Bracing For Rejection

Self Publishing

In approximately two weeks I will begin the arduous and soul crushing process of asking strangers to review my books. I’ve been through this song and dance before and over the last two years I’ve probably sent out almost a thousand emails. Yes, there are in fact that many unique bloggers out there and yes most of them have rejected me. After sending out all of those emails they’ve resulted in exactly 26 reviews. 26. I don’t even want to do the math on what minuscule percentage that is because it would be absolutely pointless. And yet I’m about to begin this process all over again.

Different authors have different methods when it comes to marketing. Some do absolutely nothing and sell hundreds of copies right out of the gate. Some do paid advertising, spending a small fortune and then don’t even sell one copy. But usually after failing to get the proper results, a smart author would reexamine their methodology and decide to try a different route next time.

I didn’t do that. At least not the first three times. In fact, after failing to gain any traction after sending out hundreds of review requests for my first book I decided not to do anything at all for my second. No review requests, no free chapter Fridays, no giveaways. You could say I gave up before failure could even be an option just to save myself from the heartbreak. It wasn’t until the release of my third book that I decided to give it another try. But rather than try another marketing route like a sane person might do I decided to send out review requests again, only this time I decided to send out 600 emails instead of 300.

It was another disappointment and despite the fact that I should have seen it coming I still had the audacity to be surprised. Now that I’m approaching the release of my first series (the first three novels I plan to publish consecutively this fall) I’m faced with a dilemma. Either I stick to begging for reviews the old fashioned way or I consider going another route, maybe one that costs actual money. In other words I don’t want to make the same mistake twice. The only problem is…I’m not sure what exactly was the mistake.

Was it hoping too much and creating these ridiculously unrealistic expectations? Was it believing too much in the stories themselves? In myself? Was it thinking that asking people to give up their time in exchange for a review was all it would take to create some momentum and that I could just send out all of these emails and then leave the leg work to someone else? I think all writers are guilty of straddling this line between total self-loathing and total self-righteousness. One day we think that our book is amazing and that everyone should read it and the next we think it’s the worst thing ever written and should be burned immediately. It’s an exhausting way to live but the truth is it’s also necessary. Because it’s within this very tug of war where our passion truly ignites.

So maybe I won’t send out hundreds of emails. Maybe I won’t give away hundreds of free copies. Or maybe I will. Because maybe the mistake wasn’t in the trying. Maybe the mistake wasn’t even in the hoping. Maybe the real mistake would be to not approach this project with the same unwavering belief that this story is good enough and that it is powerful enough to speak for itself.

16 thoughts on “Bracing For Rejection

  1. I like your blog! If you’re going to send the review requests, perhaps you could first send them to the people who’ve already reviewed your books and enjoyed them.

    Thanks for following me, by the way. 🙂

    1. Now that I actually have a handful of bloggers who are familiar with my work, I think that is a really great suggestion! It might also help to take some of the pressure off in the beginning so that those first few rejections don’t sting quite as much. And I’m so glad you like the blog!

    1. Absolutely! I’ve tried to chronicle everything since I first started this journey a few years ago and this’ll be my third attempt at putting together some kind of blog tour. As I hinted at in my post, it’s hard to say whether I’ve learned any absolutes when it comes to marketing–I’m not sure that there are any–but I’m hoping that because my next release is in a different genre it might appeal to more people. I’m also hoping to delegate some of the work to others so that should help too.

  2. I think it might be helpful to have a blog tour. Set up a post asking for those who might be interested. You will be surprised how many tour participants will read and review your book. Also, if you are willing to give away three books you can go to http;// and sign up to be part of the team. if you want to be committed for the long haul you can join Rave Reviews Book club for $15.00. Here is the link I have found requests for reviews to be pretty much a waste of time. The fact you got 25 reviews is amazing. Also thanks for following my blog.

    1. Wow! Thank you for all of this information. In the past my attempts at putting together a blog tour consisted of the same thing I’d been doing all along–sending out emails to bloggers–and you’re right, it’s almost impossible to get people to agree to take the time to review your book that way. The only benefit I really found was that bloggers were more willing to host giveaways/interview/guest posts so I’ve had much better luck gaining exposure. Unfortunately though, that exposure never translated into very many sales. This time around I’m considering hiring someone else to put the blog tour together for me. There are a few book tour companies that have a great track record and it would be a relief knowing someone else was holding bloggers accountable and keeping track of who was participating. My biggest problem was having people agree to review my novels and then not responding to my emails after I sent them the file, which is scary considering anyone could take advantage and upload those files to a torrent site.

  3. That sounds so discouraging! I’d be interested to know if the people who declined to review your book gave reasons why they wouldn’t do it. Do they just not do indie books? Thanks very much for following my blog! I’m looking forward to reading more of yours.

    1. I’m always very careful to only contact bloggers who openly review indie books and clearly state that on their policy page so when I say they rejected me, I really mean that they just didn’t respond to my emails. There were a handful who actually took the time to decline either due to time constraints or because it didn’t sound like something that would interest them. But on average I would only receive about 10 responses per 200 emails I sent out and of those about half would actually follow through with the review.

  4. I’ve been doing the review request email round too, and after I don’t know how many there hasn’t been a single reply. Ouch! I also paid for some very small promos which resulted in diddly squat. It’s hard and discouraging, but I think you have the right attitude. Best of luck with this lot!

    1. It’s definitely a lot of work for very little return. The only reason I haven’t abandoned this method altogether is because all it takes is one really passionate reader to help shine a light on your book and share it with others. Full time indie authors owe so much of their success to a strong readership and word of mouth. Even if I’m building that readership at a snail’s pace it’s still making a difference. I’ve connected with a few readers and bloggers who have read and reviewed each one of my novels and I’m so grateful for those relationships, which is something that never would have come about if I hadn’t sent out all of those emails. I’d say as long as you have the time and desire, keep at it. You never know who might finally respond to one of your emails, and like I said, all it takes is one.

  5. I’m currently doing the rounds myself for my new book ‘Five: a Maor novel’. I’ve found better traction on Goodreads though as many bloggers have active Goodreads profiles. Kindle Direct promotions also got me a few reviews, but you’re so right, it is a lot of work! There are other Indie authors (like me), who know how hard this is, and we like to support one another. I’ve done a review swap or two, which also helps as long as both parties understand that honesty is the name of the game. Send me your info?

    1. I’ve actually tried the Goodreads route before but I find that those requests work best when you have a paperback copy available. Unfortunately I can only accommodate reviewers who have some kind of e-reader or don’t mind reading on their laptop. Two years ago that made it extremely difficult to find reviewers but luckily all that’s changed. Now everyone has a nook or a kindle, which makes my books much more accessible. I actually used KDP as well for my first novel and ended up getting almost 4,000 downloads and was pretty visible on the top 100 free list for a while, which was terribly exciting. Unfortunately I only ended up getting one review from all of that exposure so for me it’s just not worth it to enroll again. I’ve used some other promotions sites that I actually had some pretty good luck with but they require you to already have a certain number of 3-4 star reviews before you qualify so those won’t help me again until I’m further along in the process.

      I’ve been really wary of doing review swaps in the past. Actually, if you check out my Goodreads page you’ll see that I don’t even display books on my shelves unless I could give them four stars or higher and I don’t write reviews. I wrote an entire blog post on how I feel writers should maintain a certain etiquette when it comes to reviewing/rating books. Not everyone might agree but I think things can get really messy really fast when authors start writing reviews of each other’s work. You’re absolutely right that all reviews should be honest but not everyone plays by the same rules and unfortunately it’s too risky, which is why I’ve decided to just not write any reviews at all. I thank you for the offer to swap info though! It’s really just my personal preference not to put myself in a position where I could hurt someone’s feelings and/or influence readers in a negative way.

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