Reviews – Aiming for the Brass Ring
On January 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Mari Selby

As an author, what do we most want from the publishing of our books?

Public recognition

Skyrocketing sales

Simply spreading our message

We may want all three, and receiving a review can mean grasping that brass ring.

A review in a prestigious print magazine can truly make an author’s name and multiply sales. Years ago, one of our authors received a review of his book from New Age Retailer magazine, and as a result, a year later, someone read the review and invited him to present and paid for him to headline at an international conference. Another author received a review in Foreword Reviews, and years later, they are still making steady sales. Even a review in an online magazine can be archived and available on the internet for years.

But achieving this goal in a competitive market is tricky.

The quid-pro-quo is that publishers send reviewers a free copy of a book as part of their marketing plan, in the hope that it will be reviewed and brought to the favorable attention of the reviewer’s audience/readership. All books sent to a reviewer for consideration–requested or unrequested–become the property of the reviewer to do with as he or she deems fit.

Before you begin sending books out to a bunch of magazines, do your research. Despite Oprah’s popularity, O Magazine isn’t right for every author. Maybe your book is a better fit with Prevention  or Popular Mechanics. Or maybe Lambda Literary Foundation is your best bet. Read what books are reviewed in your magazines of choice. Then research who is the best person for you to contact. Is it the feature editor, or is there a book review editor? Keep in mind that you are competing with thousands of other authors for the diminishing number of publications that review books.
But first, create three lists of possible review sites, magazines, and newspapers. This list is meant to offer a sampling of book review options. There are many other magazines and newspapers not listed here.

1. The “Pot ‘o Gold” List

We characterize these magazines as gold, because any review or mention of your book in their print publications will result in more sales, more recognition, and your message received by large numbers of people. All magazines and newspapers in this category require advanced reader copies sent at least 4 months in advance of the books launch. Pre-publication magazines include Publishers Weekly, Booklist Reader, and Library Journal. Post publication magazines in this category include People, The New Yorker, Reader’s Digest, or Slate.

I recommend claiming a little of the gold by submitting your book to Publishers Weekly PW select. For the small fee of $149, you have a better chance to reach that gold.

2. The “Silver Lining” List

I characterize these magazines or newspapers as silver, because they have a great circulation and maybe a little less prestige. From the Los Angeles Times, to the Boston Globe, to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, to the Christian Science Monitor, all have a great deal of power to launch a book. Most magazines and newspapers in this category have both a print edition, as well as an online edition, and they accept books that have already been launched.  Landing a review in The Atlantic would be a huge boon to any author. The Bloomsbury Review has eclectic tastes, has been around for decades, and often prints authors who reside in the West. One of our authors had a review here that resulted in regionally successful book signing and speaking engagements. Regional magazines in your area like Virginia Quarterly Review,  tend to favor local authors. Online magazines in this category, because of their huge circulation, are Shelf Awareness and Huffington Post. Depending on the genre of your book, other magazines that review books are Crosscurrents, Tricycle, Insight Retailers, Psychology Today, and Utne Reader.

3. Evergreen List

I refer to these online magazines and review sites as evergreen, because they archive their reviews. Anyone can find the review months later. Also, having your review online will help build your overall SEO ranking. Getting reviewed on Amazon or BN.com builds recognition as well as sales. Many of our authors have become Amazon.com bestsellers. Goodreads is a social media network for authors to create a fan base. My personal favorite online review magazine is, of course, San Francisco Book Review. They offer both free and paid reviews. Other favorites include Midwest Book Review or Women’s Review of Books.

For a small fee of $59, you can obtain an express review from Readers Favorite reviews.

Of course a review doesn’t guarantee that you will get a good review. One of our clients received a review from Publisher’s Weekly that began with “This is an amazing book” and finished the review by criticizing the author’s purple prose. And guess which part of the review went on the front cover of the book? You can go for reviews yourself, or you can hire a publicist to make this task easier.

A publicist has the contacts and skills to get your book in front of interested editors. There is a great deal of work involved in going for reviews–from research to query to follow-up. But any review can be used to promote your book and improve your sales, which is well worth the effort. And the possibility is always there that you will be able to grasp that brass ring!

© January 2017, Mari Selby


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MARI SELBY founded Selby ink in 1998 after working for a small publisher where she was successful in improving their sales from 20,000 books to over 100,000 books in one year. Prior to being a publicist Mari was a family therapist in private practice for almost 20 years.


About City Book Review

City Book Review is the publisher of San Francisco Book Review, Seattle Book Review, Manhattan Book Review, and Kids’ BookBuzzSince 2008, we’ve been helping readers find their next favorite book. We’re proud to be deeply involved with the indie writers community. We are one of the few national book review magazines to review and promote self-published books. We also work with publicists from around the world to bring you the latest books. To round out our services, we also offer authors and publicists assistance with promoting their books through book review videos, book cover design, blogger outreach, social media marketing, and press releases. If you’re interested in getting your book reviewed by us, please see our How to Get Your Book Reviewed page.

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