Finding trade and non-trade review services are fundamental to publicity, marketing, and promotion for self-publishing authors – yet, the path to getting the right reviews is not always as clear as it is for authors working with the guidance of a major publishing company. As with the rest of the publishing process, this is something you will have to navigate on your own. Reviews are crucial to reaching the right audience and convincing them to give your book a chance. Relying only on user reviews from sites like Amazon often isn’t enough, and can even backfire, if the wrong audience ends up reading your book.
The best approach is to understand the world of professional non-trade review services, and to invest in the best option for your needs as an author. Before the explosion of self-published material in the last decade, professional book reviews were focused mostly on trade review publications, which cater to major publishing companies and are often geared towards readers within the industry. They use free, general submission, but don’t guarantee a review.
Non-Trade Review Services
Today, many non-trade review services exist for self-publishing and indie authors. While these almost always require a fee, they provide a guaranteed professional review. Prices vary, and each has additional pros and cons for authors to consider. The first thing to consider is budget, and how far that budget will go in helping you reach your target audience. Non-trade review services can get expensive so a good plan of attack is imperative.
BlueInk Reviews will run authors $395 to $495 depending on which review option they choose. Those reviews will be syndicated in the Ingram database, giving access to tens of thousands of book retailers and librarians. For reaching readers, reviews are also posted on IDreamBooks.com, a ratings website sort of like Rotten Tomatoes for books. Children’s and YA reviews are syndicated to the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database. A limited number of positive reviews also make it into a number of other websites, newsletters, and are recommended on social media. You can begin the submissions process here.
Review options from Indie Reader will run between $225 and $300. These reviews will be posted with Ingram, and on the Indie Reader site itself. A monthly ‘best of’ list will include 4 and 5 star reviews. Start here to submit your book to Indie Reader.
Self-Publishing Review will cost between $129 and $299. Their newsletter goes to roughly “5,357 publishing professionals, authors, libraries, and reader” four times a year. Reviews are also posted on social media, including Google + and Tumblr, as well as BN.com, on request. Authors can begin that process here.
Midwest Book Review
Midwest Book Review is one of few non-trade reviewers that offer general submission. Other than a $50 fee for ebooks, manuscripts, galleys, uncorrected proofs, ARCs, or PDF files, submission is free. The downside, of course, is that not all books submitted will receive reviews. If your book does receive a review, it will be posted on a range of thematically relevant websites and discussion groups, and will be archived on the MBR site for 5 years. MBR also has a contract with Gale Cengage Learning, which helps reviews reach libraries nationwide. Authors who want a review from MBR can learn about the process here.
Kirkus Indie Reviews
Kirkus Indie Reviews represents the non-trade option from one of the most popular trade-review publications. Reviews start at $350, with several options to choose from. Authors can choose to have their review published on the Kirkus site, and to have the review considered for Kirkus Reviews magazine and email newsletter, which is read by over 50,000 consumers and industry insiders. Kirkus content feeds are picked up by more than 20 licensees, including BN.com, Google Books, and many other sites where your book may be sold. You can begin the submission process on their website.
Publisher’s Weekly is another renowned trade publication, which also offers non-trade reviews to self-publishers through Book Life. Book Life operates through general submission, which once again is free of cost, but a review is not guaranteed. Reviews from Book Life are listed in Publisher’s Weekly magazine, a prestigious industry publication, and on the Publisher’s Weekly website. Guidelines for submission are available here.
Clarion Reviews is Foreword’s paid option for books which have already been published, or were not chosen for Foreword. Each review costs $499, but offers an impressive reach. In addition to being posted on their high-traffic website and licensed to book wholesalers, partners such as Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Cengage, Bowker, and EBSCO will help reviews reach librarians and booksellers. You can start the process here.
US Review of Books
US Review of Books offers affordable reviews for as little as $89. Reviews are posted on their blog, on social media, and sometimes make it into magazines such as Luxe Beat. Their own monthly publication reaches at least 18,000 subscribers. Their submissions process begins here.
Finally, Readers’ Favorite is a unique choice for self-publishers. They offer free reviews, noting that 65 percent of submissions receive reviews within 3 months. While these are not guaranteed, a much higher percentage of submissions receive reviews than from other general submission reviewers. And just $59 will buy you a guaranteed express review in just 2 weeks. Clearly, this is a great option for authors on a budget. Reviews are published on their website, as well as BN.com, Google Books, social media, and can be posted in Amazon’s Editorial Reviews section. A submissions form is available here.