Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Reviews for Self Published Books

When you publish a book, "they" say book reviews are a big deal. "They" being the people that write the Bibles of self-publishing. Guys such as Dan Poynter and the Ross family. And yes I do believe that "they" know what they are talking about. And yes I have a well-worn copy of The Self-Publishing Manualat my desk right this minute. And there are many more a helpful books about self-publishing available.

Are there other ways to sell mucho mucho books? Of course. But this is the tried-and-true path, the way to start. Then you should think of your own suitable "out of the box" tricks to try.

Okay, this is my distillation and opinion on reviews. There are a few types of reviews:
1)Pre-press reviews
These are highly sought after publications. These are typically aimed at the wholesale opportunities. These are utilized by public libraries, school libraries and retail stores to select new acquisitions or selections. Supposedly if you get a good review it can help sell a lot of books.

This is how it works: you send them stuff very early (3-6 months before your publication date) and you wait. You don't bother them. They say so in their submission guidelines. Actually, most of them want F&G's (this means fold and gathers - we will talk about this another time, suffice it to say the first off the press pages gathered together, trimmed and folded). This shows that they have it early. Then you follow up later with a finished book. These review publications want to be the ones in the know and talk about your book before it is generally available or marketed. I understand that these reviews are difficult to get. There is stiff competition, not much space, yada, yada, yada.

Remember though, reviews can be negative in some places. The truth can hurt. But unless it is an atrociously horrible book that someone might be interested in that they want to warn the reading public, librarians, bookstores, etc. about NOT buying, if you are not good enough, you are simply discarded.

If the 4-6 months go by and your book goes past it's publication date and you haven't heard from these review publications. Forget about it, it's probably not going to happen.

Here are the places I sent "My Name is Not Isabella"
1)ForeWord magazine
2)Kirkus
3)School Library Journal
4)Publisher's Weekly
5)Book List

There are a few others to consider and there are some that strictly for adult literature that I skipped.

2)Early Reviews:
This is a much bigger and specific list. These are sent once you have finished books in hand. They are to get the book listed in directories, copyright registered (another time), follow-ups to the F&G's above, other reviewers, and to try and get it into wholesalers or distributors. This is very specific to your book and your marketing plan. Dan has a good list.

3)Ongoing reviews:
These are things to keep getting media for your book. Local newspapers, appropriate magazines, blogs. Again, this is a personal list. I will share more of mine as time goes on.

"They" say reviews are important. "They" say it is a key piece of your marketing efforts. "They" are hopefully right about this. I will let you know what happens for me.

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