Reviewers are a necessary part of selling a children's book. A good review can help launch a book; a bad one can tank a book. With zillions of blogs willing to do a review, what do you look for when choosing a reviewer?
What do you want in a reviewer?
Great experience--Bad experience?
What can they do better?
1. Someone who can read the book and understand what it's about. (Even children's books can be misunderstood.)
2. Someone who writes well, because that helps, even if it's just a short review.
3. Someone willing to post one version of the review on their blog and another, shorter version, on Amazon.
I like number three. One review on the reviewer's site and a shorter version on Amazon, etc.
Do you like the reviewer to post to more than Amazon? Say Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Jacketflap (for kids books), Random Buzzers (for tweens and teens), and The Red Room, to name a few?
Does this extended posting matter? Would this influence your choice of reviewer?
What should they do with your book when finished? Is this important?
The more sites, the better. But there is a limit to what any one reviewer can be reasonably expected to do.
The book is theirs to keep. If they share it with a friend who may also write a review, that would be great. Selling it on eBay is tacky, but it happens sometimes, and it's their right.
Review books have been sold on eBay?! That is tacky, and then some.
Would it influence your decision if the reviewer were passing the books on to a library? Given that the book is not an ARC.
Is there anything a reviewer could be doing that would have you looking favorably on them?
I know reviewing is important and getting one in a short amount of time can be hard. They say they have so many to do and they'll get to it. Are reviews done after the release, say a week or two after, are they useful?
Reviews are useful, no matter when they are done. Of course, we want to have some in place on the release date, but staggering some of them out over a period of time so as to generate new interest is not a bad idea.
Donating the review copy to a library would be great, if the library actually accepts the donation and shelves and catalogs the book, But most libraries don't. They only shelve and catalog books they themselves have ordered.
That may have been the policy at one time, but it is no longer true. With the budget cuts libraries have suffered, they cannot buy the number of books they once did. The children's department lost more acquisition money that the adult, so the kids area is getting less new books. Library's need those donated books.
The public library in my city does take and shelve donated books from anyone, they always have. I buy a book, read it and then give it to the library, and they have put them on the shelf. If the reviewer gives them something inappropriate, yes they are not going to shelve it. But if the book is good, they would be stupid to hold to some idealistic policy that their buyers are the only ones who know what to buy for the kids.
So it would be a great idea if reviewers gave them to the library. How many book blog reviewers are doing a review simply for the book? Many of those reviewers (I do not know any reviewers motivations for reviewing) may be the ones putting the one paragraph review or only regurgitate what someone else has already said.
I have a librarian friend in California. She let me know that one of the library's patrons expressed an interest in one of the books published by Inverted-A Press. I offered to send a free copy to the library, in the hopes that all the library's patrons would have access to the book, not just the one who expressed an interest. But my librarian friend warned me that if I donated the book, it would in all likelihood not get shelved. This was a recent event.
In the past, I had experiences of my own with both municipal and university libraries that did the same. The books in question were not "inappropriate", but they were independently published.
Wow, I would think it would not matter the publisher if the book was good. That seems like a form of censorship. I guess I am lucky my library does not do that.
I have given them books from traditional publishers, best sellers and from authors and presses I had never heard of, but bought based on a friends recommendation. They are all there for anyone to take out.
Just because a book is independently or small press published, people should have the ability to find those at the library. The library is suppose to be a depository of books, not a gatekeeper.
Yes, you are lucky that your library is so open.
So far I've only sent my latest novel, Maya and the Crystal Skull, to reviewers who are associated with national newspapers, magazines and newsletters or their respective blogs. As you say, there are zillions of blogs willing to do reviews and I'm not convinced of their value - yet. For me, at this stage, I need to know my review with feature in a newspaper, magazine, newsletter or blog with a large target audience.
Thanks for sharing and good luck with your new book! If you were to choose a reviewer/blogger, where would you go to find one, and what criteria would you use in choosing the right one for you?
Do you ask other writers, go to a blog directory, look around after Googling?
Thanks for the "good luck" wishes. To be honest, I have no idea where to find a good reviewer/blogger. My publishers usually organize reviews of my children's books. Times are changing, though. With my latest novel, I'm following my publishers by approaching reviewers who are associated with national newspapers, magazines and newsletters or their respective blogs. If I'm going to choose a reviewer/blogger, I'd ask other writers, go to blog directories and look around after Googling. My main criteria would be exposure - that is, the number of people who might read the review. This is new territory for me. In the past 13 years, I only worried about writing. Now I'm focusing on sales, marketing and promotion as well. Just shows there's always something to learn in life.