by Pat Stoltey
Many members of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers are old hands at the "getting published and reviewed" game.
First timers--those who have just received the advance copies of their first traditionally published or self-published print edition or uploaded their first ebook--may not be aware how desperately they need reader feedback.
Trust me. You desperately need reader feedback.
Send ARCs or free ebooks to as many magazine and online reader review sites as you can. This often involves submitting a request for the review, preferably to a publication or blog that specializes in books of your genre. The more established and respected reviewers who read your book, the more likely you'll have a few of the glowing variety (as opposed to good, bad, or ugly).
Why don't all reviewers agree?
1. Reviewers are real people. Real people have a variety of preferences, preferred genres, and writing styles. Just because one reviewer doesn't like your book so much, doesn't mean that all reviewers will feel the same way.
2. Reviewers are real people. They have bad days and good days.
3. Reviewers are real people. It's not all that easy to read a book, keep track of the characters, sort out the plot, identify the book's good points and its not-so-good points, and then write a competent, clear report. We're grateful for the book lovers who are willing to perform this service for authors and readers, aren't we?
Well, sometimes we are and sometimes we aren't.
There are reviewers who don't mind smacking an author around for perceived shortcomings in plot or characterization. One reviewer called my protagonist, Sylvia Thorn, stupid. One well-known speed reading reviewer said the plot of The Desert Hedge Murders was "over Hoover Dam" (which was an appropriate choice of words since the novel was set in northwestern Arizona and featured a spry bunch of ladies in their seventies and eighties, characters written very much tongue in cheek).
Good or bad, without reviewers we'd have a tough time getting the word out about our books.
One word of caution: Avoid paying cold hard cash for a review. Most readers and librarians are fully aware of the reviewer's reputation, accuracy, and practices. They'll make their buying decisions accordingly.