Book Review 101

According to Jane Friedman the most essential first step for authors is book reviews, not sales.  A good review generates symbolic capital, which helps sell books.  New and self-published authors have no symbolic capital, meaning they are an unknown in the book market.  The key to a successful book launch is acquiring reviews before investing in public promotions.

Many self-published authors and authors published by small presses don’t think about reviews until it’s too late.  The time to start thinking about reviews is about one year prior to publication.  This is because a list of potential reviews must be created before proofs are ordered.  The proofs are sent to selected reviewers as advance reader copies and it can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months before the publisher has a review in hand and is ready to proceed with publication.

But where do these reviews come from?  Many first-time authors turn to paid review sites like YourNewBooks.com, Reading Deals, and Enas Review.  While some paid review sites, like Kirkus, are accepted and trusted sources by many in the industry, most are not worth the trouble (or the money).  The draw for many of these sites is that if the review is negative the author can chose not to have it published.  However, American Heart initially received a glowing review and was awarded a Kirkus star, only to have the star removed–Kirkus forced the reviewer to change their review post-publication.  So, if you are going to end up with a publicly available negative review anyway, there are plenty of places to acquire those for free.  Below are the five areas to tap pre-publication to get reviews. Continue reading