Pass in Review

On Reviews, Reviewers and Being Reviewed

Five reviews out of thirty copies really is probably about average. It’s sad, but with over 200,000 new titles hitting the streets last year alone, it’s hard for reviewers to take everything that’s sent their way. And, though we may not want to think about it, sometimes the reviewer just doesn’t like the book (personal taste and all that) and that reviewer may have an aversion to writing negative reviews. So, it doesn’t get reviewed at all. As to the risk of sending out books that will not be reviewed, here are my thoughts:

1. Do your research. Whatever the topic/genre, look for venues that review your kind of book, in addition to the generic places. You increase your chances that way.

2. Query first. Send an email or postal mail with a press pack (i.e., cover shot, blurbs you have gotten, brief synopsis that does not give away the ending, etc.) and ask if they would be interested in reviewing the book.

3. Send out press releases, but don’t rely on them. It’s foolish to ignore the possibility, however slim, that someone will read a press release. However, don’t waste a lot of time or money on this. Most unsolicited press releases go into the circular file (this from my newspaper friends.)

4. Write thank you notes to the reviewers who DO review your book, whether it’s a great review or a so-so review. That makes them at least somewhat more receptive to your next book.

5. If you can make it work, offer to write a feature piece for your local paper or community paper, that somehow ties to your new book. That may, in turn, interest the reviewer onstaff in reading and reviewing your book. When I say a feature piece, I mean a short article that exploits some tie-in to a local place, person, legend, upcoming event, etc. If you wrote a book about Ireland, for example, maybe you’d want to write a feature piece about St. Patrick’s Day and get in a mention or two of your book in the body of the piece. – Tony Burton

Review Sites

I have found some review sites which are open to self-pubs, such as flamingnet, wantz upon a time reviews, teens read too, midwest reviews, and reader views. A couple of these are specific to YA books, but some accept inquiries from adult books too, if you are interested.– Diane Salerni

The first and best that I can think of, is Midwest Book Reviews. They are not genre-driven and love small-press.
If you write mystery, crime, suspense or things of that ilk, here are a couple: Crime and Suspense ezine (that’s my ezine, so just email me about it) Kevin’s Corner , Mysterical-E

For Christian (fiction or non-fiction) :
Bedford Review,

Christian Book Reviews

Science Fiction/Speculative
The SF Site , Fantasy Bookspot , Future Fiction

– Tony Burton


American Authors Association

This site is currently more of a review site like iUBR than an IAG-type operation, but this website is definitely worth our attention. They review POD books, as well as those by small presses, and their founding tenets are quite honorable. – Floyd M. Orr

Dust Jacket Review…

and The Historical Novel Society –

Mary Simonsen


Amazon has just recently introduced a new feature on reviews where you can add a link to the Amazon site for other books you recommend and recently I’ve made a point of going back to some of my old reviews and updating them with this feature. It actually looks like it could be promising since networking with readers is really the best way to leverage a POD book. I don’t know if others here have noticed this feature but I would recommend it though, again, I’d urge that you do it judiciously. It’s not a good idea, for instance, to just do it for every book you see. That will both annoy prospective readers and sap all your credibility.

– Stuart Mirsky


I understand you can look up the reviewers on Amazon. Many are regulars and open to being asked to review. – Marva Dasef

Paid Reviews

Kirkus Discoveries is a paid review service and the closest a POD book can get to a Kirkus Review. It was part of my iUniverse package, or an add-on to it, I forget which. But even though they are paid, they are under no obligation to give you a good review. My review is currently on their home page along with some other books that didn’t get as nice a write-up as I did. Mine was better than I could possibly have hoped for.

You may want to look into some professional review services, such as Midwest Book Review, Reader Views, and ForeWord Magazine. I recently purchased a reasonably priced advertising package at ForeWord that included advertising in the magazine and a display in their booth at a trade book fair. The book fairs are frequented by agents, book sellers, and publishers. – Diane Salerni

Review sites:

iUniverse authors can request reviews here: Another review spot for science fiction, fantasy and mystery is here.

Bookworm’s Dinner! – a blog about books.

Cocktail Reviews

You might want to check out Cocktail Reviews. This review site does not charge for reviews. Getting a review depends entirely on whether any of the reviewers (there are five or six) likes the sound of your story. The reviews are well thought out and quite quotable.
– Marva Dasef

Blogger News Network

Blogger News Network does reviews of books (also movies and CDs). Send an email with some sort of news release about your book and a contact e-mail and she’ll post it in the discussion group for those of us who write reviews. – Celia Hayes


There have for a long time been two schools of thought. The first group wants to believe that any deception to keep the public from learning that their books are self-published POD is the way to go. They think if they can only dodge the slap-fighters by dodging the POD stigma, then their sales will proliferate. The second group, of which I am an obvious member, believes that honesty and integrity is always the best policy.

The important question here is whether you seek genuine, satisfied readers who think your writing and message are truly worthwhile, or do you seek the maximum number of book sales at any cost to your readers? This question leads to book reviews, of which there are three basic types. The first type is in traditionally published magazines and newspapers, and we all know the market for POD entries into that closed world is very, very tight. The second type comes from what I call volume (both paid and free) reviewers, of which extremely few will honestly tell your readers what they need to know about your book … The last group of reviewers is very tiny, and for your own good, I hope each of you is familiar with these few legitimate reviewers who are available to you.


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