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Reviews and Reviewers?
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Why reviews?
Who does reviews?
Close your eyes and imagine you are in a bookstore looking for a book to buy. You pick one up, read the jacket, flap or cover copy, and the author's biography. You are not familiar with the author, and are unsure you will like the book or, if it's nonfiction, will find it helpful. Given the book's price you decide against buying it. You keep looking. The next book you pick up is again by an author you're unfamiliar with, and it's the same price as the first work. But this time as you consider it, you notice its jacket or cover bears excerpts from reviews that have appeared in respected book trade and consumer publications, as well as salutary comments by experts, names you do recognize. This book you're much more likely to buy.

Given the fact that pre publication quotes are not difficult to obtain, are exceptionally valuable they can be used in many ways, as I will explain and are particularly cost effective as sales motivators, it's surprising that more publishers don't make use of them. One reason may be that the process of doing so seems "mysterious" (a frequent comment among the authors and publishers in my classes).

Here, then, is an overview that should shed light on the subject.

The key to obtaining quotes on a work before finished books are available is by the dissemination of advance review copies. Recipients of advance review copies fall into varied groups. Most often publishers send these to the editors of major book trade publications save for CHOICE where only bound books are accepted well ahead of the official publication date. This is done in the hope that the publication deems the work worthy of review coverage:

Trade reviews, whether they are "rave" or mixed reviews, have many values. Viz:

  • They usually stimulate trade bookstore and wholesalers' orders.
  • Depending on the nature of the book and the review media these reviews can produce library and school orders, both those that arrive directly, and those that come from institutional wholesalers.

For many houses, especially those that are small to middle size, these orders are often excellent door openers and ways to establish new customer groups.

  • Consumer press people (i.e., both general and special interest print media editors, as well as radio and tv show personnel) routinely keep up with trade reviews thereby producing requests for bound books. These in turn can lead to author interviews and feature stories . . . resulting in additional "quotable quotes!"
  • Many academics read the trade publications and request "examination copies" based on what they've read. Here, too, sales "adoption orders" can result.

Quotes are terrific as "lead lines" in advertising or catalog copy; in direct mail brochure copy; and for use in various types of collateral material.

Good review quotes provide other benefits:

  • They enhance possibilities for subsidiary rights sales. A first serial "buy" by a relevant magazine can be a super stimulus reaching the public just when your books will hit the stores, or when your coupon ads are breaking.
  • Your subsidiary rights department will, of course, have also previously sent advance reading copies to a targeted group of such publications, hence the trade review coverage adds impact to your submission.
  • Both publishers and authors enjoy increased visibility from review coverage. For an author that means heightened public awareness of his/her name, and establishment of a "track record." For a publisher, it often means the receipt of high quality and suitable book proposals.

    Many publishers send advance reading copies to buyers at important independent bookstores, to the major book chains and wholesalers among their customers, as well as to the editors at the chains 'wholesalers' own book review media.

    Book clubs present great sales possibilities that are also enhanced by sending advance reading copies to the buyers at the clubs early as possible.

    House and commission sales representatives are often also sent advance copies. Publishers frequently have advance copies at their tables/booths at conventions (ABA is a good example) and at professional/trade association meetings. They can then give copies to buyers, editors, and other influential people for comment.

    Note: it's important to realize that many media people work on very long lead times needing to schedule features and author interviews months ahead of time.

    The most economical trim size for advance copies is 5 3/8" X 8 3/8". This format results in a good looking book, even when the final book's trim size will be 6" x 9". There is usually plenty of margin to work with. When making readers' proofs from typed manuscripts, the pages can be reduced to fit the 5 3/8" X 8 3/8" format. The pages are readable and much less costly than a larger trim size.

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