How to Find Books to Review

Keeping up with a theme from last week, I thought I’d provide some tips on how to locate books you might pitch to editors for reviews before the books have actually been published. Because if you want to publish reviews in magazines, newspapers, and quite a number of Web sites that look for fresh content, you generally need to be working ahead. (Literary journals, which tend to publish less frequently, aren’t necessarily always looking to time their reviews with a book’s release.)

Here are a few ways to find out about forthcoming books:

1) Publishers Weekly’s “announcement” editions. The Fall 2009 announcements issue (for books for adults) was printed last week. Here’s a guide to upcoming hardcovers featured in the magazine. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen the print version of this issue, but I recall lots of very informative publishers’ ads tipping me off to review possibilities, too.

2) Publishers’ catalogs. Since I’m partial to university presses, I’ve been looking at the fall/winter 2009 offerings from those publishers. I count on the Association of American University Press’s member directory to get me started each season. You might also want to investigate independent presses and/or the “big” houses.

3) This is a bit complicated, but bear with me. You can also find not-yet-published books by strategically searching a mega-site like By browsing within a “Books” category (say, “Literature & Fiction,” further narrowed to “Short Stories”), you reach a page that allows you to sort results by publication date. The first book to show up will be the one slated for the latest publication date in the system. By reading the listing, you’ll see who is publishing the book, and therefore you’ll know where to go to request a review copy. (Be careful, because paperback releases of books initially published in hardcover will show up as new books, and in my experience, editors tend not to be so interested in publishing reviews of paperbacks that aren’t initially released in that format.)

These are my three “favorite” strategies for finding books to review. What are yours?

4 thoughts on “How to Find Books to Review

  1. Christine is vegetarian. says:

    Good information! I'm just getting started with book reviews, and it's nice to have additional resources laid out for me. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Brigid says:

    Communication with publishers and their PR agencies is key as well. Once you get on their mailing lists, they will alert you well in advance of new books. I review graphic novels and manga, which is a small world, but I have been expanding the genres that I review lately. Whenever I go to a convention or talk to anyone in the business, I give them a card and ask to be put on their mailing list for press releases. Whenever one of my reviews is published, I send an e-mail to the editor or PR person to let them know.

    Distributors and retailers also know what's coming well in advance. I talk to them regularly in the course of covering the business, and I have found them to be invaluable resources.

    Finally, if there's a book or library convention in your area that's open to the general public, go! Everyone is pushing their new products, and you can pick up catalogs, exchange business cards, and maybe get some free samples or a nice tote bag. If you can cover it for a local paper or other publication, and get a press badge, you will save the cost of admission and, more importantly, authors and agents will be more likely to talk to you. But even without it, conventions are worth the time and money just because you learn so much.

  3. Erika D. says:

    Thanks for the comments. And Brigid, your suggestions are terrific.

  4. deonne kahler says:

    Thanks to Brigid and Erika for the useful info! Erika, in a future post could you talk about how to get started connecting with markets for these reviews (in addition to your ebook, natch)?

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