book review in national media

How New York Times Book Reviewers Work


Ever wondered how the editors of the NY Times Review are choosing the list of their editors’ picks for the 10 Best Books of the Year?  But that’s not all, just before Thanksgiving, The New York Times Book Review published also its list of the 100 Notable Books of 2016.  Pamela Paul, the editor of The New York Times Book Review shed some light on how things work at the Book Review and explains to authors and readers:

Book Reviews and End of the Year List
“It is often the case that books we like don’t necessarily get hugely favorable notice in the Book Review.  One recent case: Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See got a negative review in the Book Review.  But we still named it one of the 10 Best Books of the year at the time.  Our 10 Best is when we editors get to exert our own opinions, no matter what our reviewers say.  At the end of the year, we pull together all of our Editor’s Choices and narrow them down to 100 Notable Books of the Year—50 fiction and 50 nonfiction.  From those, we pick the 10 Best.”

In an article at Lithub she mentioned that the Times reviews about 1% of the books that are published in any given year.  Editors select which books we want reviewed, and then we find reviewers to write about them.

“We review all genres, though our tastes reflect the tastes of our editors and those of readers of The New York Times.  The staff critics for The Times choose which books they want to review themselves.  On most days, we have three large carts piled high with boxes and envelopes, plus 10 – 20 Postal Boxes filled to the top.”

Book Reviews Are Often Emotional
“I think the biggest mistake reviewers make is conflating a book review with a book report.  Generally speaking, readers don’t want to know what happens in a book, and they certainly don’t want (nor should they get) plot spoilers.  I hate that personally as a reader!  Let me discover for myself.

What I’m more interested in a review is seeing a writer engage with a book—intellectually and often, emotionally.  I want some depth and context: What else has been written on the subject?  What has this writer done previously?  What kind of research did the writer do?

I want to know what the writing is like—give me some examples, quote from the book, describe the style.  I want to know what the writer does well and not so well. I want judgment.  I want to know if a book is well done and if it’s worth my time.  Is this a book I’ll actually want to read, or just read about?”

You can’t please all of the readers all of the time! ~ Stephen King

Writing is an occupation in which you have to keep proving
your talent
to those who have none.
~ Jules Renard




Finally Available: The Guide to Find Reviewers

Everything You Need to Know About the Topic “Book Reviews”


111 Tips to Get FREE Book Reviews
More than 1,200 direct links to book reviewers – clickable links to each website! and 111 tips and insider information will provide authors on 240 pages with all aspects of finding, following, and networking with reviewers and influential book bloggers.

Many important steps, such as researching which genre book reviewers prefer and how to connect with them, or how to get media reviews will help you to successfully market your books. How to prepare professional ARC’s (advance review copies) in order to get reviews before your book’s launch, is described in detail.
Practical insider information, such as how to get endorsement for your nonfiction book, how to leverage your reviews, how to deal with negative book reviews, why join many reader communities or how to plan book blog tours – including tips from bestselling authors and publishing industry professionals who explain how to get lots of free book reviews.

Some of the Many Topics in this Valuable Book:

  • Book Reviewer Links
  • Advance Review Copy
  • How to Find Media Reviewers
  • Book Review Tips for Authors
  • How to Find Book Reviewers
  • Strategies for Getting Lots of Reviews
  • Tips on How to Get Free Book Reviews
  • How to Get Endorsements
  • How to Aim for Amazon Top Reviewers
  • How to Deal With Negative Reviews
  • Difference between Editorial and Book Reviews

Get it now at the INTRODUCTORY PRICE (until October 31st)

… and don’t forget to write a review : )


Amazon vs Media Reviews


Part 1 of: How to Get Media Reviews

A newspaper article about the Harvard Business School paper’s conclusion regarding book reviewers reported in the Guardian:

“The Harvard report compared “professional” reviewers (e.g. those working for newspapers and magazines) with their new competition: the folk who leave reviews on Amazon. Though they limited themselves to Amazon reviewers, they could have cast their net much wider; these days the ivory towers of book reviewing are under attack by an army of humans, dispensing their reviews and their ratings across Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and the whole glittering panoply of the social web.
The conclusion of the Harvard academics was broadly this: that professionals are slightly more likely to review and approve of books written by writers who worked for the same titles as they, or books that had won prizes.  On the other hand, Amazon reviewers were rather more eclectic, and also in particular seemed to be more supportive of debut authors.
It concluded: As the paper’s authors say, what is actually going on here is a secondhand audience bias: writers who write for the Guardian are more likely to write books that people who read the Guardian will like.  Similarly, a book that has won a prize has a badge of assumed quality; someone else has already done the filtering.  But this bias also sparks the immemorial cry of the debut author who doesn’t know anyone on the books desk: how on earth am I to get noticed?”

Write for Magazines and Newspapers!
You might have noticed that I am a big preacher of writing  articles for magazines and newspapers.  One of the benefits – besides often being well-paid – is to “meet” your colleagues, or at least to be known by name and your writing, which is what the Harvard academics also found in their study.  Why Asking for (media) Book Reviews – when you could get both: book promotion and at the same time (often) being paid?  I know, it is a new concept to many writers, but when you think about it – it makes really sense: why use your time and effort to chase reviewers, when you can use your energy to leverage your books content and your research content – to create articles that you can pitch to both, print and online newspapers and magazines – and become known to the book reviewers?

Why Books Don’t Get Reviewed by the NY Times.
In a Washington Post interview article some insights into the decisions of book review editors were revealed:

“We have such small space. . . . Every time we skip a book, we have to write up a reason. A couple of sentences saying that ‘you know what, [this is] an incredibly worthy book but I just assigned something very similar,’ or ‘this is rehashing arguments that we’ve seen,’ or some sort of justification.

“There are some authors who are pretty automatically review, because even if we don’t necessarily think, for example, the latest thriller by X Big Name is necessarily his best, we know that our readers are going to want to know that. So, it’s worthy of review not necessarily because of the quality — and I’m not speaking of David McCullough here, I think everything he writes pretty terrific — but we know that it’s going to be of interest. So we’ll assign a review and the review might not be positive, but it’s worthy of attention.
“There’s are a lot of factors that go into figuring out what books are going to be in an issue. The most obvious is pub date — the date of publication, because we’re a newspaper so it should be a relatively new book. But then we think about the mix in terms of fiction vs. nonfiction, all the genres within both of those categories. Within fiction you want to have, let’s say, science fiction, you might want to have a British novel, something in translation, include poetry. And then on nonfiction you want to have a mix of biography, foreign policy, science, hard science, mathematics. We’re kind of balancing in so many different ways.

On self-published books: We get them, and we don’t review them. We review about 1 percent of the books that come out in print from publishers every year. So 99 percent of those (published) books are being discarded. At some point you kind of have to say “okay, we’re just going to look at these books.”
Well, they did!  According to several news articles, like this one by Forbes for example, proclaiming: “The New York Times, one of the most important source of book reviews, published a long and enthusiastic review of a self-published book, written by Alan Sepinwall, a famous TV critic.”  
Watch the full interview with these NYT book reviewers here.

Tips from a Publizist:
If you want mainstream reviews, make “the package” (industry speak for “the book”) as professional looking as possible. One rule of thumb is to use cream colored “stock” (industry speak for “paper”) because bright white stock signals short-run digital printing, in other words: self-published.

Make sure you begin your publicity and review outreach at least four months before your chosen on sale date.  Pamela Paul, the editor of The New York Times Book Review, says that one way she chooses titles for review is by reading the starred reviews in the trades like PW, Kirkus, and Library Journal. Those trades will only consider books for review if they are received some four months in advance of the on sale date.

Manage to hide that your book is a self-pub by creating your own imprint with its own logo and a publisher name that’s not yours. List a couple of your friend’s books on your website, or books that you have written under a pen name.  Some outlets, like PW and Kirkus will try to force self-published authors into their paid review service, so be smart and let an “employee” of your book’s “publisher” make the contact. But never use a vanity company to set up your book!

Do lots of early reader giveaways.  You can run them for free on Goodreads and LibraryThing and lots of bloggers are open to covering your book in exchange for a few free copies to run contests for their readers. Start this at least 4 months prior to your book’s launch.

Read lots of more detailed tips in Part 2 of this series.


How to Let Publicity Work For You



Have you (and your book) been mentioned in a national newspaper, such as USA Today, Chicago Tribune or the NY Times? Or your hometown newspaper? Have you been interviewed by a local radio station? Endorsements of traditional media, even if it’s simply mentioning your name, is marketing gold if you are trying to get a book into more readers hands. Don’t miss to let everyone know about it:

Post it on Your Author Pages
Authors barely ever use all the space they get on their Amazon or Goodreads author pages. Scan the article or parts of it and add it as a photo to your page. If it was a video interview, get a copy to place it on YouTube and all free video sharing sites and certainly on all your author pages at online retailers.

Let People on Social Media Know
No matter if it was an article or a taped interview, post it on all the forums you are a member with, including a link, an image or a quote.
This can be done more frequently on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – and with images on Pinterest. You can even mention and promote upcoming shows on your site – and on theirs. And certainly post after the show how awesome it was.

Add it to Your e-Book
Why not adding snippets of the article (quote or image of the article, or a link to the video) as endorsement into your e-book, either in the first introduction pages or at the end of the book?

Post it on Your Website and Blog
The endorsements implied by recognition from the media make you appear more trustworthy and credible – and thus more appealing – than your competition.

Use it as Reference for Speaking Engagements
When applying you will greatly boost your chances of getting the gig if the people, hiring speakers know that you have received media attention. Make sure it’s on your speaker profile and in your marketing material.

Whether you have paid someone to help you get media exposure or you have done the work yourself, you have made an investment in Public Relation. Get a great return on that investment and leverage the rewards for a long time, provided, you put it to work for you!




If you would like to get more support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or to learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer all this and more for only $159 for three months! Learn more about this individual book marketing help:
Or visit  to advertise your new book, specials, your KDP Select Free Days or the new Kindle Countdown Deals.

Please check out all previous posts of this blog (there are more than 970 of them : ) if you haven’t already. Why not sign up to receive them regularly by email? Just click on “Follow” in the upper line on each page – and then on “LIKE” next to it. There is also the “SHARE” button underneath each article where you can submit the article to Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.
Thanks a lot for following:

@111publishing 111Publishing @ Google+


Hyper Smash


Tagged: book promotion, book publicity, book review in national media, leverage publicity, radio interview, self-publishing, SEO, social networking

%d bloggers like this: