By Tarsha L. Burton
Reviews are an inexpensive marketing tool that provides the necessary exposure, if you incorporate the right strategy. In saying this I want to stress the importance of knowing your target audience. To be overly dramatic, you don't want to waste precious resources sending out advance reader copies to a publication that caters to children's literature when you're writing for an adult crowd. In essence do your research before you send out anything. Network with authors, writing groups and publicists. Talk to people about mediums that cater to your market.
Don't expect everyone to be receptive to providing this information, but persevere until you get the information you need. Use Internet search engines, as it's a wealth of information.
Once you've narrowed your choices down try to make contact. You have a better chance of your work being selected for review [some publication are tight on space and limit their review titles] if you make contact.
Additionally this is your opportunity to find out the publication schedule and deadlines and varying publishing schedules of different publishers. You'll want to obtain a 12-month schedule if you can, as this will be very helpful for future books. You may be turned down for a review the first time, but don't give up.
Book clubs- as many authors know - are a great source of exposure. What many authors fail to realize, however, is that many book-club members maintain their own websites or have affiliations with review publications. Don't just stay in you're local area either. Tap into other markets to maximize exposure.
Additionally, unbeknownst to many authors is the fact that while readers don't always agree with the opinion of a reviewer they do take notice of key factors. Those key factors often being:
If the theme or subject matter isn't compelling enough for reader [no matter how glorious the review] it's not likely to sway a potential reader. In all likelihood all it will succeed in doing is jading the reader. The same is true with regards to writing style. Being visually graphic isn't going to be a desirable attribute for someone who prefers just the basics.
Loyal review readers have a knack for pinpointing those reviewers who have tastes similar to their own. In doing so it enables them to rely on consistency as a comparison. If a reviewer consistently doles out low ratings for books that a reader finds favorable then it's likely that said reviewer will love just about everything that reader hates and vice versa. That being the case it can be counter-productive to waste precious time stewing over a negative review or even a positive one for that matter.
In coming to this realization the determination has to be made as to which is more valuable, a review that provides honest feedback or a review that is pleasing. If both can be achieved then you're on the right mental track, if not however it's not the end of world. The important thing to remember is that a legitimate review -rather good or bad – is simply one person's opinion. Keeping sight of this will save much angst and frustration for all parties involved.
Tarsha L. Burton is Owner and Founder of Prevue Pages
Former Senior Reviewer African American division of Romantic Times Magazine