Ten Commandments of Getting a Book Reviewed
By David J. Montgomery
1. Thou must send the the book to the reviewer. This is the most important point, and it's something you'll hear me say repeatedly. There simply is no way around it. If I don't get the book, I can't review it. And, unfortunately, that happens more often than you'd think.
2. Thous must make sure the book arrives in time. Usually this means 6-8 weeks prior to publication date. If I don't get the book until it's available in stores, there's very little chance that I'll be able to review it.
3. Thou must tell the reviewer when the book will be published. Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to get the formula for Coke than to find out when a book is actually going to be available. It's very time consuming to scramble around, trying to nail down the
publication date of a book. So please, spare me the trouble and just tell me. That way, I know how to time my review.
4. Thou must learn who the reviewers are. In any genre or area of publishing, there are certain reviewers who write most frequently about your kind of book. Learn who those people are and get them the book. Have I made it clear yet how crucial it is to get your book in the right hands? There are no reviews without achieving this. None.
5. Thous must put your name in the mind of the reviewer. If a book arrives on my desk and I've never heard the author's name before and never heard of the book, all I have to go by is a press release and the jacket copy. It's very hard to make an impression from such a cold start.
6. Thou must make the book stand out from the crowd. I can't tell you how to do this -- that's why I'm not a publicist. But if the book arrives as just one of a pack of dozens, the chances of it getting noticed are rather slim. There are just too many books and too little review space.
7. Thou must print and distribute your own ARCs if the publisher doesn't do it for you. This is especially true of PBOs (paperback originals). Some critics won't review PBOs, but some will. I do. But if I don't get the book until it's already in the store, it's probably too late.
8. Thou must not alienate, infuriate or otherwise piss off the reviewers. I know, it's not fair. They can write whatever they want about your book and you aren't allowed to respond. It sucks -- but who ever said that life is fair? A review is just one person's opinion, even if it is printed in the New York Times. It's not worth getting in a pissing match over. Authors never win pissing matches with critics.
9. Thou must be persistent. The harsh reality is that the chances of any given book being reviewed are slim. I get a minimum of 100 books every month, and the number is usually closer to 200. Out of those, I review 6 or 7. That's why you have to plan for the long term. Maybe this book won't be reviewed, but if you're able to build word-of-mouth, you've got a
better chance with the next one.
10. Thou must write a book that's worthy of being reviewed. This is the hardest commandment of all to follow. Most books are very similar to other books. They tell the same old stories in the same old ways. Critics want to write about interesting books. They
want to review books that are new or different, books that excite them, that move them. They want to write about books that cry out to be read. If you write a book like that, your chances of being reviewed increase substantially.
David J. Montgomery writes about authors and books for several of the
country's largest newspapers. He recently completed his first novel, a thriller called Counterstrike.