How do you get Carol to read and review your book?

Over the years, I’ve risen from a reviewer ranking of one among millions to the top 5,000 Amazon reviewers. This took a lot of time and effort on my part. I am not “for hire” and I shudder at ads aimed at getting authors to buy book reviews.

More manuscripts, ARCs and requests for reviews come in than I can possibly read. I give them all the page one / chapter one test, but even a good book might get nudged aside for the one that hooks me to the end.

If I don’t read past chapter one, it doesn’t mean you’re not a good writer. Competition for my reading time is fierce. Some days I might be in the mood for cerebral and literary. Other days, I’ve had enough of real life’s follies and tragedies, and I just want into escape into an easy story with a happy ending.

Science Fiction gets first dibs because of the monthly deadline to write reviews for Perihelion Science Fiction, but also because I love science, new technology and speculative fiction.

Sometimes, but not often, I like thrillers. Normally I avoid whodunnits, police procedurals, military fiction, violence, blood, zombies, sexy billionaires, the overdone “feisty redhead” in fantasy and romance, and any number of themes might have me reaching for the next book in the queue.

What does draw me? Quirky, fresh, original; authentic characters; a “voice” that’s compelling. Snide, whiny heroines, self-absorbed heroes, rarely keep me turning pages.

I can overlook typos and syntax errors, to an extent, among indie authors. If a story is really good, and the author just needs an editor, I won’t 2-star the book or slam the door on that author, the way those ubiquitous “one-star bandits” enjoy doing. My policy is to avoid posting reviews lower than three stars, unless the author sells so many millions of books, my opinions won’t hurt their reputations or sales.

It’s discouraging for me when authors are upset with “only” four stars instead of five. I do my best to illuminate what’s good in a novel, and point out flaws as a secondary consideration. If you  must have five stars, buy a review. It will be short, superficial, and not as good as my 3- or 4-star review.

If you like a book review, voting yes at amazon or “like” at goodreads helps the author as well as the reviewer. I vote “no” to as many one-star bandits as I have time to find. Rarely does a good story deserve “epic fail” as a rating. I encourage readers to vote down the obvious negative reviewers who make a sport out of trashing other people’s writing.

More people ask for reviews than I can possibly accommodate. I always say thank you for asking; you can email me a .mobi file or Word document but I can’t promise how soon I’ll get to it. (PDFs are such a pain, I tend to dismiss them even if they pass the chapter one test. Too many other books waiting for my attention.)

Another day, I’ll write more about what it takes to (1) get me to read a book and (2) get me to rate five stars. For now, “make me laugh” and Ill read ANY genre, even explicit violence.  Making me laugh is worth at least 4 stars no matter how many typos or syntax errors. 

Humor is a tricky thing, of course. What millions of Americans love, I wince at (injuries to sensitive male anatomy, Borat defecating in public). Certain things not only fail to amuse me, they annoy me: boob jokes, giant naked ladies cradling men like babies – I mean, some of this stuff, you’d think I’d rarely encounter in fiction; instead, I’ve seen so much of it I never want to see it again.
You just never know what I’ll love, or not. You *can* know that I’m happy to be asked to read your book, as long as you understand I cannot promise to read all of it and post a review. If your ego cannot handle four versus five stars, maybe you shouldn’t come to me. If you think all book reviewers should buy all the books review, hey, I’d love to, but if I bought every book I’ve reviewed or considered reviewing, I’d go broke. Also, for the hours I spend reading, highlighting, reviewing and promoting, the cost of emailing me a .mobi file of your book is not unreasonable, and I am not failing to support my fellow authors if I fail to buy every book they publish. It took thousands of hours of my time, time I could have spent working on my own fiction and getting it published, to become a professional book reviewer.
Message me at Linked-In, goodreads, Twitter or Facebook. My inbox is clogged with so many hundreds of daily emails, I’m afraid I overlook important messages at least once a day. (Yes. Add to my to-do list: another email account.)

About carolkean

novelist, reviewer, editor, book critic for Liberty Island and Perihelion Science Fiction; native prairie/guerilla gardener; champion of liberty, indie authors & underdogs; one of the top two reviewers in Editors &Preditors Poll 2015; Amazon Vine, NetGalley Top Reviewer
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