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One of the scariest and most exciting things about your book going out into the world is people reading it and having opinions. Reviews are an important part of the book publishing ecosystem.
Although many people find their books online through creators on TikTok or other social media, traditional publishers still spend time and energy sending review copies to book reviewers for consideration. If you’ve ever wondered who reads book reviews and what book reviews are for, there are a few different perspectives of the people the reviews are intended for.
First of all, what do we mean by a book review? In this article, I’ll take a look at book reviews that are written for more “traditional” media publications. Goodreads is a great source of reviews for professionals, casual readers, and book influencers alike, but the point of Goodreads is to be able to post what you think about a book to give advice to other readers. “Traditional” book reviews tend to have an association with pre-Internet print or analog media (although that’s not always the case anymore).
Trade publications covering the publishing industry (such as weekly editors, Kirkus Reviews, book list, and more) check out a wide range of books. These publications provide short, holistic reviews, and the reviewer can choose to assign a star to a book they find particularly compelling. You’ll almost always see a PW, Booklist, or Kirkus featured review included on the back cover of an author’s book if you’ve received one in the past.
Magazines, local newspapers, and other entertainment-focused media cover books as well. There are also a variety of niche publications that cover special interest books. For example, him Women’s Book Review Y The Gay and Lesbian Review Focus on the books that correspond to their titles.
for the publisher
Reviews are an essential part of a publisher’s business operations. Many publishers include a specific number of review copies in the writers’ contract for their books. They need to know up front how much of the first impression will be spent on spreading reviews.
Among many other functions, the advertising department of most publishers will send review copies to editors, reviewers, and publications for consideration and assignment. However, anyone who has connections to book reviewers at a publisher can refer those reviewers for publicity or submit them on their own.
Additionally, some authors will work with independent publishers or public relations firms to get their books to reviewers. Some authors choose to do this because they self-publish or publish with small publishers that don’t have as many resources devoted to advertising. Postage for shipping books can be very expensive.
Reviews help the publisher to sell the books to various interested parties with whom they have longstanding relationships or those with whom they are trying to establish relationships. Pre-publication glowing reviews can cause libraries or bookstores to order more books for their inventory, putting more copies of the well-reviewed book in front of readers.
for the readers
Although casual readers may not be interested in Kirkus Reviews either weekly editorsanyone browsing a bookstore will find quotes from these reviews printed on the back covers of books.
Book reviews also provide basic plot information that helps readers determine if they want to dive into the genre. If a book lover collects book list magazine to read reviews, they may be looking for comparable reading or something totally new. Reviews can help with any of these, as most book reviews give compilation titles.
A book that receives a lot of reviews before or even after publication will also attract the attention of readers who want to interact with the book that everyone is talking about.
The Author’s Perspective
Book reviews are crucial for authors to understand how their book is being received and perhaps even if they will be able to get another contract. Without getting into the rough waters of Goodreads, book reviews can still be a source of both joy and anxiety.
Susie Dumond, Book Riot contributor and author of strangely lovedShe wants to take reviews to help her writing process: “I’m too nosy not to read them! I’m also the kind of person who really enjoys thoughtful criticism of my work. Instead of making it harder for me to write, it inspires me to do better with what I write next.”
Steph Auteri, contributor and author of a dirty word, also found that the reviews gave him “an idea of how readers were connecting (or not) with this thing that he had put out into the world. That sense of connection is a big part of why I write what I write.”
Contributor Jessica Pryde, author of Black Love Matters: Real Talk About Romance, Being Seen, And Happily Ever After, also chooses to read reviews of his books out of curiosity and attention to his craft. Since the book is aimed at a niche market, Pryde is “delighted” that the reviews bring the book to a wider circle of readers who may not have sought out the book, but would enjoy it nonetheless.
They all understand how difficult it can be to write a book and then read a lukewarm or even negative review. “Feel free to take as long as you need feeling distraught and offended and maybe even a little homicidal,” says Steph. “But once you have it, remember: in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t mean much, and the right readers will find your book no matter what the reviews say.”
Jessica also emphasizes how important it is to understand that reviews are rarely written to hurt you personally: “Whether they are negative or positive, they are not written with you in mind. So if you’re nosy like me, go for it, be prepared to hurt your feelings. But if you’d rather not know, you don’t have to.”
Susie’s perspective on the review has changed: “When I read a review now, I focus less on, Is it a good book or a bad book? takeaway and more, What aspects of the book are you celebrating or criticizing here, and are those things important to me as a reader?“
the final review
Overall, reviews of traditional publications will continue to be important to publishers, authors, and readers. There is an established history that works in the ecosystem of publishing, selling and buying books.
On the other hand, Book Riot will always be a place to find more lists of exciting similar titles and book nerds who care about their favorite genres and upcoming new releases.