Monday, February 3, 2014

Wordcraft -- To get your book reviewed, take Tipping’s tips

Joy Tipping
“I have the best job in the world,” Joy Tipping tells Saturday’s meeting of the Mystery Writers of America’s Southwest-Dallas chapter. As the woman who’s written, by a by-line count, six hundred reviews, she’s arrived to tell a roomful of writers how to get the word out about their books. And, surprise--it’s not always by getting a review in a major newspaper.

The bad news, she says, is that chances of getting reviews in a newspaper with the circulation of the Dallas Morning News are vanishingly small. The News receives between 300 and 600 books weekly. From those, it publishes only six to eight full-length reviews each week..

“We give preference to local authors, local settings, Texas authors and Texas books,” Tipping says.

It won’t consider reviewing self-published books, “although,” Tipping says, “I think at some point we're going to have to revisit that policy. That doesn't mean we can't do a feature story about an author.” The News also doesn’t usually review books first published in paperback, although it sometimes makes exceptions for exceptional books.

The good news, though, is that there are more ways than ever of getting reviews in less traditional venues.

Her mantra for anyone seeking publicity is to think local, research newspapers in your region at 

If your hometown is Dallas, contact the News Neighbors Go community sections,, “a great place for feature stories.” Other avenues interested in local writers include Chamber of Commerce publications, alumni newsletters and magazines, society publications, and magazines aimed at particular genres of writing or reading.

And, she says, don’t overlook independent book reviewers, such as the nearly 325 listed in  (Just when I think I've checked everything, I find something I haven't.  This site was originally reported as "indie review," not "indie view," which is indeed up and running.)

And check book review blogs. Her choices out of the hundreds available on the Internet are:

For book blogs specializing in mysteries and thrillers, she likes:

With so many choices, “how do you find a book reviewer that has your specialty and really gets you?” she asks. “Read reviews” to learn the reviewers preferences. (She admits preferring contemporary and historical fiction by women writers, thrillers and horror.)

Once you’re ready to approach potential reviewers, she recommends making first contact by email, with a good subject line that mentions what you’re seeking, and any local or other connection to distinguish it from the dozens (or hundreds) of other emails the reviewer gets daily.

Even if you get turned down for a full length review, ask the publication if it will consider a mini review on its own blog, Tipping says.

And even more important for writers than reviews, Tipping says, is social media. Next Monday, her suggestions for harnessing its potential--and avoiding its pitfalls.

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