As an author, this is a critical question to ask yourself as you begin to plan and write your book proposal. You’ll need to provide a list of reviewers as part of your marketing and publicity plans.
Book reviews come in all sizes, colors, and styles these days. Once the purview of literary critics, many book reviews have turned into book reports. Remember fourth grade? And there are fewer and fewer newspapers and magazines with book review sections. There are more online and less traditional venues. A new style to book review emerges in the transparent digital era: consumer reports for people who buy books.
Start with Goodreads. It behooves you to become part of this online community as a reader before you become an author where you can leverage your connections there to launch your publication with advance reviews. You will find all kinds of reports here by diverse readers of varying value. You gain lots of insights into the kinds of readers who read books like the one you are writing. You can establish connections with those who write reviews you can respect and trust. And you can practice writing reviews of books in your subject area and genre.
If you knit, spin, crochet, or use a tractor loom there is a strong likelihood you belong to the online site Ravelry. It’s the world’s largest and most powerful social media network. It’s devoted to all things fiber. No one minds here if you plug your products or services related to the common passion. Open to novices, designers, pattern testers, everyday knitters, artists, spinners, teachers, and readers who never pick up their needles anymore. If you tried to sell your knitting designs, crochet classes, craft kits, or handspun scarves on Facebook or Twitter endlessly, I’d find your behavior over-the-top. If you plan to use social media to promote think of these sites for marketing and stick to the social side of your other platforms to advance your networks and connections face to face in meaningful ways and share the publicity to advance your reach.
LibraryThing is another social media site specifically for readers. It’s called the world’s largest book club. Geared toward reviews which may influence those who order for library and school markets. It’s been around as long as Goodreads and it isn’t owned by Amazon. And speaking of Amazon, you should begin to review books and post your reviews on the Amazon product site. To date, it does not require you purchase the book from Amazon. You’ll learn once you are an author how important those honest customer evaluation forms are to future sales with Amazon as your distributor.
Yes, authors do read your reviews of their books and you need to keep it in mind as a future author as to how you treat a writer in your report. Consider it advance marketing for your future publication. The books you review in your subject area and genre may include titles competing for the same audience. Turn your competition into your collaborators. Review their books and establish an online relationship with the author. They may become a reviewer for your book.
There are blog reviews and then there are blog reviews. They are not all the same. Getting a review on a site with a million website visitors a day is not the same thing as the ‘blog tours’ organized like chain-letters among self-published desperados. For five bucks anybody can get a review.
The price of reviews goes up and the return on your investment likely will go down. The reviewers who make a difference in the sales figure of your title can’t be bought.
Kirkus Reviews. Publisher’s Weekly. Shelf Awareness. Your publisher should submit your title to at least these three independent book reviewers months in advance of the publication date.
There are others. Find the ones which publish review books like yours. These are the ones your publisher wants to see in your marketing plan. Library Journal? LA Review of Books? Midwestern Book Review? Journal of Critical Inquiry? New Consciousness Review? Christian Science Monitor? Search for those publication venues where there are independent or ‘blind’ reviews of manuscripts to obtain the greatest bang for your buck.
If you want to eventually receive reviews for your book, begin by reading them, studying their style and structure, and then writing reviews for others’ books. In doing so you can begin to appreciate what is helpful and constructive in a review to the writer and to other readers.
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, then be quiet,” Grandma Swenson told me, an impudent critic at an early age. Her advice applies today to describe best practices for reviewing books.
Negativism reflects the reviewer more than the book.
Write about books you love. It will help you write the book your readers will love to review.