Welcome to Jane's ARC Angels, I'm super excited to have you here!
Some people who join my ARC team are experienced reviewers and know how it all works, others are brand new and have never been on an ARC team before - if this is you, wow, welcome and I'm honoured you chose to join MY team! So for the newbies (actually for all of you) I thought I'd drop some guidelines on what my expectations are, how I run things and how to write effective reviews. You are welcome to bookmark this page and come back to it whenever you need to. If you've been reviewing for a while, have a read anyway, it can't hurt, right?
Did you know my ARC Angels have their own secret Facebook Group? Yup, we do. But you won't be able to find it because it's secret lol. If you'd like to join simply email me saying you'd like to join Jane's ARC Angels Facebook Group and I'll send you an invite. There is no obligation to be in the group, all ARCs will be sent out via email as per usual, the group is for chit chat, fun, competitions, special announcements etc.
How it works! My guidelines
When I have an ARC ready to go, I'll email you. In the email will be a link to download a copy from a service I use called Bookfunnel - this allows you to download the book in whatever format suits your device. Then the fun begins - you read my work *gasp* and then leave a review. All very straightforward, yes? Indeed, but I've found I need to instill some rules and some of this will get to sound repetitive (sorry not sorry).
How to find the link after you've reviewed:
Step 1: Go to www.Amazon.com
Step 3: Sign in if prompted
Step 2: Click on YOUR PROFILE
Step 4: You'll see all of the books you've reviewed under Community Activity. Click on the review you need.
Step 5: Copy (CTRL + C) the URL that appears in the top address bar. Paste that link (CTRL + V) into an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org - you can reply to the email I send you, or start a new email, whatever your preference.
Right. Let's get into the nuts and bolts of reviewing. Nothing burns me like the "this was a great book butttt *I* think it should have been longer" or should have had more sex, or shouldn't have had sex. You either thought it rocked, or it didn't.
In a perfect world, authors wouldn't have to contend with trolls writing fake reviews, and I don't mean genuine negative reviews. If it's a genuine review, it's not a troll review but I appreciate those who are aware what we are up against and review honestly and accurately to help us overcome that.
So I'm going to do my best to explain what a review is - and isn't.
a) It's not a book summary or synopsis of the book.
b) Make sure you understand the rating system (more on this below)
c) Don't use the rating system negatively (i.e. 1 star) for technical glitches
d) Most readers don't have a clue how much editing goes into a book but like to be the typo police and act as if the entire book is one hot unedited mess. Don't be this person.
e) Don't one star a book and then say you haven't read it. If you haven't read it, don't give it a rating or review. Simple.
An explanation of the review system
Next time you're about to leave a review, take a second to hover over each star. You'll see that it translates as:
one star *I hate it*
two stars *I don't like it*
three stars *it's okay*
four stars *I like it*
five stars *I love it*
This is how, in an ideal world, we would want things to go.
Let me give you an example: this is not a real review of my work by-the-way, I’m simply using it for demonstration purposes, but I and other authors have dozens of similar ones.
This person says, *This was a really great read it was well written and I loved the characters and the chemistry between them the only reason I am giving it 3 stars is because I felt like it just kinda cuts off at the end and leaves you hanging I mean you do get an HEA but I feel like it could have kept going.* It’s this persons right to feel that the book is *okay* because they didn’t think it carried on long enough, of course. Frankly, that particular review DOESN'T hurt the book at all; it will just deter people who dislike shorter books from reading it, which I count as a plus. Not disputing that at all. But be clear on one thing: giving a three star is saying that the book is average, skippable, not enjoyable.
BUT I also want to tell you why you should consider whether you want to give a positive, or a critical review to a book. (Three stars and below are classified as critical.)
Again, this isn’t about me, the example I’m using didn’t happen to ME, but it did happen to a fellow author. She geared herself up for her first large-scale promotion, giving away the first book in her series for free for five days. It worked: over thirty thousand people read it, and a fair percentage of those carried on reading the rest of series. But she also got a bunch of bad reviews within a month – ten one star, a few two and three stars, and that means that the book became a 3.7 out of five-star rating overall – down from a 4.7. She knows that thousands of readers loved it from the follow through sales to the rest of the series, and messages about follow up books. But the 3.7 out of 5 star ranking on the first book completely killed the series. It stayed around that rank – it never recovered. Now, when she promotes it, it doesn’t work nearly as well as her other books because a brand new reader rightly wants to try book one first, and what book one says is *meh. Don’t bother.* It hurts her professionally.
I’m not trying to make ANYONE feel guilty about the ratings they give! I’m explaining why, if a book is well written and entertains you, you should consider giving it an appropriate rating. As for this author, well she’s taken down this series because when new readers take a glance at the reviews it’s enough for them to decide the book must be horrible. So she did the best thing she could for her author business and took the entire series down, even though she had fans who loved it.
As an author there is nothing we can do about bad reviews and ratings, we can’t have them pulled down or changed. I also respect people who dislike my books and want to give it bad reviews, it’s fine, I can’t please everyone. This isn’t meant to be a rant, it’s a call to make you understand 1) what the star ratings actually mean – as I said, just hover over it 2) what happens when a book is killed by reviews. Now I’m happy to say this particular author has a few other series that do well so she’s not in a situation where she may end up having to stop writing, thankfully, but there are plenty of debut authors who have stopped writing altogether because their books didn’t take off. Reviews are often a big part of why.
I hope you found this helpful and informative. Again, not pointing fingers or making anyone feel guilty. This is just for those who need a better understanding of the system.
Now that we’ve got the ranking sorted, what should you say in the review itself? I’ve already said not to give a synopsis of the story, but what do you say instead? Here are some ideas to help you out.
And my final words of wisdom when it comes to leaving reviews (not just for my books but for anyone’s books) is don’t be a douche. Don’t be mean or nasty. Don’t put in your review not to buy the book, because that can ruin another’s experience, or potential to buy the book. Not everyone is going to like the same books as others, and that is what makes readers so unique and not boring. So don’t spoil it for others. If you didn’t like a book, fine, state why, but don’t diss the author.