Book Review Tips for Self-Published Authors

Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Published authors depend on book reviews. Let's face it: a favorable helps sell books. A positive endorsement makes great promotional material.

But, in an ever-growing, ever-crowded self-publishing world, how can DIY authors land an encouraging review from a reputable publication / site without shelling out big bucks to GET a review?

Since book review space in newspapers and magazines continues to shrink and many top newspapers are unable to review every book that crosses the desk, authors need to take pro-active measures to increase their chances of landing a review.

  1. Plan ahead. A book is a total package. Take a close look at every detail associated with your book: paper, photographs or graphics, binding styles. Poorly edited, difficult-to-read text on a strange color of paper sends the wrong message. Once you've set a publication date, create a list of possible reviewers and if possible, send ARCs. You'll want to synchronize reviews with the launch of your book.
  2. Think local. Quite a few regional or alternative newspapers publish book reviews. Why not discuss the possibilities with the reviewer? (Local presses contact me regularly and ask if I'm interested in certain titles.) Non-fiction authors may want to contact trade or specialty publications. A stellar review from this type of reputable publication may lead a "name brand" book review pub to take a look.
  3. Seek praise. A recommendation from a published, respected author lends credibility.
  4. Practice patience. Reviewers generally have a stack of books waiting. (I know I do.) Sometimes, it takes awhile to get books read and the review published. (I'm about nine months out at this point.) Sending a friendly follow-up doesn't hurt, but don't overload a reviewer with "when will you be finished" e-mails.
  5. Offer incentives. What types of enticements can you offer the reviewer? Interviews? Contests? Giveaways? Memorabilia? Quite a few publications will work with authors to help spread the word - and goods - for a book. Ask the reviewer what ideas they have about promoting your work. (It may "hurry" the review!)

Authors who choose the self-publishing route need to take the lead, network, and connect with reviewers. Consider it self-promotion. Consider it an investment. Consider it a necessary step to getting your book in front of a reviewer.

by LuAnn Schindler. Read more of LuAnn's work at her website.


Unknown said...

This post is so useful, LuAnn.
You have noted important factors to consider for authors of self-published books.
Great article to file!

Michael Boxwell said...

Some good suggestions. Here are a few of mine to add to the mix:

- Write a press release.

- Phone up the main magazines you want to get featured in and ask the editor for permission to send the press release. Sometimes you'll end up with some great conversations and they'll end up asking for a review copy.

- Contact your local newspapers. They will often do an article and a photograph of you, if not a full review.

- You need to get reviews on Amazon. If you are a member of a local writers group, hand out books and ask for feedback. If the feedback is positive, ask if they would post up a review on, on and as well (and if you are really cheeky, get them to review it on Barnes & Noble as well).

- If you're not a member of a writers group, find other people who are genuinely interested in your subject and ask the same from them.

- Post up the first chapter of your book onto FACEBOOK, so people can read it for themselves (as well as on ISSUU and Google Books and all the usual places).

- Add a 'MEDIA' page to your author web site, containing your press releases, some great photographs of you and the book cover and letting the press know how they can get in touch with you.

If you are after more marketing tips, follow me on Twitter on @MakeAnEbook

LuAnn Schindler said...

Excellent suggestions! Thanks for sharing even more ways to get a book review.

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