I personally classify reviews into two categories: Reader reviews (submitted by readers on sites like Amazon, B&N, etc. after they purchased and read your book) and Review Site reviews (posted on blogs or review sites after a review was requested). So which is better? And how do you get reviewed?
I cannot answer the first. It all comes down to which you trust more. As to the how of it, one way is wait for lightning to strike, and another is to ask. Sites like ManicReaders have a streamlined process where you can upload your book and send it to a number of review sites all at the same time. But no matter how you choose to submit, the disclaimer is always that a review is not guaranteed. There is a submission process, information required to process your query, and it can take months (if ever) for someone to review your book. There are also many sites that are just out to get a free read or get you to pay them in some way (which I have discovered the hard way) it’s kind of scary.
Check the site out before you send your book. Ask what the current turn-around time is. If they tell you it can be posted quickly for a small fee, don’t do it. This is a sign that the site is hinky. They make money from reviews and don’t necessarily care about the book itself.
What about Reader reviews? I see those as both an honest critique and word-of-mouth about a book (unless you or a loved one posted it). You have no control over them, which is exactly as it should be. My advice is take your reviews to heart, but don’t. Keep your feet firmly on the ground. A good review is great for attracting more readers, but a bad one is great for improving your craft. And there is always room for improvement.
If your book made your readers feel strongly about it, your reviews are likely to end up on opposite ends of the spectrum: The lovers and the haters. Both sides have something invaluable to give you: Feedback.
Keep an eye out for the Goldielocks reviews. Those are the ones who give you pros and cons. What they liked, and what they disliked. When you find those, pay extra attention because you might discover that something one person loved about a story will make another want to stop reading and you’ll realize that all those wise, advice-giving people have been right all along–you can’t please everyone.
By the way… Have read The Royal Wizard (or any of my books)? You have? Awesome! Could you help a starving writer out and find it in your heart to review it on Goodreads or your site of choice? I’d be ever so grateful! 🙂