Book Review Checklist: What to Do Before Submitting for Review

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Getting your book reviewed is beneficial to achieving book sales. A positive review speaks volumes: It tells readers an unbiased third party has read your book and deemed it worthy. It entices readers with a plot description. It gives you instant credibility. But before you send your book off for review, you need to be absolutely sure you’re ready.

Your content must be perfect, of course. But that’s not all you need to think about. Here are 8 important items to check off your list before setting things in motion.

1. Have Your Book Edited for Content

Sure, you can ask your friends and family to read your book and give you feedback. But the truth is this: friends and family lie. They don’t want to hurt their loved one’s feelings and will sugarcoat their feedback accordingly. Pay for professional feedback to make sure your book is the best it can be. Professional editors will tell you what is working and what needs revision—and they won’t pull their punches. Which is exactly why you hire them.

2. Hire a Copyeditor

A professional copyeditor checks your final work to make sure everything is spelled correctly, the punctuation is perfect, you haven’t used words incorrectly, and so on. Your copyeditor is not your friend who is an English teacher. Copyediting is an art unto itself and requires someone who knows the book world. It provides the polish your work needs to give you the best chance at a positive review. After all, nothng robs you of kredabilty faster then turrible spelling like this! Whatever else you do, do not skip this step.

3. Comb the Book for Weird Formatting Tics

We receive many books with random bolded or italic words. Writers seem to feel that such effects help emphasize a word or line (and sometimes, to be honest, they are so random that we can’t figure out why they were used!). Good writing speaks for itself, without such crutches. Overuse of these formatting tools signals to a reviewer that you are an amateur—and he or she will likely judge the rest of your book accordingly.

4. Assign the Right Book Genre

To find the right reviewer, book review editors must know the book’s genre. But independently publishing authors often give their books the wrong label. They call it a mystery when it’s actually a thriller, or general fiction when it’s really romance. Book review editors work hard to find the perfect match between book and reviewer. Without the right information, they are greatly handicapped in getting you a fair review. (Give a person who loves literary fiction a romance, and you’ll know what we mean!) With the wrong label on your book, you are undermining your own hopes of a good review.

5. Purchase an ISBN

An ISBN is a cataloguing tool used by bookstores, librariesonline retailers and more. You need an ISBN for each edition of your book (hardcover, ebook, audiobook…) The numbers identify the edition of the book as well as the publisher to whom the numbers were sold (which is one of the reasons it's so important to own your own ISBN). Many important databases require an ISBN in order to list your book, including Ingram, Bowker, and others. These databases also include reviews that help industry professionals make book-buying decisions. Without an ISBN, you are missing out on an important way to use your review.

6. Establish a Social Media Presence

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest—these are all great ways to get the word out about your review. Set up your accounts while you’re in the writing process and let your followers know that the book is coming. Share some of your setbacks and triumphs with them. Then, once you have a review, they will be interested in the outcome and share your joy in any praise you receive. If you’ve laid the proper groundwork, they might share the review as well!

7. Set Up Accounts on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound

It’s important to have your book available at these popular selling venues. Amazon is the number one place people buy books online, Barnes & Noble is the largest chain bookstore in North America, and Indiebound contributes sales to independent booksellers. Set up your author page, including your author bio and book description. You can then quickly update it with blurbs from any positive comments you receive once you’ve had your book reviewed.

8. Receive Your Review with Grace

It isn’t easy to open yourself up to criticism. But if you submit a book for review, you are likely to receive some positive – and some negative – remarks. Go into it with the mindset that no matter the outcome, you will gain important feedback. Then instead of fretting over criticism, use it to improve your book – or the next one down the line.


Experts in the Publishing Industry

Patti Thorn

Patti Thorn is a Managing Partner at BlueInk Review, a fee-based book review service devoted to self-published titles exclusively. For more news, writing tips, and book marketing help, you can sign up for BlueInk Review's mailing list.