Make it Easy to Get Your Books Reviewed

Written for

A few years ago, book reviews in print media like newspapers and magazines could make a best-seller. While a great (or awful) book review in a major publication can have tremendous impact on a book’s sales, influential book reviews also appear in blogs, in online bookstores, and social media. The easier you make it for reviewers to access information about your books and you as an author, the more likely it is that your book will be reviewed. Here are some tips to get your book into the hands of people who can help you promote it.

Press Room
Setting up a press room on your site with all the relevant materials needed regarding your book is a great way to get reviewers the information they need to review your book. For an example of a successful press room, check out actress and author Julia Sweeney’s site. The first thing you’ll find is Julia’s full bio, providing a detailed look at her professional career. (It’s important to note that this bio is written differently from her personal bio. Her personal bio is written for her fans and audience—the professional bio includes the type of facts and professional information that may round out the details in a review.) Also included are a selection of downloadable hi-res images that are suitable for print, and a PDF of the press release for her book If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother.

Video Clips
If you want to court television appearances, it helps to show that you are already comfortable onscreen Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile are authors of the books I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids, I’d Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper and Dirty Little Secrets of Otherwise Perfect Moms. For all of these books, they got excellent press coverage, in part because they were able to demonstrate how camera-ready they are.

Their site includes a variety of video clips dating back to 2007, which show that the authors are able to not only discuss the subject matter in their books, but open up the dialogue to include related topics the shows are interested in covering related to motherhood and parenting. These appearances helped attract even more media, and were instrumental in propelling their books to the best-seller lists.

Provide Excerpts
Reviewers have limited time and limited space for reviews. Often, they will skim upcoming releases to see which ones might look interesting for review. One way to hook reviewers is to provide lengthy (not skimpy) excerpts from your book that inspire the reviewer to want to read the entire thing. You can include these either as a printable PDF, part of your site, or both.

Excerpts can also be a provocative way to entice readers before a book is published. Author Sara Paretsky includes this excerpt from her upcoming novel Critical Mass (which will be published October 22) on her site as a way to build interest in the book before it even pubs.

Be Accessible
Make sure it’s easy to contact you. This might sound obvious, but I’m surprised how often it’s difficult to find someone’s contact information on their own self-promotional site. At the minimum, include your email address. But including a phone number, contact form, or mailing address really covers the bases, making sure the people who want to get in touch with you can do so easily.

Give It Away
Lastly, don’t be stingy with review copies, and cast a wide net when soliciting reviewers. The usual sources are obvious. But also consider offering review copies to Amazon’s Top Reviewers or participating in GoodRead’s First Reads prerelease giveaways. Positive first-person reviews are extremely compelling ways to build an audience for books.

Lisa Hazen is a Chicago-based Web Designer specializing in author sites. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, or the WWW.