Book Reviews

Golden Rule for Authors using Book Reviews As a Promotion Tool

For authors who write a book then are faced with: “How do I get people to read my book, know who I am and want more of what I write?” One good tool to accomplish this is to use your skill as a writer by reviewing books. People make money doing book reviews. They have acquired a skill and they capitalize on it. Authors can do the same thing except for a different end result.

Where do you start? Learn what makes a good book review. We will review how to do this, but for now, we want to look at the why and what of your purpose in writing review articles. First, if you are an unknown author, you must expand your ability to write. Book reviews are one tool that you can use to do this. This tool must work for you and not against you. We will look at a list of related topics that must be used when you use this avenue of self-promotion. The key and golden rule here is: subtle self-promotion.

The book review that you do must accomplish several goals for you.

  • It must enhance your standing as an author and writer.
  • It must showcase your talent for your chosen genre of writing.
  • It must be with publications that are related to your writing arena, i.e. romance or mystery for fiction or a specific area if non-fiction.
  • The article review venue must allow you to attach your book title or author website as part of your signature. This is a subtle means of self-promotion and readers will come to associate your name and book titles or website to your writing.
  • You must be professional with how and what you write in book reviews. Caveat here: if the general tone of many of your book reviews is harsh, negative or critical it will hinder your self-promotion. Use a balanced approach with writing book reviews and if you see that reviewing a certain book is or will cast a negative shadow; it is your choice to not do a book review. Better left unsaid if it will cause future problems.
  • If you are given a book to review, don’t just skim it. Do the author and yourself a favor by giving it an honest appraisal. Your aim is to build a positive promotion atmosphere for you as an author along with your books.

This list is not all-inclusive, but a starting point for using book reviews as a means of self-promotion. It will be related to your field of writing and will keep you in the habit of writing. When you hit a dry spell in your writing having a book to read and doing a review can be a kick starter for other writing that you need to do. Just don’t let writing articles about books become the primary focus of what your write.

In paragraph two above, we hinted at what it takes to do a good book review and what are its component parts. To get us started, a quote by Alyice Edrich, a British author, gives us this definition: “It’s a brief overview or description of a book, along with your personal evaluation or thoughts.”  With this definition, we will break down a book review into its basic components. “The best reviews are the ones which help other people make their own decisions.” Says Alyice.

So what are the basic parts to a literary review and how do we help the reader make their own decisions? First, let’s cover the average number of words for book reviews. A normal review will be about 600 to 800 words or about 3-5 paragraphs. Mini-reviews are about 500 words or less and 1-2 paragraphs. The average review will give some idea of the book’s structure, what genre or sub-genre it is and some points about characters, plot and points on content. You can be honest and give your personal opinions in some of these areas. Give your general impression of the author’s ability and intent with what he has written. Did he accomplish his goal? Did he communicate key ideas and concepts well? If not, list what you think would improve the work. Summarize your overall impression of the book and will it help the reader to acquire what he wants; i.e. entertainment, information, basic how-to or self-improvement. It is not your job to sell the book. It is to help the reader decide if it is worthwhile for him or her to buy it. If readers take action one way or another from your book review, then you have accomplished your task.

Add to your skills here. Do some research of on-line book reviews. See the reviews on Amazon or Barnes and Noble and related sites. This will help you to pick up ideas of what book reviews should contain. At a minimum, include the book title, author’s name, publisher (traditional or Indie-published) and the type of book, whether it is hardback, paperback or eBook. Sometimes you may want to include the price of the book if that is relevant. One rule to remember: new releases must be reviewed within the first two months after they are released. Reviews within the first two weeks are generally greatly desired.

We have covered the basics of a book review. Now there are several other things you will want to pay attention to:

  • Where to publish the book review
  • Match the review with the appropriate publication
  • Check your chosen publication for their guidelines and heed them
  • Keep a list of publications who have accepted your book reviews
  • Research similar publications to re-submit your book reviews

If you have an opportunity to use other media resources such as radio, TV or newspapers, use them! All of it will help you accomplish your end result of self-promotion. Remember also, writing articles about things related to your genre will also be helpful in your promotion efforts.

Book marketing is two-fold. Putting the book into the hands of readers and helping the reading public to know who you are as an author and writer. Literary reviews and press releases can be great tools for the Indie-published author to get free promotional material into the hands of readers. Brainstorm with other writers, bloggers and friends on how these tools can best be used to promote you as a professional writer.

 

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