If you want guarantees, you won’t find them in book reviews. Death and taxes, yes – but the book review process is a sea of unknowns, from how many review requests you’ll get to who’ll actually post a review to whether they’ll even like your book at all.
When you’ve got people reviewing books mostly as a labor of love, the reality is that review you expected this month may be delayed by a couple of months. Or, they may not love your book and be pretty blunt about it. Life happens. It’s fine to check back with a reviewer if you haven’t heard anything and had been given a review timeframe. It’s fine to correct a factual error in a review, but it’s not appropriate to start a fight with someone who has reviewed your book and just decided it didn’t work for them.
What else should you keep in mind during the review process?
Be a Pro: It probably seems unnecessary to state that being professional at all times is important, but there have been so many author-initiated blog brouhahas online that we can’t take anything for granted. Ask nicely when requesting a review; be gracious if the answer is no. It’s not personal. If you’ve done your homework you may know going in that a particular blogger – who you’ve identified as a key blogger for your book – is overwhelmed with a review backlog. Perhaps the blogger is up for a guest post, and if you see the blog often includes them, be prepared to pitch some ideas. Maybe it’s a good site for contents – again, be ready to suggest a contest and terms. Pay attention to what the blogger does on his or her blog – it’s most definitely not all reviews, all the time – and see if there is anything you can contribute to either complement a review or in place of a review.
Be appreciative. I notice that a good number of authors have never bothered to thank reviewers. Do it. The authors who do take the time to email the blogger to say thanks are usually rewarded by developing relationships with the bloggers they thank. If that blogger enjoyed the author’s book they usually ask if they can review the author’s next book, and so on. What was originally a one-time situation now becomes an ongoing relationship in which the reviewer follows the author’s career and the author has additional opportunities for book reviews, interviews and more – and not only with that blogger; chances are the blogger’s peers who like the same kind of books are going to take notice.
Never burn bridges. Even if a review you receive is unfair, or not the quality you expected, there is only so much you can do. If there is a factual error, by all means alert the blogger immediately with the correction. Otherwise, if you just don’t like the review, let it go. Just remember that whatever the review says, you never know how readers will react. I’ve seen many cases in which the lukewarm review caused others to say they wanted to read the book for themselves. You’re getting free publicity and you have to realize that everyone may take away a different perspective from one review. And you should still thank them, nicely, for taking the time to review your book.
Take the long view: Also understand that the Internet has brought together hundreds of book lovers (aka book bloggers) as never before, and not only do they share their love of books, they also discuss problems, issues and more. Angry authors have gotten plenty of bad coverage this way, with the result being that a multitude of reviewers have sworn they will never review any work by that author. Ever. There’s an adage about never getting into a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel – a reference to newspapers and magazines – but the reality now is you don’t want to get into a fight with someone who has a blog with hundreds (or more) of followers, plus Twitter and Facebook accounts and the ability to broadcast bad news far and wide. Don’t let that be you!