Good reviews sell books and introduce the writer to audiences. Needless to say, reviews are often able to make contacts with the reading public that the writer cannot. To get those reviews, you are going to want to contact media outlets like print and online newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and specifically related web and blogsites. Bookstores are not considered to be media sources, even though you are going to want to develop a good and lasting relationship with as many of your local booksellers as you possibly can.
A reputable reviewer wishing to request a copy of your book will usually contact you directly, by phone or email. Along with their request, they will provide the name and the shipping address of the person who will review the book. As the author, you will provide a “review copy” of your book. A review copy is a finished, printed copy of your book that is sent to media members in order to encourage reviews of a book and interview requests with the author.
Don’t worry if you don’t have enough copies of your book, many reviewers will accept your galley as an ARC (and photocopies are generally far less expensive to reproduce). Check the reviewer sites for their individual preferences, they’ll tell you what they need from you, like whether they want a hard copy of the book, or photocopied galleys, or emailed samples, etc. Reviewers will usually need a minimum of 6-8 weeks to read your book because of the volume of material they receive. It can take an additional 4-6 weeks for the review to be written, so start contacting them immediately.
Finding reviewers is as simple as writing a polite letter and asking for a review. It kind of helps if the person you are asking to read your book has some impact on its content or genre – it probably wouldn’t be a good idea (for example) to ask your minister to read and review your erotic thriller. Oh, and be considerate, Steven King probably won’t have time to read your collection of short stories, either. If you do an online search, you will find dozens of sites where legitimate readers are willing to read and post reviews of your work.
A Word Of Warning
Everybody is not always going to love your work. In the event that you receive a negative review, stay positive and professional. You don’t have to use THAT review in your publicity efforts. Simply move on to the next reviewer.
If you’re lucky, some of the reviewers will want to do interviews with you – and you want them to invite you for online interviews. The more your name and your book title show up online, the easier it is to find. Ideally, your information will show up higher in the online rakings, ideally on the first page, every time someone enters your name, your book title, your book topic, or your publisher.
Whatever you do, DO NOT underestimate the power and need for good reviews. A lot of the “buzz” that generates sales comes from reviews. You will need about four (4) good ones, and they need to come from reputable sources. The reviews posted on bookstore sites like Amazon.com or B&N.com, or library sites like GoodReads, or Shelfari, make great peer-to-peer reviews and can be posted on your website and used in future publicity.
* * SCAM ALERT * *
Believe it or not, there actually are people out there who will make the attempt to gather extra copies of your book with the express intent of somehow managing to make a profit at your expense. Writers are often asked to donate signed copies, or to contribute to “worthy causes” that turn out to be anything but worthy. Books have even turned up on ebay or in other stores. Be aware of who you are sending your book to.