As authors, what do we want more from publishing our books, public recognition, skyrocketing sales, or just getting our message out?
We may want all three and getting a review may be reaching for that pot of gold. A review in a prestigious print magazine can really make an author’s name and multiply sales. Even a review in an online magazine can be archived and available on the Internet for years. But how to achieve this goal in a competitive market is complicated.
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 gain favorable attention from the reviewer’s audience/readers. All books sent to a reviewer for review, whether requested or not, become the property of the reviewer to dispose of as they see fit.
Before you start submitting books to every possible magazine, do your research. Despite Oprah’s popularity, O magazine isn’t right for all authors. Perhaps her book is a better fit for Prevention or Popular Mechanics magazine? Or maybe it’s your best bet. Read what books are reviewed in the magazines of your choice. Then find out who is the best person 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 dwindling number of publications that review books.
But first create 3 lists of possible review sites, magazines and newspapers. This list is intended to provide a sample of book review options, there are many other magazines and newspapers not listed here.
1. The “pot or 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 being received by a greater number of people. All magazines and newspapers in this category require advanced reader copies to be submitted at least 4 months prior to book release. Prepublication magazines include Publishers Weekly, Booklist Reader, and Library Journal. Post-publish magazines in this category include People, New Yorker, Reader’s Digest, or Slate. To claim some of the gold by submitting your books to Publishers Weekly PW select. For the small fee of $149, you have a better chance of hitting that gold.
2. The “silver lining” list – We characterize these magazines or newspapers as silver because they have a large circulation and perhaps a little less prestige. From the Los Angeles Times to the Boston Globe to the Cleveland Plain Dealer to the Christian Science Monitor, they all have great power to launch a book. Most of the magazines and newspapers in this category have both a print edition and an online edition, accepting books that have already been released. Getting a review in The Atlantic would be a boon to any author. Bloomsbury magazine has eclectic tastes, has been around for decades, and often publishes authors based in the West. Regional magazines in your area like the Virginia Quarterly Review tend to favor local authors. Online magazines in this category due to their high circulation are Shelf Awareness and Huffington Post. Depending on the genre of your book, other magazines that review books include Crosscurrents magazine, Tricycle, Insight Retailers magazine, 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 and also having your review online will help build your overall SEO ranking. Being reviewed on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.com generates recognition and sales. Many of our authors have become Amazon.com best sellers. Goodreads is a social media network for authors to build a fan base. My favorite online review magazine is, of course, the San Francisco Book Review. Other favorites include the Midwest Book Review, Bellaonline, or the Women’s Review of Books. For a small fee of $59, you can get a quick review of Readers Favorite Reviews – https://readersfavorite.com/book-reviews.htm
Of course, a review does not guarantee that you will get a good review. Even a review that starts with “This is an amazing book” and ends by criticizing the author’s purple prose can be helpful.
You can search for reviews yourself, or you can hire a publisher to make this task easier. A publicist has the contacts and skills to introduce your book to interested publishers. There is a lot of work involved in searching for reviews, from research to querying and following up. But any review can be used to promote your book and boost your sales, which is well worth it. And there’s always the chance that you might be lucky enough to find your own pot of gold!
© January 2017