Do This, Not That – Professional Reviews in the Time of COVID

From The Book Designer:

[T]here is one thing COVID-19 and mass stay-at-home orders accelerated this year that I really hope sticks – digital submissions for professional reviews.

Why Reviews Matter

An October 2020 article posted on Qualtrics says that “91% of 18-34 year olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 93% of consumers say that online reviews influenced their purchase decisions.” And, as Beth Barany pointed out in her article Get Book Reviews: Your Novel Can Always Find New Audiences asking for and building up your bank of online reader reviews is an important ongoing aspect of book marketing.

However, there is another type of review that is just as important to your book’s success: Professional Reviews.

The Importance of Professional Reviews

Receiving a positive review from a well-known review or news outlet is practically more valuable than gold when launching a new book. From gracing the cover of your book to being used on marketing sheets and in your online book descriptions, a great quote from Publishers Weekly or a starred Library Journal review can net you a lot of mileage.

A professional review lends authority to your writing and provides social proof of the quality of your work. But you can’t receive a review from a professional third-party if you don’t ask for one and there is a right – and a wrong – way to make your request.

. . . .

When cities were shut down and stay-at-home orders were issued, the publishing industry adapted. Professional review outlets that previously required physical ARCs began requesting digital submissions. This has been a game changer.

Rather than 6 months lead time and several hundred dollars of investment, an author or publisher can now submit their book for reviews in a single day, at no cost and with as little as 3 months lead time before their pub date.

. . . .

For the best chance at receiving a professional review, authors should research the best review outlets for their book and the submission guidelines for that specific review outlet. While not universal, many outlets require the following:

  • Cover letter with appropriate contact information
  • Marketing plan
  • Designed book sheet including details such as:
    • ISBN
    • price
    • pub date
    • book synopsis
  • An informational sheet on the author
  • Book launch press release or announcement
  • A jpg of the front cover of the book
  • A digital ARC (PDF and ePub files are the most requested)

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

While not disputing the potential beneficial marketing results that reviews from a “recognized” source may provide to an indie author, PG will note that there are some scam “professional” review sites that charge a lot and deliver very little.