|The following article was written exclusively for CreateSpace by Joel Friedlander. Joel is the proprietor of Marin Bookworks in San Rafael, California, a publishing services company where he's helped launch many self-published authors. He blogs about book design, writing and self-publishing at www.TheBookDesigner.com. Joel is also the author of the newly-published A Self-Publisher's Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish.|
Online Book Reviews for Independent Authors
I've been researching online book reviewers recently and I've discovered it's quite a busy and interesting field for independent authors.
Online reviewers help spread the message about your book by publishing a review to their own network. This is one of the most effective ways to get the attention of new readers you might not be able to reach in other ways.
To take advantage of the explosion in online book reviewers, you'll need two things: a set of promotion materials for the reviewers, and a good way to find the reviewers that are right for your book.
Gathering Promotional Materials
When a reviewer says they want to review your book, you want to have everything ready to go. Here's what you'll need:
1. A PDF of your book, including the covers if possible. Otherwise, a JPG of the cover will do.
2. If you are publishing in print, make sure you have print copies on hand too, as well as something to mail them in, like Jiffy bags.
3. You should have a press release about your book. There are lots of samples and templates at PRWeb.com if you need some guidance on writing one yourself.
4. A cover letter in which you briefly introduce your book and yourself.
5. Photos of the book cover and a separate photo of you.
6. Your author bio, where you can talk about why you are qualified to write the book.
Finding the Right Reviewers
Most of the online reviewers and book bloggers are unpaid. You can find book bloggers with Google searches, or by looking for links on their websites. Many book bloggers belong to groups of bloggers, and they will often have a badge on their blog sidebar that will take you to others in the group.
Also take a look at some of these resources:
- Indie author Christy Pinheiro of Step-by-Step Self-Publishing has published a terrific list of reviewers who accept self-published books. You can get more info here (scroll down for the list): Step-by-Step Self-Publishing Indie Reviewer Guide
- Midwest Book Review reviews self-published books, and their website has lots of information on reviews
- Indie Reader accepts indie-published books and has already reviewed over 170 books.
- You can also find reviewers on online writers' forums and community sites. I contribute to Absolute Write where a lot of writers hang out, but there are many others.
- I recently discovered the Book Blogs site for book bloggers. They list over 1500 bloggers who say they review books, so there's a lot to explore.
Book Review Etiquette
When you're ready to get going with your reviews, keep these tips in mind. They will help you in your interaction with book reviewers. Reviewers are helping you by reading your book and writing a review, whether they like the book or not. They've taken their valuable time to do this, often at no pay, out of their love for books. It pays to treat them right.
1. Pick reviewers that review your type or genre of book. Don't waste your time and theirs if they aren't interested in your genre.
2. Ask first. Look at the requirements the reviewers publish on their site and see exactly what they want you to send. These two steps alone will help you get appropriate reviews without delays.
3. When you query the reviewer, offer either the print version or a PDF, or both, since different reviewers will have different requirements.
4. Follow up if you don't hear from the review, but give them a few weeks. Ask if they still plan to review the book.
5. Say thank you. Most of these reviewers do this because they love books. Appreciate the time and effort they took to write a review.
Book reviews help spread the word about your book, and nothing is more effective at selling books than word of mouth. Reviewers help to get people talking about your book, making your marketing job that much easier.
How will they make your marketing job easier? If you're fortunate enough to get some good reviews, here are a number of ways you can use them:
1. You might pick the best part of your best review and put it on the front cover of your book.
2. Use highlights from good reviews on the back cover, too.
3. When you build a website for your book, reviews should be featured prominently.
4. Make up a "testimonials" sheet and include it with your press kit.
It might seem a bit of work to put together a review campaign for your book, but the effect of using other people's words to help broadcast what's great about your book will pay off for years to come.
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