A Letter to Aspiring Book Reviewers A Blog Series

 

3: Finding Your First Book To Review

We all want to start off with a bang. It’s fun and a little exciting to launch a blog. It’s fun to start out in any new venture. Naturally, as a reviewer you’ll want to start, not with just a good book, but with a great book! You certainly won’t want to start with just any book. But how do you find the perfect book for your launch?

 

Certainly there are many ways to find books to review. You can pick one at random, but that won’t necessarily serve your purpose. There are paid and unpaid resources you can use. You can ask friends for suggestions, you can sign up for web services like net-galley, or you can page your way through Amazon or even spend an afternoon at your local bookstore. It’s up to you. For the sake of this series, I’ll walk you through one possible route from the initial search through to the published review. We’ll explore using Goodreads to reach out to authors and get some “leads.” I’ll explain why I call them “leads” in just a moment. First, let’s get started with Goodreads.

  1. Go to Goodreads and make sure your profile is filled out. Be sure that you include a link to your blog.
  1. Now go to “Community” and choose “Groups” from the menu. Do a search for the keywords specific to your needs. For example, if you want to review science fiction novels, you might include that genre in your search. You might also search “Reviews wanted” or simply “Reviewer.” Poke around until you find the review groups associated with the genres and demographics you like.
  2. When you find a few groups that suit you, follow each of the group’s rules for posting. Most allow you to simply start an “Available to Review” thread in a discussion set aside for that purpose. Draft up a post, tell the authors watching such threads what you are looking for and include instructions on how to contact you. I suggest you link it to the“contact” page at your blog and you’re done. If you are using Kindle Unlimited, be sure to include a statement stating that you are looking only for books that are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited (don’t worry, there are lots) and be certain to request that the author or publisher include the link to the book’s Amazon page.
  3. Post.

Watch what happens.

Typically, within twenty four hours you’ll likely have fifty messages from authors and publishers all offering you free books. Even if you’ve stated clearly that you are interested only in books that are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, still, they’ll offer you free books. Within forty eight hours you might very well have over a hundred responses. Why? Because readers don’t tend to buy books unless reviewers answer the questions we talked about in the previous posts. All authors need reviews. All publishers want their authors to have reviews. They need as many as they can get, and the responses won’t stop there. Over a matter of a few days, the number of requests you receive will continue to climb. I’ve seen posts that are years old, and those reviewers are still getting new requests from authors and publishers.

That’s a lot to sort through. Welcome to the job. It begins now.

Earlier I referred to these replies as “leads.” They are a place to start. You should consider the replies to be a list of books with some potential to get you started. Many of them will be new releases, many of them will have no reviews at all, others will have been available for some time, and some may even be “new editions” of previously released works. Any one of them may well be an amazing and mind-blowing work. It’s now time to explore and to find your good, great or mind-blowing first book to review.

In the next post, “Choosing Your First Book to Review” I’ll discuss sorting through all those requests to help you find the best book to review and to launch your career.

-J

Suggestion: Before you post, look through the other “Available to Review” posts and read them. Look at the information the reviewer provides regarding genre and demographic and submission requirements. Imagine you are an author and what questions you might have when looking for a reviewer. Consider how those posts might have been improved by providing more information. Look over your own contact form and compare it to other reviewer’s contact pages. What’s Missing? Is there a field for the book’s Amazon Page on your contact form? If not add one. You’ll need it. The more organized your contact form, the easier it will be when the requests come flooding in.

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