Prior Planning For Reviews
At the end of March 2006, I received my advance review copies (ARCs) of The Devilís Bastard from Fidlar Doubleday, my digital printer in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I was very pleased when I saw the book. And it was a book. Though the cover was distinctly that of an ARC, the inside was the real McCoy. I am pleasantly surprised with the page design and typography (both of which I did myself). Cochin is a beautiful font, and Iím happy I ran across it. Iím also happy with Fidlar Doubleday. If youíve yet to decide on a digital printer, I recommend them.
I started a list of potential reviewers two years ago. Some reviewers do pre-publication reviews four to six months before the publication date. Others donít want to see the book until after publication.
I consider The Devilís Bastard a plot-driven romance, as opposed to the generally accepted character-driven romance. Perhaps what I write is truly a Southern historical with a powerful love story. Regardless, Iím confident my story will appeal to many women who read romance. Truth is a person who likes to read quite often enjoys a wide range of literature, not a single genre.
Believing that, I wanted to acquire romance reviews, but I also wanted to find reviewers interested in Southern writing and/or Southern history and American history, in general. Reviewers of books published by independent presses were, and are, of interest to me.
I received my initial guidance for compiling a list from Marilyn and Tom Rossí The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing. Appendix E of that publication offers a list of prime reviewers. I already knew from other sources that some of those reviewers do not review ďself-publishedĒ books or they request the size of your print-run/name of your distributor with your submission package. Even though I am a small publisher, I would be considered a self-publisher, and since my initial print run is only 2,000 books, I didnít bother to request a review from those sources. That doesnít mean Iíll always feel that way about requesting a review from some of these prestigious periodicals, but I want to have met with some success before wasting both my time and theirs.
Of the sources listed, I did submit a request to ForeWord Magazine and Library Journal. If I find a distributor (and I am working on finding one), I will submit a package to Booklist.
I did not limit myself to this group of reviewers. Listening once again to the Rosses, I got on-line and started compiling a list of sites that are considered romance- and history-friendly. If you havenít already guessed, there are a lot more sites for romance than for history.
Other sources I use are my romance loops. The writers on these loops share their reviews with the group, and I make notes on who is giving the reviews. I visit the websites and determine if the site is appropriate for what I write. Using the internet, I have acquired a substantial list of romance reviewers and a much more limited list of reviewers of Southern literature/history.
I admit that Iím uncomfortable when asking for a review from a Southern periodical, but more than anything, thatís where I want to be accepted. My fear, of course, is that Iím being compared to the likes of William Faulkner or Eudora Welty. But when I actually read whatís being reviewed today, I realize my stuff is not off the mark of many other Southerner writers. So be aggressive in approaching your regional reviewers. Like you, they like where they come from, and they tend to be proud of home-grown talent.
So far, (and itís early yet) I have come up with a list of six pre-publication reviewers. I still have post-publication reviewers to contact in addition to pre-publication reviewers with whom I need to follow-up and those Iíve yet to find. I figure this list will never be complete. As I continue to publish books, I will add to and modify my reviewer list. I hope I will also establish working relationships that will serve me into the future. For right now, Iím just hoping to get some good blurbs to go on my yet unfinished cover.
Which brings me to my final point, but one that serves as a lessons-learned for the benefit of you potential new publishers out there. Iíve let fall through the proverbial crack how Iím to know if my book is chosen for review, and if chosen, how I can get my hands on the completed review. Thatís another trail Iíll have to backtrack, and time is wasting even when Iím moving straight ahead.
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