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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It Is So-o-o Hard to Get a Book Reviewed

FLASH: March 27, 2012. Brute Heart finally gets the review listed in right-hand column.

While I was still writing Brute Heart, I would sometimes catch myself imagining the thrill of reading my book reviewed in one of the local newspapers. Sometimes that thrill would turn to dread when I envisioned a review that ripped my book apart, but I still wanted the feedback. My wildest dreams were not wild enough to expect a review in the New York Times or even The Oregonian, however I did believe the Klamath Falls Herald and News and Bend's paper, The Bulletin, would print one since most of the story takes place in Klamath Falls and because I'm a long-time resident of Bend. How naive I was! Local newspapers simply do not have staffs large enough to read and review books by local authors or even established authors as exemplified by the bylines (New York Times News Service, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, etc.) that accompany the few book reviews found in most of today's local newspapers.

Lee Juillerat, Regional Editor for the Herald and News, did publish a wonderful article announcing my book signing at Borders, but no review, even though he read the book. After reading his article I asked him what he thought of Brute Heart and he replied, "I did enjoy the book. Found myself reading longer into the evenings than I intended to find what came next. I appreciated that your story wasn't strictly formula and that you took some risks, which made the story far more involving. Nicely done." And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the closest thing to a professional review I have thus far received.

So, what about book signings or readings? I thought surely local newspapers would write articles announcing such events, but other than the Herald and News, that has not been the case, in fact the Medford Mail Tribune told me their policy excludes book signings but does cover readings as long as the author lives in their area or has a strong national following. Other papers announce readings and signings in teensy blurbs found in community calendars, "This Weekend's Events," etc.--lists that include the bare minimum of facts and appear in obscure sections or supplements.

When the Central Oregonian, Prineville's newspaper, ignored my press release announcing a book signing and reading at Book 'N Bean, I wrote an article titled, "There's a Book in You" for Horsefly, a free monthly with a similar reach. Although the overt purpose of the article was to encourage people to write those stories that had been floating around in their heads for years, I was able to plug Brute Heart several times and include the date, place and time for my Prineville book signing. This technique can also be used with a larger newspaper by writing an op ed (an article that includes your opinions and appears opposite the editorial page) on some topic related to the theme(s) in your book. You can either refer to your book within the article itself or include it in your signage, for example: by Ginger Dehlinger, author of Brute Heart.

In summation, my advice is to have realistic expectations but keep sending those press releases. You might get lucky if your press release includes a well-written synopsis that the paper can print without having to edit it. Submit your own articles or opinion pieces, and don't overlook niche publications that may be more receptive to smart material that fills pages and provides reader interest.

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