Some people will swear up and down that reviews sell books. I’m not so sure. I’ve had books with tons of glowing reviews that didn’t sell so hot. Meanwhile, my colleague and friend Emily Tilton has hit number one on Amazon in numerous categories and her books have very few reviews. I think in our genre, there are many people who are one-handed reading in the closet and there is no way in hell they’re going to leave a review.
So should we worry about reviews?
Mmm…yes and no. There are certain promotions (like Bookbub) that require a minimum number of reviews for your book to even be considered. There are probably also some people who do buy books based on reviews, so it’s nice for that, too.
But I also want to say this about reviews: lighten up. Please, please, please don’t go to Goodreads and read all your reviews and then make some decision about your writing career, because, well, people can be mean over there.
For erotic authors, particularly those of us in the fetish-y genre, it’s important to know which reviewers are friendly to your kink/genre. That said, it’s a game that changes constantly. You never know who will pick your book up from a particular review site. So if you end up getting reviewed by someone who doesn’t get your kink–and they call you a misogynist freak, don’t hang up your hat. I promise there are also reviewers who love non-con, the darker the better.
If you don’t get too hung up on everyone loving your kinky smut, then you can just submit to a few general places and let the chips fall where they may. Here are the ones I use:
Inviting your own fans to read Advanced Review Copies (ARC’s) is the best way to go, because they already know and love you. Of course you’re losing out on your sales by offering the book to them, but they can also be your biggest promoters, posting reviews on your release day, etc.
Scheduling a paid blog tour is also a great way to get a large number of reviews quickly. The blog tour organizer has access to book bloggers who will pick your book up and review it as part of the tour. There is usually an understanding that if they don’t like it well enough to give it three stars, they won’t post anything.
NetGalley is probably the quickest way to amass a large number of reviews other than asking your own fans. It’s a service to promote and publicize forthcoming titles to readers of influence. Reviewers, bloggers, journalists, librarians, booksellers, educators, or members of the media can use NetGalley for free to request and read titles before they are published.
NetGalley charges for books to be submitted. It’s set up more for publishers, but there are authors who have formed cooperatives to gain access. To find one, search Netgalley cooperative. I am part of Paloma Beck’s cooperative, which currently has a few spaces available, if you’re interested. You can join for the year, or by the month or quarter or half year and submit one book/month.
Manic Readers is a site that will connect you with book bloggers interested in reviewing books. This site is free. You load your book in and a long list of reviewers can request access to read and review your book. I don’t get a ton of reviews from here–maybe two per book, but at least it’s something.
Individual Review Sites
There are hundreds, maybe thousands of them. You might know the perfect ones for your genre. Here are a couple general ones:
It’s easy to request a review through The Romance Reviews’ site. I’ve had hit or miss luck through them. When they have reviewed my books, they seem to like them, but they don’t always get picked up.
Night Owl Reviews
I’ve had some luck with them as well. They have an erotica section. Again, it just depends on who picks up your book and what their taste is.
Remember that even if a particular reviewer doesn’t like you, it’s not a reflection of you or your art. If there’s something that can be learned from the review, take it. If it’s just mean–leave it. If it’s about them not getting your kink–don’t worry. If you think something’s hot, there are others out there who will think so, too. We all have our own interests and quirks. Be true to yourself and write on! 🙂
Where would you recommend an erotic horror novelist like myself submit for reviews?
Hmm… I don’t know! Try checking the reviews on other books in the genre to see if there are blogs/review houses that are fans.
This is so super helpful! Thanks for writing this!
“There are many people who are one-handed reading in the closet…” I just choked on my coffee, but it is very true! The struggle of not getting any reviews. The struggle of getting bad reviews. It’s a struggle!
Hee hee. Hope you didn’t spray your laptop. 🙂 You know it’s true! You just have to be willing to get the outraged reviews if you’re going to go after reviews at all.
I have long despised this desire for reviews. Personally, I don’t read them and don’t use them to choose books. What did everyone do before online reviews…they read the blurb and a sample. Still works. My sales are low yet steady regardless of reviews. Just relax and write the next book!
I agree–I don’t think reviews affect sales nearly as much as people say they do.
As someone who wrote fetish erotica long before I wrote romance, I can tell you there are tons of readers in the closet who would never leave a review. They fear it will be traced back to them by the NSA, the FBI, the CSI team or whoever, and their kink will be laid bare before all. The most popular pieces of fetish, e.g., spanking, erotica have at best 2 or 3 reviews.
Love your comment about Goodreads and reviews.
Yes, being an erotic writer it’s pretty rough getting a review. If only they’d let people review anonymously.
Yes, although I think if people are in shame around their kink, they’re the lurking type anyway– not likely to even leave an anonymous comment.
Great post, Renee! Thanks for the info!
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