Getting Your Self-Published Book Reviewed

Getting Your Self-Published Book Reviewed

Guest Post by Moira Allen

One of the first things you’ll want to do when your books are printed is send copies to reviewers. This involves several fairly easy steps:

Rayne Hall
Getting Book Reviews

1) Develop a list of potential (and relevant) reviewers. While you may wish to include reviewers from national papers, don’t get your hopes too high; papers like the New York Times hardly ever review self-published books. Instead, concentrate on local papers and magazines (where you can use the “home-town” angle), and magazines that focus on the same special-interest subject area as your book. (Use the Writer’s Market to locate magazines related to your topic area.) If your book is fiction, you may have a tough time getting reviews — but look for publications that cover, or publish, the same type of fiction. Also, don’t overlook online sources; in addition to sites that provide general book reviews, many special-interest sites that relate to your topic can also provide reviews, and a good source of sales. (Often, such sites will add your book into its electronic “bookstore” — usually an associate program with an online store such as Amazon.com — which is likely to increase your sales.)

2) Create a set of mailing labels for all reviewers. If you don’t have the address of the publication, e-mail or call to ask for one. (Often, you don’t need to know the name of the actual book reviewer at a particular publication; just address your package to “Book Review Editor”.)

3) Develop a press release to accompany your book. Your release should have a brief description of the book, plus all necessary information for ordering. It should include:

  • The name of your publishing house
  • The book’s ISBN
  • The number of pages
  • The price
  • Any additional ordering information, such as a toll-free number, website, etc.

In many cases, your press release may actually be published as the book’s “review,” so take time to prepare a good one. Write a clear, concise description of the book, emphasizing its benefits to the reader. Avoid hype at all costs; don’t puff and praise your own book. Write in third person: “John Smith’s book on Nantucket cuisine,” not “My book on Nantucket cuisine”. Feel free to “quote” yourself: “John Smith notes that ‘Nantucket cuisine offers a fascinating variety of flavors and ingredients.'” Include a brief list of your credentials for writing the book.

Great Book Reviews

4) Prepare “advance review copies,” if possible. Some library and bookstore trade publications require “advance” copies — copies that are produced before the book is actually “on the market.” Commercial publishers are able to prepare galley proofs or uncorrected advance printings for reviewers; you, however, will probably have only a single print run. One option is to have stickers printed that state “advance review copy” and paste them on the covers of your review books. If, however, you want to start selling your book as soon as it comes off the press, you may simply have to do without reviewers who require a book six months in advance.

5) Mail the books in high-quality mailing envelopes, with professionally typed labels (preferably preprinted with your company name and address).

6) Sit back and wait. Some reviewers will never respond; others may take months (or even years) to review your book. When your book is reviewed, the publication will usually send you a tearsheet of the review; you can then use those comments (presuming they’re positive!) in your ongoing promotional efforts. Don’t bother following up; no reviewer wants to hear from a self-publisher asking “are you going to review my book?” (If you have to call, the answer is likely to be NO.)

7) Don’t stop looking for reviewers. It doesn’t matter how old your book is — there’s always someone who hasn’t seen it yet. Look for writers who cover your topic, or columnists. Every review creates more potential sales.

8) Don’t be “cheap” about the number of books you “give away.” It’s common for self-publishers to start out with the idea that a book “given away” is a book that isn’t sold — i.e., a book that doesn’t produce revenue. The reality is just the opposite: Every book you “give away” is likely to lead to more sales — ten, twenty, or more. The value of a good review is far higher than the revenue you might have earned on a single book. And you never know where a book “given away” may lead; it may go to a person who wants to order fifty copies for a professional organization or a support group or a class. Instead of thinking of every book you give away as a “missed sale,” think of every book you don’t give away as a lost opportunity.

Tips – Get Free Book Reviews

Pre-Production Reviews

If you know of any experts or noteworthy authors in your field who would be willing to review your book before it is produced, contact these individuals and ask them (nicely) if they’d be willing to review your manuscript. This is not a critique process; you are seeking actual review comments, which you can then include on the back cover (or first inside page) of your book. Contact people who know you and are familiar with your work; don’t “hit up” total strangers for reviews. These pre-press reviews can also serve as an excellent promotion and marketing tool before your book is even off the press. Be sure to thank everyone who reviews your book, and make sure that they receive a copy of the printed edition.

Find Out More…

How to Get Your Book Reviewed – Debby Ridpath Ohi

http://www.writing-world.com/promotion/reviews.shtml

The Review Process: How a Book Gets Reviewed – Sally Murphy

http://www.writing-world.com/promotion/murphy1.shtml

So You Got a Review — Now What? – Sally Murphy

http://www.writing-world.com/promotion/murphy2.shtml

Getting Your Self-Published Book Reviewed

http://selfpublishingmanagement.com/category/marketing

Who Reads Book Reviews Anyway? – Sally Murphy

http://www.writing-world.com/promotion/murphy3.shtml

Writing-World.com’s Guide to Children’s Book Reviewers

http://www.writing-world.com/children/reviewers.shtml

Helpful Sites:

Fearless Reviews

http://www.fearlessbooks.com/ If you’re a self-publisher or independent press, you can get your book(s) reviewed on this section of the “Fearless Books” site.

NewPages Guide to Review Sources

http://www.newpages.com/writers-resources/blogs-and-news-sites Extensive list of book reviewers for a variety of genres and media.

 

Copyright © 2001 Moira Allen

Moira Allen is the editor of Writing-World.com, and has written nearly 400 articles, serving as a columnist and regular contributor for such publications as The Writer, Entrepreneur, Writer’s Digest, and Byline. An award-winning writer, Allen is the author of eight books, including Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer, The Writer’s Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals, and Writing to Win: The Colossal Guide to Writing Contests. In addition to Writing-World.com, Allen hosts VictorianVoices.net, a growing archive of articles from Victorian periodicals, and The Pet Loss Support Page, a resource for grieving pet owners. She lives in Maryland with her husband and the obligatory writer’s cat. She can be contacted at editors “at” writing-world.com.


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6 thoughts on “Getting Your Self-Published Book Reviewed”

  1. Excellent article and some great tips on getting your self published book reviewed. It seems similar to a musician or independent filmmaker that is trying to get their work reviewed, which may lead to additional sales. I’m sure there is a lot of competition for reviews and it certainly helps to have connections in this industry.

    1. Hi Tony

      Who can figure out competition? Do not think there is a magical solution.

      Author Thomas Wictor says that a good review may not necessarily result in higher sales. “There have been massive bestsellers that got horrible reviews, and there have been books praised to the heavens that sold nothing. I think it’s all a crap shoot.”

      Thanks for your thoughts Tony. I’ll cover getting book reviews here in the future. Thanks for the nugget.

      Regards,

      Ron

  2. Yep, it’s definitely rough in the book publishing world. So, having a good set of strategies to follow when publishing is important.

    Your point about targeting a local group of reviewers, especially when you don’t have an established brand yet, is crucial. Shooting for the NY Times review isn’t the best approach.

    With local bookstores going out of business due to online shopping, they would probably be thrilled to help out the local writers and coordinate events with them.

    Hmmm….this is getting me thinking.

    Great ideas!!

    1. Hi Kyle

      Thanks for your time, it’s appreciated. Gotta love thinking out loud huh? Some amazing ideas surface sometimes. You are right a lot of Brick and Mortar Storefronts are going away but, I read somewhere that Amazon is coming to town i.e. Shopping frontages, bookstores drone deliveries…..fun to watch that unfold huh?.

      Regards, Ron

      1. Cool, I didn’t know any of that was happening. I live in Japan. So, we haven’t reached that point yet. So, is Amazon planning on opening regional B&M stores ?

        1. Amazon is opening a lot of bookstores these days. It’s got three up and running, in Seattle, San Diego and Portland, and says five more are coming.

          The stores are using books to bring in an educated, relatively affluent stream of customers who then are exposed to Amazon’s electronic offerings such as the Echo, Kindle, Fire tablet and Fire TV.

          Amazon uses data from its e-commerce site such as customer ratings and sales to decide which books to stock. Amazon’s store also places books face out on the shelves rather than spine out, and includes each book’s Amazon.com rating and a customer review.

          In addition to selling books, the Amazon store also lets customers try out and buy the devices that Amazon manufactures and sells such as the Kindle, Echo, Fire TV, and Fire Tablet gadgets.

          Amazon’s only other brick and mortar presence are small “pop-up” kiosks in Westfield Centre malls, which sell many Amazon devices and other branded products.

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