In this section:
The number of print books we send out
Who we send them to
Which trade journals will my book be submitted to?
Requesting a review copy to be sent
Sending review copies to individuals
Reviewing another JHP title
Tips for reviewing in general
Example emails for gaining a review
What we do
Reviews are the lifeblood of publicity. This section just covers print reviews, in magazines/newspapers/journals. Online reviews are covered in Chapter 12, as in Amazon.
One or two reviews are unlikely to make any difference to sales, but cumulatively they can add up, increasing your profile. Last year we offered 5,500 copies, and had 1,500 print reviews.
- Do not expect reviews in national or general trade media unless you have already published, are well known, and have had such reviews before. It is a waste of time sending to the New York Times Book Review (and if you try and are disappointed, cheer yourself up by reading The Death of the New York Times Book Review: http://www.booktrade.info/i.php/32836).
- More limited-circulation media whose readers are interested in your particular subject offer by far the best chance of reviews. In the truly specialist journals, blogs and magazines, with circulations of less than 1000, the chances are higher.
- We naturally focus on the media where we get most reviews. With some, our interests coincide closely, we work with them constantly, and they review most of the titles we publish in the relevant subject areas.
- Online customer reviews in places like Amazon, Hive, Apple, Google, Powell’s , Barnes & Noble, Blackwell’s and Waterstones now have more effect on sales than print reviews by professional journalists. 90% of book buyers in 2011 who were influenced by book reviews read them online. Amazon is increasingly the main online space for reviews, particularly for debut authors.
- Readers tend not to buy books without good reviews. The minimum for "legitimacy" is variously put somewhere between 10 and 20. There's an interesting article on Amazon reviews at http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/book-marketing-the-old-way-versus-the-way-that-works-today-part-1-book-reviews/. We encourage authors to review each other’s books (more below), and in 2014 have set up Author Groups on Facebook to facilitate this (more in Chapter 12). However we don't pay for reviews and don't use the Amazon Vine service.
- Book Bloggers have proliferated the internet, and some have got themselves quite a following and reputation for reviewing. Many are genre specific; this is particularly so in fiction, which covers so many genres. Most review not only on their site, but also on Amazon, Goodreads or at NetGalley. We will target bloggers in your genre for reviews and we suggest that you pursue this yourself when doing your own publicity. Pay attention to how current the blog is, and the kind of followers they have. Always pay attention to their Review Policy and ensure your book is a match for them. Don’t blanket mail contacts. See CHAPTER 15: BLOGGERS.
The number of print books we send out
We haven’t put a limit on review copies in the past, but with "professional" reviews becoming less important than reader reviews and feedback, online reviews now more important than print, we have had to cap the number of print copies being sent out for review at 15. We do not have a limit on digital review copies, PDF or EPUB.
The default will be a PDF, even if you add a request for a hard copy. We realize the offices of national press, TV stations etc. tend to want printed copies, and we do send printed books, if the media themselves ask, but we never send on spec. To all other contacts we will send a PDF and will offer them the option of a hard copy or EPUB if they prefer. The PDF is on the Marketing page, the EPUB is on the Production page. More on how to send out digital review copies below.
- Remember that though a review obtained by sending a printed copy might not result in a single extra sale, it will probably result in one less. Most review copies end up for sale as used books on eBay, Amazon and others.
- When a reviewer wants a hard printed copy of the book rather than a PDF sent electronically we refer to it as "HC".
- We cannot send out a press release or similar with the printed copy. Printed copies go out from one of the distributor's warehouses, depending on which country the request is from, and there is no facility for requesting that a particular bit of paper gets inserted into the package. That is the same for virtually all publishers.
Who we send them to
To anyone who requests one. We do not send them "blind," as a rule. Apart from:
Which trade journals will my book be submitted to?
We submit qualifying titles for review to the trade journals Publishers Weekly & Booklife, Library Journal, School Library Journal, American Libraries Association’s Booklist and Kirkus Reviews in the USA and The Bookseller in the UK.
Publishers Weekly: all new titles with Level 1 or 2 contracts. Titles with other contracts are submitted to PW’s sister review journal for indie publishers, Booklife.
Library Journal: new academic titles or ones for mainstream general libraries for US readers - adult.
School Library Journal: all new Lodestone or Our Street titles suitable for US school libraries – children & young adult.
Booklist( American Libraries Assoc): new academic titles or ones for mainstream general libraries for US readers of all ages.
Kirkus Reviews: new adult hardcover or original trade-paperback fiction, general-audience nonfiction and children's and young adult books suited to US readers.
The Bookseller: all new titles are submitted for featuring in the Preview sections of this UK trade magazine.
If you see that your title has been submitted for review in a particular trade journal, please follow the guidelines on the Contact page for the journal to follow its progress. If you see that your title has been reviewed before we do, please update the Marketing Activity-Review Copy from Sent to Completed, and share with your networks and add to your Book details page in Reviews. This will feed to your page on our website and into newsletters.
This article posted back in 2011 has some good points: http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/2011/04/how-to-get-your-book-reviewed-by-avoiding-book-reviewers/.
Novelist Florence Osmund also makes some good points on reviewing http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2015/09/florence-osmund/
What you can do
Reviews are important but how to get them is a question most authors ask. It does depend on genre and on the individual author and their standing in their market.
Starting from scratch is scary, and a first port of call is you own community, your friends, family and colleagues. There is advice on this in CHAPTER 9: MARKETING – BEING YOUR OWN PUBLICIST.
Requesting a review copy to be sent
First you need to know if the contact you are sending to exists on our database. So, go to Contacts on the top menu. And in “Contact Search” enter your organization or the name of your contact; a short distinctive word with no ambiguous hyphens or apostrophes works best. If not found, go to “New Contact” in the blue menu at the top. There’s help on using Contacts in Chapter 10.
- There are two options for adding an activity to the contact; you can use “Marketing History” on the right-hand menu to the contact. “+add activity” – "Activity type" – "Review copy."
- Option 1: "Requested" – add today's date – this is for hard-copy request. In “Notes” add “HC” please.
- Option 2: "Arranged"– add today's date – if you are emailing the contact the PDF review copy.
- When you mark it as "Requested," it appears on a list in the office for us to send out. When we send it (or send the request to the warehouse for it to go, which can then take a few days to leave the warehouse) we tick it as "Arranged/sent." This action is not linked to an automatic notification, so if you want to check if this activity has been carried out, you will have to check back on the Marketing Page."Completed" is ticked by whoever sees the review published, and this is linked to an automatic notification which will inform you, see the section marked "Success" further down this page. As per the note in Contract Levels, we restrict the number sent out to 20 per title.
- There is not an option on the website to put up something like "I have not sent an email to this contact but I would like you to send a review copy." Simply because then we get authors putting up far too many, often unrealistic ones. If there are particular magazines/organizations/contacts you feel sure should be interested in your book but aren’t “subscribed,” email them about your book. Keep it short and simple, basic information about the book, and the contact here you can mention for potential reviewers is email@example.com.
With our regular reviewers, we track when a review is appearing in print or online. We always request that reviewers inform us of these and offer to share relevant reviews on social media, which acts as an incentive. It is not always easy to track reviews though, so we ask that if you see a review of your book, please do check on the “Reviews” section of the “Book Details” page to see if it appears there. If not do add it, see below in the section called ‘Success’ on how to add these to the system. These reviews feed through to the book page on the website. As publisher, we cannot add reviews to online sites such as Amazon, The Book Depository, Goodreads and others. You can do this through your own accounts, more on Amazon in Chapter 12.
Sending review copies to individuals
If there are key individuals whose approval of the book you think could make a difference to sales, it makes more sense to send them the manuscript earlier and ask if they can provide an endorsement. We can then use it on the book or in the marketing material.
If you are starting this from scratch, then your task is a hard one. But if you are planning on a writing career, then it is an important part of your own marketing.
Your family and friends and colleagues are a good place to start, we discuss this more fully in CHAPTER 9: MARKETING – Being Your Own Publicist – Reviews are the lifeblood of your book promotion, so what do you need to do to get them?
Finally, keep your own spreadsheet of reviewers, identifying your ideal reader, by genre is important, again this is discussed in Being Your Own Publicist, as is contacting bloggers. In CHAPTER 9 – AUTHOR BRANDING we also discuss the importance of setting up an author email list, that you can build on.
Some reviewers will not review from a PDF, which can only be read on a computer. Reviewers may wish to read from their preferred eReader, but the ePub is not created until nearer to publication date; before this time we only have the PDF although this can be converted to other formats, see the notes below on Calibre, one of many free pieces of software that can convert files.
- We do not as a general rule send free hard copies to people who have kindly provided endorsements. It works much better if you send one yourself, from your free copies or a digital copy, with a personal note.
- Do feel free to send PDF versions free to anyone you feel could help promote the book. You will find a PDF file on the Marketing page in the “Publicity” section saved as “PDF Review File.” Right-click on the blue linked file and “Save link as”; this will save the file to your own computer.
- Once your title is published, there will be an EPUB file available on the Production page in “Workflow” in the “Ebook.” This may need converting.
- Calibre is a free software that converts PDFs and EPUBs to a variety of formats for different readers and for both Mac and PC. Instructions are easy to follow. Please provide a note when sending another format for review: "This is not the final ebook, but a converted PDF for early review purposes, please forgive any rogue formatting." If you encounter problems with changing the format, please request a conversion from the Marketing and Publicity section in the Author Forum. The Conversion will be uploaded to the Marketing page, under PDF Review Copy. Please be clear about which format your reviewer requires.
- It is quite safe to send out PDFs for review, as far as possible piracy goes. Or as safe as can be. If someone is going to pirate your title there are easier ways of doing it.
- We encourage authors to review each other’s books. The principle here is that we are collaborative as a group. So reviews can be shared on blogs, Facebook, Good Reads, Twitter, LibraryThing and other social media, and don't forget to post your reviews on any online retail sites where you buy books, e.g. Apple, Google Play, Sainsbury’s, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Hive, Powell’s. Amazon has issues with authors reviewing other books – check their Customer Review Guidelines (UK here, US here), they change frequently. More on Amazon in Chapter 12. Online retailers may remove reviews they deem to be used as promotion.
Reviewing another JHP title
Every author and user of our system can access a review copy of every title:
- From your JHP account login.
- Go to Books on the left-hand menu.
- Click on "Search Books" on the top green bar.
- In the “Title” box type a distinctive keyword or the title exactly… it matters not… if you do the former you may get more search results. Click “Search.”
- When you’ve got the results select the one you want. It should grey out once you run your mouse over it. At that point you should see “Summary” and “Details.” Click the latter.
- You now go to the page for that book – it will probably look very like your own Book page on the system. Go to “Marketing” on the left-hand side. Scroll down once you’re in that page. You’ll see a link (in blue) titled “PDF Review Copy.” Click on it.
- You should now have a download box appear on your computer. Take it from there! You can read, review and post your review, and also forward to others for review.
- Say you've done it on the relevant Author Group forum. It may encourage others to review yours in return, though we cannot make the connection too specific. Amazon may take down reviews they think are "swapped."
- Feel free to display the cover of the book in your review. You can use the image from the imprint website.
Tips for reviewing in general
- Start with a sentence saying what the book is about.
- Say what you liked, which chapter, character, setting, argument, style or literary device.
- Did it change how you think or feel about anything?
- Say what you disliked.
- Round off your review with advice for the reader or author and a snappy soundbite summing up why you liked the book.
- Rate the book out of five.
Here are some more tips from the Huffington Post.
PDFs can go out once finished files and the PDF Review File are ready and the title has a publication date. Printed books reach the warehouses by the first day of the month of publication, and EPUB is uploaded just in time for publication.
- National media and key trade buyers and reviewers need review copies two to three months before publication. If you have any specific requests for early printed review copies, post on the Forum in Editorial and Production/Printing Queries.
- Requests are automatically collated in the office once a week, and when they are sent the "Request" will be changed to "Sent,” with the date. Digital review copies are usually sent within one week. However it can take a couple of weeks for printed review copies to reach the recipient, or longer, depending on whether the copies are sent from the office, or whether from the warehouse (depending on destination, number, stock in the office), how long the warehouse takes to process our request, whether the warehouse is in the UK or USA or Australia etc.
- Please be aware that if you request advance copies for marketing or sales in USA and they reach our warehouse NBN more than two months before the original publication date, this new date will be brought forward and distributed to all trade databases including Amazon.com.
If a printed copy is wanted, we have to wait until the book is in stock. The date should be within a few days of the "delivered" date given in the relevant Purchase Order, which you can see at the bottom of the Production page. Then we send the requests out in batches to the warehouse. The date given when a review copy is "Sent" is the date we send the instruction to the warehouse. It can take the warehouse a week to deal with them, more in the period before Christmas, and then, depending on where they’re being sent to, which country is handling it, there’s a variable postage time.
If the book hasn’t been printed yet, but the page shows a review copy as having been “Sent”, it will be a PDF that’s been sent.
Where practical we follow up reviews, and whenever we find out that a review has been published online or in print, we record this on your Marketing page in “Marketing Activities” as “Review Copy/Completed.” If you see one please do likewise. If reviewers ask you what to do with their review, please ask them to send it to you or firstname.lastname@example.org. We follow up regularly with reviewers who have been sent several hard copies.
- We use the review, in part or all of it, on the Book Details page under “Reviews,” which feeds automatically to the website page for your book.
- We push any online links to the review out to readers via social media. We include a short note about the book and maybe a buy link to the book on Amazon.
- The review copies go out before publication, so reviews generally come too late for use before publication. But we put up extracts of reviews on the website, and use them for reprints and for later promotion. We do not put up the whole review, as it loses impact.
- If you come across a review of one of your books which is not on the website, you can add it directly to “Reviews,” on the Book Details page, and it will feed through to the website as well as adding it to your own online platforms. We do not always receive reviews.
- We will use the review in future press releases, in newsletters to subscribers, and feed especially good reviews by high-level media contacts to Amazon and other trade through our Amazon Advantage and NBN accounts.
- Add the review, with short description and buy link if necessary, to any online site you control such as: Amazon Author Central (see Chapter 12, you can do it for Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, but will need a different account for each), Blog, Website, Facebook page, Good Reads, Twitter… and all other social networks.
- Bad reviews: Inevitably, it happens. It's one person's opinion, maybe not a well-formed one. You cannot get them removed, unless they are libelous.
- Netgalley is an online service promoting and providing electronic review copies of titles to active book professionals, reviewers, journalists, booksellers and bloggers. It is free to be involved in the community, as a reviewer, but costs to submit titles for review (on an individual basis, roughly $400 for six months): http://netgalley.tumblr.com/mktg. It is supported on social media feeds. If you'd like to try this service, feel free, but you'll need to make your own payment arrangements. Do let us know in the Closed Author Group how you get on, and enter it as an "Activity." There's more on what we do here, and what you can do, in Chapter 15 on Netgalley.
Example emails for gaining a review:
First-time fiction author in a very specific genre. This author has no online offering and no endorsements.
I hope you are finding some much needed 'catch' up time. Would you or xxxx consider reviewing this Crime Thriller title publishing in November 2017.
The novel, Steal a Few Cents captures the essence of modern-day South Africa, with its legacy of Apartheid, the pandemic of corruption, and the ongoing attempts of ordinary people to adjust to a non-racial future. It is a gritty detective story which raises issues of morality, economics and politics.
Steal a few cents and they put you in jail. Steal a few million and they put you in charge.
Rupert is a retired attorney who studied languages at university, and spent a 30-year career intimately involved with the South African mining industry. He lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.
ISBN: 978-1-78535-607-0 (Paperback) £12.99 $20.95
EISBN: 978-1-78535-608-7 (e-book) £4.99 $7.99
Mpho Mamela, a young accountant at a coal mine in the Middelburg coalfields of South Africa is killed one night when he gets caught in the rollers of a conveyor belt. He is mangled beyond recognition. There will be an official State enquiry into his death, by the Inspectorate of Mining. Stephen Wakefield, the in-house lawyer and a director of the company, begins preparing for the enquiry, but he struggles to understand what happened – Mamela should not have been anywhere near the place he was killed.
Bit by bit, Stephen’s investigation uncovers a story far removed from a simple workplace accident. A web of deception and massive fraud is unveiled; fraud perpetrated by a person who publicly insists on high standards of morality and honesty. It becomes clear to Stephen that Mamela had tried to blackmail the guilty party to help his lover, who is in prison for attempting to steal a trifling amount from the mining company.
When the killer learns that his actions are about to be exposed, Stephen realises that his own life is now in danger...
KEYWORDS: South Africa, Crime, Corruption, Mining, Mystery & Detective.
Another opening, where the name of the blogger could not be found.
Dear Crime Thriller Hound,
I hope it is OK to address you this way, I couldn't find your name. We are a UK based independent publisher, and I am seeking reviews for a crime novel. My author will not be listed on your directory as he is just starting out in crime fiction.
The subject hook on this email was: Crime and Corruption in the South African Mining Industry, A Novel
I was targeting Crime Book bloggers. My first line was personalized to the blog, immediately telling them that I was requesting a review. The next part of the email is standardly sent to all those I am targeting and tells the reviewer about the author and book. Cover is always embedded into the email, and include the basic metadata. Back cover copy is useful.
In the second example, I knew the blogger was keen to review books from independent publishers. I highlighted the fact that I could not find his name. This particularly reviewer did request a review copy, and still didn’t give his/her name.
An example from an established writer/professional in a Non-Fiction genre. Here I highlight the author's credentials and supplied links to his online profiles. Early on I tell them I am seeking reviews. Standard information follows about the book and then I include Endorsements.
Thomas Lombardo, Ph.D. is the Director of the Center for Future Consciousness and The Wisdom Page, the Managing Editor of online journal Wisdom and the Future, and Professor Emeritus and retired Faculty Chair of Psychology, Philosophy and the Future at Rio Salado College. He has also been awarded Fellow of The World Futures Studies Federation for his significant and original contribution to futures studies.
Thomas' new book, Future Consciousness, will be published 27th October 2017 by Changemakers Books (an imprint of John Hunt Publishing).
Would you be interested in reviewing this book? A PDF is available immediately and reduces our carbon footprint, but hard copies are also available on request.
ISBN: 978-1-78099-985-2 (Paperback) £31.99 $49.95
EISBN: 978-1-78279-070-9 (e-book) £12.99 $17.99
How do our unique conscious minds reflect and amplify nature’s vast evolutionary process? This book provides a scientifically informed, psychologically holistic approach to understanding and enhancing our future consciousness, serving as a guide for creating a realistic, constructive, and ethical future. Thomas Lombardo reveals how we can flourish in the flow of evolution and create a prosperous future for ourselves, human society and the planet.
This book brings “future consciousness,” our most distinctive and empowering psychological capacity, to center stage and connects this capacity and our personal lives with the evolutionary vision of nature and the cosmos.
Lombardo has written a masterpiece, a must-read book, not only for futurists, psychologists, social scientists, scholars, and academics of every type showing them how to improve their thinking about future consciousness, but also for ordinary people to improve the quality of their future daily lives. Wendell Bell, Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Fellow, Koerner Center, Yale University.
Tom Lombardo is probably the single most impressive thinker, philosopher and author I have met in recent times. His unique perspective about wisdom and future consciousness, his eye for what matters in life and his depth of knowledge and experience make this book a must-have for those concerned about the collective future evolution of human society. Kiko Suarez, Lumina Foundation
A unique and empowering evolutionary vision of wisdom and the human mind, to guide us in creating a positive future.
KEYWORDS: Future Consciousness, Evolutionary Psychology, The Psychology of Wisdom and Enlightenment, Character Virtues, Self-Responsibility and Self-Control.
Working with a more established writer, here is another example.
The strapline is more creative:
Hospital High – New YA fiction by Mimi Thebo – "My life had been saved...and boy, was I annoyed."
We are delighted to bring you exciting new YA fiction from the popular children's author and Carnegie Award nominated Mimi Thebo. Uniquely developed from her own experiences, based on the day she died and the subsequent three years spent recovering from the accident, the writing is grounded in reality to help teens and young adults cope with the aftermath of injuries, illness and trauma.
Humour and attitude keep Coco going when things get grim. Her relationships with her mother, hospital staff and other injured teens sustain her when her school friendships fall apart. But although everyone's working to give Coco a normal life, Coco doesn't think 'normal' is enough...
Publishing 29 September 2017 on Lodestone Books (imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd) Hospital High by Mimi Thebo
ISBN 978-1-78535-187-7 Paperback £7.99 || $12.95
ISBN 978-1-78535-188-4 e-book £3.99 || $6.99
Insert Cover Image
Endorsed by Nicola Davies: 'Hospital High' is a compelling story of survival and coming of age based on Mimi Thebo's experience...inspiring story of a girl who remakes her identity and life when both are crushed in a car accident.
Mimi Thebo's last book Dreaming the Bear has been chosen as a 'Future Classic' in the 2016 book pack and six copies have been supplied to all secondary schools in the UK.
Would you consider reviewing Hospital High? Please reply to ask for your review copy, we prefer to send PDF as it is immediate. Extracts are also available as are articles.
Thank you for your time and interest.
I hope you find something of interest to you here.