Why You Should Get Your Book Reviewed

Posted by Kristen Hamilton on June 21, 2018 at 11:15 AM

Being a book editor means I have edited some incredible books over the years. Unfortunately, not all of the books I have edited have done well in terms of sales, mostly because authors incorrectly assume that if they publish a book, people will immediately know about it and buy it. Sorry to burst your bubble, but this just isn’t the case. Since there is a new book published to Amazon every 5 minutes, as an author you have to find some way to stand out from the crowd and get your book in front of readers.

How do you do that? How do you ensure that people know about your book?

Marketing. It’s something I’ve talked about again and again.

The good news is that in the world of the Internet, there are plenty of opportunities for marketing your book, one of which is choosing to get your book reviewed.

In most cases, this will cost you money, but the exposure it gets you is almost always well worth the cost. I’ve broken this blog into two sections: paid reviews and free reviews, and what to expect with each.

Paid Book Reviews

Kirkus Reviews is the name for paid book reviews. They’ve been in business reviewing books since 1933, and in reviewing an average of 10,000 books per year, they’ve become a very popular website for book reviews. They have an average of 2 million website impressions per month, and 55,000 people read their e-mail newsletter (including me!). If you’re serious about your writing career and you want your book to be put in front of thousands of people, increasing its chances at book sales, spend the $425 for a book review with Kirkus. It’s worth it.

Foreword Reviews is a great book review company specifically for indie authors—but they review (FREE) only 150 books for each issue of their quarterly magazine, so chances that your book will be accepted are slim. You can partner with their sister company Clarion Review, which offers the same service for $499. With the paid service, they guarantee your book will be accepted and reviewed.

IndieReader is another well-known book review company specifically for self-published books. Their standard review is $250 and will be published with a starred review (1 to 5 stars) on their website. This is a great way to ensure your book will be reviewed, and is a cheaper option but still a credible reviewer. Indie authors should be proud to share reviews by IndieReader on their website or on the back of their book.

What to expect with paid book reviews: With paid book reviews, you can expect your book to be reviewed by booksellers, librarians, and other people who work inside the literary industry. In essence, these people are professional readers, which means your book will get a quality review. Don’t expect to get a glowing review just because you pay for a book review—in fact, while many paid reviewers will be kind with their words, there are many paid reviews (on Kirkus, for example) that might suggest readers just “borrow” or “skip” the book instead of purchasing it.

Another aspect is the credibility, especially for big names like Kirkus Reviews. Since Kirkus is such a big player in the industry, seeing their name and a glowing recommendation on the back of a self-published book seems to immediately give credibility to an otherwise-unheard-of book. And although getting a paid review won’t guarantee you book sales, as Giacomo Giammatteo says, “If you want credibility and recognition from a trusted review source—spend it on Kirkus.

Free Book Reviews

You could also write to bloggers who write book reviews to see if they will do a review on your book. What should you look for? Book review sites that post frequently, like Book Riot—they do about 84 posts per week. They have about 1 million visitors to their website, and over 200,000 people listen to their podcasts each month. However, since they are so popular, that also means that they’ll be difficult to get into: Contact them to pitch your book to them—and cross your fingers that they’ll accept.

Consider reaching out to a book reviewer who reviews a specific genre of books. If you write romance, for example, check out Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. If you’re a fantasy writer, try contacting Fantasy Faction, the world’s largest fantasy book community.

Reach out to book reviewers in your specific region—some readers are more likely to buy books by local/regional authors. For you Californians, San Francisco Book Review offers two options: the free option (of which they can only review about 40% of all submissions) or the paid option, which is $199. Check out their parent company City Book Review, where you can have them publish your book review on San Francisco Book Review, Seattle Book Review, Manhattan Book Review, or Tulsa Book Review.

You might also want to consider Portland Book Review, which also offers two options: a free option and a paid option. Although this is clearly a book review service geared toward readers in the Portland, OR area, Portland is a massive area—which means a big audience for your book review. Region- or city-specific book reviewers like Portland Book Review, San Francisco Book Review, Seattle Book Review, and Manhattan Book Review are viable options to authors who want to get their book in front of thousands of readers, regardless of geographical location.

Reader Views is a good option for free reviews, but is a bit smaller company and doesn’t have as wide of a reach.

There are tons of book reviewers out there, and many of them offer free book reviews. Check out lists here and here.

What to expect with free reviews: Your book won’t always be accepted by free book reviewers, especially the more popular sites. Those who are reviewing your books are not professional readers, so their reviews might be a little rough around the edges. 

Important Notes/Things to Consider

    • Consider targeting reviewers that focus on specific genres. This way, you’ll be able to reach readers who are specifically looking for their next read in your book’s genre.

    • When choosing a book reviewer, look at their website and see the types of books that they have recently reviewed. Look over their About Us page to see information concerning how many website hits they get each month. This way, you can see about how many people will see your book once it’s reviewed and on their website.

    • Plan in advance: Most book reviewers will not review books for free once the books have already been published. Let me say that again: For FREE reviews, most book reviewers will not accept books that have already been published. All other books that have been published are generally kicked to the paid/sponsored review option. If you want a shot at a free book review, you’ll need to have Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) printed at least four months in advance of your book’s publication date in order to send it to these review companies. Most book reviewers will not accept books that are published as an ebook only.

    • Gathering as many reviews as possible before your book’s publication is a great way to drum up excitement and awareness of your book, giving your book an even better chance at an explosive debut.

    • As in all things in life, you get what you pay for. Cheaper review services like Midwest Book Review offer book reviews for only $50, but they have a small reach and an unprofessional-looking website. The more expensive options like Kirkus Reviews or Foreword Reviews have a massive reach, but you’ll be paying about 10x the price.

    • Book reviews generally take between 6 and 9 weeks to complete. Be patient.

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Book editor Kristen Hamilton is the owner and sole employee of

Kristen Corrects, Inc., where she provides manuscript editing

services for traditionally and self-publishing authors. Several

authors whose books she has edited have won awards and have

topped Amazon's best sellers lists.

Reading is Kristen's passion, so when the workday is over, she

can usually be found curled up with a good book alongside her

four cats. She loves watching cat videos and scary movies,

eating pizza, teaching herself French, and traveling, and she is

likely planning her next vacation. She lives outside of Boise, ID.

Categories: marketing, author business

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