As a debut author this year, the process of watching an idea hatch into a proposal, the proposal transform into a story, the story become a sale and the sale emerge, through revisions and edits, to a published book has fascinated me. Although I’ve been reading books on writing craft, what I’ve learned the most this year has had more to do with the actual business of book publishing and the integral role each person plays, from the slush pile reader who saw your story’s potential, to the editor who asked for more pages, bought your book, and molded it along the way, to the copy editor who caught more mistakes than this former ELA teacher cares to admit, to the fabulous art team who combs through our Art Facts sheets to capture the best images and back cover copy to interest readers, to the sales/marketing department who researches and targets the best audiences, and the PR department for their tireless work in spreading the word about our novels. I now realize it’s a large machine and as a writer, I am only one part of it.
But there is another, unsung hero in this process: the
reviewer/blogger. Reviewers do not work for publishing houses, they may or may not get
paid, must read a large number of books critically and thoughtfully, and commit
their insights on blogs, websites, and social media in a very short time period.
They can be easy targets: loved when a good review is given, dismissed when one
is not. Yet these individuals sacrifice their time to provide a critical
service to this industry. They help readers make informed decisions on book
purchases. As an avid reader, I’ve relied on them and have even thanked them on
their websites or Goodreads. As a writer, however, my gratitude turned to fear
as the release of my novel WISH ME TOMORROW neared. Would they like it? Pan it?
When I found out RT was no longer reviewing Heartwarming books, I was crushed. I
was anxious about reviews, but, having read so many, eagerly anticipated an
authority on romance giving his or her opinion about mine.
With ARCs not arriving until the day of my release, I had limited alternate reviewer options as many review sites won’t consider your novel unless they have it one to two months in advance! Nevertheless, I researched and found some that would review a book near or after its release date and wrote them, asking if they would consider reviewing WISH ME TOMORROW. Better yet, I heard from Harlequin that WISH ME TOMORROW would be available for review on NetGalley! Although it was still too close to the release date for some reviewers, many requested it. Additionally, it made a promotional blog tour possible. It starts Sept. 23rd and I’m thrilled. Since then, I’ve received reviews of WISH ME TOMORROW and I’ve been grateful for the knowledge they’ve provided both readers and myself.
The other day, I was on Goodreads and saw that someone who’d never read my book rated it a two based on interest. I felt crushed when I thought about the months the publishing team had spent to produce, market and distribute my story. Yet this rater is not in the same category as an actual reviewer. Although a formal review does not guarantee a good opinion of your book, it’s comforting to know that the reviewer is skilled, knowledgeable and has carefully analyzed your story. Even if a poor review is received, a thoughtful reviewer will back up that score with reasons that will inform both the reader and the writer. It’s incredibly helpful knowledge to have once you’ve drowned your sorrows in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and a Project Runway marathon. Reviewers are the voice of the people, the book buyers we hope to reach. It is important to listen to what they have to say and value their opinions when we are fortunate enough to receive them.
To win a print-copy or e-copy of WISH ME TOMORROW, please
share your experiences and thoughts about reviews in the comments section and
include your email address or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
with it. I’ll select a winner tomorrow and contact you. I look forward to
hearing your thoughts J