Alternative Resources for Book Review

by Kathryn Lively - Date: 2006-12-27 - Word Count: 904 Share This!

Often I am asked how does one go about getting reviews for a novel. Most authors I have met over the years have been under the impression that the only valid reviews are found in the newspaper or in a trade periodical. While such reviews can be a feather in an author's cap, particularly if they are positive, they should not be considered the only source of PR for a book.

An author can find a wealth of resources for obtaining book reviews, if one knows where to look. Yet, before you send those books out for review, it is important to consider this question: when should a book go out for review?

Too soon, or too late?

How soon is too soon for a book to be distributed for review? Depending upon the review source and the marketing schedule of a publisher, advanced review copies of books (also known as ARCs) may go out to reviews as early as four months before the books release. There may be many reasons for the advanced promotion. A reviewer's schedule may be such that it may take four months to get to a particular book, and this way the publisher is ensuring a timely review. Other reasons may be seasonal: if a novel is written for the Christmas season, for example, the publisher may want to garner advanced reviews to tantalize readership during the peak of holiday shopping.

Whatever the reason for sending out ARCs, the message is clear: a book does not necessarily have to be released and for sale for the author to start collecting reviews. If words of praise are collected early enough, the publisher may want to include them on the front or back cover to entice readers to buy. Just make certain the ARC sent out for review is clean, free of errors and bound in a font size that is easily read.

Once you have the best draft available, it is time to distribute to reviewers. Here are just a few suggestions that are not necessarily limited to the media.

Professionals in the field: If your book is non-fiction, be it about politics, self-help topics, or a biography, it would be to your advantage to have an endorsement from an expert in your book's topic. If you have written about an event in the Civil War, considering approaching an historian specializing in that era. If your book is religious in nature, seek endorsement from a noted clergyman.

Authors of similar works: Take a look at the fiction shelves of your favorite bookstore. You may notice that some novels include endorsements from other authors of the same genre. This is especially true for romance and mystery, communities so tightly knit considering the annual conferences these authors attend for networking purposes. If you have written a romance or mystery novel, you may wish to seek other authors for a word of praise. A cordial letter to the authors of your choice may yield good results for you. You might find some authors are willing to read your work, if it means extra PR for them in the form of their names on your cover. Don't feel discouraged, however, if an author you have contacted declines or does not respond. Authors who write for a living often have busy schedules, and may not be able to afford the time needed for an unbiased endorsement of your work.

Organizations relative to your work: So you have written a mystery with a dog theme. Does this mean you are limited to mystery reviewers? Not necessarily. If a dog show is the setting for the story, you may want to consider approaching professionals on the dog show circuit to read your book. This can be especially helpful in generating word of mouth publicity for your book as well. People interested in dogs who don't normally read mystery may be curious enough to buy your novel.

Think about the settings and occupations featured in your novel. Is there a corresponding organization that would make a good target audience for your book? Foster that connection by bringing in some potential reviewers.

Book Review websites: A quick Internet search for book review websites will yield a number of resources available to you. Many such sites have been cited on author's book covers and in advertisements on the web and in print. It is important to note, however, when you research these websites that they are suitable to review your work.

Study each website. What genres do they accept? Do they offer a turnaround time on reviews? Do they charge a fee? A reputable reviewer will not charge, so check!

Regardless of the review source you approach, it is imperative to treat each one with the proper courtesy. Query each potential reviewer first. Do not send the book immediately, lest a reviewer feel you are imposing on him. Learn what the reviewer wants: an attachment in mail, a finished product, or an ARC.

Once it is sent, a good rule of thumb is to contact to acknowledge receipt of the book, but do not send constant e-mails about progress unless an inordinate amount of time has passed without word from the reviewer. If, after a month or so, you have heard nothing, follow-up with a polite note.

Taking care to find alternative resources for reviews can not only boost prominence of your book on shelves, but may also broaden your target audience. Don't wait for your release to get reviews. Start the buzz now!

Related Tags: books, ebooks, novels, book promotion

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