For the Self-Published: The Do-and-Do-Not's on How to get Reviewed
-by Rodney Carlstrom
Okay, so you've written a novel. Now, let's assume that you're capable of holding it in your hands, or you've received the finished product; whether it's dead tree or space on your hard-drive. The next step is getting it into the hands of readers. Obviously, the strongest form of marketing is word of mouth. That's where people like myself (a reviewer), come into play.
For those who might not know, or are interested from a reviewer's perspective, here are some ways to avoid getting your work ignored, badly reviewed, or discarded.
Most people who run review sites have a set of rules they follow. Before you decide to up and send said site your book for reviewing, make sure that they take self-published works, and that your novel fits the bill for the specified genres that they are willing to review. If you're novel fits the bill for the site, the next step is to contact the person(s) who run it.
Every site should have some form of contact information available to visitors. If there isn't, then the next best way to contact the reviewer is by leaving a message, whether it be in the response section to a recent post, or, for the desperate, hunting them down on Facebook (which might seem stalkerish. Do this at your own risk).
Some would recommend that you use a form letter if you decide to contact more than a handful of reviewers. Others would suggest writing the initial letter so that each is authentic and personal. To me it doesn't matter, although I can tell instantly which one is used. This might matter to some reviewers, but I wouldn't worry too much about it. Just as long as you hit the main points: who you are, the title of your book, what it's about, if it's part of a series, and your interest in sending them a copy to review. Whichever method you decide to go with, make sure it's professional and courteous.
Once initial contact has been made, and a decision has been finalized in regards to the delivery of your novel, send your work forth to be devoured by hungry and objective eyes.
This next bit is crucial. For no reason should you do any of the following:
-Send a manuscript of your novel. Unless the reviewer specifies that it's alright to do so, don't. Not even if you've only released your novel in e-book form.
-Consistently e-mail or contact the reviewer to see if they've read your book yet, or to get their thoughts on it. Wait. Sooner or later you're going to find out, that's the whole point of a review. And by constantly contacting the reviewer you will not only make them annoyed, but it could very well land you with no review to speak of. Now, if it's been awhile, and you haven't heard anything about your book, then it's okay to send an inquiring e-mail. Otherwise, don't worry.
-And when the review does surface in regards to your work, even if it's a negative review, post it. Any publicity is good publicity.
-Don't argue with the reviewer, because ultimately what they've written in regards to your novel is their own opinion. They're just one person. If it upsets you, then too bad, grow thick skin and move on.
If you can manage to follow these steps, and avoid pissing the reviewer off, then you're set to get feedback and publicity for your newest piece of work.
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