Okay. The book is in the can. The editing is done. The galley should be on the way. What’s missing?
What’s pre-publicity? You need to generate buzz about your upcoming book. Then, when it hits, so shoppers know it’s out there and it is worthy of a read, they need to see reviews pouring in. Not just reviews of family and friends, but serious and varied reviews from respected publications in your genre.
Yup. You need to get into the trenches and start a whole ‘nuther type of querying you’ve probably never heard of. Querying for reviews.
You heard me right.
Querying for reviews.
When we think of reviews, the first thing that usually pops into our head is the star rating on Amazon. Right? Well, there are lots of other literary publications out there that do reviews. Depending on what world you’re in, what genre you write, and what magazines you subscribe to, there are publications that host reviews of what their like-minded readers want to read.
Your job is to break into this world and get your book one of those reviews. You want those potential readers to see a review by one of your peers.
SHOULD YOU BE AFRAID?
There’s always the potential for people within your niche to be jaded, jealous, or just plain bored with everything. It’s especially true with the short attention span generations that have been developing over the past few decades. However they can also be the litmus test of what readers want. If your story rocks, a great review could be the boost you need to rock sales. If you get a terrible review, it could just as easily kill your sales. It could also boost your sales from people who either like what the reviewer doesn’t like, want to read it just to see if the reviewer was right, or read it because they hate the reviewer.
Should you be afraid? Never. Not everyone is going to like your story, so get over it. Besides, if you don’t get any reviews, nobody is going to know you’ve written a book on word-of-mouth alone. What if they do find your book by chance? How are you going to stop them from reviewing it on their own?
WHAT TO DO?
First of all, never use a spray and pray, generic submission query letter. I shouldn’t have to explain how much and why such a letter sucks.
What I will tell you is that you should have a core letter made up with a description of your story. It should have a slug line, then a brief description of the story. Mine has a basic spoiler without going into too much detail.
The top has the title and the number of words. The bottom has my name, web page, e-mail, web site, and Twitter addy.
At the top is a blank spot to customize each letter to the individual or publication I’m submitting to. Sometimes, I offer something in return, like doing reviews or articles. Why should they offer something when I’m asking for the same?
At the bottom, above my contact info, is where I leave room for thanks and any other personal info to them.
The thing you need to do is to research each site. Follow their instructions and be sure to look into their publication or site so you have some idea of what you’re submitting to. Let them know you’ve done your homework and are not submitting blind. Nothing is more unprofessional than submitting blind!
I learned a lot of this from Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound, at the 2015 Las Vegas Writer’s Conference. Her presentation was a great help in getting me started on this quest for reviews. You can look her up on the net at http://publicityhound.com/ She’s also on Twitter https://twitter.com/PublicityHound