A Horribly Honest Note From A Reviewer To Authors

Reading & Writing


Dear fellow authors, as my cupboard silts up with soon-to-be-published novels to consider for reviewing, here are a few observations culled from my fellow reviewers that may shock you.

1. Don’t let your PR team stick a roundel on the cover calling you ‘The New Jo Nesbo’ – it’s wrong and offensive, to ¬†Nesbo, for dismissing him, to you, for throwing unnecessary expectations on the book, and to us reviewers, for being regarded as morons.

2. Don’t let your publisher put you in a giant format paperback and not provide the reviewer with an online version. We can’t carry you about and we probably won’t review you.

3. Don’t let your PR send the book out two weeks before the publication date – no reviewer will be able to get through their workload in time to cover you.

4. Don’t let your publisher pretend you’re something you’re not, and get them to ditch the superlatives. We actively avoid them.

5. Make the cover of your ARC interesting, braver, stranger – it’s not for consumption by the general public but by those in the industry. No more sans-serif block type with an alley or a field or a tree on the front, or volumes in publishers’ house style – books with identikit covers get binned.

6. Give us a reason to read you. ‘An enthralling new series about an alcoholic Glaswegian cop’ isn’t going to cut it.

7. Don’t let your PR tell us how many Twitter followers you have. We’re reviewers – we don’t care.

8. Don’t give us the author’s life story – there’s barely enough room to cover the book itself now, and celebrity author pieces are on the wane.

9. Tell us if it’s a debut novel – books that come in series are usually established enough not to need coverage for every volume.

10. I’m a crime reviewer but I’ll cover SF if it has a crime element – get your publishers to think outside of the demographic range and surprise us occasionally!

One comment on “A Horribly Honest Note From A Reviewer To Authors”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    What clear and sensible advice! I’ve seen those ARC neutral colour covers with plain lettering and why would anyone want even to open them? I’ve also seen the stickers on published books and wondered if they thought we have to have more of the same, but then as ordinary readers it would probably pull in at least a few more potential readers. Would you really not read/review a general fiction novel, Chris? The debut novel is a bit of a pig in a poke, though, isn’t it? You could find yourself wading through pages of peculiar prose that leads nowhere just as you might find it to be “this generation’s Dickens”.

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