Saturday, February 06, 2010

Getting Your Book Reviewed: Preparing the Book Kit

By L. S. Cauldwell

How difficult can it be getting your book reviewed by a book reviewer, an organization, library, journal or company? For one thing, it involves organization, a plan (both pre-publication and after publication), homework, Internet and library research, and putting together a kit which includes: a cover letter, power testimonials, book excerpts, a marketing plan, and ARC's or book copies. Does it involve more than that? It depends. There are many facets to the book review tradition that most authors overlook. To help make it a bit easier on everyone concerned, I'm going to present one item at a time. Today, I'm going to show you how to prepare a Book Review Kit.

1. Homework and Research
Do your homework first. Set aside time to go onto the Internet and find out which reviewers, journals, libraries, and companies require that you mail in your manuscript BEFORE the book goes into print. Then, find the reviewers, journals, libraries and companies requiring that you mail in the book AFTER it's published.

Read their directions. For example, the list below is for self-publishing authors only.


American Library Association
50 E. Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60611

Horn Book Magazine
56 Roland Street, Suite 200
Boston, MA 02129

Kirkus Reviews
VNU US Literary Group
770 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

Publishers Weekly
360 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10011

Post Publication

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
501 East Daniel Street
Champaign, IL 61820

Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575

Midwest Book Review gives priority consideration to small publishers, self-
published authors, academic presses, and specialty publishers. To submit a book for
review we require the following:

Two finished copies of the book (no galleys or uncorrected proofs).

A cover letter.

A publicity release or media kit.

There is an approximate 14 to 16-week "window of opportunity" for a book to be assigned out for review.

If/when a book makes the cut and is featured, we will automatically send a tear sheet to the publisher for their records. When a book has been submitted on a publisher's behalf by an independent publicist, we will also try to furnish the publicist with a tear sheet for their files as well. It is the publisher's responsibility to inform authors and editors of the review.
You've done your homework and selected the reviewers you want to submit your ARC (Advance Review Copy) or finished book (Published). What's the author's next step?

2. ARC's:
The author prints out a copy of their manuscript on either 3-hole punch paper or do it manually. At Staples or Office Max, buy a package of Heavy Duty Report Covers. These covers come with a front and back side, metal fasteners and holds up to a three inch capacity of paper. Follow the directions on the package and bound your manuscript. Make sure that the box indent shows on the front cover. In that spot, you can place your author's information, Title of book and your name. Make sure it's done neatly with no glue, scotch tape or pencil smudges on it. This ARC represents you and your book. It's the first thing that a respective reviewer will see. Make it count.

3. Cover Letters:
Never send out an ARC without a proper cover letter. What is a cover letter?
A cover letter tells the prospective reviewer who you are, the book's title, and what the author is sending to that particular reviewer. Let's take a look at a package I put together to Midwest Book Review for my multi-cultural paranormal mystery.

I didn't send an ARC because Midwest Review requested that they wanted two (2) copies of my published book. Inside the two books, I wrote my blurb. "Enjoy! I did! Signed my name and included my author's business card.

The next step required me to print up three testimonial reviews from people who had already read the book. Each testimonial received a separate page. Each testimonial was written by a well-known author in the fiction genre: science fiction, futuristic romance, and mystery-thriller.

My next step was to include the first three chapters of the novel. These I stapled together.
I included a picture of the cover done by a well-known graphic artist. Great publicity for them and a professional looking cover always helps the author.

I purchased a black folder with the two pockets in front and a place to insert my author's card.

For the front of the folder, I added a clean white blank page with the title printed in bold letters and my name printed underneath it (Pen Name).

I was told my odds of having Midwest Book Reviewing looking at my kit were slim because they receive so many requests. Imagine my surprise three months later when I received a two page letter from the Mr. Cox telling me how much he and his young adult editor enjoyed reading Anna Mae and the material that I'd enclosed.

It's not impossible to receive a book review from one of the above-mentioned journals. These same steps can apply to well-known libraries, people reviewers, and newspaper reviews IF the author does their homework and research first.

I have mailed my book to additional reviewers (Radical Parenting, Best Parenting, Amazon reviewers, Tag My Books and have received reviews from everyone of them. What did I do right?

o Homework and Research.

o Write ahead of time to individual reviewers and make sure they want to review your book and it's in the genre they do their book reviews in.

o Find out if the review is FEE based. Some reviewers, organizations, on-line groups; they charge to review. Make sure you understand the directions and follow them to the letter.

o Include a cover letter to let the reviewers know what you're sending them.
Make sure you send them the material as specified in the directions. ARC's, media kits, cover letters, testimonials, book location, publisher's name and address, release date, and ISBN number.

o All this information determines whether they'll accept your book and review it or toss it in the pail. Some Internet reviewers state on-line that they receive millions of books for review, and yours may not be the one to be reviewed.

o Write in inner book cover, "NOT FOR RESELL." That means that the reviewer can't sell your book or ARC. Do specify what you want done with your ARC's or books. Suggest they give it to the local library, hospital, charity, or school.

o When sending out your books for review, always include your author's business card.

o Always SIGN your book and date it.

o Include a pre-paid postage card with your return address on it so that the reviewer can tell you when your book arrived. Or use it as a feedback card from potential reviewers. When I received my three pages of review from Midwest Books, they also sent along a pre-paid postage card tucked inside the envelope. Please return with your second book so we can review it.

Getting your book reviewed isn't impossible nor does it have to hurt. It requires paying attention, planning, and following instructions. Keep these in mind and your next book review fiasco will turn into a resounding success.

L S. Cauldwell, author of The Anna Mae Mysteries-The Golden Treasure - Three sneakered sleuths find Jefferson Davis' lost gold treasure with help from a disembodied black fist and divining rods. and
Move over Nancy Drew, there's a new girl in town.
Available at


Debra Purdy Kong said...

A really helpful and informative article, thanks for sharing!


Cheryl Kaye Tardif said...

Awesome post, Lillian. So many writers are looking for this information. I'm off to tweet about it. :-)