Where to Get Book Reviews Today
by Patricia L. Fry
With prominent book-review media shrinking and dying, this is a good time to focus on the hundreds of other free review opportunities that exist for books in all genres and topics. Here’s how to take advantage of them.
Locate appropriate publications. Authors are likely to have periodicals relevant to their work on their own bookshelves. Start there.
Then scan magazines at your local library and bookstores. Study Writer’s Market and the Encyclopedia of Associations to find additional periodicals related to a book’s content and theme. Use your favorite search engine to locate even more magazines and newsletters—yes, newsletters. Just about every topic and genre is represented in numerous newsletters, each of them reaching dozens or hundreds of people. Start your search with these directories:
Identify editors who review books. Not every magazine runs book reviews, but editors at literary magazines often publish reviews, and so do editors at magazines that publish fiction and some genre fiction magazines, including those that specialize in science fiction, romance, horror, and material for young adults and children. Likewise, editors at hundreds of consumer and association/trade magazines run reviews of books that they believe will appeal to their readers.
Seek and you will find names of book-review editors at magazines and newsletters 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.
Keep in mind that the more topics your author has skillfully worked into a novel or nonfiction book, the more potential you have for getting that book reviewed in a wide variety of publications.
Contact the appropriate editors at selected publications with a review package. I suggest beginning with a query/introduction letter or email asking the reviewer or editor if you can send your book. Provide some quality promo material related to the book, including a color image of the cover and an overview. Check to see whether each periodical on your list has a Web site with book-review submission guidelines. If it does, adhere to them.
When you are invited to send a book, package it carefully along with promotional materials, a business card, and a cover letter. Start the letter by reminding the recipient that s/he requested the book for review. Be sure your contact information is included with every review copy.
Be smart about online book-review sites. While I believe in exposure, exposure, exposure, and think that just about any publicity is good publicity, I am not a fan of most online book-review sites. Why? They are so cluttered with a mishmash of books on all topics that your book may not get the exposure you desire or deserve. Most are backlogged with books. And many online review sites charge for reviewing a book.
I make an exception for sites that might feature a book on their Home page for a week or so. When that sort of thing happens, follow up with a widespread publicity campaign sending readers to the site.
Another exception: genre sites. Readers of science fiction, for example, will seek good reads at science fiction review sites. Those who love good mysteries will visit mystery review sites to see what’s new and recommended.
Check out other sites related to a book’s genre and/or topic as well. Although they may not be review sites, they are often places where site owners will review, feature, or recommend books in their field/genre/category.
You can locate reviewers in a particular book’s genre and/or subject area by using search terms such as “book review” + “science fiction” or “book review site” + “YA fantasy,” for example.
Any publisher of a good book should be able to land reviews in dozens of publications and at numerous sites. And the book doesn’t have to be hot off the presses. Don’t let a copyright date stop you from trying to get some publicity now. Go ahead and contact appropriate book reviewers outside the trade.
Patricia Fry, the executive director of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network; spawn.org), is the author of 29 books, including The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book. To learn more, visit matilijapress.com/rightway.html or matilijapress.com/publishingblog.