So you’ve got a book!
You can’t believe your eyes but there it is in your sweaty hands! And whether you’ve gone the indie route, a trade publisher, or somewhere in between, you’re already dreaming about book reviews. More to the point, you’re wondering how to get ‘em.
So I thought I’d share an insider look at the non-professional book reviewer: your friends, family, and more importantly, your writer friends. Maybe if you know why I do book reviews, you can use that info to get your book reviews!
Because You Asked
By far, I write book reviews because the author has asked me. But to be clear, I’m referring to a personal ask, though not necessarily from close, personal friends.
As a writer who’s involved in several writing organizations and networks, I know a lot of published writers. But surprisingly, very few of them will ask me to write a book review. The majority of newly published authors will blast their news out on social media and ask politely for those who read their book to leave a review. And that’s certainly a time-saving technique but it rarely pushes me from “Congrats!” to the actual writing of a book review. I truly am thrilled for writer friends who get published, but by the time I’ve scrolled through all the updates on social media, I’ve already moved on to whatever’s next on my To Do List.
BUT if a published friend sends me an email or connects with me at an event or heck, bumps into me at the grocery store and tells me all about the latest published book and offers to send me an ARC or a PDF and asks me personally would I please consider writing a review? Chances are excellent that I’ll write that review if the author friend follows through and sends the book in some form.
Because I’ve Bought Your Book
Again, I have lots of friends who get books published. I can’t afford to buy every friend’s book but those writer friends whom I’ve walked a long journey with, shared umpteen lunches, or even those I’ve never met in person but have a strong connection with, I’m going to buy their book. Perhaps especially if they’ve been pubbed by a smaller publisher or self-pubbed. And as I know how important book reviews are, I’m going to review the book.
On a side note, close friends will often want to give me their book. I can’t speak for all, but I’d rather they save their give-away books for other opportunities. And I don’t mind one bit if I get a nudge about a book review from these good friends. This goes back to the personal ask; follow through is imperative!
Because I’ve Won a Book
I’ll participate in a book giveaway if there’s a connection with the author and I want to read the book (and as a bonus, win a signed copy). But these are generally not personal friends; they’re often writers I met somewhere along the way, at a writer’s retreat or other event. In fact, I don’t participate in close friends’ book giveaways because I want that book to go out in the world. But if I do win a book and the author signs it and sends it, the least I can do is write a book review. Every time.
Because I’m Participating In a Book Tour
I participate in book tours because I want to read the book; I usually don’t know the author from Adam. And since authors on book tours are there to generate buzz about their books, they’re not trying to make friends. But you know what? I often find these authors to be super friendly, hard-working people, and though it’s not required to post a book review, I always do. Because I’d want someone to do the same for me if I did a book tour. Which brings me to my final confession…
I’ve recently written a couple book reviews for friends; one because she asked, and the other, because I bought the book. And both sent me lovely thank you notes when they saw the reviews posted. I appreciate a thank you note even though I don’t respond to them. But if I did, I’d write just three words back: Pay it forward.