Love Games 
As the Reviews Come–the Good, the Hope and the Returns
By Cynnara Tregarth
Reviews can be a controversial topic on reader boards as well
as writer boards. What’s interesting is that there are many places where both overlap–a
need to thank those who give reviews and figuring out ways to share the review without
violating copyright of review site policies and the like. These days, there are
a lot of hoops to jump and honestly, authors want to give credit where credit is
due. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible, which is a shame. Yet, there are many
ways in which to thank those people who give out reviews, shout out about the reviews,
and give honest thanks to our readers–because without them–published authors are
writing to empty space.
Let’s talk first about thanking those who review us. Whether
they work for a review site, independently review us, or offer to review us–authors
always need to thank that person. It’s not an easy job reviewing a book. I know,
I used to be a reviewer. In fact, I still do reviews from time to time, but not
under my own name. There’s a balance that reviewers must take, even with authors
they love- they must tell the truth about the quality of the story, how it made
them feel, and if they recommend the book to others to read. Often times, you’ll
see reviews where it’s from “Anonymous.” Most authors skip those reviews
because many of them either love or hate the book and don’t explain why. Plus, they’re
wary of anyone who won’t sign their name or even their reviewer name to a review.
I can’t blame them, so if you want an author to respond to you–sign your review.
It’s that important. If you don’t, you can’t expect them to realize you’re taking
your job seriously.
Authors, you need to make sure you take the time once a week
to go over any reviews you receive and to thank the reviewers. It’s damn good policy,
and if you’re a newly published author, it’s the best way to get your name in the
door with established review sites. It’s also good to respond on places such as
Amazon, B&N, ARe, and the like whenever possible. Sometimes, I’ll see a review
and if there’s an email addy, I might write the person to thank them for a review.
Even if I think the review wasn’t the best I ever had, it might point out something
I can learn from it. That alone is worth thanking the reader.
How do you share the joy of great reviews? I think this is where
most authors look at each other and shrug. It’s hard sometimes to know how to effectively
use reviews and the best places to use them. When I thank the reviewers, I ask if
it’s okay to blurb pieces of it for promotion. If it’s a review from a review site,
I know I can as long as I give credit and I don’t use the whole thing. Pick two
or three of the best sentences, make sure you include the reviewer’s name, the review
site and then include it on your emails, put it on your website, and you might even
want to post it on Facebook, Twitter, and the like. Why? Because showing that you’re
getting great reviews for your book will encourage people to buy the book and it’ll
help spread by word of mouth that people like the book, not just you and other authors.
Let me say one thing about Facebook and reviews. I’ve seen bunches
of them over the past year or so. Some are fantastic because they’re not the same
old “Look at what So-n-So said about my book!” Personally, those get boring
fast and people will scroll over them without looking. But if couch the review in
such a way like ‘”Harley was one of the most exciting characters I’ve ever
fallen for in a romance!” – says So-n-So from XXY Reviews Can you believe that
she loved my character in ABC Romance? Check out how much she loved it!’ Then you
manage to both showcase the review and allow the person to go see more of the review.
In turn, you know there will be a link to buy the book. It might result in a sale
for the author or it can grow a readership for the review site as well. This is
a nice thing for both author and reviewer. So please, mix it up out there with announcing
new reviews for books. It’s important to really pump it up so the reviewer’s review
is showcased, not just the book itself. I can’t say that enough. Yes, we authors
want to sell books, but we need the reviews to help us do that. Without them, we’re
basically selling on our own and we need their help to do more.
Sometimes authors get fan mail. It’s exciting. It’s fun, and
occasionally, it can be scary. I think we have all heard the stories both good and
bad throughout the years. In fact, visions of Stephen King’s book, Misery, go through my head when I get fan
mail at times. Authors love corresponding with readers by and large. Sometimes though,
we’re not sure what to say to some of the questions we get asked. I write erotic
romance and once I was asked, “Do you practice all the positions you write
about in your books? If so can you send me detailed descriptions on how to do them,
so I can practice with my boyfriend?”
It took me a couple of days to figure out how to respond to that
email. First, I had to get over the shock, then I had to decide how to answer the
question without hurting the reader’s feelings. This is a big thing to most of us
authors. We’re readers too. We wouldn’t want the authors we enjoy to be rude or
curt when writing us back. But at the same time, there are moments when we’re very
surprised by what we’re asked behind closed emails. Authors try their hardest to
be honest, yet kind to readers who email them, but occasionally, you have to cut
off contact or tell the person not to write to them again, because they’re delving
into an area they don’t belong. It’s not often, but it does happen. It’s sad, because
it makes an author afraid to reach out to the next reader to emails them. So, let
me apologize now, in advance on behalf of all authors who’ve had this happen to
them. We don’t mean to be slow in replying and hesitant in some answers, but please
understand, sometimes there’s a fine line between our author side and the private
side our lives.
Occasionally, authors and readers email each other and from that,
a great friendship grows. Over the years, I’ve been fangirl to many authors. I’ve
been lucky to talk to them online, on the phone and in person at various conferences.
It’s something that many readers dream about. In fact, even authors have other authors
they dream about wanting to meet and become friends with over time. My list grows
exponentially over the years, I think. One of my greatest treasured meets was when
I met Mercedes Lackey in person before I was published. She is one of the biggest
reasons I write. When I met her, I burst into tears, because before me sat the one
woman who I knew made it huge in the fantasy market and made a living in it. She
was my dream made manifest. Over the years, she and I have emailed, I’ve talked
to her husband (come to find out we went to the same high school, just missing each
other by a year!), and she’s always encouraged my writing path, telling me that
I can do it, that the only thing I’m missing is believing in myself to take that
step into submitting my fantasy work to one of her publishers. (She knows me well.)
I think it’s the penultimate of what an author and reader can share together.
Reviews are a way for reader and author to meet and talk about
an author’s work. It’s a chance for an author to thank the reader for taking the
time to read them and discussing what they liked and didn’t like about the story
itself. Don’t forget that it’s also good to let people know that you’ve gotten this
review from this great reader. It shows that you care about the reader and it gives
you a chance to show others just how much readers like the story and what their
saying about it. Remember too, sometimes that contact between reader and author
can go from review thanks to a possible long term friendship. It’s happened to many
people. Just as reviews come in–they show the good, the hope in us all, and the
returns of many more to come.

Love Games

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