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Publicity Release-Based Reviews
As a publisher, if you write your own brief review in the form of a publicity release, some
reviewers will incorporate it under their own byline. I'd like to add from a book reviewer's and a
book review editor's perspective some of the reasons why this is so -- and should be so:
- The best one, two or three paragraph publicity releases summarize the contents (nonfiction)
or storyline (fiction) and if done well enough are a wheel that doesn't have to therefore be
reinvented by the reviewer in the crafting of a review for publication or broadcast. What a good
reviewer will do, in addition to using the publicity release in this manner, is to then add a line or
two or three of personal commentary or advice to the reader of the review as to the value or
"recommendability" of the book and the prospective reading public for which the
book would be particularly appropriate.
- Editors of newspapers, newsletters, magazines and journals are on deadlines and must
occasionally resort to "filler" to round out the column of a page, or the page of a
section, or a section of an issue. Currently I have 39 volunteer reviewers (and the same would
hold true for other publications with paid staffs), some of whom wouldn't know a deadline if it
was to bite them on the ankle! So an editor's resorting to incorporating the publisher's publicity
release info is an ideal tactic to use as a fallback measure to getting an issue out on time.
- Still others reviewers are but fledgling in the art and craft of book reviewing and what they
turn in must be augmented by the incorporation of publicity release info. I can't tell you how many
times an ISBN or even a price has been left out of an otherwise perfectly good review. Or that a
reviewer had a comment which would have made a whole lot more sense to a reader if the
reviewer had given a bit more "book content" background, precisely the kind that
good publicity releases provide the reviewer when the editor sends it back for a re-write.
- Publisher-originated publicity releases should be written so as to be able to be printed
verbatim in the pages of a local newspaper or a national newsletter. Think of it this way -- you
were able to reach that one person with the apparently persuasive information of why your book
should be bought, taken home and read. Then the one person you reached was then able to turn
around and provide that same persuasive information to hundreds, perhaps thousands of other
people is a cause for publisher celebration.
And the better crafted your PR the better your chances of that "publicity release chain
reaction" will take place.
Midwest Book Review
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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