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by Patricia Fry

7 Secrets to Getting Your Book Reviewed

Every author has heard the term Book Review. Many of them consider a book review to be an honor bestowed only on famous and lucky authors.

Some are aware of the pre-publication book reviews, but have been duly warned that these reviewers will NOT review books by unknown authors. Is this your belief?

Okay, let me say that you are right and wrong. I’ve certainly known of the coveted pre-publication reviewers, such as the editors of Kirkus Review and Library Journal, to review books by unknowns. In most cases, it seemed to be because the books were so well suited to the public library system. Think about that when you plan your next book!

As for the rumor that, if you miss out on getting your book reviewed by a pre-publication reviewer, you’ve lost your chances of a review forever—hogwash!

Here’s another myth I’d like to expose: You can get your book reviewed, but you’ll have to pay for it. No, no, no! Well, let me say that there are certainly a lot of review sites cropping up that require payment for reviews. But I have to tell you, they are not the only reviewers in town!

There are hundreds of FREE book review opportunities for books in all genres and topics. Here are my suggestions:

1: Write a book that reviewers will want to review. Now this sounds like a big fat no-brainer, doesn’t it? But think about it. What more could you do to make your book in progress more appealing to reviewers—more appropriate for a larger number of reviewers?

I advise authors to build promotion into their books—in other words, to add wider dimensions to attract a larger audience. This practice will also attract a greater array of reviewers.

2: Seek out magazine book reviewers. Not every magazine runs book reviews, but many of them do. Editors of some literary magazines and others that publish fiction, review books. Some genre fiction magazine editors publish book reviews—this might include science fiction, romance, horror, young adult and children’s.

Likewise there are hundreds of consumer and association/trade magazines that run book reviews on appropriate books. My book on presenting a Hawaiian luau on the mainland was reviewed in dozens and dozens of cooking and foods magazines. My writing/publishing-related books have been reviewed in numerous writing and publishing magazines and newsletters. There are magazines in every category imaginable—business, child-rearing, pets and animals, public speaking, finance, fitness and health, education, sports, hobby and craft and on and on and on.

Again, the more aspects you have skillfully worked into your novel or nonfiction book, the more potential you have for getting your book reviewed.

Here’s an example: Write a book about a run-of-the-mill factory worker and his life after divorce and your book will likely appeal to a relatively narrow audience of reviewers. Add the fact that he (or another character) are dealing with an affliction such as deafness or ALS, for example, and they have a therapy dog that saved someone’s life, and you’ve expanded your options. Now you may get a review in fiction and relationship magazines as well as those related to handicaps, ALS/deafness, therapy dogs and animal heroes.

3: Make the most of what you have. Okay, your book is a done deal. How can you maximize your book review options? Get personal with your book. Dissect it and jot down what you find. For example, what city is the story set in? Pursue reviews in regional magazines in that area. Do you have a section in your budgeting book for teaching children money-awareness? Parenting magazines might be a good secondary review option for this book. Is your book clean and honorable? Consider reviews in religious magazines. Maybe your novel has a séance scene. This may provide an opportunity for a review in a metaphysical or New Age publication.

4: Locate appropriate publications. You probably have magazines in your genre or topic on your own book shelves. Start there. Scan magazines at your local library and bookstores. Study Writer’s Market to find additional magazines related to your book’s theme. Do a Google search to locate even more magazines and newsletters. Here are two newsletter directories.

5: Contact appropriate publications with your review package. I suggest sending a query/introduction letter or email asking if you can submit your book to them for review. Include some quality promo material related to your book—in particular, a color cover image. Some magazine websites post book review submission guidelines. Adhere to them.

If you are invited to send the book, package it carefully along with your brochure, promo postcard, business cards and a cover letter. In the letter, remind the book reviewer that they requested the book for review. Be sure that your contact information is included.

6: Keep accurate records. Log every review package and book that goes out—when, to whom and be sure to log the contact information.

After two or three weeks, if you have not heard from a reviewer who requested your book, contact him/her and ask if they received the book and when they have it scheduled for review.

7: Express your gratitude. Once the review has been posted, send a thank you note to the reviewer.

Unless your book is seriously obscure, you should be able to land book reviews in dozens of publications. And the book doesn’t have to be hot off the presses. Maybe you neglected to solicit book reviews when the book was fresh. Don’t let that stop you from trying to get some publicity now. Go ahead and contact appropriate book reviewers. If it is a worthwhile book, most of them will say, yes.

How much will this cost you? Absolutely nothing! It is a rare reviewer that will charge for a book review in a magazine or newsletter. Sure, there are book review site where they charge. There are publications devoted to book reviews that charge. But, magazines and newsletters that include a book review section, rarely charge for a book review. They offer them as a service to their audience.


Patricia Fry is the Executive Director of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) and the author of 29 books. See her most recent books in the left column of this page.

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