How Do I Get a Book Review?

I’ve self published a book [XYZ for ABC’ers] because there isn’t any books in the lds market for this age group. I couldn’t get Deseret Book, Covenant Comm or Cedar Fort interested in my manuscript because they said the niche was too small. Any suggestions on how to get a book review out there in LDS magazines or?

First off, I’d suggest a blog promo tour. (Click here for great tips on doing your own blog tour from Danyelle Ferguson.)

Or you could hire someone to help you set one up. (Another regular guest blogger here, Tristi Pinkston, coordinates virtual book tours.)

If you do it on your own, first set a budget. You’ll need to send out review packets which should contain a copy of your book AND a press kit. Determine how much it will cost you to create and ship each packet and the number of reviewers you can afford to send it to.

Then, make a list. Include both LDS print magazines (Google: LDS magazines) and LDS bloggers who do book reviews (Google: LDS book reviewers). Go to their websites, particularly their information pages, and see if they review LDS non-fiction. Read some of their reviews to see if you like their style. Read their guidelines for submitting a book for review. (It seems like I’m giving the same advice to everyone this week.)

Find magazines that have a wide distribution and review blogs that have high traffic and hit counts. Cross off any reviewer who expects you to pay for the review or who requires you to run an ad. Then sort your list in the order of preference. You’re looking for reviewers who do an in-depth review, who are honest and fair, and who seem predisposed to enjoy the type of book you’ve written. (For example, if they only review fiction, your non-fiction book might not be a good match for them. Or if you write fantasy, don’t send your book to someone who has never given a fantasy book a positive review.) Once you’ve got a good list, you’re almost ready to go.


Send an email to the magazine/blogger first. The email should be a customized version of your cover letter (as described here). Ask if they’d be interested in reviewing your book. Ask about their review schedule—if they can’t get to your book for six months, they’re not a good option. For bloggers, you can give them a time frame of when you’d like the review to post.

Once the reviewer has said they’re interested and they have the time to review your book on your schedule, THEN mail the packet. Follow up in a week to make sure they got it.

One very important note about asking for reviews: Do not assume you’ll get a glowing review. You might—and if you’ve done your homework well, you’ve stacked the deck in your favor. But, no matter what the review, do not argue with it. Do not fight. Do not leave nasty comments on the blog or send mean emails. After the review prints/posts, simply thank the reviewer for their time. If it’s a print magazine, send them a nice thank you note in the mail. If it’s a blogger, leave a nice thank you comment on the review post.

Readers, other ideas or advice?

Review Copies

Realistically, how many copies of a book does a publisher give away for possible reviews? Does the author have any say or input in these decisions?

And the definitive answer is: it depends.

It depends on the type of book (fiction vs non-fiction), the genre, the initial buzz and excitement about the book, the budget, how many copies we printed in the first print run, the number of reviewers we have a positive relationship with, the number and size of papers/local magazines in the authors home town, when the book is released (near Christmas or other related holidays or events), how much energy the author is going to put into promoting the book, what kind of mood the marketing department is in, whether it’s raining outside,…

The author may or may not have a say in it. We make up our list and if the author wants us to add to it, they have to make a good argument for it. For example, let’s say the author lives in Kaysville, UT. We would send review copies to the Salt Lake City papers. If the author wanted us to send a review copy to his/her local Kaysville paper, we’d probably decline, UNLESS a bookstore in Kaysville was going to do a launch party/signing for the author and the paper was agreed to do a timely and positive review in connection with that launch.

Another issue we have with review copies is when authors want us to send them to bloggers. (I’m not talking about online reviewers, such as Jennie Hansen at Meridian. I’m talking about non-professional bloggers.) We only consider this if the blog is targeted to our audience (LDS readers) AND if they get a respectable number of hits per day AND if we get pre-approval/kill vote on the post.

If an author wants to send the book to more reviewers than we’re willing to send to, they’re always free to do so using their own comp copies.