When an Author Slandered a Book Reviewer for a Low Rating
6 things to know about working with book reviewers (from a former blogger)
Recently I came across this incident in the Indian book blogging community where an author lost all his composure when a book reviewer gave three out of five stars to his book.
It went ugly really soon as he started spewing abuses and degrading the reviewer. His reasoning: he paid her to review the book, so therefore, the rating should be nothing less than five.
He went as far as to tell her that his book was tweeted out by a popular “celebrity” and hence the blogger was not capable enough to actually understand his romance novel and evaluate the work.
As she posted the screenshots of the conversation on her Instagram Stories, other book reviewers came in her support. They started spamming the author and started demanding that he apologize to her.
The abuser went one step further and posted another female blogger’s picture on his story with a caption that he would find her address and pay her parents a visit and let them about the “bad character” of their daughter.
Long story short, the post was mass reported and got removed by Instagram. Moreover, his book, which had a rating of four on Goodreads before the incident, has a mere 1.92 now. The review section is full of reviewers cautioning others from taking his book for a review and supporting his work.
How to Work With Book Reviewers
Working with book bloggers is one of the easiest things to do.
You search for bloggers on the internet. You read their review policy. If it matches your book, you send them an email asking for a review. They respond. You send them the book and get a review soon afterward.
They get the book (and money in some cases) and you get a review and publicity in return.
However, I have seen a lot of authors on the internet who have zero ideas about unsaid ethics when it comes to working with the blogging community.
I have talked about one particular incident, but in the past years, I have seen numerous cases where authors have lost their cool and made several unreasonable demands on the blogger. I remember one author teaching the reviewer about how to evaluate a book.
In order to achieve the greatest benefit from the blogging community in selling your book, here are the six things that you absolutely need to know before working with a blogger.
1. Read the Review Policy, Please
I cannot say this enough — read their review policy.
Just because 10 blogs are labeled as book blogs doesn't mean that they would the exact same guidelines. Some blogs would only accept physical copies. For some, they have packages available. I have even seen blogs stating that they will do cross-promotion on their Instagram page and need some additional fee for that.
The review policy tends to have information regarding the genres, the medium (physical or eBook), payment, the sites the review would be published on, etc.
Nothing is more annoying than authors approaching bloggers without reading the policy and making demands. I once had a new writer asked me to review their book that was targeting children without reading my policy. Another got angry because I was taking too long to give them the review.
Therefore, read the review policy. This will save you and the blogger a lot of time and unnecessary headaches.
2. Let’s Talk About the Elephant in the Room — Paid Review
I have seen a lot of people opposing the fact that reviewers charge fees to review books. They have a preconceived notion that paid reviews would automatically be fake. I have even read comments alleging that reviewers get free books to read and thus should not charge money.
What you need to understand is that when someone is giving you services (even if it's on the internet), you need to pay for that. Reading and then writing a review can take several days depending on the length of the book.
In addition to this, a professional book review tends to around 800–1,500 words. The blogger is not just typing out words — they’re actually thinking, analyzing, and quoting the book to formulate a good quality review. All of this requires effort and time on their part.
Also, the reviewers use their website and social media handles to promote your work. They are exposing your work to their audience and giving you the needed exposure. They are making people buy your books.
Even though I never charged for my reviews because I was naive and under-confident of my skills, I know individuals who do that and write honest reviews. They make it clear from the onset (in their review policy) that they will be rating the book as they deem fit even if they are charging for their services.
3. Format Your Email Like a Pro
Sending an email that is half baked never leaves a good impression.
Looking back, I rarely received a properly formatted email. Most of the emails would start with a greeting, followed by the book name and that's it. This would lead to an exchange of several emails where I would enquire about the book and the author would then send me the needed information.
Since I was a newbie, I did not care much. However, if you want to approach a big-time blogger who receives hundred of such emails every day, it's always beneficial to stand apart by sending a mail that already has all the needed information, thus saving time.
A site named Emptymirrorbooks has given a near-perfect template that you can follow in your inquiries. This has all the needed information as well as has a polite tone.
My name is Tom Smith, and my novel, Skiing in Interzone has just been published by Raku Snowboot Press. Given your site’s focus upon the Beat Generation, and your recent review of a William Burroughs biography, I thought it might be of interest to you.
Skiing in Interzone tells the imagined tale of D. Hill Raycer, who while recovering from a broken leg, meets author William S. Burroughs in a cozy Idaho ski lodge bar one cold December night. The story of their friendship, and their adventures on the mountain and beyond will appeal to readers of literary fiction and of the Beat Generation writers – and to anyone who loves outdoor sports.
Raku Snowboot Press (www.rakusnowboot.com)
ISBN: 098-12345678 (paperback)
ISBN: 098-12345879 (for Kindle)
Publication date: April 1, 2014
My work has been published in Frosted Marmot Literary Magazine, Culpable Review, and Beatnik Cantaloupe; I also write a music column for my local newspaper, The Smithsville Times. I’m a lifelong skier, and have had a longtime fascination with William S. Burroughs and his novels.
My website is www.skiingininterzone.com. You can also find me on Twitter at https://mobile.twitter.com/skiingininterzone.
The book is currently for sale at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
If you’d like to receive a copy for possible review, I’d be glad to send you an e-book (your choice of .pdf, .epub, or .mobi), or a paperback.
Thank you for your time! I look forward to hearing from you.
4. You Are Not Guaranteed a Five-Star Review
I am surprised when I see authors assuming that their book is guaranteed a five-star review, just because it is accepted by the blogger. Once I gave a rating of four stars for a book that I attended the book launch for, on Instagram. The author DMed me and showed disapproval. The same day she unfollowed my account as well.
I will admit that I have seen bloggers being a little less harsh on the books that they have received payment for or a free copy. However, most tend to be stick to their morals and give ratings accordingly.
Even if the review text does not focus on the negative aspects of the paid book review, the rating tends to remain genuine.
You really need to understand that if your book is good enough, it will get its deserving five stars rating.
5. Follow Their Social Media Accounts
If you want to have a big blogger review your book, appreciate them by following their social media pages.
This has several benefits.
It helps you connect to the reviewer on a more personal level.
You can know more about their interests in books.
If they post your book in their status, they will be able to tag you easily and give you traffic.
You need to understand that reviewers can really make or break your book sales. Thus, personal connections always go a long way.
6. When in Doubt, Opt for Blog Tours
Blog tours are a fantastic way to get your book the needed exposure without dealing with the reviewers directly.
In the blog tours, your book is promoted on several blogs for a set period of time. For example, blog A will promote your book one day, and then blog B will promote it on the second day. Thus goes on a period of time. This way, your book is seen by the audience of all the blogging partners.
If the reader repeatedly sees a book, they are more likely to get interested and check it out.
Here, the blog tours could either involve a review attached to the post (every blogger gives one review each) or just simply be a promotional post with the information and/or excerpt from the book. Personally, I have done blog tours from simple promotions to cover reveals to full reviews.
The biggest benefit of opting for blog tours is that you can hire agencies that will do all the work for you. The book designer has complied with a list of seven top eBook tour agencies.
I consider book reviews as the wheels of the bookish community. The book can be fantastic, but unless it gets exposure and publicity, getting it to sell could be a difficult task.
As an author, bloggers should be your best friends. Fighting over ratings is only going to sour the relationship. The author I talked about in the introduction has also been dropped by his publication and his books have been removed from their websites.
Instead of using bloggers for his advantage, he had the entire community coming after him.
Thus, before working with a book reviewer as an author, you should know these six things:
- Reading the review policy is necessary.
- If the reviewer is asking for a fee, you should pay instead of complaining.
- Format the email properly.
- A five-star rating is not guaranteed.
- Develop more personal relationships with bloggers.
- Use blog tours for your book.
Keep these in mind for easy promotion of your book.