Thursday, September 17, 2009

Foreword Accepting Books for Digital Review

Need a review by a big-time, respected reviewer? Consider ForeWord's new (as of this month) review program.

The Need

Libraries and bookstores look primarily to the industry leaders in book reviews. Besides the main book review newspapers (New York Times, LA Times), here's the list:

Booklist (American Library Association)
ForeWord Magazine
Kirkus Reviews
Library Journal
Publishers Weekly
SLJ Book Review (School Library Journal)

So you just submit your book to these organizations and get reviewed, right? Typically, wrong.
An e-mail from ForeWord this week painted the bleak picture. Until this month, ForeWord had only enough space in their magazine to review 5% of the books they received. (To put it another way, we had a 95% chance of rejection. Hey, if there's a 95% chance of rain, it's gonna rain.) Many, many wonderful books simply couldn't make the cut.

The Solution: Offer Digital Reviews to Worthy Books for $99

Since libraries and bookstores tend to search their digital reviews, why not offer authors/publishers an opportunity to get into ForeWord's digital database, which doesn't have their "100 book reviews every two months" restriction? ForeWord thought it was a grand idea. So will many authors and publishers.

How It Works
  • Get the overview here.
  • Mail your book to them (specified to "digital")
  • If they believe the book is up to their quality standards, they'll put it on a page indicating that they'll review it.
  • If and when you see it on that page, let them know you want it reviewed and pay them the $99. (If they don't review you, they refund your $99.)
How Authors Benefit

1. You get a review by a professional reviewer at an organization that's respected in the industry. Use it in all your publicity.
2. "Approved digital reviews will be published at as soon as they are received and edited."
3. "The edited reviews will also be made available to librarians and booksellers at Baker & Taylor’s Title Source III, Ingram’s iPage, Bowker’s Books in Print, and Gale’s licensed databases under the ForeWord Reviews name."

While people who despise change will certainly whine (in King James English) about authors and publishers "paying for reviews," isn't this in reality a win for everyone? Only worthy books get reviewed. Professional reviewers get some money (aren't we looking for ways for professional writers to make money?). Libraries and Bookstores are able to access reviews about many more books.

I say it's a great idea and a good opportunity for serious authors. And if you're a serious writer who was recently downsized from your newspaper job and want to make some extra cash, why not apply for a review job?

What do you think?


  1. Steve,

    A very informative and useful post that I'm sure many people will find helps them through the book tour maze. I've added it to my Twitter flow.

  2. Thanks Jeff! Things move so quickly in the publishing world that by the time a book's published in this field, several important things have changed. That's why we need these blogs and discussion groups!