Getting your book noticed with book reviews

21 Mar
Cover of Sharon A. Crawford's mystery short story collection

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford’s mystery short story collection

There is creative reading as well as creative writing.

–          Ralph Waldo Emerson

Even before your book goes to market you need to stake out possible book review sources. That applies for trade published books, self-published books whether in e-copy, print or both. Often you are ignored but sometimes serendipity steps in and you get a review or two or three, etc.

That happened to me – twice – and from the same event last year. My short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point had a publisher and I had a copy of the contract. But the contract wasn’t signed as I headed into the Bloody Words Conference last June in Toronto. My publisher’s instructions were: get the word out about your book and get some book reviews.

I did it –couldn’t shut up about it even though I felt a little strange doing it all so far in advance of publication. The first reviewer freelanced mystery book reviews for a daily paper from a neighbouring city – Hamilton, Ontario. Before I even got more than my name and I had a book coming out he asked, “So you want a review?” And he took down the particulars. The mini-review came out in print and online December 22, 2012 in The Hamilton Spectator at–mini-reviews  (scroll down, it’s the second book reviewed and the newspaper, in error, left out the reviewer’s byline. It’s Don Graves).

The other review is the big serendipity one, thanks to persistence in networking. The book reviewer for Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine – one of the biggies for publishing short stories from mystery authors from around the world (the magazine is published in the United States) was a guest panelist at Bloody Words and also sat at the head table for the banquet. I missed talking to him after his panel gig, but on his way out after the banquet I “accosted” him (read: stopped him, introduced myself and my upcoming book and asked for a review). He gave me his business card and the name of  Jon Breen, the freelancer who does an annual review roundup of anthologies and short story collections. I gave him my card and thanked him. I did have to do a follow-up email to get the email address of the other book reviewer.

Then I emailed the other reviewer my pitch.

And he was interested. So my publisher sent him a pdf. It’s paid off. Recently  my publisher emailed me that he had received the hard copy proofs for that part of the May 2013 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. A mini-review by Jon Breen of Beyond the Tripping Point  appears in it. It’s already available online at Scroll way down – it is there, 12th in the list of books . And it links to

Those two make up for the nonsense trying to get a review in the big Toronto dailies and Quill & Quire, the Canadian publishers’ Bible. The Toronto Star got as far as email communication between me (initiated by me) and back with the reviewer who does mini-reviews of new arrivals. That didn’t happen despite me bringing the book down to her office in person. Some of us authors joked about the supposed big room where the Star stashes all the unreviewed books that come in before disposing of them – and how they do so was pure speculation.

So, what is an author to do to get a review? Besides this combination in-person and pseudo-social media and yes, social media, too, with the latter we can review each others’ books. If like me you have an author profile with your book on, Goodreads, etc. this can be done. Just troll the sites to see who’s there. What about other bloggers you follow? You can also at least get interviews about your book on other authors’ blogs. You can do book review trades with other authors – they read and review your book; you do the same for theirs and both of you post your review on whatever social media you can. I’m currently doing this with another very prolific writer, Paul Lima, reading and reviewing his book on Writer’s Block and he’s doing the same with Beyond the Tripping Point. My publisher sent him a Kindle copy of my book and Paul sent me a pdf of his book as that’s what I requested.

So, next week we will revisit Writer’s Block with my review of Paul Lima’s book Unlock Writer’s Block. Paul has some very creative ways to get around this bane of writers.

Then I will have to follow my other advice above – start trolling Goodreads, Linked In groups, etc. to do and get more reviews. And in case anyone is interested in doing and posting a review of my book there or on, let me know. I have Kobo and pdf copies and can get the Kindle one from my publisher. And if you have a book published let me know and I might just review it.Of course, remember the unwritten rule for doing book reviews. The book is free of charge to the reviewer

For my upcoming events with Beyond the Tripping Point, go to my BTTP page on my website – I continually update it.

This evening (March 21, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.) I moderate an author publisher panel featuring Andrew J. Borkowski,  the 2012 Toronto Book Award winner for his short story collection Copernicus Avenue and his publisher Marc Coté of Cormorant Books. This panel is at a meeting of the Canadian Authors Association Toronto Branch – more details at

Next Thursday, March 28, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. I talk about where my characters come from and read from Beyond the Tripping Point  at the Leaside Branch of the Toronto Public Library. (See the above BTTP link for more details.)


Sharon A. Crawford


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2 responses to “Getting your book noticed with book reviews

  1. Toe Hallock

    March 22, 2013 at 3:28 am

    Sharon A: To me this is pretty exciting stuff. Jon L. Breen reviewing your book in EQMM. For those who don’t know, his monthly reviews appear in a feature titled “The Jury Box.” You are in there with a lot of big names. How cool is that? Yours truly, Toe.

  2. Sharon A. Crawford

    March 22, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Hi Toe:

    Thanks. Yes, it’s very cool and an honour.

    Networking pays.


    Sharon A.


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