Quick Link: A plea for reviewers – can we open up a dialogue about self-published books?

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

Roz Morris, owner of Nail Your Novel, reaches out to people who review books with a plea that they open their minds a little towards reviewing self-publishing titles. I can understand the reluctance of book reviewers, there are a lot of self-published books that look, well, self-published.  A lot. But, there are also a lot of self-publishing authors who do it right by hiring the correct people so their title is a professional offering and they are growing.  Thoughts?

~ * ~

A plea for reviewers – can we open up a dialogue about self-published books?

by Roz Morris

So I find a lovely-looking review blog. The posts are thoughtful, fair and seriously considered. I look up the review policy and … it says ‘no self-published books’.

Today I want to open a dialogue with reviewers. If you have that policy, might you be persuaded to change it? Or to approach the problem in a different way?

I used the word ‘problem’. Because I appreciate – very well – that in making this policy you are trying to tackle a major problem. Your time as a reviewer is precious – and let me say your efforts are enormously appreciated by readers and authors alike. You get pitches for many more books than you can read and you need a way to fillet out the ones that are seriously worth your reading hours. A blanket ban is a way to fend off a lot of substandard material and save you many unpleasant conversations. And traditional publishing implies a certain benchmark of competence.

Competence. That’s probably the heart of the matter. There are good self-published books, of course, but how can I help you sort them from the bad and the fug-ugly?

Read the full post on Nail Your Novel

Quick Link: Oops. That Book Review’s Not Verified

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

There have been a lot of changes with Amazon’s reviews lately. I understand the need to give readers better and more trustworthy reviews but it also needs to be balanced against how difficult it is to get reviews by writers.  at Indies Unlimited has the scoop on the latest changes.

~ * ~

Oops. That Book Review’s Not Verified


Way, way back in September of 2013 I wrote an article about verified reviews. In the world of Indie publishing, especially where anything directly related to Amazon is concerned, three-and-a-half years is a lifetime. Much of what I wrote then is either no longer true or suspect. In this article, I’m going to talk about some of the changes and why you, I, or a random reader might care. (Or maybe not.)

At the time I suggested that the only reason someone might care about whether a review was verified was if they thought the review seemed questionable. Then the “verified” flag would indicate the reviewer had actually bought the book or other item from Amazon. For someone looking at reviews and trying to decide on a purchase, the verified flag might still not be that useful. I suspect some people who are more attuned to happenings regarding Amazon might be concerned about fake or paid reviews, and pay a little more attention. But if they’re aware of these issues, they’re probably aware that reviewers who were willing to write a glowing review for a price have options to make sure those reviews showed as verified purchase reviews anyway.

However, authors who are trying to get selected to run promotions using Bookbub and other hard-to-get-selected advertising options want not just good reviews, but they’d prefer a lot of them with that verified flag.

Quick Links: The 5 Most Common Mistakes Writers Make When Seeking Book Reviews

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

Reviews are very important for all authors, but especially for indie authors. Good reviews help legitimize your writing and encourage other readers to check out your book. But getting reviews are very difficult.  At Live Write Thrive, Gisela Hausmann gives out tips to avoid stepping on your own toes when trying to get reviews.

~ * ~

The 5 Most Common Mistakes Writers Make When Seeking Book Reviews

Today’s guest post is by top Amazon reviewer Gisela Hausmann. This content originally ran on the Huffington Post, and it is reprinted here with her permission.

The day before yesterday, I received an email asking me to review an indie author’s book. Somewhat ironically, this request email stated, “As you liked (title of book), you might also love my newest book, (title), because it’s in the same category as the book you already reviewed . . .”

I remembered the book I supposedly “liked.” I didn’t like it at all; I had awarded it with a negative review.

Obviously, this indie author made a mistake; most likely, because he rushed trying to find as many top reviewers as possible to whom he could offer his book “in return for an objective and unbiased review.”

Desperately Seeking Reviews

Seeking reviews from Amazon top reviewers is a common practice among indie authors. Since only about one percent of readers review the books they read, indie authors, who don’t have a huge marketing budget, try to build up the number of reviews their books receive by asking top reviewers like me to read and review their books.

Quick Link: How to Get Book Reviews: 10 Tricks for Getting Your Book Reviewed by a Book Blogger

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

Barb Drozdowich has all the details, including a link to a list of book blogging sites.  All on Anne R Allen’s Blog.

~ * ~

How to Get Book Reviews: 10 Tricks for Getting Your Book Reviewed by a Book Blogger

Book review bloggers are friends, not foes–get to know them!

So…who are book bloggers anyways? I know that Anne periodically talks about book bloggers on this blog – but many authors that I talk to seem a bit fuzzy on the subject. I’m going to see if I can help you understand who book bloggers are and help you with some tricks to find some powerful ones to promote your books.

My name is Barb and I’m thoroughly immersed in the book blogger world. One of my sites – The Book Blogger List has well over 2000 book bloggers listed. I’ve also carried out 2 major surveys of book bloggers – the most recent one ended in January. Between the two surveys, I’ve asked questions of 717 bloggers.

I’m in fact a book blogger myself – my book blog is Sugarbeat’s Books – I started blogging in August 2010.

I’ve spent a lot of time in front of a class – college classes, corporate training classes and more lately, virtual classes – always teaching science or technology of some description.

Although I’ve published a lot of books, I tend to come at the publishing world with a different view than most authors.

But you can’t really take the teacher out of the classroom…this will be an active post. And of course you’ll have homework…

~ * ~

If you liked this article, please share. If you have suggestions for further articles, articles you would like to submit, or just general comments, please contact me at paula@publetariat.com or leave a message below.

Quick Links: How to Create a Link on Amazon for Book Reviewers

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

Who doesn’t want more reviews! The awesome Shelly Hitz has a great way to add a direct link to the Amazon review section of your book, making it oh so easy for readers to review your title.

~ * ~

How to Create a Link on Amazon for Book Reviewers

abstract_110006583-1013int-011314intAll authors love to get new reviews on their books in Amazon, right? Reviews give more credibility and social proof to your book.

Therefore, in this post I decided to share with you how to create a direct link on Amazon for book reviewers to post their reviews.

How to Create the Link

Today I have a question from Paula Moldenhouer. She recently saw me share my Amazon presentation at a conference and loved the ninja tip I shared for creating a custom review link. However, she needed a little more help setting it up and so sent me this question through my “Ask Shelley” page.

“I love your idea of putting the link for reviewing your book in newsletters, blogs, etc., but as I’m on Amazon I’m not sure which link that is. I’m assuming you don’t want all the extra letters that would connect stuff to my account, but at the same time, when I take them away I only get a blurb of how to write a review, it doesn’t seem to be connected to my product.”

First of all, I would like to thank Paula for asking that question. I’m sure a lot of you will benefit from it.

So here is the step by step process of how you can create a link for your book reviewers.

Before we go any further, I would like to recommend that you optimize your book on Amazon for selling more books.

There are actually two ways that you can do it.

In the “Write a Customer Review” Block

The first technique is to go to your Amazon book page and click the “Write a Customer Review” block.

~ * ~

If you liked this article, please share. If you have suggestions for further articles, articles you would like to submit, or just general comments, please contact me at paula@publetariat.com or leave a message below.

Quick Links: Busting Myths about Book Reviews

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

A good book cover and title will get a potential reader to look closer at your story, and a good description goes a long way. But it is still book reviews that most people use to decide whether or not to invest the time into reading a title. On Live Write Thrive, the esteemed C. S. Lakin bust some myths about book reviews.

~ * ~

Busting Myths about Book Reviews

Busting myths so hard!
Busting myths so hard!

June 23, 2016

For Throwback Thursday, we’re looking at excerpts from past posts on Live Write Thrive. Today’s post is from 6 Common Myths About Book Reviews, by Dana Lynn Smith:

Book reviews are a powerful promotional tool, but there are some misconceptions about how to obtain them. Here are some common myths about getting book reviews.

  •  Myth #1 – Book reviews are just for new books.

It’s true that book review journals read by librarians and booksellers review books at or soon after publication. It’s best to focus your review efforts during the first year of a book’s life, but some venues will review older books.

  •  Myth #2 – No one will review a self-published book.

It is more challenging for self-published authors and small presses to get reviews in certain venues, but it’s certainly not impossible. Self-published books are far more likely to be reviewed if they are produced to industry standards (well written, edited and designed). A number of book review websites welcome self-published books or even focus specifically on them, and there are several book journals like Midwest Book Review that are friendly to independent and small presses.

~ * ~

If you liked this article, please share. If you have suggestions for further articles, articles you would like to submit, or just general comments, please contact me at paula@publetariat.com or leave a message below.

Forget The Book, Have You Read This Irresistible Story On Blurbs?

This post by Colin Dwyer originally appeared on NPR on 9/27/15.

Whatever the old adage might warn, there is a bit of merit to judging a book by its cover — if only in one respect. Consider the blurb, one of the most pervasive, longest-running — and, at times, controversial — tools in the publishing industry.

For such a curious word, the term “blurb” has amassed a number of meanings in the decades since it worked its way into our vocabulary, but lately it has referred to just one thing: a bylined endorsement from a fellow writer — or celebrity — that sings the praises of a book’s author right on the cover of their book.

They’re claims couched in quote marks, homes for words you might never hear otherwise — like compelling, or luminous, or unputdownable. Heck, at least three books have reportedly inspired celebrated memoirist Frank McCourt to say “you’ll claw yourself with pleasure.”

Nearly as long as they’ve been around, they’ve been treated by a vocal few with suspicion, occasionally even outright snark and scorn. Author Jennifer Weiner, for instance, sees some value in them, but suggests they’ve been getting over the top; scholar Camille Paglia, not one to mince words, called them “absolutely appalling” in a 1991 speech.


Read the full post on NPR.


Amazon Sues To Block Fake Reviews On Its Site

This article by Jay Greene originally appeared on The Seattle Times on 4/8/15.

Amazon.com sued three websites it accuses of purveying fake reviews, demanding that they stop the practice.

The suit alleges that the glowing product evaluations they provide deceive consumers and harm the sellers on Amazon’s site who don’t game the system.

The suit, filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court, accuses Jay Gentile of California and websites that operate as buyamazonreviews.com and buyazonreviews.com, among others, of trademark infringement, false advertising and violations of the Anticyber­squatting Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Consumer Protection Act.

“While small in number, these reviews threaten to undermine the trust that customers, and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers, place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon’s brand,” according to the suit.

The site buyazonreviews.com, which the suit claims is run by Gentile, didn’t respond to a request for comment. But Mark Collins, the owner of buyamazonreviews.com, denied Amazon’s claims.


Read the full article on The Seattle Times.


BuzzFeed Books Won’t Kill Literary Criticism — But Book Snobbery Might

This post by Michelle Dean originally appeared on Flavorwire on 11/8/13.

So here’s the thing: yesterday BuzzFeed Books named its new editor, a sometime friend of mine named Isaac Fitzgerald. I knew Isaac as the Managing Editor of a literary site known as The Rumpus, where I was a weekend editor for several months in 2012. 

Yesterday, he gave the following quote to a media reporting site:

BuzzFeed will do book reviews, Fitzgerald said, but he hasn’t figured out yet what form they’ll take. It won’t do negative reviews: “Why waste breath talking smack about something?” he said. “You see it in so many old media-type places, the scathing takedown rip.” Fitzgerald said people in the online books community “understand that about books, that it is something that people have worked incredibly hard on, and they respect that. The overwhelming online books community is a positive place.”

It’s likely that you, dear readers, have not have been following the latest scintillating round of slapfighting in book critic circles about the “state of criticism.” It’s always a subject of dubious interest to the general population, I think, but let me explain briefly anyway, because the debate is crashing into the perennial concern about the declining popularity of books in our culture, and we all care about books here at Flavorwire, so.


Read the full post on Flavorwire.


Surviving in the Amazon Jungle – How Authors and Reviewers Can Co-exist in a Hostile Environment (and run to court if they don’t)

This post by Pete Morin originally appeared on his site on 3/20/14.

Well, the Rice Petition has lost a lot of its steam as author after author continues to sign it with no apparent understanding of exactly what it proposes (based upon their own comments), but in the meantime, there has been a lot of discussion, and agreement, that Amazon’s review guidelines could use a few tweaks and a lot more enforcement.

There has also been a fair amount of criticism that demanding the true identities of ten million customers of Amazon products was too high a price to pay for a few dozen militant female reviewers to be “taught a lesson” by Queen Anne.

In that light, I began to consider the kind of actions the author and reviewer could take to both clarify their expectations in the book review arena and provide meaningful remedies against wrongdoers. There is no reason to send the cockroaches into the woodpile when a few well-coined provisos and wherefores can bring about harmony and understanding.

As a (dreaded) litigation attorney, I am forced to parse the language of contractual covenants, indemnifications, waivers, warranties, representations, certifications, promises and disclaimers. While the reading is excruciating, I take comfort in the fact that, pedantic and dull as they are, these kinds of clauses are usually enforceable according to their terms, no matter what they say. As long as both parties agree to the language and it is otherwise unambiguous and capable of only one meaning, it will be enforced in the event of a breach and consequent suit.


Click here to read the full post on Pete Morin’s site.


Jane Austen Read Her Reviews… and Kept Notes on Them

This post by Sal Robinson originally appeared on the Melville House blog on 5/22/14.

Some authors refuse to read their reviews. And then there’s Jane Austen. Who not only, it turns out, listened to what her friends and acquaintances had to say about her books, both positive and negative, but also took notes on it.

Austen’s notes are part of a cache of 1,200 documents that the British Library have drawn out of their Victorian and Romantic collections and are now highlighting on their website with all kinds of supplementary bells and whistles—contextualizing essays, documentary films, and images of primary sources ranging from manuscripts to illustrations to advertisements, broadsides, and the occasional dancing manual.

Austen appears to have compiled the reactions of her readers from letters, hearsay, and direct conversations and recorded them on a set of closely written pages around 1815, before her death at the age of 41, two years later.


Click here to read the full post on the Melville House blog.


Literary Criticism in the Era of the Clickbait Headline

This post by Jason Diamond originally appeared on Flavorwire on 5/15/14.

This probably says more about the type of conversations I have when I’m not sitting behind a computer than anything, but I’ve spent plenty of time in bars debating whether book reviews are of any value to anybody, from the reading public to the author who might look to critics for notes on what to improve. (If you are that special kind of literary masochist, then good on you. Go on doing what you’re doing). As someone who writes about books, as well as the type of person who enjoys reading criticism — to the point where I’ll read books full of book reviews from decades ago — I’m always going to stick up for book reviews. I’m always going to want to read them, and I wouldn’t mind always writing them. Reviews are important. Without them, the literary balance is thrown off, and the bar can be lowered to astonishing levels.

The thing is, people really don’t talk about reviews all that much. They might read them, but for the most part, unless it’s some intense Michiko Kakutani takedown over at the Times, discussing reviews doesn’t really compare to talking about which Stark was killed on the latest episode of Game of Thrones in terms of culturally relevant conversation topics. I wish that wasn’t the case, but in this tweet-a-second world, book reviews have had to fight really hard to stay in the conversation, especially on the Internet, where an Amazon review can make any casual reader feel like they’re John Leonard.


Click here to read the full post on Flavorwire.


How To Write A Book Review For Amazon.com

This post by Kristen J. Tsetsi originally appeared on her site on 3/12/14.

The integrity of The Book Review has been demolished by too many reviewers who use the book review space as a personal venting venue, whether it’s to beat an author with one-star reviews because s/he said something in public that annoyed people, or to slap an author with a once-star review because the F word appeared on too many pages.

Unfortunately, there’s really no way to stop the bad-review assaults written by people with personal vendettas, but it is possible to improve the quality of book reviews – making them truly helpful to other potential readers – by answering a short, simple set of questions while writing the review.

First, some examples of what not to do. Consider the following reviews pulled directly from Amazon:

“Don’t waste your money. Justin Bieber needs a more supportive family not so self absorbed, he seems like a nice person to bad he does not have a solid support system.” – One-star review of Nowhere but Up: The Story of Justin Bieber’s Mom

“She is putting her story out there and being vulnerable to the people who love her and follow her that is a very personable thing to do . I love her more for it” – Five-star review of Nowhere but Up: The Story of Justin Bieber’s Mom

I have no idea whether I want to read Pattie Mallette’s book based on these reviews. What I do know is that one person feels bad for Justin Bieber and his apparently lacking support system, and another really likes Justin Bieber’s mom. These are valid emotions, but they’re not book reviews. Neither does anything to help a person make a purchasing decision.


Click here to read the full post on Kristen J. Tsetsi’s site.


Anne Rice Owns the Bullies

This post originally appeared on STGRB on 1/26/14.

We’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. Sorry we are so late in doing it.
In our last post on Anne Rice, we showed you how she has been lighting up the Amazon fora with her wisdom and advice for authors. We also mentioned her unfortunate encounter with the bullies:

Note her Warning to Authors at the bottom. Unfortunately, like everyone else who has braved the discussion threads of Amazon, Anne too has noticed the hostility and general contempt that the AFT (Amazon Fora Trolls) have for authors. In fact, we published some of her comments on this topic in our post, Words of Wisdom From Anne Rice.

So… do you think she got attacked for her warning? You bet.

Has she stopped posting and offering her advice to authors? Nope.

In fact, she has responded to the trolls with such sophistication and eloquence, it seems they don’t really know how to respond to her. She’s too smart and trolls tend to be … well … not so smart.

In our post today we’ll show just how smart she is. She was immediately able to see right through the Amazon bullies and make intelligent observations that get right to the heart of the matter and reveal these nasty people for who and what they are: internet trolls. What’s more, she managed to isolate all of the most well-known trolls who stalk authors and their books simply because they have nothing better to do with their time.

First we’ll show you her general view of the Amazon bullies:


Click here to read the full post, which includes many screenshots of exchanges between Amazon reviewers and Anne Rice, on STGRB.