Friday, August 24, 2007

How To Get Your Book Reviewed

It’s not true that all book reviewers hate self-published books. I speak for myself and will give any author a chance for alternative opinion. Authors, you can get your book reviewed, but I will caution you to be astute and choose well. You should research the market and be on the lookout for reviewers that truly understand the craft of writing, and those that can be most fair in their assessment. Of course, there are other things that you should look for, including credibility and their reputation. There’s a rumor circulating that self-published authors have a hard time getting their books reviewed. This may be true to some lesser degree, but I will go on record to say that the majority of reviewers to not share that sentiment, especially in the African-American literary Diaspora where self-publishing is a healthy alternative. Other persuasions may feel this way in light of the fact that they are mainstream, and a different set of rules apply.

In our world self-publishing is so inexpensive and so accessible, that publishing this way is affordable and best when the majors are restrictive in whom they let in their doors. Regardless of the deep-seated sentiments of the mainstream relative to reviewers dismissing self-published authors, they are accepted and can get reviews from the major reviewers catering to them. And it has definitely been worth the effort of late, especially in certain genre’s namely the Urban Fiction class. The industry is slow to change, and will allow status quo to usually dictate modus operandi as long as readers are buying what they want to read. Bookstores and libraries still rely heavily on the reviews in the major book review journals, online, and what is given to book clubs. If you get a good review in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, BookList, RAWSISTAS, or The Romer Review, you will probably get high visibility, and the publicity factor will eventually set in for readers to find what they are looking for – and the book review is key!

What must an author do to get reviewed? You get your book reviewed by using savvy ploys to solicit your work. I always look for visual things in choosing the books I review. I like for authors to present me with a good press kit and a plan! Making your book available to review journals, and soliciting to have it inclusive to viable review outlets can mean the difference in your readers knowing what is available, who you are, and why you write as you do. In my opinion, there really is no such thing as a bad review. And many bookstores and libraries just automatically order any book that is reviewed by the majors. In many cases, depending on the subject matter and niche, you’ll sell a great deal more than expected with a good favorable review. And if you follow up that review with formidable publicity campaign that should include a high-quality direct mailing initiative to bookstores and/or libraries, quoting the review. So it’s definitely worth pursuing a quality reviewer and be part of these review journals.

There are caveats, however that you should always consider. Your chances of getting a review, at face value, can be rather dismal when all the factors are in place. The key is understanding the industry and what you are up against. When you take in consideration how many books are being published, you will be cognizant of how the numbers can be for and against you. Not everyone can be in position to have his or her books reviewed by Publishers Weekly. My research indicate that Library Journal, and others, reviews closer to 15% -20%. Yet, other factors are considered when decisions to pick your book for review. If you have a quality book—with good information, good writing, a nice looking interior design, and a well-designed cover—you can get your book reviewed. Besides the quality of the book, what’s important in getting your book reviewed is the timing. Most authors dismiss certain protocol for review policy & procedure. I know that a few review journals will only consider reviewing books that have not already been published; they feel that it’s a certain advantage to have books that are not yet available, books that are not yet in the marketplace. This way, publishers know that they must be sure to get their advance reading copies, or galleys to reviewers well in advance of the official publication date when the finished book will be available. I personally love to receive my galleys at least three to six months earlier.

I find that most self-publishers especially, don’t have stronger marketing plan upon submitting their books. The higher your chances of being reviewed are to have a plan of action to market it adequately. Let’s face it, because the review journals know that if you present a powerhouse marketing plan and seem to be prepared, you boost your chances of selling the book exponentially—and they want to make sure they review books that are going to sell well. So make your package stand out, have press kits well garnered with the appropriate information. Give your book the best graphic design possible, make sure the typesetter has done his/her job, and that you’ve chosen a credible editor.

Describe the highlights of your marketing and advertising plan in your cover letter, or on the bound galley itself. It’s imperative to get those galleys to the reviewers three to six months before publication. Getting reviews can be challenging and daunting at times because of the nature of the industry, and the fact that everyone thinks that they can render a good review. But despite certain flaws in the system, you as an author must have a business sense, and a flair for discernible options to help your cause. You must pay attention to the rules, and make sure the reviewer understand your writing style. They must also themselves know how to write. Choosing the right reviewer often will spell the difference between success and failure. Do your homework; learn as much as you can by watching trends. Do this and the bottom line will pay dividends for the good effort you put in for it to be a benefit to you.

The Romer Review, Write On! Literary Services © copyright 2001-2007

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Welcome Back!

Barrington, Your dream crystallized in your mind for quite some time. You first broached the subject to your family, and they never discouraged you. With this support and confidence you took your idea to those that had deep pockets that would give you the financial backbone to carry it forth. Despite a few stumbling blocks and minor obstacles along the way, you persevered. You never allowed doubt and people who said you couldn't reach your dream deter you from looking ahead.

And in the process you let everyone who wanted to hear that it would only be a matter of time. Opa Locka airport never would be the same as you and your throng of well wishers came out en masse for the genesis of your attempt to be the first and youngest of your race to fly around the world. We were with you every step of the way as we monitored you at each stop...even concerned when you ran out of money and had to wire home for funds; or when you weathered storms trying to get to each point; and even when you had delays, which lengthened the trip, some.

As the days rolled on, we felt more butterflies as anxiety inched up the ante for your return. Young people the world over were giving the high five sign and grinning from ear to ear knowing that history was being made, and that a person that looked liked them were just as proud. You landed finally, and the multitude of people there to great you understood as you circled the airfield twice signaling your presence. We knew that this was your signature, and we saw legibly that it indeed was you! This unique achievement will be there for other triumphs to give our youths a chance to know that they too, can dream. You did it, and we are proud!!

Thank you, ever so much - Alvin C. Romer
To read a related essay, please click onto this link:

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Will This be One the Major AA Stories of 2007?

I would imagine that the small executive airport in Opa-Locka (a small community North of Miami) will be jammed with people wanting to be part of history when Barrington Irving touches down after circling the globe solo - the first African American to do so! I will be there, and so will the boys I mentor. What better way than to serve notice to the youngster what it took, and how things can be done if you have and keep the faith. Perseverance notwithstanding, here's a young adult that endeavored to not be a statistic, one who had dreams and set goals for achieved success. He imagined and was inspired. I will want my kids to let this be a lesson to them. Notice the swagger and air of confidence he shows in this picture.

This is, and will be a positive role model to emulate. My greatest goal is to teach them to think on their feet, strive to be the best, and acquire enough self-esteem to be respected and get the job done. The journey is live, and the quest continues...

Editing With A Purpose

The editing bug has bitten and its significance has left a permanent mark on my psyche and muse. I contemplated long and hard whether I wanted to extend my time, patience, and expertise to this phase of literary priority. I have been approached quite a few times in the past to do so but I always found some handy excuse to nix the idea. Well, here's a prime example of Providence being the force behind illumination and destiny. To date, I've edited three manuscripts that ultimately will be three of a multitude of published work by people of color in the industry.

I want to edit with a purpose and be stylistically true to the craft, and establish credibility.
How does that make me feel? I've come to realize that God has given and expanded a talent I have to share with others. I feel confident that I can shoulder the nuances that tend to color this realm of the territory without compromising good intent. Though I'm grateful and give Him all the glory, I humble myself in this regard to be in position to have others have discernment to make the right choice in me.

The joy I get from seeing my work being manifested to another level is proof of the confidence I have in myself to not allow arrogance to be the progenitor of me doing it on my own. My web presence and The
Romer Review is the seed that started it all, and through it I will continue my quest for a successful journey up literature's meandering rivers.