One of the thing most daunting (and possibly unexpected) things you’ll face as a new writer is reviews. They are terrifying. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re like sending your baby out into the world and asking people to tell you whether or not they like her/him. And then asking them whether that evaluation has anything to do with the way you raised them.
But as terrifying as it is, it’s a necessary part of the publishing process. Since I’m in that phase now with my debut book The Tycoon’s Reluctant Cinderella, I thought I would share what I’ve learnt about the review process so far.
1. Reviews require research
There are many, many book bloggers out there. Not all of them are going to be the right fit for your book. A good way to find those who are is to check who the more established authors in your genre engage with. Compile a list. Once you have that list, you can have a look through their website and read their reviews (I also like to read their “About Me” page to get a feel for who they are). Once you’ve done that, you can go through their review policy and decide whether you want to submit.
2. Reviewers might not get back to you
If you’re anything like me, you’re feeling pretty chuffed with yourself for getting this far. You’ve mustered the courage to submit, and now you’re waiting to hear from them…
…and waiting…and waiting…and waiting…
Book bloggers get tons of requests, and if they’re not interested in your book, they won’t respond. It’s a difficult fact to grasp, but once you have, you won’t feel as despondent. It will make you appreciate those who do get back to you, and will help you to build a relationship with them. If you’re just starting out, these relationships will be of great value as you further your career, and may take time to build. Which brings me to my next point:
3. You have to be patient
As a new author, not getting responses or having a network you can rely on can be frustrating. But it’s important to remember that you’re just getting started. I have to remind myself of this often, especially when I see the ease with which my fellow authors navigate the review phase. It’s absolutely normal to worry about why you haven’t heard from a reviewer. If you have heard from one, it’s normal to worry about whether they like it. Being patient will help you to take things as they come, and you’ll find yourself slowly learning more about what’s required in the publishing world.
4. There will be negative reviews
Part of the reason I delayed sending out ARCs (advanced reader copies) of my book is because of this. I was (and still am) terrified that my writing isn’t good. Again, I think that’s pretty normal. As a first-time author, you don’t have the benefit of knowing that people like your writing. You’re still plagued by the uncertainty that being new in any career can bring.
But the truth is not everyone will like your writing. While you should see negative reviews as an opportunity to learn (if they’re constructive and not just mean), they do not define your work. They’re someone’s opinion. Someone who might have had a relationship with their boss in the past which didn’t turn out well and who now hates your office romance novel. The good news is that not everyone has to like your work. Because someone will like it, and those are who you’re writing for.
5. It’s okay not to have it all figured out right from the start
You’re still learning. If you haven’t succeeded with getting reviews for your first book, you’ll know how to approach the process the second time around. And you’ll do even better the third time around. You’ve already learnt so much in your journey and have started laying the foundation for a great career. Be proud of that instead of focusing on the things you still have to learn!