How To Get Reviews
"A remarkable literary achievement."
"Makes all other novels laughable and obsolete."
—The New York Times Book Review
The reason authors and publishers seek reviews is simple: Reviews get attention. A good review is the best form of free advertising any author could hope for, and in the case of a less-than-favorable review, well ... bad publicity is still publicity. But reviews are difficult to obtain, even for publicists promoting recognized authors. By modifying and applying some of the techniques publishers use, authors can greatly improve their chances of getting reviewed, becoming their own publicist.
Publicity departments of large publishing houses have the resources and staff to send out press releases, bound galleys, and multiple copies of completed books to various reviewers and reviewing journals. Smaller houses and self-publishers, however, don't have that luxury. Rather than sending out hundreds of dollars' worth of books in the hopes of getting reviewed, authors acting as their own publicists should concentrate their efforts on sending press releases to any and all appropriate reviewing outlets. The press release should describe your book and highlight any factors that sets it apart, making it worthy of review. Most importantly, the press release should let the reviewers you solicit know who you are, where you can be reached, and how quickly you can get them a manuscript should they request it.
When acting as your own publicist, be prepared to do some research and choose your reviewers carefully. Contact your local newspaper, ask if they review books, and get the name of the appropriate editor. Many alternative weekly newspapers, special interest publications, literary magazines, newsletters, and websites also feature book reviews. The Literary Market Place contains listings and information on many periodicals and is a great resource for authors.
Once the press release is written and mailed to carefully chosen reviewers, there exists either one of two possibilities: Your book will be reviewed or it won't. Most books do not get reviewed so don't be discouraged. If, however, the planets align and your book is reviewed, there is more work to be done. Excerpt the most complimentary parts of the review, which can be a word, sentence, or entire paragraph, and use this blurb to promote your book and get the attention of your local bookstore, other reviewers, and publishers.
Simply put, if you don't promote your book, it won't get promoted. It's worth taking the time to write an accurate, informative press release, and send it to those reviewers you believe would be most interested in writing about your book. Your ultimate goal as publicist is to let the world know your book is available, and having your book reviewed is a very important part of the process.