How to get your self-published book reviewed by credible sources

About six months ago, I finished my book “Jesus Potter Harry Christ” and was hungry for reviews. The first thing I did was send out a chain letter to about a thousand blogs I thought might be interested in it. I even sweetened the deal with cash prizes. Feedback: a few of those sites contacted me, but only a handful. Since then I’ve tried giving the book out to just about everybody, in many different ways. I was a little overly eager and desperate for attention, and when I at last got reviewed by some mainstream sources, there was a backlash of all the paper I’d already made contact with who weren’t impressed with my chain letter, for example the following comment:

Mwahaha! Is the book out? I received an invitation to review it months ago over at Hot4Jesus and promptly forgot about it… probably because I am not Potter disciple. And here I could have received a free copy last fall if I reviewed it on my blog with a “prominently featured link” to his site… all while possibly winning cash prizes ($500) etc for reviewing it… via the chain letter he sent out to bloggers. AND he would have linked to my blog in return! Not the best way to be introduced to a book, imo.

Eventually I learned, rather than sending queries out to EVERYBODY including tons of information about your book, you need to write a short, custom email introduction for each blog: choose blogs or websites that really connect with your book. Focus on what they can provide their readers (contest with free copies?). Make sure you understand who they are and what they do. Be appreciate, thankful, polite and personal. No matter what they post, never disagree! If they “just don’t get your book”, don’t tell them so – thank them for taking the time. Listen to what they are saying so that you can improve the book.

Aiming Higher: Reviews in PW, Booklist, etc.

The standard way to get reviews is to send out advanced review copies to the mainstream book reviewers. To do this, you need a very polished book, an imprint/press logo on the book, and to send out copies 3 months in advance of the publication date. It’s also better to send hardcovers. For most self-publishers, I’d say skip this step: it’s not worth the time and effort. However if you really believe in your book, and are willing to put in the time and effort for maximum exposure – go for it. Just make sure your book is flawless first. Credible reviewers do try to review as many books as possible.

Paid Book Reviews

Although some scoff at paid book reviews – they are worth it. Being able to put a review by Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus or Foreword, etc. really can help confidence leading to more sales. That said, it is rarely the case that you will make your money back quickly. I don’t think Kirkus reviews (around $500) are worth the price – but other reviews (The San Francisco Book Review, etc) for around $100 are probably worth looking into.

However, 10 positive reviews by Indie Reviewer Blogs will probably help you more than one paid review, so focus your energies on contacting the hundreds of growing Bloggers that review Indie Books.

Know any other places to get your book reviewed?

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About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me

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