Over the weekend, I’ve been learning a lot about the editorial review process (no, not the most typical thing to do on warm summer days, I know), and I’ve discovered that when we say “someone reviewed a book,” it can mean one of two things.
- They read it and wrote a reaction. This is what most reviews are like. The reader explains what they liked and didn’t like, discussing the book’s strength and weakness and why someone might want to pick it up and read it (as they did). Sometimes it can included spoilers, and sometimes it’s an excuse for a rant/gushing over the cover, but primarily, it’s a reaction in words.
- They read it and wrote a description. This is what editorial reviews are about (or should be, if they’re any good). The goal isn’t to air one’s pet peeves but to provide the author with unbiased, honest commentary about the book. This is where quotes like “A powerful story about enjoying life in the face of death” or “Featuring strong characters, this tale is sure to delight” or “Not for the faint of heart, __ provides all the excitement and adventure one expects from a thriller” appear, giving the author and their agent/publisher lovely, pithy remarks that can be placed on websites, editorial review sections, book descriptions, and all other marketing-type slots. It gives the author all the benefit of bragging about the book without having to be the one doing the bragging, as the goal is to have some positives in the review, even if there are negatives in there as well.
The downside, of course, is that editorial reviews cost money. Because they aren’t simple reactions but little news articles about your book, the “reporters” have to get paid. Some, like Kirkus Indie Reviews, costs somewhere between $400-$600 dollars depending on the package chosen, the length of work, etc. Others, like Publishers Weekly’s Book Life, accept all books for free, but only review a very small handful of them based on how much they stand out from the other books being submitted at that time. (They have a separate submission option for books being published by traditional or small publishing houses.)
Similarly, IndieReader offers a review service for about half the cost of Kirkus, as does Self-Publishing Review, but again, you’re having to spend at least a hundred or more. All of the options give you advertising on the various websites, though, and they give you the review itself which you can cut up into quotes and use for your own advertising campaign: Twitter, Facebook, the back of your book, etc.
Recently, my friend and fellow blogger, Ryan Lanz, introduced an Editorial Review option on The Book Review Directory that lets authors get the same kind of review, and very similar publicity, reaching thousands of followers on Twitter and even more on the main site for less than $100 (depending on the length of the project, it could cost as little as $35).
Why Would I Want an Editorial Review?
As every writer knows, writing a book is a big challenge, but getting people to read it can be more difficult. First, you have to get the word out that the book exists, and then you have to give readers a reason to read your book instead of the thousands of others out there. You could tell them “My book’s amazing,” but as it’s coming from you, they may be less likely to believe you.
Now, you can get some of the benefits from an Editorial Review from a regular Reader Review, especially if you know some bloggers who write well, but they still might not word the review with quotes in mind because the formats are different. It’s like asking an opinion piece, a letter to the editor, to read like a news story for the front page–not likely to happen.
And then, Editorial Review packages typically include free marketing on the reviewers’ websites, tweets to their followers, and other “micro-ads” that reach thousands if not tens of thousands of people. Again, if you contact many book reviewers, you might reach equal results, but you might not.
And lastly, an Editorial Review can be a good boost for your writing confidence. Because it’s in their interests to balance the review with positives and negatives, you’re almost guaranteed to come away with a few sentences of pure, delightful affirmation that, yes, you actually have written something good and enjoyable. And you’d be getting it from professionals who read books and write reviews for a living as part of their job…which means the praise should be well-written and edited in its own right.
And when the cost can be about the same as what we spend on coffee (or chai tea) for a couple weeks, it can quickly become a “no brainer.” 🙂
Copyright 2017 Andrea Lundgren
Photo by Alvimann, Creative Commons