Book reviews are one of the choice means of promoting your book. The majority of readers place their trust in quality reviews. That’s because professional reviewers are unbiased and as such respected by most readers. The problem for far too many authors, especially less experienced ones, is finding these quality reviewers.
With more than half a million new books appearing on the market every year, demand for reviews has increased tremendously. It is quite difficult today to capture a review from a widely recognized reviewer. To give you a sense of the overall situation, Publishers Weekly, the industry’s leading newspaper, reviews just 5,000 books a year.
Midwest Book Reviews handles approximately 490 books per month, and it is one of the largest review groups in the nation. But that’s still no reason to be frustrated. There are many opportunities for astute authors to develop meaningful reviews.
How Do I Find a Reviewer?
There are many highly respected sources that you can reach out to. Dan Poynter, a top-level publishing guru, offers you the chance to list your book for review on his digital newsletter “parapublishing” Fellow authors, eager to see their own names in print, will volunteer to review your book.
Poynter asks anyone who signs up on his site to review not post a negative opinion. He makes it clear that he is not asking the reviewer to fudge his/her opinion. He simply requests that if you can’t say something favorable, say nothing at all.
The largest group of professional reviewers is Amazon’s Top 1000 Reviewers. Any review that carries the imprimatur of this group will be well respected and trusted.
Enter “Amazon Top Reviewers” on your search engine, and you will see the list and the respective rankings of the reviewers. Don’t expect to capture a review from the top 50 or 100. They are extremely busy and very selective. If you have the time, try anyway. It can happen. I know that from personal experience.
It is important to look beyond these reviewers. If you have written a nonfiction book, seek out publications that deal with the same subject, and send a request for a review. If successful, it will be seen by people who have already shown their interest in this specific subject as readers of the publication, and the potential for them to purchase is high.
Also check your area newspapers. The larger dailies all have specialized sections like business, seniors, food, travel, and real estate and in some cases even more. Send your request for review to the editor of the appropriate section.
Unfortunately, many papers have closed their book review sections, but some run reviews on other pages. Be sure to contact the smaller weeklies in your area. They are well read and always seeking interesting stories on the accomplishments of local residents.
Enter “Book Reviewers” on the Internet, but be careful to screen your responses. Be leery of paid reviews. They don’t carry the weight that non-paid do. However there are some paid reviews that are of value. ForeWord Magazine has initiated a paid program that will generate respect, as do the paid reviews of Bookpleasures.com by Normal Goldman.
One vitally important category of reviews is often overlooked by authors. The seven most influential publications in our industry only review before a book is published. These reviews are read principally by industry members. A favorable review in any one of them will help guarantee some hefty sales that begin even before you formally publish.
The seven key pre-publication reviewers are: Publishers Weekly,
Library Journal, Kirkus Review, ForeWordMagazine, New York Times
Book Review and Booklist (American Library Association.) If your book is suitable for children and or young adults, include School Library Journal.
You must send galleys of your book enclosed in a cover (or facsimile of your cover) to the reviewer four months prior to publication date. The cover should state
“Advanced Review Copy – Not Fully Proofed.” Do not send a finished copy of the book even if you have one. These reviewers will accept only advance copies (ARCs).
You may prefer to contact a short-run, digital printer and have bound copies prepared. But these also must have the ARC notice on the cover. You will undoubtedly need more than just the few copies you send to these reviewers. You may want to solicit book clubs, send to additional reviewers, include an ARC with requests for endorsements and for any other promotional purpose.