Getting a Review – what to do and what not to do

I am the Founder of Discovering Diamonds, an on-line review blog for historical fiction, whether mainstream/traditional published or 'indie' which includes all aspects of self-published books, be the books entirely D.I.Y. produced or published via a publishing company specialising in assisted publishing.

You've written your book, and now you want reviews?

Approaching a Reviewer.

So you’ve decided to ask one of the respected online Bloggers to review your book. Great. 
  • Study the blogs. It is no good sending your lovingly produced historical novel to a reviewer of crime thrillers or horror. 
  • Have a look to see if there is a Guidelines for Submission page – and if there is do as the guidelines guide! If it says send two chapters, send two chapters, not four. If it says post a hardcopy book, don’t send an e-book.
  • Of course there is nothing stopping you from completely ignoring the guidelines – except I doubt your book will be reviewed!
  • If the blogger has posted his or her name - Book Reviews by Anne Blogger - then don't address your initial enquiry as Dear Sir, or Dear Sarah. (it does happen!)
  • Make sure your enquiry is professionally typed. A message with spelling errors and i instead of I is not going to make a very good first impression of your ability as an author is it?
  • By all means follow up to see if your book has been received, and maybe a month or so later ask if it has been reviewed, but do not pester. It is a very good way of making sure that your book gets put on the back shelf and is left there.
The Blog Tour and Blog Hop.

These are good ways to get a host of reviews. 
Click here for information about blog tours and blog hops.

What to do if you get a bad review, or bad Amazon Comment.

In a nutshell. Nothing. You can make a polite response: “thank you for your comment, I appreciate the time you took to write it.” Or maybe add something like “I’m sorry you did not like my novel, but it would be a boring world if we all liked the same things.”
And leave it at that.

Do not get into an argument! So this person picked holes in your book. Big ones. Enormous pits in fact. Maybe the person is right! Maybe your book IS riddled with typos, point of view changes, bad grammar and has no concept of continuity. Or maybe this reviewer is just being snotty.
Either way be honest with yourself – is this an honest review? If so take note and do something to correct the errors. If it isn’t honest, if it is senseless sniping – move on. The writer is the one who needs to get a life, not you.

If you do reply huffily to an honest reviewer, arguing a point, or even complaining rudely, I can guarantee you will never get another review from that person.

We do this reviewing voluntarily, and I do not appreciate being shouted at by an irate author who cannot take on-board that his or her book is not up to standard.

Yes it is disappointing, yes it hurts to get a bad review – but it is much more satisfying to know you made errors, have learnt from them and after putting them right, to know you have ended up with a polished, professionally produced novel that is worth writing – and reading!

Finally, if you do get a disappointing review, don't take it to heart. It's funny but writers (and I include myself here) dwell on the poor comments but ignore the good ones.
This is probably because writing is such a solitary occupation.

The other day I had to tell an author his book had been rejected because of incorrect formatting. He was, to say the least, disappointed because, actually, th story is very good.
The following day I had to send him another e-mail telling him his earlier published books had been recommended for shortlisting for a potential award.

Oh the ups and downs of a writer's life! :-) 

For more tips on writing fiction my Discovering the Diamond may be of use and interest.
Written through experience in order to assist new and novice writers avoid the mistakes I made.

Further articles about Reviews and Reviewers
A new sport? Author bashing
The Dilemma of the Common Comma
Reviewing the Reviewers' Reviews
Reviling the Reviewer
An amusing look at some bad reviews!
From the Judges's Point of View - what Judges look for - and what they reject (useful tips especially for Historical Fiction writers)

Also, click here for :


  1. Lots here to help and support authors. Thank you for an interesting and useful article.

  2. A top-class article. Informative, readable and actionable (not in the legal sense!). One issue perhaps worth mentioning is the increasing number of reviewers with a reading list from here to eternity, so are no longer taking any new submissions. As self-publishing grows exponentially is this the future?

  3. Thanks for the comment Alan. I agree a lot of reviewer's lists re full - but there are also new reviewers coming along who very quickly establish themselves as worth-while readers. I can see that many review blogs etc will become more fussy, especially with Indie books. (including myself as Managing Editor at the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews) With increasing submission lists the initial 'quick glance' will weed out many of the not so well produced books - similar to how agents use their slush-piles. So to get your book read, let alone reviewed, writers must produce their books to the best quality possible.


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