Book Reviews in magazines and newspapers

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




111 Tips to Get FREE Book Reviews

111 Tips to Get FREE Book Reviews
e-Book, covering the best strategies for getting lots of great reviews – including over 1,200 direct links (clickable links to each website!) to reviewers and book bloggers.


THE most valuable guide to gather book reviews

Book Bloggers and Reviewer contact addresses can be found at the end of each chapter.  And if you send us an email, using our contact form at, you will receive twice a year the latest reviewer contacts.
Even More Benefits for REVIEWERS:
Send us a link to your review at Amazon or Goodreads of our latest book 111 Tips to Get FREE Book Reviews  o r  for:  111 Tips on How to Market Your Book for Free and we will refund you an Amazon gift card for two book purchases.

Table of Contents


Getting your book reviewed is the direct outcome of these three factors combined: Preparation – Presentation – Luck of the Draw.

You can at least totally influence the first two! For the last one, I cross fingers for you!


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 : )


Important Tips on How to Write Book Reviews


Reviewing can be a daunting task.  Someone has asked for your opinion but you may not feel qualified to evaluate this book.  Who are you to criticize a book if you have never written a novel or a nonfiction book yourself, much less won a literature prize?  You might have questions, such as:

  • What should the review contain?
  • Can I really voice my opinion?
  • What are the do’s and don’ts of reviews?

Above all, a review makes an argument.  The most important element of a review is that it is a commentary, not merely a content summary.  It allows you to enter into dialogue and discussion with the work’s creator and with other audiences. You can offer agreement or disagreement and identify where you find the work exemplary or deficient in not reaching its merit.

Review Writing Techniques

While Reading:
Take notes while reading the book, including the page number of interesting content, to make the review writing easier and to remember important points.  Record impressions.

Try to capture the reader’s attention with an interesting opening sentence.  The introduction should state your central thesis, and set the tone of the review.  Outline the title of the book, the genre, the author and maybe if it is a newly launched book. What is the general field or genre, and how does the book fit into it?

Describe the content or theme, what goes on in the story, introduce some of the main characters and elements. From what point of view is the work written? What is the author’s style?  Is it formal or informal?  Does it suit the intended audience?  Write it a briefly, general story line, as not to spoil the reader’s experience.  This rule must always be followed: never give away the ending.
Here you should write down how good the plot was. Was the plot fast paced or subdued’, was the plot a good length, or was it all over too quick, was easy or difficult to follow. This part of your review is really important, as the plot is what drives a story in a fiction book.

How does the author portray his characters? How do they develop? Are the characters in the book interesting or not, did they fit with the plot? Or has the author a very distinct writing style? Use quotations to illustrate important points or peculiarities.

Non-fiction Books
What sources did the author use – primary or secondary?  How does he make use of them?  What has the book accomplished? Is further work needed?  Compare the book to others by this author or by other writers.
Typically, reviews are brief.  In newspapers and academic journals for example, they rarely exceed 1000 words, although you may encounter lengthier assignments and extended commentaries.  In either case, reviews need to be succinct. While they vary in tone, subject, and style, they share some common features:

A review gives the reader a short and concise summary of the content.  This includes a relevant description of the topic as well as its overall perspective, argument, or purpose.
However, more importantly, a review offers a critical assessment of the content.  This involves your reactions to the work under review: what strikes you as noteworthy, whether or not it was effective or persuasive, and how it enhanced your understanding of the issues at hand.
Finally, in addition to analyzing the work, a review often suggests whether or not the audience might appreciate it.  It can include a final assessment or simply restate a thesis.  Reviews should be about the book.  If you think a book is a masterpiece, tell people why.  If it had potential but fell short, share your perspective.
Introduce the book title and its author and why you wanted to read it.  Tell readers what the book is about in two or three sentences.  Name the main characters and basic plot, but don’t give away any secrets or the ending.  Share some of your favorite parts or quotes from the book.  What did you think of the main character?  Did this book remind you of any other books you’ve read?

Before you Publish Your Book Review:
Edit, spell-check, correct grammar, refine.  Allow some time to elapse before going over your review.  Carefully read through the text, looking for clarity and coherence.

Reviews Don’ts:
Unfortunately there are these “collectors” of free books on Amazon, who click on every book that doesn’t cost anything on a particular day, no matter if it interests them or not.  Later they might read it – and often slash it in a very unprofessional manner.

Even when it is most difficult, a review is not an emotional response to a book, and should not be used as an opportunity to criticize an author’s personality.  A book review should never be used as a “bully pulpit” for the reviewer to preach to others about his or her own beliefs.

A review is not a synopsis of the books content.  A review should tell readers what the reviewer thought of the book from multiple perspectives, not to repeat the book blurb.

Try to avoid platitudes, such as “I could not put it down”, “a page turner” or “it kept me up all night”

Reviewers Role
It doesn’t really interest others if you liked the book or not!  Be impartial.  If you are reviewing a book by a favorite author of yours, approach it skeptically.  If you disagree with an author’s philosophy or politics, keep an open mind.  

***Your task is not to champion or chastise the author – it is to evaluate the merits of the work – and if the author accomplished it.***

Tips from the The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC:  A great place to learn about book reviews is to look at examples.  The New York Times Sunday Book Review  and The New York Review of Books  can show you how professional writers review books.  Nobody expects you to be the intellectual equal of the work’s creator, yet, careful observations can provide you with the raw material to make reasoned opinions.
Tactfully voicing agreement and disagreement, praise and criticism, is a valuable, challenging skill, and like many forms of writing, reviews require you to provide concrete evidence for your assertion.


Part 2: How to Get Media Book Reviews


You might have read Part 1: Amazon vs Media Reviewers. Here are more tips and a couple of links to Media Review sites. Our next book “111 Tips on How to Get Book Reviews” (launch in late spring) will contain over 600 direct links to book reviewers.

Steps Before Sending Your Review Submission.
Your first step is to read book reviews of the publication you want to pitch with your reviewer request.  What type of books do they usually review?  If possible read some of the titles and compare your own insights with those of the reviewers.  What does he or she especially look for in a book of the same genre you are writing?  And most important:  What is the name and title of the reviewer?

Prepare an Excel spreadsheet or any kind of list, where you type in the title, name, address, phone/email of the recipient, the date of submission, and their guidelines.  Write a personalized email to the potential reviewer.  No one likes to get a form letter, or spam.  Use a salutation, and their name.  Never, ever sent it: “to the editor” or “to whom it may concern…”, always address it to the reviewer’s name.  An exception is for example Kirkus Reviews, where each book is assigned to a different reviewer, who could be a freelancer.
Book review editors are not the only ones who might accept your books for review, try columnists as well, especially if you write non-fiction.  If your book is about an adventurous bike tour in Jamaica, you can send your review submission to both, the travel section editor of a major newspaper or to the sport editor of this publication.

Always Check Carefully Submission Rules!
Most media review sites want hard copies – Advance Review Copies (ARC’s) of the book at least 4 – 6 months prior to publication.  Other reviewers, especially top book bloggers take review books also after their release and more and more accept e-books.  Even if you have planned to publish an e-book, purchase 30-50 copies printed at a digital printer, at CreateSpace or use any of these Espresso-Publishing machines that you can find in major cities, but who will also deliver via mail or UPS to your place.  Having print copies is not only important for reviewers, but also handy for your book launch or book signings and to sell them to people who prefer print instead of e-books.
You may start sending out your review submission to your local newspapers and even weekly papers and test the waters first before you head out to the nationals.  A review is serving your purpose as well as a feature article, mentioning your book.  There are a tons of books and lots of writers seeking reviews, however, there is only so much space / time in a reviewer’s calendar.  You may email a reviewer first to see if they have an interest in your book.   To capture interest and establish credibility an effective email pitch should answer these questions:

  • Why is this worth reading at this moment?
  • What’s the news hook? Why should people care?
  • Why am I the best one to write this piece?

Don’t give reviewers a reason to disqualify your book right away:

  • Mail or email your submission to their name.
  • If they want a press release, make sure you send one.
  • Don’t send galleys, if they want finished books.
  • Verify that they review your genre of book before you submit.
  • Follow their publication-date deadlines.

Make sure that you include all your contact info: name, mailing address, website address, phone number, and email address. Use to create an appealing info site about yourself and include it in your contact info. Important: Don’t forget all the book information: price, ISBN number, number of pages, and genre.  Carefully pack your book in cushioned envelopes or boxes.  You want them to look professional and brand new when they arrive at the editor’s office.  Add a media kit, including your biography, high-resolution and professional (600 dpi) images, a book trailer link, a blurb and the synopsis of the book and contact information for you.

When Should You Send out Your Review Submission?January & February for spring and July & August for fall, because there will be less competition from major publishers. Don’t send it out to arrive at the office on a Monday, the busiest day.  Best arrival day for your submission is on a Thursday or Friday.

Follow Up:
Thank the editor for responding, even if they said “no.” A “No” can be the beginning of a conversation that can eventually lead to “yes.”  If you don’t hear back for two or three weeks, send a friendly follow-up email to the editor asking if your book is considered for review, mentioning your launch date.

It is not easy to get your book reviewed in these journals: however, it is possible. Librarians read reviews — at least those in Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews.  Both are paid review sites, so are a couple other professional book reviewers, which are often used by Trade Publishers, and are open to independent authors as well (for a fee).

Here a couple of useful links to (mostly) reputable reviewers, many more in our upcoming book:

Los Angeles Reviews
Armchair Reviews
MacLeans Canada
ForeWord Reviews
Midwest Book Review
NY Times Reviews
Indie Reader
South China Morning Post Intl
Dallas News
The National UAE
The Huffington Post
San Francisco Book Review
Library Journal


Paid Reviews:
Publishers Weekly

Most important: send a thank-you note / email to anyone who reviews your book.  They took a long time reading and reviewing your work – so you take five minutes and write them a thank-you!  If they reviewed your book, thank them not for showcasing you – but for giving space to the ideas and issues in your work.

If you want to become a beta reader / critic of our upcoming book (digital advanced reader copy – before the final edit) drop us a line via the contact-us form on top of this page. Thanks.


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 Deal With Negative Book Reviews


Many authors are a bit devastated when a negative review shows up on their books’ sales pages.  However, a book with lots of reviews has real legitimacy and gives readers and potential customers a range of perspectives, making them more likely to buy it.  So, trying to get lots of reviews is advisable.  But how do authors handle the inevitable bad ones?  And why might these unfavourable reviews – or often might not –  influence book buyers.  Last but not least: Why would anyone write a negative review?

Remember: Bestsellers Get Bad Reviews too!
Just read the list of real bad reviews of now Classic Books in an article on Huffington Post.  
Digital Book World also listed snippets from negative Bestseller reviews:

It was one of the most boring and shallow books that I have ever read.” —review of the American classic The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Not nearly enough consistency and far to [sic] little plot.”—review of Harry Potter And the Half Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

If I were you, I’d peruse it briefly at your neighborhood library before putting hard-earned money out.” —review of children’s classic A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Superficial, shallow, boring and inconsistent.This was easily the most overrated book of 2013.” —The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, a real Bestseller and Pulitzer Prize Winner.

I find myself saying to myself as I read it ‘bla bla bla’ as that is what the author seems to be saying.” —review of National Book Award Winner Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen.

Find more Bashing Reviews of Classic Books, that are bestsellers and award-winners.

Funny, Negative Reviews:
Bestseller author Rayne Hall once blogged about negative, but funny reviews she received, some are really hilarious, for example This book is too long. I had to spend many hours reading it. I’m busy and have other things to do.”  Or: “The character of Queen Matilda is not believable”.  Sorry, but there’s no Queen Matilda in the book…

But You Might Not be Amused…
After all, your book is your baby, and you don’t want it bashed.  Consider this: Are Book Reviews really THAT important?  In a poll 70% of book purchasers admitted to buy books after checking the reviews.  Surprisingly many did not pay too much attention to 5-star or 1-star reviews, rather more about the number of reviews and the average rating.  Many negative reviews are short and not talking much about the book, rather about the preferences of the reviewer.  And the bashing reviewers are often only showing their mean character, which makes it easy to ignore them altogether.
Don’t forget:  A 5-star review could be a good friend or family member and a 1-star someone from the competition, right?  So, what I am doing is to check the “history” of the reviewer.  How many books does he or she review. Just click on the reviewers name and go to their Amazon site to find out more.  Interesting also, if it was a “verified purchase” or if the reviewer states at least to have the book received in order to write a review.
How a Review Should be Written.
Reviews on book review sites should be about the book under review. Other readers don’t need a diatribe on why a reviewer dislikes a particular genre. If you can’t judge a book based on the quality of the story in the pages, you have no business reviewing them. Why should anyone care how you “feel” about the book or the genre?  THE one and only important  judgement should be: Has the book fulfilled its purpose? Has it entertained, was the plot thrilling in a mystery, or had the protagonist a believable character?  In the case of a non-fiction book: Did I learn a lot of new things?  Did I receive lots of valuable information that I couldn’t get in a dozen of Google searches?  Was it filled with detailed instructions?

A review is not a synopsis of the book’s content.  A review should tell readers what the reviewer thought of the book from multiple perspectives, not to repeat the book blurb.  It doesn’t really interest others if you liked the book or not!  Take care to be impartial.  Your task is not to champion or chastise the author – it is to evaluate the merits of the work – and if the author accomplished it. Read more detailed tips on How to Write Book Reviews in a former blog post.

It Happens to EVERY Writer!
No matter if you won the Pulitzer Price, or if you teach English in high school classes, or how many books you have sold.  Negative book reviews, especially those that are potentially malicious, are near the top list of nightmare scenarios for every writer. You have been putting your heart and soul into pursuing your passion. So it is understandable when you would like to act first in the face of negativity and have regrets later. Please don’t!
A bad review is, of course, very uncomfortable to read. You can cry, have a few too many drinks, or get mad. Sometimes – or often – the review has nothing to do with the actual book or with you:

  • The reviewer regrets the purchase or someone make a negative remark about his / her taste.
  • The reviewer expected a different content – and hasn’t read the description, or clicked on the wrong book to order.
  • The reviewer thinks there is too much violence or sex in the content for her or his taste.
  • The reviewer could have a bad day, a very bad day even, and just overacts.
  • The reviewer could even be a competitor (or their friends).
  • Maybe the reviewer thumbed through the book and read only a few sentences.
  • The reviewer is jealous of your success, or is not able to write a decent book.

Quality reviews would describe the writing style, plot lines, and characterization and back up the positive or negative comments with specific examples.

How to Deal with Negative Reviews?
Anyone who chooses a career in the arts, no matter if it is music, acting, painting, or writing, should accept that reviews, good, bad, and non-committal, are a part of the business. All artists have to deal with all kinds of reviews.  Writers tend to be quite emotional people, that’s what makes them good at what they do – being creative – but it also means that they are likely to take a bad review to heart.  The best way to deal with bad reviews is to ignore them.  If they really hurt, talk with your writer colleagues or friends about it. They can go to your books page and choose the “fair” reviews, and click on: Helpful.  Do I need to say more? Consumers are smart enough to sniff out and ignore a negative review in a sea of positive ones.
Lev Raphael wrote in the Huffington Post: “I’ve published almost two dozen books and I now read as few of my reviews as possible. Why? Because I’ve learned more about my work from other authors through their books, conversations, or lectures than I have from any reviewers, and I don’t look to reviews for education or approbation. I hope they’ll help with publicity, but I’ve seen people get raves in the New York Times without any impact on sales.  We authors shouldn’t let our self-esteem be held hostage by reviewers, and we should try not to over-estimate their importance or expect them to stroke our egos.  As for bad reviews? Ignore them along with the good ones, and keep writing.”

Never Contact a Reviewer!
There’s no point in doing so. Everyone has an opinion, and all opinions are valid to the person who has them.  Never respond to bad reviews on any forum or blog, because you will never win the argument.  Life is too short to worry about what anyone thinks of your work.  You shouldn’t be reading your reviews at all!
A review is nothing personal – It’s business.  Your book, written with the labor of love and handled like your baby, is still a book, a product.  You are an entrepreneur.  You’re in the business of writing to make money.  It’s a business of skills like most other businesses.  Never forget that no matter how much one reviewer hates your book – others will love it.

Just Work on More Reviews.
Hopefully you worked hard on getting lots of reviews, so that few bad ones diminish in a sea of brilliant reviews. If you can afford it, try to get as many professional reviews as possible, such as Midwest Reviews, Armchair Reviews, ForeWord Reviews, Kirkus Reviews etc.  They are trained and know how to write a fair and professional review.  Any review, good or bad, is better than no review.  Readers who like the genre you write in will give you a better quality review, whether it’s a good review or a so-so review.  Join as many reader communities as possible, in order to meet people who like you genre, post short stories or single chapters there and make lots of friends who might review your next books. Join Wattpad, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari etc..   And contribute to the good karma and write lots of reviews about the books YOU are reading : )


Sending a book, either traditionally published or self-published, out to the world puts an author in a vulnerable position. But as Stephen King once famously wrote: “You can’t please all of the readers all of the time; you can’t please even some of the readers all of the time, but you really ought to try to please at least some of the readers some of the time.”

In Conclusion:
Reviewers are often expected to predict a novel’s future, which is impossible to fulfill with complete accuracy.  One reason why the art of the negative review has been called into question: Self-Published Writers need our support, and there’s also often a dissonance between critical reception and, say, some of Goodreads’ crowd-sourced opinions.  The Goldfinch is just one example of a title that failed to garner the support of top reviewers, but charmed book lovers, as well as the 2014 Pulitzer judges.

Want to Read More About Negative Reviews – And How to React?

Got a 1-Star Review? What Can You Do?

How to Deal With Negative Book Reviews?

More About How to Get Professional Reviews

Huffington Post Collection of Articles Regarding Bad Reviews

Funny Review Article by Rayne Hall



17 Bestseller Tips – from Trade Publishers



If you ever see Marketing and Advertising from traditional puplishers, it’s for their Bestseller authors only, such as: Advance Book Reviews, posted on their book’s cover, Book Tours and Signings of celebrity authors, media coverage including reviews, speaking engagements, and placing at major bookstores who report to Bestseller lists.  How can author-publishers use the methods of global trade publishers to promote their self-published books?  You don’t need to travel to the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany, like Johannes Kepler did in 1620 – yes, self-publishing was en vogue already four hundred years ago!

7 Million Self-Published Titles:  Stiff Competition
Since 2010 roughly 7 million new self-published books appeared, almost all at online retailer’s websites.  And these titles will be offered for many years to come, as most of them are in digital format. The “gold rush” seems to be over and self-publishing has been dropping almost 50% per year, obviously “separating the wheat from the chaff”.  You’re not a New York Times bestselling author. You don’t have a publicist. And your Amazon sales numbers are awful. Should you quit writing books?  No, absolutely not!

For those of you who want to succeed at self-publishing, use also some traditional marketing methods, create a Business Plan and a Budget, including anywhere from 5-10% for your overall book marketing, including website, paying for IT help, designer, or Google ads.
Traditional publishing uses multiple ways to promote. Self-published authors attempt to market their books to the entire world via Amazon, social media, and their website it seems.  Publishers select books in order to stay in business, and also to determine what the publishing house’s identity is.  Here’s how you can copy traditional ways to market – adjusted to self-publishing.  One step at a time, but continually every day – split in small tasks.

1. Start Early
Market Research – the very first step to do!  An editor will need to make a case that the book fills a market need. And to do that, the publishing house will look carefully at what’s out there. Has the competition a recent publication in this sub-genre? Does it have similar scope? Is it widely available?

Authors, and especially self-publishing authors need to study their competition carefully too:  Read their books, study book covers, pricing, reviews, and the marketing of competing books. The most powerful and essential steps you can take toward promoting your book begins long before the actual writing of the book. At least two years before the book is published, start building a network of supporters and reviewers.

2. Print!
Traditional publishers concentrate on print books, which still make up for about 60% of the book market, depending if you look at book sales numbers or revenue per book.  Audio Books: The audio-book market is certainly growing, and Trade Publishers are not only investing in digital (even so it took them a very long time) books, but also in audio-books.

E-book authors might be happy with their sales on Amazon, Apple, Kobo or Barnes & Noble. You might have even turned it into an audio book. But the questions for a “real” book, paper back or hard-cover copy from conservative friends or elderly family members are nagging… And wouldn’t it be nice to walk into a Chapters or Baker & Taylor or one of these rare independent book shops and see your book in the shelf?  You will not earn a fortune, not even a living, but for a couple of months it is a nice pocket change. Only months… yes, because longer than this, barely any book will stay in the book store, unless it really is a bestseller and gets re-printed. If you go the indie route and choose for example the POD services and worldwide distribution through Lightning Source, (provided you have at least 3 books to be considered a small publisher) your book is printed on demand and will never get discarded (good: no-return-policy in POD worldwide distribution). See this article How to Distribute Your Book Worldwide.

3. Book Sales at many outlets
Imagine you could buy all books from Penguin only in one book chain… Publishers distribute their books to as many outlets as possible, to brick-and-mortar stores, independent book sellers, mass markets, online book sellers, even via Affiliate programs.

Authors: Sell your books, e-books and audio-books not only through Amazon, but as well on Barnes&Noble, Apple and Kobo websites, to have your “eggs in more than one basket”. And don’t forget the potentially huge potential market for hardcover books, selling them to libraries all over the country!  However, there are way more online retailers for e-books and books than just Apple , Sony, Diesel, Kobo or Barnes & Noble.  Sign up with a book distributor / fulfillment company for your print-version of the book. Distributors mostly require just three books to be listed as a publishing business, and if authors have not written three books yet, they can band together with other authors to reach this minimum.  Traditional publishers and the books of their authors can be found on Bowker’s global database of books.  How to get into “Books in Print”, a worldwide database and to register your book for FREE! with Bowker is the topic of another blog posts.

Books available for future publishers:  Aaron Shepard has written two books about the topic of book distribution: POD for Profit and Aiming at Amazon, both contain very detailed information for small publishers. Another great source is Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual, a classic publishing guide-book.

4. Sell books to Libraries
All traditional publishers sell their books to libraries.

According to statistics from the American Library Association and the Book Industry Study Group, libraries yearly purchase books for nearly $2 billion. But not only books, also audio-books and other forms of publications. Around 95% from major publishers.  Imagine, you sold your $15 book at a 50% discount to only 10% of these libraries, you will earn more than $75,000. But how can you tap into the lucrative library market?  It is explained in detail, including valuable links of wholesale companies who sell to libraries, on SavvyBookWriters here and here.

5. Book Shows & Fairs
Representation at the applicable trade shows includes bookseller trade shows like the Bookseller Expo America (BEA) or one of the regional bookseller shows, like the New England Booksellers Association, Book Shows for the Library Association (ALA) and certainly the world’s most important, the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany every October.

Which Book Fairs or other Literary Events will you attend in the coming months to present your work?  How to organize your participation and how to attract visitors is explained in detail in this blog post, pointing out the do’s and don’ts at book fairs.

6. Book Signings
An author tour can take various forms. Two weeks of travel, flights from city to city, an author appearance every day, twice a day if possible.  Publishers often make their choice on the basis of three factors:  if the book can sell in quantity in bookstores; if the book can be reviewed in newspapers, not simply journals;  and if the author is presentable.

How you can organize your own book signing is explained in detail, even with a time-table, here on this blog post at

7. Book Clubs
Traditional Book Publishers sometimes sponsor book clubs, or invite them to participate in a contest, such as the one offered by Random House of Canada “Book Clubs are Beautiful”.  Members suggests four or five books that they must have read and then the voting and lobbying begins until they’ve got their list. member suggests four or five books that they must have read and then the voting and lobbying begins until they’ve got their list.

Authors on the book clubs list have attended a meeting or contacted them by phone or email. Writers can find easily contact addresses of book clubs via Google. Offer them a free copy of your book, just as big publishers do. Don’t overlook virtual book clubs at Goodreads, Wattpad, Bibliophile etc.

8. Writing Contests
Many published authors compete in writing contests, and publishing houses sometimes organize contests.

How to Get More Readers from an Award:  Publicity around a book award will boost your book sales. Contests are a great way to hone your craft and show the world how much better you are than other writers. Winning a book award for your self-published fiction or nonfiction book is a great way to gain recognition and approval. You will not only see an increase in your book sales – if you market it well – you also can add the award sticker to your cover and mention the achievement on your back cover, in your books’ description, and in all your marketing and promotions – online or offline. 25 Writing Competitions You Should Enter

9. Content Writing for magazines & newspapers
World-famous bestseller writers from big publishing houses, such as Ernest Hemingway, Margaret Atwood, Tom Chiarella, Gloria Steinem and Stephen King did it: Writing occasionally short stories and magazine articles – before blogs became fashionable.

Your book has been launched months ago or even last year. NOW readers need to see something NEW from you. It doesn’t need to be a whole new book:
The three main assets you have already
– your writing skills
– the content you already penned
– the research you have done for your book(s) can be used to write at least 20 – 30 articles or blog posts – and if regularly posted on Google+ it is raising your Search Engine Ranking on Google tremendously.

More benefits of writing content:
– it is a subtle way to promote your book
– you receive valuable back links to your website or blog
– you will have lots of possibilities to post on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Facebook.
– include links to your articles in email newsletter (that you hopefully send out regularly to your readers)

Post these articles on your blog or contribute guest blogs to other sites that are focused on the same topics as your book.
Content is used to draw in your ideal readers / reviewers, it will link to your book sales page or your website and it helps a lot to build a platform. Last but not least it gives you a lot of material to post and to tweet. The result: you will increase your exposure, show your writing skills, grow a loyal following and attract reviewers – in one sentence: you will achieve success with your writing – and in many cases, even get paid for it.

10. Press Kits on your website
Bestseller authors at traditional publisher have the support of the publisher’s in-house (or out-sourced) publicity department. How much publicity support depends on many factors, but there are the basic elements that a publicity department will likely provide:  Book Press Materials.  Near publication date, the book’s publicist will email the electronic version of the press kits to a large number of applicable editors and producers to garner interest in the book. Book Media Follow-Up is the next step. The book publicist will follow up with any media outlet that responds to the mailings or e-mailings, will mail additional copies of the finished book, and will make additional calls or emails to other outlets to remind them the book is in their in-box.

To get the word out about the upcoming book launch, to receive positive articles in newspapers., magazine, book blogs, or to get interviews, writers should professionally deal with anyone who could tout their book – not only national press or TV.  Don’t make these common errors:  Not having a press page on your website for example.  Unfortunately most writers are not aware that journalists, bloggers or radio hosts need a bit more information than what they see on your Amazon page. And they won’t just copy and paste your “about the author” or the description of your book on the sales page. Check out Stephen Kings website, see how he organized his page for the media, where journalists can download high-resolution press photos.

11. Advance Book Reviews in magazines and newspapers
Did you ever wonder why brand new books had already reviews?  New author-publishers can learn a lot in book stores:  Check out how professionally published books look like: Many of these trade books have either on their back cover (paperback) or on their binding flap (hard cover) several snippets of the book reviews, as well as endorsements from bestselling writers or other professionals, that were already written before the book was printed.
Traditional publishers may budget anywhere from fifty to several hundred “free and review” copies. Advance Review Copies (ARC’s) are what they send out half a year before book launch date.

How these pre-editions Galleys) are produced and to whom they should be sent is explained in How to Get Reviews Before Your Books Launch.  Prepare your book review query well in advance and learn what to avoid when pitching to reviewers.  Valuable tips can be found at Prestigious Reviews and How to Get Them.

12. Radio Interviews
Bestseller authors often appear as guest at TV or radio stations. Publicists for major publishing houses have longstanding contacts to their editors and arrange interviews for bestseller authors.

Authors can go the same route, starting with internet radio stations, such as this one: The Book Report.  Don’t forget when you plan the marketing of your public events, to announce it for free on Google+ and on Goodreads, use their free Event pages.

13. Speaking Engagements
Keynote Speakers and Motivational Speakers get handsomely paid, often $10.000 to 15,000 for a two-hour speech!  Most celebrity authors, found as speakers, are writing Non-Fiction books.

Speaker agencies, or organizers of Writers Conferences are the best approach if you want to earn more with speaking engagements than with your book.  If you are really serious about publicly speaking, join first and then the Certified Speaking Professional Association where you can get certification in public speaking.

14. Foreign Rights
Basic subsidiary rights that publishers contract with their authors include translation into foreign languages, foreign rights, and reprint of selections by other publishers, just to name a few. An American publisher may also license a book to a British house for separate English-language publication in the UK and the Commonwealth

Foreign Rights  as well as translations into other languages can be a great way to leverage the value of your manuscript – but don’t expect big numbers right away. Additionally, it will add an international, professional image to you and your books. Revenue will be an advance and approximately 6 – 10% royalty of the retail price, minus percentage for the agent. Try to get the highest advance possible. It’s also a long-term project as it takes around 18 months until the book is translated and finally available online and in bookstores – and another half year for royalties to arrive.

15. Bookstore Placement
Placement in bookstores, both chain and local (especially bookstores that report numbers to the Bestsellers List)  William Germano explains in his book:
Trade publishers’ marketing departments issue all kinds of catalogs to promote books—ones you see and ones you won’t unless you’re a librarian or a bookseller. The trade catalog is a publisher’s principal tool for making sales to bookstores.  Publishers with two trade catalogs bring out one per publishing season. The fall season usually begins in September and continues through the winter. The spring season begins in February or March, and continues through the summer. Books to be announced in a catalog must be securely in place at the publishing house up to a year ahead.

For those of you who want to succeed at self-publishing, use also some traditional marketing methods, create a Business Plan and a Budget, including anywhere from 5-10% for your overall book marketing including your website, paying for IT help, designer, or ads.

16. Placement of books in big box stores
Wandering into a Walmart or Shoppers DrugMart outlet, you will most likely find close to the entrance / cashier desk the shelves of magazines and books, often from Bestseller authors. Big publishing houses sell tons of books to these big box stores – at steep discounts I must add.

If your books are selling like hot cakes, consider selling in bulk too.  Book wholesalers or websites such as and, provide contact information for hundreds of buyers. You could also visit the websites of your most coveted outlets. Target even maintains a “vendor hotline” to answer questions by phone. However, be aware that having at least a dozen books is the minimum before you approach buyers at big box stores. They will not order single titles. If you have a book that should go into a specific department, for instance Sporting Goods, Electronics, Childrens, etc. contact your local store manager and ask who the buyer is for that specific department.

17. Book Sales Page
Many big publishers and major online retailers sell from their own website print and digital books – and so can you!  How?

Get all the information you need to start selling your books from our former article:  How to Sell Your Books From Your Own Website.
Make at least 30% more on your books. Get your revenue immediately and get to know your readers, a very important point for your future marketing and to keep in contact with your customers.

This is just a small selection of the many book marketing activities that authors can copy from major publishers – beside Social Media networking.  “Just Because You Wrote a Book, Readers Won’t Line Up To Buy It!”  Yet, authors who take their publishing endaveor seriously and work as hard on their publishing business as they do on their writing, will always succeed. Read this article regarding the “Book Sales Plateau”.
Find many more detailed tips and links to all aspects of author-publishing and book marketing at SavvyBookWriters, especially how you can act like a professional publisher and take your books to the next level.  Remember that you don’t have to do all of this at once!




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 $179 for three months – or less than $2 per day! Learn more about this customized Online Seminar / Consulting for writers:

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Tagged: 7 million new self-published books, book marketing activities, Book Reviews in magazines and newspapers, Book Sales Page, Book Shows & Fairs, book signings, bookstore placements, radio interviews, Writing Contests

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