How to get reviews

Rhobin’s task for us in April, 2017 is:

Victoria Chatham suggested this topic: Reviews. Love ’em, hate ’em or totally ignore them. Amazon tells us the more 4 or 5 reviews the merrier, but how to get them?

As it happens, I recently interviewed Carolyn Howard-Johnson about her latest book, How to Get Great Book Review Frugally and Ethically. It may be no surprise that both of us said lots about reviews, and I hope you’ll go and be entertained by our exchanges there.

Instead of repeating all that good stuff, I’ll see what new points I can come up with. By reading both, you get two answers for the price of one.

I like reviewing other people’s books, provided I approve of the message.

What message?

EVERY piece of writing has a message. It is an expression of the author’s belief system. I have written about this in a previous post. For example, “A cook book is instructional, nonfiction. It can simply have recipes and pictures. But it is also an expression of the author’s sense of creativity, humour, views on health, knowledge of cultures — or the lack of these characteristics.”

Here is how I do it:

If I consider a book to be worth 4 or 5 stars, I will provide a public review. I’ll publish it in my newsletter Bobbing Around and happily post it on any web site the book is listed on. If I don’t already have contact with the writer, I’ll try to establish one, and ask for a list of websites where my review can be of benefit.

However, I don’t trample on another writer’s baby. If I don’t consider the book to be excellent, I will privately let the author know why, pointing out what in my opinion are its good points, and where it needs improvement. Again, this may have to be after some detective work.

When someone reviews one of my books, I also do my best to establish contact, and ask for permission to reproduce the review in Bobbing Around. I also ask the review to be posted on all the other locations where my book figures, including places like Goodreads.

That’s if I consider the review to be literate, accurate and fair. If it isn’t, I don’t argue with the reviewer, but do my best to will the review to fade into invisibility.

I do a great many review exchanges. There is nothing wrong with them, provided both participants follow my guide of fairness. Despite the rumours, I have never had one of my reviews refused by Amazon or any other website. One reason may be that I typically read much faster than most other people. My review of the other book will be up and gathering dust by the time that author’s review of mine pops out of its seedcase.

The lowest review one of my books has received was 3 stars. It is a misguided offering from someone about Ascending Spiral. 70% of the reviews are 5 star, all the rest 4 star, so that 3-star fellow just had to be wrong. 🙂

At the moment, I am still gathering advance reviews for my next novel, Hit and Run. To date, I have 38. The idea is that when publication date is known, I’ll ask all these people to post the review on the one day, to tickle up the algorithms that determine bestseller status. I’d love to get the number of reviews up to 100 by then, so I am happy to send out a free copy at this stage. If you want to read my best book for free, now is your chance.

Please make a comment below, then visit the other participants in Rhobin’s Round, and read what they have to say.

Victoria Chatham
Skye Taylor
Rhobin Courtright
Rachael Kosinski
Margaret Fieland
Marci Baun
Helena Fairfax
Connie Vines
Beverley Bateman
A.J. Maguire

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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17 Responses to How to get reviews

  1. okwriter says:

    Bob, I really like how you do reviews and the review exchange. Sounds like it’s working well. I especially like if you don’t feel the book is excellent you contact the writer and let the author know why, pointing out what in my opinion are its good points, and where it needs improvement.


  2. wildchild says:

    I generally do not offer advice unless asked. Not that I don’t have it to give, merely that, after years as a publisher, I’ve had enough get angry at me even if I was honest and kind.


    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Yes, unsolicited advice is often perceived as a form of attack. I do my best to phrase it as suggestions for improvement, using the “Toastmaster sandwich:” start with a compliment, give suggestion(s) for improvement, end with the good things in the performance.


  3. Hi Bob, all good common sense and impressive stats, too. Wish I had 38 reviews! anne stenhouse

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Thanks for the compliment, Anne. But there is no such thing as common sense, because we all come from different places. Still, clearly your common sense agrees with mine.
      If any of your titles have a major focus on a plot element in addition to romance, maybe we can do a review swap?


    • Hi Bob, sorry not to have replied sooner. That is, however, an indication of what my life is like at present. Due to a death in the family, I’m overwhelmed by admin. I’ve been reading the Round Robins but not contributing. So I’ll say no to a review swap at present because I simply don’t have time. Thank you very much for suggesting it. I do appreciate that. Anne


  4. Bob, I like that you don’t rip into people when you think their book maybe wasn’t the best. I found myself avoiding this too, especially on Goodreads. If I read something and loved it, I’ll write several paragraphs on why I thought so. If I ended up hating it, I usually won’t even choose a star rating and simply write that I finished it.


  5. Skye-writer says:

    I love your effort to reach out to other authors. I do the same, especially if I REALLY loved the book, or if I loved the premise but saw a huge flaw that I know is going to hurt it down the line. I’ve made dozens of new author friends doing both and I’ve learned a great deal from others who have sent me honest reviews, even private ones that have negative comments.


  6. Rhobin says:

    All writing contains some message is very true. I enjoy fiction that has many messages and lets the reader interpret them. Going to go look at your link, thanks!


  7. Dr Bob, I am an amateur but sincere grandfather with a somewhat humble view of mankind’s importance in the grand scheme of matters. I would like to read your latest book and write a review. Please send me a copy and I will get at it right away. John ‘mad jack’ Klawitter


    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      John, I’ll be delighted. I fully agree with your view of humanity. That’s why one of my books is titled “Bizarre Bipeds: What IS humanity’s role in the universe?”
      According to information given to me by characters from my stories, earth is only one of billions of schools in the universe. That’s how small we are.
      Hugs to all your genetic and honorary grandchildren.


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