Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Love Me? Review Me! (And Even if You Don't!) - Guest Post by Francine LaSala

"Reviews let me know that my work is not just a tree falling in the literary forest. Positive or otherwise, they're the sound of the connection I seek with readers when I write."

If a tree falls in the forest and no one's around to hear it, does it make a sound? I've always been of the mind that yes, of course it does! Which is why I've never been concerned about reviews before. If I'm to be honest, I never read or didn't read a book based on someone else's review of said book. 

But I'm also an oddball. If you've read my books, you probably know this. If you haven't read them yet, you totally should! But be warned. :-) 

If you have / do read my books, which you should--especially The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything, which got a nice review from Novel Escapes, and which is on sale this week only for 99 cents (11-1 through 11-7)--please, please, pretty please, leave a review. 


Because ... It matters. In so many ways, it matters. 

I do want to know that you read my books and that they affected you on some level. Even if that level is that you want to come to my house and punch me in the face. (Not that I'd tell you where I live or anything.) It matters to me, and it matters to other readers. We exist in a publishing environment where word-of-mouth means everything now. If readers aren't sharing about us, love or not-so-much-loving, we're not really living in it. Existing, perhaps, but not living, growing, thriving. 

It's not just me who's desperate for your love (or disdain), however. I asked some other authors to weigh in on why reviews are important to them. Here's what they said:

"Reviews confirm for us that we're not just sending things out into a literary black hole. For me, reviews--both good and bad--are my muse. They encourage me to keep writing, sometimes because I know people will enjoy what I have to say, and other times to prove the naysayers wrong."

"I'd love to hover over the shoulder of everyone who buys my books and see their reaction as they're reading... good or bad. When a reader takes the time to write a review, they give us a glimpse of their experience with our novel."

"Reviews let us know we're connecting with others, which is one of the greatest joys of writing."

"Reviews are validations of sort - that the story you've written and the unique way you've written it has been enjoyed by someone other than yourself!" 

"Reading a really good review for one of my books makes me positively euphoric, and I'll be in a good mood for the rest of the day. At the risk of sounding like an addict, I love the rush I get each time I discover one. Bad reviews... well, they used to have the opposite effect (I'd be in a slump for the rest of the day) but I'm learning how to handle them better."

"A thoughtful, well written review is very valuable to any author, but especially an indie author, because it lends credibility to the work and indicates to other readers that the book is a worthy investment of time and money."

"Sometimes a review surprises me, when a reader has glimpsed some meaning in the book which I barely knew was in there. That's always fascinating!"

So please, help an author out. Connect with us and the work we've provided--for you! Because writing a book is a process very much like falling alone in a forest... Please let us know we've made a sound!


5 Quick Tips for Writing a Review in 5 Minutes or Less!

1. Say something quick as a headline: "Loved it!", "Great book!", or... "Not worth  the paper it's printed on!" or "Not worth the digital space it's occupying!" You don't have to be clever here. You're not being tested on this.

2. Opening thought: "I really enjoyed this book by Francine LaSala," or "It may be time for Francine LaSala to check out an online trade school because writing was clearly not the best career choice here."

3. Support that opening thought. Tell us two or three things you loved or didn't love about the book. "I liked this character!" "I liked the way the author described the setting," "I could relate to..." IMPORTANT: Avoid spoilers at all costs. Especially when a book is centered around a huge element of surprise, DO NOT SAY, "I did not buy that [insert huge element of surprise here]" or "I was delighted that after all that tense back-and-forth, finally [insert huge element of surprise here]!"

4. Then, the easiest ending ever: "Highly recommended!" or "Wasn't for me."

5. Last but not least, remember that the person who wrote the book you're reviewing is an actual person, who does not deserve to be told their house needs to be burned down or their pets need to be mutilated or they need to be dragged to the town square and flogged because the book they wrote was not in your taste. You don't have to lie; just remember that your mother taught you to be kind. If you feel like you can read your review to your mother, you probably did the book, the author, and even yourself justice. :-)

Francine LaSala has written nonfiction on every topic imaginable, from circus freaks to sex, and edited bestselling authors of all genres through her company, Francine LaSala Productions. She is now actively taking on indie clients for manuscript evaluations, editing services, copywriting (covers, blurbs, taglines, queries, and more), website and blog creation, and developing kickass social media campaigns. 

The author of novels Rita Hayworth’s Shoes and The Girl, The Gold Tooth & Everything, and the creator of The “Joy Jar” Project, she lives with her husband and two daughters in New York. 

Connect with Francine:


  1. Great post! I LOVE the review advice. It really is that simple. And now... I have about 70 reviews to write.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks for coming back, Francine! Always a pleasure! And I absolutely loved this post, both as a book blogger and a debut indie author! Thank you!

  3. Great post - I must admit that before I published a book it wouldn't occur to me to write a review. However, not that I know how much they mean, I review every book I read - thankfully, I read a lot of good books and have never had to say anything negative!

    1. That's excellent! I do try to post when I can. For better or for worse, I haven't even read a book in months, so that should give me time to catch up! Thanks for contributing!

  4. Great post, Francine! Love the hilarious review-writing advice! :)

  5. What an awesome post. I'm going to share it right now! I have friends who are "afraid" to review books because they say they are not good writers. I try to tell them that the review does not have to be well-written or creative; it just needs to plainly state if you liked/disliked the book and why.

  6. Excellent tips, Francine! Especially about the spoilers. I mean, they SPOIL the surprises for unsuspecting readers!

  7. Hehehe. I totally laughed out loud when I read this:

    "Last but not least, remember that the person who wrote the book you're reviewing is an actual person, who does not deserve to be told their house needs to be burned down or their pets need to be mutilated or they need to be dragged to the town square and flogged because the book they wrote was not in your taste."

    You have such a way with words, Francine!

  8. Lovely guide to painless reviewing.
    I'm always a little impressed by reviews which include a clever & witty synopsis of the plot, but I never include that in the reviews I write, as I figure the would-be reader can get that information elsewhere easily enough. It's far more important to share what you loved, and the reservations you had. In many cases, I think the things that turn some readers off, can actually attract others.

  9. Just shared this guest post on Facebook - great tips, great insights!



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