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Publisher’s Notebook
Review Copies: Your Best ROI

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Reviews provide the least expensive and most effective way to promote books. While few other products can approach the media for free publicity, books, especially nonfiction books, are “news.” Our challenge is to take maximum advantage of this very effective publicity in the most cost-effective way.

The Investment and the Return

A book costs something like $1 or $2 to print, less than $1.50 to ship, plus maybe 30 cents for the shipping bag. Space advertising in a magazine may cost from $500 to more than $30,000. That ad would have to bring in a lot of orders to pay off. Painful experience says it won’t.

The copies you send out for review will cost you less than $4, and besides they are already paid for and are sitting idly in your garage. Grab a bunch and send them to work. Let them tell people that you have a great book and there are more where it came from.

You can–and should–send review copies to lots of special-interest magazines, newsletters, and newspaper columns. For example, my lists have 820 periodicals on business, 175 on sales, 126 on parenting, 117 on automobiles, 296 on cooking, 306 on education, 563 on health, 21 specifically on nursing, 247 for seniors, and so on (for a complete list, see http://parapub.com/getpage.cfm?file=/ bookprom.html).

Some of the periodicals on any relevant list will be perfect matches for your book, some will not, and some–well, you won’t be quite sure. But remember, it costs far less to send books to reviewers than to buy advertising space. So, when in doubt, ship it out.

By the way, reviews may take months or even years to appear. Send out review copies as soon as possible, and then be patient.

Good reviews will bring mail and calls from bookstores, libraries, wholesalers, reviewers, subsidiary rights agents, individuals, and ad sales reps. And all you’re investing for that exposure is a book.

Dan Poynter is the author of The Self-Publishing Manual and a past vice-president of PMA. His company, Para Publishing, provides guides on book publishing. For more info, visit http://ParaPublishing.com.

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