Getting Book Reviews and Odious Comparisons

elephant butte 5 cropA rare sight of Elephant Butte with snow, from the Christmas storm in New Mexico. We caught this on the drive home from Tucson, and now that I’ve turned in THE EDGE OF THE BLADE, I’m digging photos out of my camera and sharing. Yay!

The last few days, I’ve been in a range of conversations with writers at various stages of their careers.

One friend is not yet published. She had been discouraged by a string of rejections and has resolved to take her series out via self-publishing this year. (It’s a contemporary romance series that I think is excellent and will be excited to tell you all about when she’s ready.) We’ll also strategize another series for her to query with traditional publishing. For her, everything is about cracking that first barrier – getting her first book out there. 

On one of my author loops, several extensively published authors bemoaned not being able to get book reviews. One commented that her latest self-published release got zero reviews. On another loop, more published authors complained of the same, asking for tips on getting more reviews.

Meanwhile another author friend yesterday celebrated the one-year anniversary of the publication of her book – and that it just hit 1,000 reviews on Amazon.

Me? I fall somewhere in the middle of all of this. I get a substantial number of reviews, from wonderful, enthusiastic readers – but I got nothing like 1,000.

So, what did we learn today, boys and girls?

There’s a saying that hearkens back to the fourteenth century, credited to John Fortesque, that’s been repeated by many, such as Lydgate, Shakespeare and Swift.

Comparisons are odious.

And no, that has nothing to do with odor. The word “odious” comes from the Latin odium for hatred. Something that is odious is hateful, disgusting or offensive.

In other words… DON’T DO IT.

Don’t make comparisons, people. And I’m speaking to myself, too, because when my darling friend announced hitting 1,000 Amazon reviews, the first thing I did was go look at my comparable book. How many? 54 Amazon reviews.

But hey, it’s better than zero reviews.

And it’s better than not having a book published yet.

Actually… it is what it is, right? Comparisons are odious because they’re meaningless. I reminded myself of that, shrugged it off, and closed the Amazon page.

We all do what we can do.

8 Replies to “Getting Book Reviews and Odious Comparisons”

  1. It’s very difficult to get reviews for self pubbed books. Lots of bloggers/reviewers are prejudiced and stay away from self oubbed books. I myself read whatever sounds intriguing fir me. One tip I want to give to self publishing authors: spend some money on your cover. Yes: readers (me anyway) are shallow and will judge your book on its cover. If a cover looks unprofessional I will think you were stingy on the editing and such as well, and stay away from the book.

    1. I agree – and make sure it is PROFESSIONALLY EDITED and formatted!! Nothing turns off a review faster than a book that’s hard to read or full of mistakes.

      I think part of the fear is also the unknown of the author. Unfortunately, there are some horrible cases of authors going off the deep end when her book doesn’t get favorable reviews. While I know that it is only a very, very small minority, it makes people second guess.

      When I get a review from a self-pub author whom I don’t know, I check her website to see if it’s professional and up-to-date. I check other reviews on Goodreads. Sometimes I’ll check reviews on Amazon. I also look at the request – was it specific to me, or a mass email? Was the request thoughtful?

  2. Excellent post! If I ever had 1000 reviews on one of my books, I’d probably be in shock….I’m so happy for her and you’re absolutely right, comparison would be meaningless. And I’m on the same wavelength with Carien too – the professional cover art is IMPORTANT. The book is a total package but the reader will never know how wonderful the writing is if the cover turns them off from the getgo.

  3. And the same goes on the blogger/reviewer end of things. I have had to learn not to look at my numbers (visits, followers, etc.) and compare to others. And while I may still get bummed out when I find out so-and-so got a review copy of a book I really wanted and I didn’t, I have to remember how blessed I am and how much I love what I’m doing.

    1. How funny – I never thought of it that way. But it makes sense. There will always be someone who has something we don’t. You’re spot on that counting our blessings is the best antidote. 🙂

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