In Search Of The Elusive Review…

Reviews are like gold to authors, and they’re as equally hard to come by. Despite sending off numerous requests when my previous books came out, I only received seven reviews with my first book and four on each of the other two. Which is downright discouraging.

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With Visual Effects releasing in April, I decided to focus some promotional efforts on obtaining more reviews. First, I thought I’d pay for a review blog tour. I researched several companies who do this sort of thing (not cheap!), and I asked for as many opinions as I could get from my fellow authors. The opinions were all over the place, which left me questioning my chances of success, and so I nixed the review tour idea.

Then, I came upon several lists of blog reviewers, and I thought, hey, I have more time than money, so I’ll contact as many of them as I can to see if any are interested in reviewing Visual Effects. And I unknowingly embarked on a massive undertaking. In four-five days, I visited over five hundred websites. It got a little tricky juggling multiple lists, and I did inadvertently go to a few websites more than once.

Each visit took anywhere from a few seconds to upwards of ten minutes. The first thing I looked for was whether the blog was still active. When I was lucky (if you can call striking out lucky), the date was the first thing I saw and I could quickly exit outdated sites. What amazed me was how many websites don’t clearly show the date at the top of the post. This meant I had to look at comments or scroll down the side panels, searching everywhere and anywhere for a date. Sometimes, I simply gave up.

If the blog was active, the next thing I had to determine was what type of books they reviewed. Again, if I was lucky, there was a review policy tab on the top bar and I could easily click on it to access the information. Otherwise, I’d be back to scrolling the side panels, hoping to come across the info there. What I found far too often, along with the policy, was a disclaimer saying they were no longer accepting requests for reviews. Fair enough, I understand some reviewers are inundated with requests. So, off to the next blog.

If the blog was accepting reviews, and if they reviewed romance (I rejected any that didn’t say the actual word ‘romance’ in their preferences. No point wasting my time and theirs with a query otherwise), I had to check for a name and email address to send my request to. Again, I was absolutely amazed at how hard it was to uncover this information on some blogs. If it became too difficult, I had to give up and lose a potential reviewer.

Depending on my mood and how much free time I had at the moment, I might also read some reviews to see if I thought my book would be a good fit with this reviewer. My last step was to send off a request and lodge the information on an Excel spreadsheet to track who I’ve sent to and who’s responded.

I ended up sending requests to about ten percent of the blogs I visited. Of those approximately fifty requests, to date I have had eight replies, asking to read my book. Six sites requested that I submit the book with my query, so I may or may not get a review from those ones, as well. There’s another half-dozen sites I’ll send requests to once I have pre-sale links, so there’s a few more possibilities to come. And a few loyal readers have also generously offered to do a review! (One already has and you can read it here!)

Of the however-many reviews I’ll actually end up with, there’s no guarantee all of them will be good ones. Some readers may seriously dislike my story. I hope not, but it’s a possibility I have to acknowledge.

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Bottom line, I spent many, many hours in search of the elusive review, and I might possibly end up with only a handful more than I did with my first three books. So, was it worth it? I really have to wait for the reviews to come in before I know for sure, but worth it or not, it had to be done. Just one part of the many time-intensive tasks every author faces to promote his or her work. And, as a reward for my hard work, I now have a single, concise list of romance review sites that I can use for all my upcoming books.

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Fingers crossed that Visual Effects gets even more reviews than I’m expecting. Fingers crossed even tighter that they’re good reviews. The more reviews, the more visible a book is in searches. With sales also hard to come by, any little edge helps. So, may I ask a favour? If you read a book–anyone’s book, not just mine–and you enjoy it, consider leaving a review to show your support for this author. But please, please, don’t write an excellent review, if it’s not warranted, simply because you know the author. There’s far too much of that already going on. If you honestly liked the story, reward it with a good review. If you aren’t comfortable writing something, both Amazon and Goodreads give the option of leaving a star rating. A (hopefully good) rating is far better than nothing at all.

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Visual Effects is now available for presale. I’ve posted the link on my bookshelf, but to make it easy for you, here it is again. The Wild Rose Press

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**None of the memes in this post are my artist material and I take no credit for their creation

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