But You Promised to Review My Book

Via Indies Unlimited

sad author baby-cougar-1065101_960_720At first glance, my assignment seems straightforward. Write a post about what authors can do to not get taken advantage of by reviewers who ask for a print version of your book and then don’t come through with the promised review. The short answer is probably “not much.” But Ms. Brooks says one paragraph of seventy words won’t cut it as a “real post.” So, I’ll ramble on.

The reality is that once this has happened, there isn’t a whole lot you can do. It doesn’t matter whether the “reviewer” is a scam artist looking for inventory to sell at his or her local used bookstore, or a well-meaning reviewer who didn’t follow through. (The latter might be because life got in the way, they discovered reviewing really wasn’t their thing, or maybe you’re better off that they didn’t review it because they thought your book su … wasn’t very good.) My advice is, if you’ve gotten to this point, the best move is to drop it and move on. Next time, remember your mom’s advice about an ounce of prevention.

The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a cliché at this point, but it got that way because it’s so true. What can you do to prevent yourself from getting to the point of needing a cure instead? I’ve got a few ideas.

The first idea is guaranteed to work. Don’t send print versions of your book out to reviewers. On the one hand, I can see this from the side of the reviewer. If they prefer to read in print or (strange as this may seem in today’s world) don’t have an eReader or a tablet or a smartphone or anything else that can be used to read an eBook, I can’t blame them for insisting on paper. Even if their only reason for insisting on paper is that they plan to read the book and then get a couple of bucks selling it at the local used book store, I can’t fault them for that. Whatever the cost for you to get the book to the reviewer short of sending it overnight to the other side of the world is a low price for the amount of time you’re expecting the reviewer to spend reading, evaluating, and writing a review of your book. (That doesn’t excuse the reviewer for lack of follow-through, but the cliché about beggars and choosers comes to mind as well.) If a reviewer not reviewing your book after sending him a paper copy is that big of a deal, not sending it to begin with is the only sure answer. (A short detour for a bit of self-promotion. I run a site with a list of reviewers who all are willing to accept electronic versions of books for review. Check it out. http://www.theindieview.com/indie-reviewers/ And we have an entire resource page here at IU dedicated to helping authors get reviews…)

If you’re willing to send out paper copies for review and sometimes do, a percentage of those aren’t going to come through. Just like a percentage of those reviewers that you send electronic copies to won’t come through. That’s the nature of the beast and you aren’t going to change it. However, if you’re willing to accept some failures, there are things you can do to help minimize them. Some of these ideas are good when chasing reviews, even for those who will take or prefer an electronic copy.

  • Follow the site’s instructions. If they say query first and include these items in your query, then query first and make sure to include whatever else they ask for. (If they say “send me a paper book to this address and I promise I’ll review it,” be suspicious.)
  • Look over the site and make sure that your book seems like a good fit.
    If they’re insistent on a paper copy, do a quick Google search looking for discussion among authors to see if anyone reports issues with this reviewer.
  • Look at how often they publish reviews on their site. At least every week or two is okay, more often is better. If it’s only every couple months, it’s probably not worth your effort to even try.
  • Last, you’re a business. A review from this site has some kind of monetary value to your business. What that value is, only you can say. But if that value isn’t at least the cost of the paper book, shipping, plus a little more to make up for those reviewers who don’t come through, then it might make sense to move on to the next reviewer.

I’ve rambled enough now. What are your thoughts? I’ll bet some of you have ideas to throw in the mix, too.

Author: Big Al

Big Al (who insists he only has one name, like Cher, Sting, and Madonna) spends his days writing computer programs that are full of typos, homonym errors, and incorrect verb usage. During his evenings, he writes reviews of indie books for BigAl’s Books and Pals and has recently taken over The IndieView, a website founded by indie author Simon Royle as a resource for indie authors, indie reviewers, and those who read either.

Something Has Gone Out of Publishing




In my oh-so-very-pleasant work room upstairs, where I spend so much time hacking away at this machine whose letters on keys are disappearing fast from overuse, and my wife Diana leaves me alone to bleed and brood when the thinking and writing aren’t going well and to be stricken with ecstasy when they are, I am surrounded by books–many volumes about the arts and the immensely gifted people in them.

This morning I had a busy schedule of things to do that I’ve wanted to do for weeks but haven’t. I’m Chicago born and bred, Spartan tough, so I told myself that today was “time to get serious, buster. Enough of this uncharacteristic self-indulgence.” Today would be different; I’d “dig in,” “put a dent in things,” “make progress,” “do my thing.” I checked over my list of current projects, every single one of which oddly is “top priority.”

Old booksI was…

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What Makes a $100k Author?

Nicholas C. Rossis

written word media logo | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksLast month, Written Word Media shared the results of yet another extensive author survey they’ve run, to tease out the strategies and tactics successful authors were using to achieve their success. The survey compared authors making over $100,000 in a single year vs. authors who earn less than $500 / month from book sales. They call these two groups 100Kers and Emerging Authors. Approximately 11% authors surveyed fell into the 100K bucket, so it’s a pretty exclusive club but also one that is within reach.

The results are well worth checking out in full, but here’s a brief summary you may find of interest:

1. Success Takes Time

The vast majority of 100kers– almost 90% –have been writing more than 3 years, compared to only 59% of Emerging Authors. On average, that means 100kers have just been at this longer. Experience counts for a lot and emerging authors shouldn’t get…

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What’s the Most Important Part of Your Novel?

Writing your first novel-Things you should know

1e7cba28f25210164154825f3d16c176It’s the beginning and more specifically the first sentence, then paragraph, then page, then chapter. You have to grab your reader the minute they pick up your novel.

When you are ready to submit your work to an agent, one thing you will notice is they don’t want your complete work. They only want the first few pages, or some may ask for a couple of chapters. Don’t be bold and overconfident sending them the entire thing.

They probably will toss it to the side for your failure to follow instructions. If they do read, they won’t get very far if the first few pages aren’t compelling enough to draw them in (which was the part they wanted to see in the first place).

Agents as a rule, don’t want to see the entire manuscript until they know you can write a compelling story. You have to make them want to…

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EDITING 101: 45 – Do All Your Characters Sound Alike?

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Originally posted as the Dun Writin’—Now Whut? series on this blog, EDITING 101 is a weekly refresher series for some of you and brand new for others.

Courtesy ofAdirondack Editing

Do All Your Characters Sound Alike?

In today’s post, we’re not talking about a writer’s voice, or style. We’re talking about the actual voice your characters use in their dialogue or monologues, and character monotones is a chronic problem I see in many of the manuscripts I edit. As the author, you might not realize this is a difficulty in your own writing, but I think once you read this post and the accompanying links, you’ll begin to see what I mean.

Character voice does not mean writing dialect or phonetic accents. This is dialect:

How do you make out?”

How me mek out?” He pointed upwards to the black rafters of the kitchen. “Tatta Fadda a mek Provide-ance…

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Writers Looking for Forever Homes: Adoption Listings



Photograph by Lee Martin / Alamy

Meet Charlotte. Charlotte’s a thirty-four-year-old sweetheart who sometimes gets dizzy owing to her poor diet—but she’s not letting that stop her from spending hours clicking between Twitter and Craigslist instead of working on her article! She doesn’t actually need anything on Craigslist; she just likes to read sad posts by strangers going through bad breakups instead of doing her work. Charlotte would do well in a home where three square meals are placed in front of her each day. She would also benefit from being reminded to shower and having her phone confiscated at night. She’d make a great companion for anyone seeking a poorly adjusted, emotionally unavailable woman to sit in a chair in the corner and stare at her laptop while mumbling.

Meet Richard. Richard is a feral writer who has garnered interest from literary agents, but he lacks the perseverance to finish reading a novel, let alone to write one of his own. When Richard is not working on first chapters, he sporadically attends a meditation group where he is known as “the weeper,” hangs out with one of his two ex-girlfriends, and shoplifts ramen noodles from his local Walgreens. Richard had kidney stones once. He wrote an article about it for a major national magazine. He’s hoping to get kidney stones a second time so that he can write a follow-up piece. Richard would do well in a loving environment with a couple of other writers to interact with. He is almost completely house-trained.

Meet Serena. Serena came to us as a seasoned reporter with a master’s degree in journalism who had recently dropped out of the rat race to freelance. Serena currently lives with two roommates in an apartment where she is left alone all day. Her roommates are under the impression that she is unemployed, despite the fact that she’s technically a copywriter. Serena wakes up at 2 P.M., smokes a fatty, and walks to the Wawa for some snack cakes. Because of her stress-filled professional background, Serena would do best in a single-writer home where she can come and go freely. Whoever adopts Serena will be required to maintain her daily supply of fatties and snack cakes.

Meet Joshua. Joshua has had some short stories published in best-of anthologies and is a frequent contributor to several national news outlets. He owns some plants but has yet to have a successful relationship with any human. He eats a lot of soup. So much soup. He sometimes talks to his downstairs neighbor, a friendly woman whom he is attracted to, but whom he will not pursue because he knows that vulnerability only leads to pain. Despite all this, Joshua has very good dental hygiene. He is flossing right now. Joshua would do well with an owner who forces him out into the sunlight, despite all his allergies. Joshua would also probably benefit from some sort of medication. He is up to date on all his shots.

Meet Francis. This handsome scrapper published a popular zine in college. In his twenties, he opened a publishing house, which took off, and he sold it to his partners for a tidy profit. After that, he wrote a book of poetry, which was met with critical acclaim and won a Pulitzer. His accomplishments, though impressive, are of little comfort to his wife when he locks himself in the guest room for days on end and pees into an empty Gatorade bottle. We’re hoping to find a new home for Francis quickly, as his wife is gearing up to kick him out. Francis is generally aloof and would do best in a home with low expectations and an empty guest room. Whoever adopts Francis should be aware that he has bitten two people, although we believe that this will not be an issue once he settles into a stable environment.

Link to original: http://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/writers-looking-for-forever-homes-adoption-listings