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Named to "Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites," this #SharingwithWriters blog is a way to connect with my readers and fellow writers, a way to give the teaching genes that populate my DNA free rein. Please join the conversation using the very tiny "comment" link. For those interested in editing and grammar, go to http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dana Lynn Smith Rills On Book Review Process

What Authors Need to Know About the Book Review Process
by Dana Lynn Smith

Book reviews are a terrific way to get your book noticed by potential buyers and convince them to purchase your book.

There are a number of publications and websites that review books on a regular basis. Before submitting books to these organizations, it's helpful to understand how the review process works.   Here is a basic overview of the process:

1.     Authors and publishers research potential reviewers and send books (or queries) to those review outlets that are a match for their book, in terms of subject matter and the reviewer's guidelines. It's the author or publisher's responsibility to make sure the book is a good fit, send appropriate materials with the book, and package it to arrive safely.

2.     Reviewers have no obligation to review every book submitted to them, and each reviewer has his or her own criteria (which may be both objective and subjective) for deciding which books to select and review. Even if a reviewer has expressed interest in a book in response to a query, that's no guarantee that a review will be published. Sometimes reviewers are just too overwhelmed to get to all of the books they intend to review, or they may find upon receipt that the book is not of sufficient quality to merit a review.

3.     Once the review is published, the reviewer should send the author or publisher a link (if it's online) or a tear sheet (if it's in print.) Some reviewers also post their reviews on sites such as Amazon.com, although there is no obligation to do so.

It's important to remember that a book reviewer's responsibility is to the readers of their reviews, not to the author or publisher. Reviewers aren't really in the business of helping authors further their careers or helping publishers sell more books. Their goal is to help readers (and librarians and booksellers) make appropriate book selections.

It's unrealistic to expect to get a response from everyone to whom you send a review copy. Also, not all books that are assigned to a reviewer will actually get a published review. Sometimes the reviewer fails to do the review, or the editor feels the review is not up to the organization's standards. Also, some sites and publications do not publish negative reviews, so a review may be scrapped because the reviewer could not find enough merit in the book to do a positive review.

Here are some of the most common reasons that books are not assigned to a reviewer or not reviewed:

Time or space constraints – Most publications and websites that review books regularly have the time and space to review only a small percentage of the submissions received.

Poor quality – If the quality of the writing or editing, or the quality of the publication (cover, interior, printing), are not up to professional standards, a book is likely to end up in the reject pile. Sometimes the quality of the writing and editing isn't clear until the reviewer has already started reading the book.

Not a good fit – Some authors and publishers don't do enough research to determine if their book is appropriate for the reviewer. The book's subject matter or format may not fit with the reviewer's editorial policies.

Poor communication – Sometimes authors or publishers fail to follow clearly stated review guidelines, provide inadequate marketing materials or contact information, or are just generally annoying to the reviewer.

Problem reviewers – Some people claim to be book reviewers in order to get free books for reading or re-sale. Be cautious about sending review copies to people who solicit them. Other reviewers may have good intentions but do not follow through after agreeing to review a book, or their review is not approved by the editor of the publication or website.

To increase your success rate in getting reviews, keep these points in mind as you plan your book review strategy.

Excerpted from How to Get Your Book Reviewed, by Dana Lynn Smith. To learn more about book reviews, follow the virtual book tour for How to Get Your Book Reviewed. Get more book marketing tips on The Savvy Book Marketer blog.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:


  1. Carolyn, thanks so much for hosting me on my virtual book tour. I wish all the authors here much success with their books!

  2. I had no idea when I started on this journey of putting pen to paper, that there were so many aspects that contribute to marketing and promotion and to the ultimate success of failure or one's work. Thanks for sharing these enlghtening situations. The book would seem to be one for my library shelf.

  3. Thanks Yvonne, and good luck with your book!

  4. Hi Carolyn and Dana,

    Wow, this was a surprise to me when I first read it: "Reviewers have no obligation to review every book submitted to them..." I guess I thought "if you send it, they will write it."

    This is a good reason to send many review copies out, like we do when we send out our manuscript queries to publishers or agents. We don't send out one then sit and wait. I'm glad for this warning! Thanks again for your great teaching, Dana!


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