After having spent anywhere from months to years preparing and editing your manuscript, the next step is the submission. Now, anyone who has ever submitted their work to a publisher knows that it is a long, tedious process. The last thing we want is to receive a rejection letter stating, “Good story, but it doesn't fit what we are looking for.”
If this is something you have come across, you know that the next part of your market research will be a little more vigilant to ensure you match your work to the publisher as much as possible.
So my question is this: Why don’t authors take the same care when it comes to submitting their work to reviewers?
OK, granted, this is only applicable for reviews we have a say in, such as blog tours or reviewers approaching the author for a copy. Taking a moment to get to know your reviewer is important. Letting them know what genre they are going to be reading is only part of it. Looking over their past reviews is also a good idea.
Don’t make the mistake of leaving that to the reviewer, you might be disappointed in the end.
So, what kind of things are we looking for?
Let me give you some examples…
One person wrote in her review: “I have never been a fan of sci-fi and this is where my habit of not reading a blurb caught up with me. *Sigh* This one's a sci-fi adventure. It didn't work for me because I don't like the genre in general, there's nothing wrong with the book.”
Another reviewer confessed this: “And thank you for not being hateful. :-) I have received nasty emails from authors in the past, and there is that moment, where I post the review, that I dread checking my email.”
That said, authors have to assume some of the responsibility and look into who is reviewing their work. I was shocked when following a webinar by author Steve Piacente who said that he was very selective of who he gave his novel to. I had never even thought about it before.
Another example of incompatibility is when an adult is reviewing a children’s book from an adult point of view. I read to my four year old often enough, and although her idea of a great read is not the same as my own, I can appreciate a good children’s book. I could not even imagine reviewing one from an adult point of view. Not everyone realizes what they are doing and sadly, their evaluation is off or unjust.
In this case I would suggest reading previous reviews posted by this reviewer before handing over your novel.
The same care should be taken into consideration when it comes to religion, sexual intensity, violence (either verbal or physical) and such.
Yes, I believe the reviewer SHOULD, to some extent, look into what he or she is about to rate and review, but ultimately, the author should be on the ball. There are no set of review standards, no set of ethics to guide either party by. So, authors, after having poured heart and soul into your work, take it one step further and get to know your reviewer.