After you wrote your novel and managed to get it published, all of your friends wrote reviews about how you are the reincarnation of Faulkner with a dab of Hemmingway thrown in (See Reviews and Reviewers Part 1 below). Somehow you want more. You want the opinion of someone you haven’t slept with, played baseball with, or sat at the local pub and got drunk with. This may be the most terrifying part of writing: an honest opinion of your work.
Unless you are the reincarnation of Faulkner, when you were trying to get a publisher you sent your manuscript out to various publishers and agents, and they sent you rejection letters back (or in most cases, just ignored you). But just you and the agent or publisher saw the letter. With a reviewer hundreds, thousands and, in some cases, millions of people could find out that an eight year-old with a typewriter, muscle spasms and Tourette Syndrome could write a better book than you. But you are going to do it, because you want to know– you have to know—what someone objective thinks of your book.
So where do you send your book? The New York Times is not going to review your book if it was published independently or through a small press. The New York Times reviews books by writers such as John Grisham and Steven King. The funny part is that the New York Times could say that the books read like they were written by a one-legged chimpanzee throwing rutabagas at a computer keyboard, and Grisham and King would still sell a gazillion copies (by the way I am a fan of both these authors. I’m just making a point). If you are going to get your book reviewed, your best shot is at a review site. Most of these sites are run by authors like you. Try to stay away from the sites that give nothing but five-star reviews. Readers catch on to this fast and tend to disregard the reviews like they do the ones from your friends. The accepted practice is to contact the site and ask them if they will review your book. I requested reviews from a couple of dozen sites for my novel In The Sticks, and I received replies from about half–I guess the rest were practicing to be agents and publishers. Not all of the sites that replied agreed to review my book. Most of the ones that declined said they were,” too backed up. “Too backed up” seems to be a common problem with review sites and old people who don’t eat enough fiber. I received a reply from one site that said that they only reviewed books that were recommended by the Mystery Writers of America. I wanted to reply: “You only review books that you already know are good? You don’t believe in going out on a limb, do you?” But I didn’t, because someday I might have a book recommended by the Mystery Writers of America.
I did get a few sites to agree to review In The Sticks. When you get a site to review your book, get the book to them as fast as possible, some want a hard copy and some want an ebook in one format or another. I had a site that said in the review policy that they would not review ebooks. They hated ebooks. Ebooks were the antichrist and would end the universe as we know it. I offered to send them a paperback and they requested an ebook. It had me worried, but they gave me a decent review.
Some sites have a very long lag time for their reviews—it’s that “backed up” problem again. One site said they would review my book, but it would take eight months before they could get to it. I sent the book. Hopefully my next novel will be out at the same time as that review for my first one comes out.
So far I have not had less than a four-star review. I’ve had some constructive criticism—some I agreed with some I didn’t. But I used it all to improve, and that is what it is all about; becoming a better writer.         


About thewritingdeputy

Joel Jurrens was a deputy sheriff for 26 years until he retired in 2013. He has published three novels: In The Sticks, Graves of His Personal Liking and County Ops: The Vengeance of Gable Fitzgerald. He tries to keep his blog light and humorous and sometimes downright silly.
This entry was posted in book, book, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s