If you’re self-publishing your e-book or print book, it’s critical for you to make sure that your book is professionally illustrated, designed, and edited. If you cost-cut on these items, you’ll regret it in the long run. Publishing is a business. If your book doesn’t look as good or doesn’t read as well as other books by larger publishers, it’s difficult to make an impact. Let’s assume you’ve done all these things right and you are ready to get some reviews! Reviews can help you at every stage of the process, but before you solicit them, you’ll need to focus on your goals.
Before Your Book is Completed
Do you want feedback on your book while you’re still in the writing stage so that you can possibly make revisions? If so, a few trusted colleagues might be willing to share their opinions. A mastermind writing group is helpful for this stage as well. You might want to go the route of getting a professional editorial review. This type of feedback is very helpful for cover designs, too, if you’re having difficulty deciding on the look of your finished cover.
The Three Different Types of Reviewers
The process of book reviewing for promotional purposes has changed a great deal over the last ten years. Years ago, the only type of review that was significant was one from a traditional reviewing publication, such as Booklist, published by the American Library Association, which receives over 60,000 books for potential review annually. However, although these traditional reviewers are still very important to the business of publishing, many of them will not review self-published works. Some are self-publisher friendly, such as Midwest Book Review. You’ll need to do your homework to find out if the reviewer in question is open to self-published work.
The second type of reviewer is a “grassroots” reviewer. Some of these reviewers are teachers, librarians, or parents who are very interested in and will help promote the news about great books for children. The reviewers in this group generally have an educational background that gives them a level of expertise in critiquing children’s literature. Kid Lit Reviews is an example of this type of reviewer.
The third type of reviewer is an Amazon vine reviewer or an avid reader who posts frequent reviews on the book sale or community platforms, such as Amazon, Goodreads (now an Amazon company), or Barnes and Noble. This individual may have a blog of his or her own with a fan base. By researching the types of reviews he or she has done, you can determine whether his or her fan base might be potential readers for your book.
When Your Book is Ready for Production, but isn’t Produced Yet
If you want to approach traditional book reviewers, make sure you read their guidelines well in advance. Some of these reviewers will not accept finished books. They want to see books in what is called the “galley” stage. This essentially means they want to review the book as an advance reading copy (ARC) before the book is in finished printed form. If you are doing a print version of your book, your printer can get you sets of printed ARCs prior to the final bindery process. In addition to print ARCs, you should be prepared to send MOBI, EPUB, or PDF files, since many reviewers today prefer to receive an e-book copy.
About Linda F. Radke
Linda F. Radke is president of Story Monsters LLC and publisher of Story Monsters Ink® magazine, selected by School Library Journal as one the great magazines for kids and teens. For over 30 years, she has produced and marketed award-winning books for all ages. Clients and the media describe Radke as an industry leader in creativity, innovation, and customer service. She has received many publishing, public relations, and marketing awards, including “Book Marketer of the Year” by Book Publicists of Southern California. A former K-12 special education teacher and Arizona State University instructor, she has served as a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator for publishing and marketing. Radke is a member of the Children’s Book Council, National Federation of Press Women, and Independent Book Publishing Association. Based in Chandler, Arizona, she is passionate about helping authors make their dreams a reality. Radke’s motto is, “You can't compromise on quality. Do it right or don't do it all!”