Authors, if you’re lucky enough to get reviews on Amazon, or anywhere else, congratulations! Those not yet there, consider what your game plan is when it starts happening.
Why are reviews important? Well, there is strong evidence that a book with lots of reviews – positive or negative – gets more sales. It’s also part of the overall word of mouth evironment that is so crucial to an author’s career. And on a personal level, it’s nice to know you’re not just shouting into the void – at one time or another, we all feel like we’re doing that.
It’s a good strategy to approach reviews, and criticism in general, with common sense, patience, humility and good will, no matter what is actually being said about you or your book.
Here are five things you SHOULD do in the context of reviews. Next week, I’ll talk about things NOT to do.
REVIEW OTHERS – You wouldn’t think this would be number one. But reviewing the work of other authors helps them, and it helps you. You don’t have to give only good opinions – like any critique, it’s best to find both positive and negative criticisms. Be honest, but tactful.
ASK FOR REVIEWS – It’s okay to occasionally put it out there that honest reviews on your book would be very helpful. You can occasionally mention it in your own space on your website, blog, Twitter feed, or whatever, without being a whiny jerk about it.
READ REVIEWS – Not just yours. This won’t be for everyone – some people are best advised to completely ignore their reviews and comments. But if you can read them and take them as honest criticism (when they are) then it’s a good idea to get a sense of what worked for people and what didn’t.
PRACTICE REVIEWS – If you don’t feel that you’re ready to put your opinions out there, or that you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, it’s still a good idea to write some private ones. It’s a form of practicing critique, of developing your tastes, and of seeing what it’s like from the point of view of the reviewers who might be saying bad things about your work.
LET REVIEWS GO – One of the simplest pieces of advice I can give you is to move past negative reviews, or even positive ones with negative remarks buried inside. Just move on, be aware that reviewers may not be your ideal reader or friend or fan, and get on with your own life.