By Chris Olsen
In 1851, The New York Times’ inaugural issue included what it contends was the first stand-alone book review. The publishing industry has undergone several transformations since then, but what hasn’t changed is the influence reviews can have on a book’s success.
While some authors work with a publicist to help generate reviews, you’re still the primary marketer of your book, so you’ll need to get comfortable asking for reviews. To start, develop a list of potential reviewers. Next, create your book summary and decide which format of your book you’ll send. Then, get to work pitching your book.
1. Develop a List of Potential Reviewers
Book review categories include literary endorsements, editorial reviews, trade publication reviews and general reviews, and each relates to a different audience. Start by developing a list of potential reviewers in each category. Learn more about review types and targeting reviewers here.
2. Create Your Book Summary
Once you have your list of potential reviewers, prepare your book summary. If you don’t have all these details as you begin seeking reviews, include as many as you can:
- Book title and author name
- Brief book summary (100 words or less)
- Brief author bio (100 words or less)
- Publisher name
- Publication date
- International Standard Book Number (ISBN)
- Book format (hardcover, softcover, etc.)
- Distribution channels (Amazon, Ingram, etc.)
- Contact information
- Marketing overview
3. Decide Which Format of Your Book You’ll Send
Next, consider which format of your book you’ll send to reviewers with your pitch—copies of your manuscript, galleys or advance reader/review copies (ARCs).
Some authors distribute copies of their manuscript to reviewers for advance praise before working with a publisher. This is typically done when it is close to a final draft. For example, if you have worked with a writing coach or developmental editor to complete multiple rounds of revisions and there is consensus it is ready to share.
Galleys are laid-out book pages. Also known as galley proofs or print proofs, the term originated when books were printed on letterpresses, and blocks of type were handset into a metal tray on the press called a galley. These book pages were printed in limited quantities—typically unbound and without a cover—and delivered to proofreaders and authors who would review them simultaneously. They were initially called galley proofs and eventually just galleys. At some point, while galleys were in the proofreading stage, publishers began distributing copies to literary reviewers as well, to secure praise for books and create interest before they were available to the public. Galleys typically include a note indicating it is an uncorrected proof.
Advance Reader/Review Copies (ARCs)
As print manufacturing evolved, publishers could efficiently print and bind smaller quantities of books that were further along in the editing process (though still not ready for the general public). These advance reader/review copies—referred to as ARCs—began replacing print galleys as a tool for seeking advance praise. ARCs include a cover, and the cover clearly indicates it is an advance uncorrected proof and not for sale. Authors take on the cost of printing and shipping ARCs.
4. Pitch Your Book
Be strategic as you reach out to reviewers. Connect with people in your network first. Be clear with the reviewer about how you plan to use it. Ask if it is possible to receive the review from them by a specific date. Be prepared to follow up.
About the Author
Chris Olsen is a broadcast media veteran turned communications consultant, educator and the author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose.” The founder of Publish Her and Publish Her Story, Chris has helped thousands of women tell their stories and publish their books.
About Publish Her
Publish Her is a female-founded publisher dedicated to elevating the words, writing and stories of women. We are passionate about amplifying the voices of women of color, women with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We aim to make publishing an attainable, exciting and collaborative process for all. Publish Her specializes in print-on-demand books, workbooks, journals, magazines and more.