How to Solicit Book Reviews
When self publishing a book, the brunt of the marketing and PR footwork falls to the author. There are many routes to take — setting up an author website, perhaps creating banner ads — but one of the most important and effective methods is to place your book with reviewers.
While it might be tough to land a review with The New York Times, there are many well-respected book bloggers and small press magazines that are eager to review new books by new authors. Here are some things to keep in mind when approaching book reviewers:
- Make sure your book is review-worthy. A blogger or professional reviewer may agree to review your book, but if it is riddled with typos or if the prose is awkward and unfocused, you’ll end up with either a declined offer or a bad review. And the phrase “Any press is good press” does not apply to books. Too many bad reviews could sink your book, as well as future projects.
- Contact the right reviewer. Make sure the reviewer primarily reviews the type of book you wrote. Many focus on specific fiction genres or non-fiction fields, or have readers who enjoy a specific type of book. Check out the reviewer’s credibility, too. Do they write only five-star Amazon reviews? Do they regularly trash novels? They might not be too reliable in those cases. Make sure you select reviewers who are fair, honest, and have a noticeable amount of followers.
- Read the guidelines. Reviewers get an avalanche of books to read, and those that follow their posted guidelines the closest will earn major brownie points. Even if you do follow their guidelines, do not expect a review to be posted the next week. It will take time, so plan in advance. Also, some websites, reviewers and organizations do not accept unsolicited books to review. Check each site carefully before you send anything.
- Let the book do the talking. Don’t be demanding or brag to reviewers about how great your book is. Write a personal, respectful and hopeful letter when sending a query to the reviewer. Give the reviewer all the information they might need — publisher, ISBN, website… you do have a website for your book, right?
- Follow up. If you are promised a review and it never comes through, make sure to send a gentle reminder. Make sure to acknowledge the reviewer once they do come through with a personal note of thanks and a blog post of your own about the review with links back to the reviewer’s site.
And don’t stop at one review. Look for as many as you can in order to spread the news far and wide, and make sure you have reviewer copies for each one before you contact them. Feel free to check out the Google Book Blogs Search Engine to find sites that review the kind of book you published.
Have you received any great reviews for your book? What steps did you take?