One Sunday afternoon, about 18 months ago, I went to Amazon.com to purchase a book as a gift. Although I had already made up my mind about the book in question (requested by a friend), I found myself reading every customer review. I clicked the read about me feature on one of the reviews and was introduced to Rebecca Brown and her wonderful book review site, www.rebeccasreads.com. The tagline under the heading states, “We offer a world of entertainment, books, reviews, interviews, thoughts, and editorials.”
The scope is very broad; the theme is very simple. Brown says she started the site because she loves books, loves to write, and wants the world to read and read well. Her reviews and those of her staff (including husband/Web master David Brown) cover every subject imaginable and just as many perspectives. The weekly column, “My Thoughts,” offers insights into the reading community and thus life. (Brown has some pet peeves and she does speak her piece).
From a publisher’s point of view, though, the site may be most important as a tool for keeping titles active in the marketplace. Rebeccasreads provides many opportunities to get your titles, including backlist books, out to a very large audience–whatever your specialty may be.
A Closer Look at the Reviewer & Her Site
Brown says that she reads many good books. The reviewer adds that she has written informal reviews all her life, especially in letters to friends. For nine years, she wrote reviews of books, videos and tapes professionally for a magazine, purposefully injecting levity and animation.
Commenting on Rebeccasreads, Brown explains, “My intent for this Web site is to entertain, enlighten and, perhaps, convince you to find the book and enjoy the read. My idea is to turn you on to the writer’s efforts, flaws, and fortes. My interviews with the authors reveal some of the passion, some of the everyday labor, that goes into causing a book to happen. I’ve written the careful, third-person singular type of review and reading is not a careful, third-person event; it’s a happening where your body has a sit-in while your eyes and mind work miracles with the author’s written words.”
Since she opened the site in July 1999, Brown has reviewed more than 900 books and interviewed more than 60 authors. When Amazon.com customers vote for their favorite reviewer, Brown is in the top 100.
Coverage & the “Consequences”
Brown’s book ratings are in terms of teapots (we received four!), and they can generate many kinds of activity. For instance, a couple of weekends ago, I was in the middle of planning a graduation party for my oldest granddaughter. I ignored my e-mail and answering machine most of the week. Imagine my surprise very late Friday evening when I found the following message awaiting me, forwarded from the comments in the authors’ section of www.rebeccasreads.com.
“I am a writer for Martha StewartKids magazine. I would be very interested in interviewing Frances Anne Hernan about what gifts would be most appreciated by nannies.” And then she gave her contact information.
Can you imagine getting an e-mail with the home phone number of a freelancer for a major magazine? Barring the cutting room floor, a nice little story that I told her–about a nanny and a special card–will be a part of this writer’s published piece in the fall 2002 issue of Martha StewartKids magazine. Although the story will be short, I know it will lead to other contacts.
There’s no charge for reviews; charges for special coverage are modest. Books that Brown has reviewed can be featured with cover art in the “In the Spotlight” section of the home page; search engines will find a book there for four weeks if a $40 fee is paid by the publisher (this is on a first-come, first-serve basis). Promotion via the site’s “New Book News” section costs $20 for four weeks, whether or not a title has been reviewed. And posting your title on the Rebecca’s Books page with a link to Amazon.com also costs $20 for four weeks. To make arrangements or get more information, e-mail Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frances Anne Hernan is the Publisher of McGavick Field Publishing Co. Her book “The ABCs of Hiring a Nanny” is the first in a series of handbooks on lifestyle issues. It includes a CD of forms and has an online Appendix atwww.abcnanny.com. “The ABCs of Credit,” or the poor pay more, will be released in November 2002.