If there is one thing I’ve learnt over the years of working with the t’Interweb, it’s the importance of asking for feedback and reviews. I do this all the time.
For instance when women are in touch at The Hysterectomy Association, I’ll ask them if they wouldn’t mind completing a feedback form; when someone contacts me to tell me how much they enjoyed one of my books, I’ll be cheeky and ask if they wouldn’t mind adding a review to Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Goodreads.
The majority of people like to be asked, it’s validation for them that you value their opinion; and it’s great for you because you learn a little more about what works … and what doesn’t.
But again, through the years, I’ve learnt that there are both right and wrong ways to ask for feedback. In my experience the best time to do it is when you’ve had some degree of ‘relationship’ established. With the women at the Hysterectomy Association this comes after 16 days of daily hints and tips, they will have been on the site, probably joined the forums and chatted on Facebook; they’ve become familiar with me and who I am. My request for feedback then comes from someone they feel they know, and hopefully trust.
When I ask people who email directly if they’d pop their comments on to Amazon, the same is true; we’ve probably already exchanged several emails and will feel reasonably comfortable with each other. In addition to asking for the review, I’ll probably invite them to connect with me on LinkedIn, further cementing that relationship.
However, it’s that much harder when it comes to asking people who have just read your book to give you feedback and you can never be sure what you might get; as I found out to my cost with my Novel, Woman on the Edge of Reality. You can read more about my experience in the post Lessons Learned in June, on developing a very thick skin.
What I’ve come to realise, is that we haven’t yet developed any sort of relationship. They don’t know me, they’ve only just read my book. Many authors, (me included), have added a page, at the end of ebooks in particular, asking for feedback. In some cases (as I did) they have added a direct link to Amazon so that people can click and comment almost immediately. As I found, this may not be the most effective way to get something positive back.
Perhaps a better way may be to have a page with a link to your website which invites more detailed feedback, perhaps five or six questions that will help you to establish what worked and what didn’t in the book. This way, disgruntled readers can have their say, tell you what they think and get it off their chest; and other, more positive readers could perhaps be encouraged to add their comments to Amazon.
Whilst this won’t necessarily remove all negative comments off the online booksellers, it will result in something valuable that most authors rarely get a chance to develop – insight. Insight into what moves and motivates the people who read their books, insight into what they could differently next time, and insight into how they as authors are developing.