|Reviews and Reviewers?|
|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
- 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
- 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
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.