Rosie Amber’s recent post [Ten reasons your book is not getting reviewed (by #bookbloggers)], which I am reblogging today, has resonated with many reviewers and authors alike. As a very-early-stage-fiction-writer, I am guilty as charged of putting out a piece of work with errors and issues. And I regret that. Bitterly. I’m in good company, as Nick Miller recently admitted his first novel, Z Is For Zombie, that he had spelt the word “rhythm” incorrectly 38 different times before someone pointed out his unfortunate error. Luckily, on the feedback of reviewers, for which I’m immensely grateful, I have formatted and fixed numerous mistakes in my published (gulp) work. I was lucky; such feedback is totally outside the remit of a reviewer and is completely unacceptable from a submitting ‘author’.
However… I would ask reviewers, the majority of whom have written and released books, to cast their minds back to the beginning of their own self-publishing journey. You are a wife, a father or maybe a well-known member of a small community. You’re writing a little something outside your stereotype. And, perhaps, you’d prefer to write incognito, either because of your subject matter or simply through lack of confidence. So, who do you tell? No one.
In this case, getting reviews is tough. No friends and family to bounce off. No feedback before you begin your journey (yes, I tried writers’ forums, where everyone will assure you that you’re brilliant, assuming you reciprocate with a similar sentiment…).
So, aside from #RBRT, I have reached out slowly, one-by-one to:
1) individual reviewers from similar genres on Amazon [those few who reveal contact details] and;
2) reviewers of my genre in print form – I have been in touch with some wonderful people who define themselves as ‘dinosaurs’ and only read something if it is ‘printed on a dead tree’. Yet, they provided valuable feedback on my novella and some even reviewed it on Amazon – a first for them, and consequently, I hope they will start reviewing other works on the platform.
It is far too easy for all of us (myself included) to regard reviews as solicited without understanding the time and pain gone through to obtaining them. I approached people by emphasising I would appreciate their honest and impartial feedback, nothing more. If my writing is a complete waste of time, it is far better I know immediately than trying to push on in a genre/style that simply doesn’t work for me. I have lots of other things to be getting on with if that’s the case!
So, to reviewers everywhere, I offer a heartfelt thank you for your time, effort and knowledge. It takes real guts to review honestly and also to say, “no thanks, this book isn’t for me”. Without you, where would the Indie writing business be? But, please try to give the benefit of the doubt, even just occasionally; a misplaced comma, a typo, a review you’re suspicious of. Are they really the be-all-and-end-all? Or can you find a great story to lose yourself in?
It is, after all, what reading is all about.