Seeking Reviews

The success of the self-published author, as many have said, is all about reviews.  We live and die by them.  The Invisible Crown is the most-reviewed book I’ve ever put out, and even it only has *checks Amazon page like he doesn’t know off the top of his head* five reviews.  I need more.

So, here’s the deal: if you’ve read and enjoyed the book, awesome!  Tell folks about it by leaving a quick review on the Amazon page.  It doesn’t have to be a gushing five-star review.  You don’t have to write paragraph after paragraph detailing your favorite bits and how your greatest sadness in life is that you don’t get to spend every waking moment of it with me (that can just be subtext).  Just a line or two saying, “I really enjoyed it, you should totally check it out if you like mysteries with snarky protagonists who drink far too much” is plenty.

And hey, if you haven’t read it yet, and happen to review books for a website?  Hit the Contact page and drop me a line, I’ll hook you up with a review copy!  Just like that?  Just like that.

I want reviews, folks!  Help a guy out!

What Makes A Good Review?

Many of you (hopefully) have had a chance to purchase and read The Invisible Crown by now. You’ve probably heard me (and other authors) say that reviews are really important: they help drive sales, encourage readers to take a chance on an unknown author, and feedback helps us grow as writers.  But maybe you’re not sure what to write, or think writing a review is a painstaking, time-consuming process.

Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not the case!  You can write a review in just a minute or two, really, even if you type like my father (who has never evolved past the hunt-and-peck-with-his-index-fingers method of typing).  Below are all the important elements you’ll need to write a great review for any book!

  1. Keep it simple.  No reason to explain the whole plot or provide bios for all the characters.  The readers will get that stuff when they read the book.  On the other hand, you should…
  2. Be specific.  What did you really like?  What did you really dislike?  What is the one thing about the book that really jumped out at you?
  3. Be constructive.  It’s okay if you didn’t think it was the best book you’ve ever picked up.  Sometimes readers and books just don’t gel.  I had one of my self-published books disparaged because the reviewer found the book to just be, “too weird.”  Which is fine, if that’s how you feel, but it doesn’t really help, y’know?
  4. Be positive.  This isn’t saying you can’t voice legitimate criticism or talk about what you didn’t like.  You can totally do that.  But there are positive, constructive ways to do that.  One reviewer for TIC said they had a difficult time connecting with Hazzard because he was just too mean and drunk most of the time.  But he also couched it in a larger discussion of the things that the reviewer enjoyed in the book, and how he thought the book fit into a larger genre of fiction.  Plus, this is the first book in a series: gotta leave myself room for character growth (and improved sobriety).
  5. Be honest.  If you liked it, say so.  If you didn’t, still say so, but don’t be a jerk about it.

Ultimately, a short, honest review that is specific and constructive is much better than a long, rambling review that tries to do too much.  Happy reading and reviewing!

I Need Reviews!

So, as you may or may not be aware (and I’m not sure what the scenario is for that second option; maybe you were in a coma until this morning?  Or living under a literal rock without wifi?), my book is now available.  And, though I don’t know any actual numbers, a non-zero number of copies of the thing have been purchased!  This is wonderful!  It means my publisher is likely to continue giving me contracts for future books.

Of course, it’s a brand-spanking-new book, and as such it currently has zero reviews on Amazon and just one rating over at Goodreads.  This is a thing I’d like to see change!  Book reviews for small and indie authors are a necessary, vital part of the process.  No one (aside from my parents and grandparents, who love me but don’t write too many reviews) really knows about me or my book, and word of mouth is the best way to spread…well, the word.

That’s where all of you come in!  If you’ve read the book, give it a quick review!  It doesn’t have to be a massive, multi-paragraph ode to my authorial genius.  It can be as simple as, “I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it.”  It also doesn’t have to be a five-star rave.  If you only kinda liked the book, that’s okay!  Even a three-star, “Eh, it was a’ight,” review is still better than no reviews.  Honest reviews are always appreciated.  Feedback and criticism are okay.  I welcome it, in fact.  Pointing out shortcomings in my writing can help me become a better writer, if it’s done properly (if it’s done improperly, or you’re just crapping on me to be a jerk, I will probably completely disregard what you said and make disparaging comments about you, the unnamed, unknown reviewer, to my wife, who tolerates my fragile ego shenanigans with grace and the occasional eye roll).

But please, share the book, tell people about it, and write reviews!  Reviews help out tremendously, encouraging readers to take a risk with an unknown author.  They also help improve the algorithms used to show folks other books they might like when they’re perusing Amazon or Goodreads, and increased eyeballs will only bring more readers in.

Hopefully, we’ll have the physical version available soon, as well as the iBooks and Nook versions.  Keep reading, and thanks!