The Children’s Book Review | November 29, 2017
Getting a Book Review: Where do you start?
You’ve written a book, it is soon to be released, and you’re ready to get the word out. Your editor, family, and friends all say it’s great, but you’d like some unbiased feedback. Maybe you want a blurb or some praise from a reputable source to include on the book cover, your website, and other marketing materials. Or, perhaps, you wrote a story, had it published, and sales are going nowhere. For all of these situations, garnering honest book reviews from industry experts is a really great start. Authentic, positive reviews from influential reviewers can be worth their weight in gold. Not only can they aid sales, but they can also help improve your writing.
Now that we’ve established that book reviews are the way to go, let’s explore these questions!
- Where do you start?
- When is the right time to submit your book?
- Who should you ask to review your book?
- How do you submit your book?
When is the right time to submit your book for review?
Anytime in your book’s life is fine, however, if you would like reviews to be completed before or at the time of your book’s release date, you should start submitting your book 2 to 3 months—if not longer—before the special day. This will give you time to source reviewers that are the right fit for you and your book. Sending your book to a reviewer that doesn’t have an interest in your genre, can lead to a negative review. Take your time researching book bloggers and industry experts, and be sure you send the final and most polished version of your book and cover.
Who should you ask to review your book?
It’s time to start a spreadsheet (or any kind of document) and make a list of book bloggers and industry reviewers that have an interest in your specific genre. You can kick off your list with The Children’s Book Review (www.thechildrensbookreview.com)—we cover all genres of children’s and teen books. Julie A. Gerber and Carole P. Roman’s Navigating Indieworld: A Beginners Guide to Self Publishing and Marketing Your Book and this list of book websites (https://blog.feedspot.com/childrens_book_blogs/) are two good places to continue your search for reviewers. Reviewers active on social media platforms should score bonus points with you. If they review your book positively, it’s quite possible they’ll share it with their wider group of followers, too.
How do you submit your book for review?
Once you identify a list of book bloggers and reviewers, you need to locate their review submission policies and follow them precisely. Every book reviewing individual/company has fairly unique guidelines and you’ll also want to make sure you are mailing (if not using a digital version) to a current address. You may need to dig around a website to find the review policies, but it’s worth the time. Not following the guidelines provided could result in wasted cost and effort for you. It could also mean you miss the part that states something like this: “We do not review stories with talking animals.”
Some reviewers prefer that you send a query letter first. In this case, make your pitch personal, share any relevant qualifications, and keep it short, sweet, and punchy. Address reviewers by their name, when possible.
Unless stated otherwise in the individual review policies, go ahead and send a follow-up letter to the reviewer if you haven’t had a response in the timeframe stated in their guidelines. Sending review copies is rarely a guarantee of a book review. Sending your book is at your own risk, but hopefully, one worth taking. Remember, the majority of book reviewers are giving up their free time to write a review of your book. Always be humble and say thank you—even if your book is not selected for review or you find the review unfavorable. Plus, maybe they’ll absolutely love the next book you write and submit for review—burned bridges can be hard work to fix.
Beyond the Book Review
You received a review, so, what now? Negative or positive, you’re in good shape. You’ve just received some solid critique to help further your writing career and how you may shape future books. There can almost always be an excerpt or blurb to be pulled from any review and used to your advantage. Look for the shiniest section of the review and use it to your heart’s content. Put the blurb on your cover (if you haven’t already gone to print), add it to your website, share it via social media, and use it to pitch your book to more reviewers! More quality reviews means a greater awareness of your book and a wider reach to potential readers.
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