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Getting Reviews

Getting Reviews
by Fern Reiss, CEO,

All reviewers hate self-published books.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get your book reviewed.

Self-published authors constantly ask which reviewers are biased against self-published books. The truth is, almost all reviewers are biased against self-published books.

Part of this bias is historical: Reviewers are more accustomed to dealing with books from the large publishing houses. And part of the bias is because now that self-publishing is so inexpensive and so accessible, there are many authors self-publishing who don’t really know how—and that affects the overall perception of quality of self-published books.

But regardless of the deep-seated sentiments of the mainstream reviewers, self-published authors can get reviews from the major review journals. And it’s definitely worth the effort.

Bookstores and libraries rely heavily on the reviews in the major book review journals. If you get a good review in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, or BookList, you will probably sell over 3,000 copies automatically—regardless of the specifics of the book. (And pretty much regardless of what the review says. There really is no such thing as a bad review. And many bookstores and libraries just automatically order any book that is reviewed by the majors.) In many cases, depending on the subject matter and niche, you’ll sell a great deal more than 3,000 books. And if you follow up your review with a high-quality mailing to bookstores and/or libraries, quoting the review, you’ll get still more sales. So it’s definitely worth pursuing these review journals.

Your chances of getting a review, at face value, are dismal. Publishers Weekly, for example, reviews fewer than 5,000 books out of over 50,000, approximately 10% of submissions; Library Journal reviews closer to 15%.

Yet if you have a quality book—with good information, good writing, a nice looking interior design, and a well-designed cover—you can get your book reviewed.

Besides the quality of the book, what’s important in getting your book reviewed is the timing. Review journals will only consider reviewing books that have not already been published; they want to vet books that are not yet available, books that are not yet in the marketplace. What that means for you as a publisher is that you must be sure to get your advance galleys (the bound book without the final cover) to reviewers well in advance of the official publication date when the finished book will be available, usually at least three to six months earlier.

Furthermore, the stronger the marketing plan you submit with your book, the higher your chances of being reviewed—because the review journals know that if you present a powerhouse marketing plan, you boost your chances of selling the book exponentially—and they want to make sure they review books that are going to sell well.

So make your package stand out. Give your book the best cover, interior, and editing job you can. Describe the highlights of your marketing plan in your cover letter, or on the bound galley itself. And remember to get those galleys to the reviewers three to six months before publication.

Getting reviews can be challenging. But whether or not reviewers like self-publishers, if you pay attention to the rules, your book can get reviewed. And the effort you put in will pay off in sales and more sales for months and possibly years to come.


Fern Reiss is CEO of ( and ( and the author of the books, The Publishing Game: Find an Agent in 30 Days, The Publishing Game: Bestseller in 30 Days, and The Publishing Game: Publish a Book in 30 Days as well as several other award-winning books.  She is also the Director of the International Association of Writers ( providing publicity vehicles to writers worldwide. She also runs The Expertizing® Publicity Forum where you can pitch your book or business directly to journalists; more information at  Sign up for her complimentary newsletter at

Copyright © 2011 Fern Reiss


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