An Interview with a Review Organizer

I want to talk about a little something that authors harp on about all the time, and that’s reviews. If you’re an author then you know how important reviews are to being noticed on Amazon. You’ve probably begged for them, reminded people about them and become a little obsessed about them at some point.

If you’re a reader then you’ve probably seen reviews on book blogs, or reminders that we should post them as often as we can.

Before I started writing, I wasn’t much of a reviewer. I didn’t go out of my way to review books. I mean reviewing a book meant I had to go to the site and then find something to say about the book, and who has time for that when they can just start a new book?

Early this year I took a position reviewing for a blog. Maybe, it was the enticement of free books, or the experience of working with a blog and expanding my contacts in the industry. Either way, I learned a lot about the review process.

A lot of blogs have a review organizer, and for this blog post, I decided to interview mine. For the purpose of this post, I am going to call her Raspberry.

Me: Tell me a little about how you became a review organizer.

Raspberry: It’s a funny story. See, I love to read and I can read fairly quickly. My husband limited me to a $10 Budget of books a month. So, I was looking around for free books when I came across a facebook post asking for reviewers. I would get free books as long as I could provide a review… FREE books sure I signed up! A few months into being a reviewer, I was asked if I would like a spot on the admin team for the blog I belong with, and the rest is history!

Me: On an average day, how many reviews do you get in your inbox?

Raspberry: I have about 5-10 a day.

Me: Is there anything that makes you not review a book?

Raspberry: We are pretty open to reading any and all books from one genre to the next. The only time we’ve had a problem is if the author did not like our review, which just means they might not use us next time.

Me: How do you deal with authors whose books need more work, that can’t achieve the three star review?

Raspberry: If we are unable to give the book a 3 star review, we are honest and we go back to the publisher or the author and let them know. We leave it up to them, as to whether they would like us to add the review on our blog or if they would like us to just do a promo for the book (most of the time it’s the promo).

Me: You organize a team of readers to do reviews. How much time per day do you spend in that role? How much of your time is spent following up?

Raspberry: That’s a great question. I spend more time than I should (as my husband says). I spend two hrs in the morning, an hour in the afternoon (if my boys take a nap that day), then 2 hours at night. That isn’t counting questions or comments, which I do throughout the day.

Me: What are your favorite and least favorite parts of being a review organizer?

Raspberry: Without a doubt my favorite things about doing this job is all the wonderful people I have met around the world who have the same interest as me. It’s nice to be able to sit down and talk about your favorite book or author or recommend a book/author! And of course, free books. What book lover would not love getting free and new books and being opened up to a world of different authors.
My least favorite part is when you get a reviewer who does not care that we have deadlines and who don’t care that it makes you look bad when you can’t have a book on time to the author. A reviewer that does reply back to your follow-ups. I try not to be too pushy. I know this is a free gig, and I know we all have lives, but if you make a commitment, I should not have to chase you down for books you volunteered to read.

Me: Do you have any horror stories about reviewers?

Raspberry: Yeah I do. One time I sent a book over to a reviewer and gave her a date when it was due. Two weeks went by and the book was due in 2 days, so I sent a few follow ups out. The day before the book was due I got an email saying she didn’t like the book and would not be able to give it 3 stars. So, I sent her an email back just saying that next time she needs to let me know ASAP that she dislikes a book, so that we can try a different reader, because everyone is different and what she hates someone else could love. Her reply was to quit and tell me I was rude and couldn’t believe I would talk to her that way. That no one in the real world talks to people that way.

(At this point I would just like to say, that while some people are not great with people skills and can come across brash, Raspberry has always been amazing and was incredibly upset over this particular incident.)

Me: What advice would you give authors looking for reviews?

Raspberry: Reach out to as many social media sites as you can. There is always someone, who is willing to help an author out and read a book.

Me: What advice would you give readers looking to join a review team?

Raspberry:  Look on line. There are blogs everywhere for you to join and be part of a team. If you do want to join make sure you really understand what you’re getting into and make sure that you don’t take on more than you can handle. Also, it never hurts to ask questions!

I think readers and authors can take away from this interview. Reviewers and Review organizers work damn hard. If you want to be a reviewer be prepared for the amount of time you will spend reading books you don’t necessarily choose.

If you’re an author, be polite, be personable, be thankful, and maybe just maybe take to heart when a reviewer can’t give you three stars, but don’t take offense. Maybe your book needs a little more work.

Remember the amount of work book bloggers and reviewers put in. They do it to support authors, and they deserve to be appreciated.

If you’re a reader who, isn’t lazy like I was, and leaves reviews, thank you from every author, everywhere, for your support and effort.

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