Book reviews – Aiming for the pot of gold
As authors, what do we expect most from having our books published, getting public recognition, skyrocketing sales, or simply getting our message out?
We may want all three and receiving a review can reach that pot of gold. A review in a prestigious print magazine can really promote an author and increase sales. Even a review in an online magazine can be archived and available on the Internet for years. But how to achieve this goal in a competitive market is tricky.
The quid pro quo is for publishers to send reviewers a free copy of a book as part of their marketing plan, in the hope that it will be reviewed and brought to the favorable attention of the reviewer’s audience/readers. All books sent to a reviewer for review, requested or not, become the property of the reviewer to dispose of as he sees fit.
Before you start sending books to every possible magazine, do your research. Despite Oprah’s popularity, O magazine isn’t for every writer. Perhaps your book is a better fit for Prevention magazine or Popular Mechanics? Or maybe that’s your best bet. Read which books are reviewed in the magazines of your choice. Then find the best person to contact. Is it the feature editor or is there a book review editor? Keep in mind that you are competing with thousands of other authors for the dwindling number of publications that review books.
But first create 3 lists of possible review sites, magazines and newspapers. This list is intended to offer a sampling of book review options, there are many other magazines and newspapers that are not listed here.
1. The “pot o gold” list – We call these magazines gold because any review or mention of your book in their print publications will result in more sales, more recognition and your message will be received by a large number of people . All magazines and newspapers in this category require advanced reader copies to be sent at least 4 months prior to book launch. Preprint magazines include Publishers Weekly, Booklist Reader, and Library Journal. Post-release magazines in this category include People, New Yorker, Reader’s Digest, or Slate. To claim some gold by submitting their books to Publishers Weekly PW select. For the low price of $149, you have a better chance of hitting that gold.
2. The “silver lining” list – We call these magazines or newspapers silver because they have a large circulation and perhaps a little less prestige. From the Los Angeles Times, to the Boston Globe, to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, to the Christian Science Monitor, all have a lot of power to launch a book. Most magazines and newspapers in this category have both a print and online edition, and they accept books that have already been launched. Getting a review in The Atlantic would be a boon for any author. Bloomsbury magazine has eclectic tastes, has been around for decades, and often prints authors who reside in the West. Regional magazines in your area like Virginia Quarterly Review tend to favor local authors. Ezines in this category due to their huge circulation are Shelf Awareness and Huffington Post. Depending on the genre of your book, other magazines that review books are Crosscurrents magazine, Tricycle, Insight Retailers magazine, Psychology Today, and Utne Reader.
3. List Evergreen – I designate these ezines and review sites as evergreen because they archive their reviews. Anyone can find the review months later and having your review online will also help you build your overall SEO ranking. Being reviewed on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.com builds recognition as well as sales. Many of our authors have become Amazon.com bestsellers. Goodreads is a social media network for authors to build a fanbase. My favorite online review magazine is of course San Francisco Book Review. Other favorites include Midwest Book Review, Bellaonline, or Women’s Review of Books. For a low fee of $59, you can get an express review from readers’ favorite reviews – https://readersfavorite.com/book-reviews.htm
Of course, a review does not guarantee that you will get a good review. Even a review that begins with “This is an amazing book” and ends with a review of the author’s purple prose can be helpful.
You can ask for reviews yourself or hire a publicist to make it easier for you. A publicist has the contacts and skills to pitch your book to interested publishers. There’s a lot of work to do to pass exams, from research to query to follow-up. But any review can be used to promote your book and improve your sales, which is worth it. And the possibility is always there that you will have the chance to find your own pot of gold!
© January 2017