This week on Outside the Panels #13 I would like to write a bit about reviews. Specifically, I would like to explain how to get reviews and once you get the reviews, how to handle them.
Before I do that…
The last two weeks have been so hectic for me. I just sold my house so I have been packing up everything we own. Do you know how much stuff you have in your home? Want to find out? Just start packing everything you own and you will quickly realize how much shit you have. We are in the process of buying another house and that is really exciting, nerve-racking, but exciting. Bottom line is that I have been putting in my typical 9 hours at my day job, another four to five hours prepping my house for the sale, and have still been putting anywhere from three to four hours into comics, not to mention family time with my wife, son and dog. Crazy.
Anyway, back to handling reviews.
One of the hardest things to do as a self-publishing comic writer starting out your career is getting comic sites to review your project. There are so many comics out there in the world by amazing creators at top publishers that it can be quite a challenge to get a review for little ol’ you and your comic. Face it, you are competing with any book you see to grab the attention of a reviewer.
How do you get critics to review your book? Bribe them… hahaha! Just kidding. DON’T bribe them. The best thing to do to help get your book a review is look for smaller comic site who you notice have reviewed other smaller titles. It’s everyone’s goal to be reviewed by a site like The Beat, Bleeding Cool, Comic Vine, Comics Alliance, CBR, IGN, MTV, Multiversity, Newsarama, etc. (alphabetical order with no favoritism anywhere). The reality of that is those sites have inside contacts to Archie, Darkhorse, DC, IDW, Image, Marvel, Oni Press, etc.
Getting your book some attention on those sites may not be possible. However, there are so many other, smaller, comic sites that are doing a great job with reviews: Comic Crusaders (yeah, I used this site as an example) Comics Verse, Black Ship Books, Comic Book Therapy, etc.
What you have to do to get some coverage for your little comic that could, is write up a professional email detailing who you are, what your comic is, and politely ask for coverage. A lot of smaller sites are always looking for content and would benefit from using a review for your book as that content.
The thing is…
Here is the thing…
You may not always get a favorable review. Sure it’s great when some site says something positive about your book. You feel all warm and toasty inside and you get happy because someone enjoyed your book. Everyone likes to be praised. I don’t want to write about how to handle praise, though. I want to know what will you do when a reviewer reads your book and doesn’t quite like it? What do you do when you get the dreaded bad review?
What you have to realize is, by putting a book out there for the public to read you are opening up people to voice their opinion about your project. Literally, opening your work up for judgement. This takes a lot of courage from creators just to get to this point. But, hey, if this is the business you want to be in then this is what you will deal with. Just understand this if nothing else: just because a reviewer may say negative things about your project you should not think they are saying negative things about you as a person. So many creators take offense to people not liking their stuff. They feel attacked but they shouldn’t. First off, you asked for the review so you wanted the opinion of a reviewer. Secondly, they have nothing against you if they didn’t like your work so don’t feel like they don’t like you. I think this happens because people are so attached to their projects that they feel that it is a part of who they are. I’ve heard of creators taking to social media and crapping all over a bad review they received, but that is totally NOT professional. If you get a bad review you should just thank the reviewer for the time they took to read your project and write about. Roll with the punches and keep moving forward. Do your best to take the negative and use it to get better. Maybe the review is right about something they said and they only want to see your project get better.
Whether they like your book or they hate your book, trust me when I say, reviewers will be some of the most honest readers of your book and you should appreciate every one of their thoughts. Creators do not get better by being praised, they get better by readers telling them the negative. Negativity towards your project is what will make you a better creator. That’s the truth. Because if everyone gave you five stars and two thumbs up then you would remain stagnant and continue to work the way you do, with little thought given on how to get better.
Good luck, everyone!