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How to go on a pre-pub review hunt

June 17, 2022
Posted by:
Ron Seybold

Here’s your rundown on the review hunt. I’m keen for these; I spent more than $1,400 on reviews for my memoir Stealing Home. Lots of authors take another view: why pay for a review? Jane Friedman, who’s an expert on publishing, thinks paid reviews don’t make much difference for many books. She considers them a validation tool that authors use.

These reviews are, of course, ones that include blurbs that can show up at the first moment the book is published. I enjoyed her webpage on this topic.

What to do with this

You are working to assemble a list of reviews that look like those on professional-looking Amazon sales pages. Ideally, this is a mix of published and self-published authors, plus the paid reviews you might have invested in. With what you might get back from reviewers, you can amp up the book's Amazon page.

When you get the book into setup for Amazon sales, and submitting for ebook sales outside of Amazon at Draft2Digital, you’ll want reviews like these.

Places to submit

• Of the major reviewing sites, Booklist only needs 15 weeks from pub date. It will consider self-published books. They prefer digital copies of books.

• Library Journal (and School Library Journal) have a six-month cutoff.

• Publisher’s Weekly looks away from self-published books. They guarantee a review via Booklife. It’s $399. Publisher’s Weekly is free, if they accept the book for review. Your credentials and endorsements have a chance of getting you in, if you have a press run announced and an ad campaign ready.

To see if you’re ready for PW or Booklife to review you, you can take their self-evaluation study. It’s interesting, because it logs all the things a good release needs.

On the Publisher’s Weekly webpage for submitting for a free review, they say, "If you are a self-published author interested in submitting your book for review consideration, please do so via BookLife."

If you're insistent on pitching for a Publisher Weekly review, you can deliver your paper galleys or ARC edition to

Publishers Weekly
Nonfiction Reviews
49 West 23rd Street
Ninth Floor
New York, NY 10010

Foreword Reviews

With enough pitching, you might also get pre-publication reviews from other sites, some a little lower on the reviewer food chain. One interesting place to pitch is Foreword Reviews.

They need to see your book four months in advance of publication. They say, "Submissions should include a sell sheet or press release. All review submissions should be sent to:
Attn Book Review Editor
Foreword Reviews
413 E 8th St
Traverse City MI 49686

Kirkus

You may not be impressed with Kirkus and paying for a review. They will consider you for a free one, Here’s the details on sending a PDF for their free review consideration to Eric Liebetrau, eliebetrau@kirkus.com

They also want a four-to-five month lead time, so emailing them your PDF and selling sheet with a nice cover memo costs you nothing.

I’ll say this about Kirkus: My paid review of Stealing Home got me into the Statesman’s book coverage in June, just before my publication date. Don't overlook the power of your hometown press coverage, in print as well as radio and TV.

Reviews are powerful, and some of your best ones show up when regular readers post theirs after your release. You also have other options for getting reviews online like Goodreads.com.

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