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Sell Books Through Book Reviews
By Patricia L. Fry
Every author wants book sales—lots of them. The primary way to make sales is to get exposure for your book. No one will buy a book they don’t know about. A great way to get exposure is to have your book reviewed again and again and again.
There’s no need to rely primarily on the sales you might glean from pre-publication reviews in the library journals. Nor is there any reason to cry the blues when your book isn’t chosen to be reviewed by Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, etc. The fact is, there are dozens and potentially hundreds of review opportunities out there for your book. And your book doesn’t have to be brand new, hot off the press in order to qualify for a review.
What is a book review? You read a book review almost every month in this newsletter. In a book review, the reviewer typically describes the book, notes the aspects he/she liked about it, maybe comments on how this book might help, inspire, educate or entertain its audience and, if prompted, might state something he or she would like to see improved upon. A book review is often a cross between a synopsis for the book and an evaluation.
The best thing about a review is that it puts your book in the limelight, usually in a positive way. And, if you choose your reviewers carefully, the review will reach out to the very audience you are trying to attract.
How Do You Find Reviewers?
Visit Web sites related to your book genre or topic. Locate them by doing an Internet search using appropriate keywords—chick lit, mysteries, science fiction, autism, feral cats, family budgeting or dog grooming, for example. Always check out their list of resources as you’ll find many more appropriate sites and publications to contact.
Many Web sites feature recommended books. Some conduct and post interviews with authors. Offer your book for consideration. Suggest that they do an interview with you.
Do they produce a newsletter? Study their archives to find out if they publish book reviews. Maybe they’ll agree to publish a review of yours.
Study magazines related to your book theme or genre. If you aren’t familiar with magazines, you will be amazed at how many of them there are. Locate magazines through Writer’s Market (Writer’s Digest Books), by doing an Internet search (keywords, "magazine" or "newsletter" or "publication" and then your genre/topic) and, of course, visit mega bookstores to find racks and racks of magazines.
How Do You Approach Reviewers?
Once you’ve found appropriate Web sites, magazines and newsletters, locate their submission guidelines. If they don’t have specific guidelines for submitting a book for review, find contact information for the editor/book reviewer and contact him/her.
Describe your book and state why you think their readers would be interested in reading a review in their publication.
Interested reviewers will request a copy of your book. Send the book along with previously published reviews (if available) and/or a press release describing the book, its purpose and the audience. It’s helpful if you also send a cover letter with the particulars of the book, ISBN, copyright date, publisher name, etc.
Some reviewers will read your book, but many rely heavily on your accompanying material when writing a review. Other editors print reviews that you submit.
How to Submit a Review of Your Own Book
It seems odd to write your own review and editors don’t expect you to. But some editors publish only reviews submitted to them. How does that work? Ask a colleague to write a review of your book and submit it to magazines and Web sites. Or get permission from someone who has already reviewed your book to submit it to other publications. Adhere to submission requirements—particularly their word count. A book review is generally 150 to 300 words.
Do You Have to Pay For Reviews?
Some Web hosts and editors charge for reviewing your book, but most do not. There’s no reason why you should have to pay for a review because there are dozens and dozens of review opportunities out there for FREE.
How to Get More From Your Reviews
Once you land a review in a high-profile or even a small-potatoes publication or Web site, congratulate yourself and then spread the word. But don’t settle for an audience of 2,000 or even 50,000 or more. Expand upon your review opportunity in the following ways:
Do reviews sell books? Absolutely! And the more reviews you get, the more exposure you’ll get and the more books you’ll sell. Use the suggestions in this article and the resources below to expand your reach toward your goal of successful authorship.
Directories of sites and publications that review books:
Book review sites:
firstname.lastname@example.org (Contact Mr. Goldman for a book review.)
Science fiction/horror/fantasy book reviews:
Submit a review of your book:
Submit anytime except June and December.
Locate additional sites and resources
Read all issues of the SPAWN Market Update, including those in the archives, as we frequently list specific and general book review opportunities.
–Patricia Fry is the president of SPAWN and the author of 27 books. Her writing/publishing-related books have been reviewed many times in a variety of publications and on appropriate Web sites. Read some of them at www.matilijapress.com.
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