we don't all get what we want, now do we?

The business is what it is. It's always been this way.

The only time writers sit on their keesters and write all the live-long day is in the movies. The rest of us have real lives and obligations to keep people interested in our work.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: I feel like a broken record when I carry on about finding readers in NON-writer circles. Thank you for saying it in my stead.

And you're right. This is nothing we didn't all learn at our mother's knee. Just be decent to people. Give them more than they expect and expect nothing in return.

Things will work out in the end.

Maria Zannini said...

Jim: Conversation is key. I feel bad when I approach a new reviewer to ask for a review because I hadn't put in the time to get to know that person.

I try to make up for it by writing a personal letter so they know they're not just a name on my list.

A little respect and appreciation goes a long way.

Angela Brown said...

So so writer. Interaction is something I really need to get back into.

A rule I really respect for some groups on Goodreads is that you have to interact and not just post up promos. That way, you can at least sorta come off as a genuine participant lol!

James Garcia Jr. said...

"You're right, you're right. I know you're right." I stole that line from Carrie Fisher's character in When Harry Met Sally. :)
This is the part that is so frustrating for me. With an 11 hour day job that begins with a 3 am alarm, I just do not have the time to devote to writing, promoting and social networking. So, I do maybe one writing project a year and then spend the rest of the year working relationships on the networks. I wish I could do more, but then I ignore family as well.
In any event, I know you're right, and hope it won't be this way forever. *sigh*


Maria Zannini said...

Angela: I think that's a really good rule on Goodreads. So often people do drive-by pimping.

Some forums have put a stop to it too.

And really what good does it do the author? When I see stuff like that it just comes off as spam.

Maria Zannini said...

Jimmy: Every so often I read some big author giving the sage advice to write the next book and not worry about networking. But I think they're looking at it from the wrong side of the lens. They're already well-known. What did they do when they were nobodies?

I won't name names but I knew a big name author who just before she made it big, used to show up on a genre forum at specific times. I could time it down to the day how close she was to releasing a book because all of a sudden she was everybody's friend.

Relationships + good writing + consistency.

Angelina Rain said...

You always have such great info to share.

I tend to have little panic attacks every time I actually have to make myself and my work visible, but it so helps to do it.

Some of the worst books published are the biggest besellers because of the visibility and attention they get.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Firstly congrats on both reviews. :)

Marketing yourself as an author is one of the nessary evils of being an author. I would prefer to write, but I also love mingling and enjoy it. Recently after mingling I was approached by three people offering interviews, and reviews.

Good reads is a great place to do this. But there are many sites to socialise with readers and writers.

Anne Gallagher said...

I did what you suggested when I first started publishing my books. Got involved with reviewer sites, commented, did all the right stuff, then when I asked for them to review, they refused. One said they didn't have time, one said they wouldn't review self-pubbed books (which was never on their site), and the last one said they didn't review my genre, (historical romance -- which is what I write, but they said they didn't review "sweet" romance. HUH?)

So I just gave up soliciting reviews from book reviewers. I just don't care anymore. My time is too important to tap dance for a review. I can write the next book and that will be better for me than any review. I think.

Maria Zannini said...

Angelina: Re:
Some of the worst books published are the biggest besellers because of the visibility and attention they get.

Exactly.And there are good books too, but neither gets noticed until enough people know they exist.

Maria Zannini said...

Suzanne: That's great! I've had great luck falling into reviews and interviews from mingling alone. I never go in expecting anything so when it happens, it feels like a gift out of the blue.

Maria Zannini said...

Anne: I'm sorry you've had such rotten luck getting reviews. With so many people self-publishing, it is harder today than it was two years ago, but don't give up.

Check out Jim's post next week. He is much more active in this arena than I am and it proved successful for him.

Amy Jarecki said...

Great advice! I tend to hide in my writing cave too much. I think I need to set a "blogger" hour where I get out there and mingle. :-)

Maria Zannini said...

Amy: I actually do this. My usual time for visiting is early in the morning and especially on Sunday. There's less traffic and I can take my time to read and interact.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Wow, that is awesome for you!!!

And good advice.

Luckily, I only whine to my crit group. LOL

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: I'm a firm believer in having a dedicated person (or more) to whom I can whine to in private. LOL.

I don't know what I'd do without them. They keep me sane.

Gwen Gardner said...

Sounds like good advice. I'm struggling with networking right now. I'm blogging, but only bloghopping the return visits on Friday's. Otherwise, I won't have time to write. I could learn how to juggle better :)

Maria Zannini said...

Gwen: This is why I only blog twice a week. And sometimes I think I should reduce it to once a week.

Shirley Wells said...

Congratulations on the two reviews. Well done!

Such sound advice - thanks for the reminder. I'm terrible at getting 'out there' at the moment. I seem to be on a permanent deadline and stress too much to get out there and chat. I don't even find time to whine. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Shirley: I think it's easy to go overboard on the networking. A lot of the times I just listen. Then when I get a chance to meet someone influential at least I sound as if I know what I'm talking about. :)