Saturday, 22 November 2014

Writing Book Reviews

One of many perks of being a Book section editor is a lot of review books. It's pretty awesome - free book in exchange for about 500 words.

I'm just sharing what I've learnt  from experience so far. There isn't one way to write a book review, so take what you want from this (words are bold so those in a rush can skim. I'm not being patronising!).

Getting review copies
Since student newspapers are small publications, we don't get approached with books unless a student/local is promoting their work. So, I have to request them myself. I believe bigger companies are automatically sent big releases or are give a list of books they can choose from (but don't quote me on that).

'We are the media'
I keep on top of book news, knowing what new releases are coming up and when. Twitter is fantastic for this - I follow authors, publishers and book stores. Authors tend to promote other writers (which is a lovely thing to see happening), so following one writer can lead on to more.

Try and send in your request at the right time - around a month before or after the release date is your bubble. Two months after is pushing it, but can be done.

To contact the right person to contact, search through the book's publisher - not the big publishing house that encompasses many smaller companies. You want THE company. It's important to be very specific - try and email exactly the right person. After all, we're all busy people and they won't appreciate having to forward your email on. The contact details are usually in the press/publicity department (yup, you're press now!), or if it's a company abroad, you might have to locate the international department. Generally, it's not too hard to find the right person, but sometimes - have a big cup of tea next to your.