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More indie book reviews

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If you’re like a lot of self-publishers, you’re scrambling – or have been, or will be – to find people to review your book. Reviews are important.  They are critical to sales.

Many traditional mass media outlets have been scaling back their book reviews, and competition for a spot in the places that remain can be fierce.

Worry not.  Many outlets still review books.  Some even specialize in indie books.

These days, many reviewers will accept electronic versions of your book, often including PDF files, and the cost of submitting electronically is much less than the cost sending out print copies.  Try to send your review copies two to three months in advance of your book’s release so you can take best advantage of the reviews you receive.

Publishers Weekly, the trade magazine of the book publishing industry (and our partner in BookWorks), offers scores of book reviews in every weekly issue, in major categories including fiction, nonfiction and children’s.  PW highlights indie books in the recurring section called PW Select, which appears six times a year.  PW Select imposes no fee in submitting a book for review, (but a review is not guaranteed).

Several major review publications, including Kirkus Reviews*, accept indie books for review.  Kirkus is one of the best-known book reviewers, but it reviews indie books only when the publisher pays a $425 fee for the review.  That process takes seven to nine weeks; you can shorten that to four to six weeks for $575.

IndieReader*, specializing in indie books, offers reviews in five to nine weeks for $225, or faster for an additional $75.

Lesser-known free review services are plentiful on the web.

At least a couple of web sites, the Indie Book Reviewer and The Indie Book Reviews List, list scores of book review locations, most of which accept Indie press and self-published books.  They break down reviewers by type of book preferred, from romance, historical and horror to nonfiction, comedy and inspirational.  Both seem to be set up mainly as a help for readers to find reviews and search for something to read, but they’re useful for authors and publishers too.

The quality of these review sites is varied, from haphazard to highly polished, with standards that vary as widely, and your book may get better results on one site than another.  Your best tack is to work your way down the lists, investigating review sites that might match your book’s subject and approach.  At each site, look at both the main review pages and the “about” or “how to submit” sections.

Always check to make sure your book isn’t one of the types – either by publication method or subject matter – the reviewer doesn’t accept.  Most of these review site managers are explicit about where their interests do, and do not, lie.

A review site called Astounding Books, for example, says it “is open to receiving solicited and unsolicited Advance Reading Copies and Review Copies of books from authors and publishers.  Our preferred genres are speculative fiction, which include: fantasy, urban fantasy, dystopian and science fiction as well as young adult speculative/dystopian.  We do occasionally review current fiction/literature and will also consider mysteries, true crime and graphic novels if we can convince our part-time reviewer (my wife) to read the novel.  We will accept self-published novels as well.  In fact, we encourage it.”

They add that “Our review copy preference is for eBooks, followed by print copies. Our preferred format is EPUB. If you want to send us a physical copy of your novel, please email us and we will give you the address to mail it to. Novels will not be returned.”  Many other sites have similar policies.

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The review sites seem to be weighted a little more heavily toward sci-fi, mystery, romance and horror, but options are available for almost anyone.  Many reviewers focus on fiction, but not all.  McNeil’s Reviews, for example, “is geared toward nonfiction books.  Books must be nonfiction such as how-to, biographies, memoirs, self-help, etc. Indie books are okay but must be free from excessive grammar and spelling errors. Books need to be posted and sold on Amazon.”

Of course, submitting a book for review doesn’t guarantee a good review or guarantee a review at all.  You take your chances.

But if you get a positive review, you can quote from it on the cover of your book and use that to boost your book marketing.  The kind of “validation” you can get from a book review can be invaluable as you send your new book out into the world.

*Kirkus and Indie Reader are affiliate partners of BookWorks, and discounts on their review services are among the perks our premium members enjoy.

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