Sold your novel? Congratulations! Now it’s time to start promoting it.
One of the best ways to do this is by getting it reviewed in as many places as possible.
If you’ve sold to a print house, you probably have six to fifteen months to get ready for a big push to coincide with the book launch. Even though the publisher will promote the book, you have to do your part to boost sales.
Success doesn’t just happen. You need to get the word out about your book so people are eager to buy it as soon as it’s available. It takes time and effort to research and line up reviewers, and starting early will produce the best results.
Your publisher will send advanced reading copies to major reviewers, such as “Publishers Weekly”, “NY Times Book Review” and “Library Journal”, but also ask you for a list of possible review places they can contact. These include newspapers of towns and cities where you are known, fraternal or corporate magazines and any radio or television contact that concern books and authors. Requests for reviews from a publisher carry more weight with major reviewers than one from an author, so don’t be shy about passing on local contacts unless you know the reviewer personally or have an influential contact to the source.
On the other hand, if you have a personal connection, such as being a member of a group or an employee of a company producing the magazine, contacting them directly will get the review more easily.
Where to find reviewers
Your main source for promoting through reviews is the Internet.
Few print publishers take the time to research reviewers on the web, yet there are hundreds of them that review print and electronic books. Some specialize in a particular genre, others accept a broader range of stories. Some are theme oriented, others appeal to members of particular groups or occupations.
Also think beyond traditional reviewers. Magazines and ezines or websites for people in the same line of work as your protagonist may publish a review of special interest to their readers.
How to ask for the review
When working on the Web, the first step is to write a blurb about your novel to include in your query letter or with a submission. This blurb is similar to the copy you read on a book jacket. Its purpose is to convince the reviewer to read and review your book. The blurb must make the story sound interesting and exciting so the reviewer wants to read it.
Reviewers don’t review everything sent to them, so it’s up to you to make your novel sound worth their time. Write and polish your blurb so it hooks the reviewer.
The second step is if you are working from a list, visit the site to make sure it is valid. The Web can change in the blink of a mouse’s eye. While there, also check their guidelines for querying or submitting a book for review and follow those guidelines. Use the submission form if there is one. Include whatever is requested with the query, such as publisher’s name, price of book, publication date, contact information, etc. and submit the book in the specified manner and format. In most cases, your submission will be ignored if you don’t follow the guidelines.
And last but not least, be patient. Reviewers receive hundreds of requests. They take time to read books carefully and write thoughtful reviews. Most reviewers don’t reply if they don’t plan to review a book. If they accept yours, it may take several months to receive the review. This emphasizes the need to plan your reviews project early so reviews will come out close to launch date.
Once you have written your blurb and query, keep records of where, when and to whom you send queries or submissions. Also track the responses you receive. If you are not getting at least 20-25% positive responses, take a good hard look at your letter and blurb. Ask a few trusted friends to read them and give honest opinions. Rewrite to improve them! These are selling tools designed to sell reviewers on the idea of accepting your book to review. If the query and blurb aren’t doing the job, redo them until they get the results you need.
A good plan for sending out requests is to begin querying three to four months before launch date of the book. Send out two or three a week, depending on the size of the list of reviewers you compile. This not only makes the job easier, it helps assure a steady supply of new reviews.
Add a review page to your website and add reviews as they come in. I also recommend taking time to send a brief “thank-you” note to each reviewer for the review. You’ll be writing another novel and this courtesy will help you be remembered.
Writers know other writers. Chances are you know one who would be happy to do a review of your novel. Independent reviews can be posted on your site or submitted to sites that accept them. Quite a few do. Make a list of them as you research sites on the web.
One of my diligent writer friends compiled a list of more than 200 sites and magazines (print and electronic) that review books. She averaged better than a 30% response rate to her query letters using it. In the true spirit of writers helping writers, she has given me permission to share the list with you. Use the link in my signature box below to request a free copy.
Whether this is your first or fifth published novel, you can’t have too many reviews. Start building your plan to get them today.