The New Book Review

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Leslie C. Halpern Reviews How-To Book for Writers

Title: How to Get Great Reviews Frugally and Ethically
Subtitle: The Ins and Outs of Using Free Reviews to Build and Sustain a Writing Career
Series: HowtoDoItFrugally Series for Writers, Volume 3
Author: Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Publisher: Createspace 
ISBN: 9781536948370 (Oct. 2016)
Genre: Nonfiction/How-To/Writing

Reviewed by Leslie C. Halpern originally for

Many writers possess only a vague idea of how reviews sell books or establish an author’s brand. Former marketer/publicist Carolyn Howard-Johnson provides a definitive 340-page guide explaining why authors need reviews, how to find reviewers, sending books out for review,’s role in reviews, building a platform based on reviews, writing reviews, planning a media kit, and other essential tools for successfully launching a book and enjoying future sales.

Divided into six sections and 15 chapters – plus appendices with resources and sample letters – the text allows for skipping around from chapter to chapter. Anywhere in the writing process, from idea development to years after publication, authors can find advice for acquiring or using reviews to help promote sales. For instance, Howard-Johnson recommends organizing a list of potential reviewers long before publication, and assigning codes to them. “NAT for national media; LOC for local; LIB for libraries; BKST for bookstores; CAT for catalogs; BLOG for bloggers; and, of course, BIG REV for the prestigious, sought-after journals (the ones with firm deadlines and submission guidelines); and RDR REV for readers, bloggers, and others who are more interested in the content of a book than the press it’s printed on or the year of the copyright.”

She suggests different ideas for renewing interest in titles long after publication. One of these ideas involves contacting reviewers who wrote about previous books when a new book is about to be released. Remind these reviewers what they wrote before and suggest they review the upcoming book. This practice not only helps the author secure more reviews, but shows the reviewer their work is valued and appreciated. She also recommends sending thank you notes and/or gifts to reviewers afterward (but never before, as it would look like a bribe).

There’s also a chapter on writing reviews, because authors are often called upon to reciprocate. This chapter includes information on writing professional reviews, writing for online bookstores, and writing ten-best reads lists. Novice authors should read the entire book in the order it was written, but experienced authors may prefer to pick and choose specific areas where they lack knowledge or previous success. Whatever the level of experience, however, anyone who plans to write a book can benefit.


Leslie C. Halpern is a poet, author, and essayist with more than 4,000 published articles and ten published books. Her most recent book release is titled "Scantily Clad Truths" (2018) and contains a collection of personal essays. Her other recent titles include “200 Love Lessons from the Movies" and the children's book "Silly Sleepytime Poems." Winner of the Grand Prize for Essay Writing from Mentor & Protege and the Gwendolyn Brooks Writers Association Editor’s Award for Poetry, her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies including Encore Prize Poems 2018, The Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies, Revelry, and Other Orlandos. As an entertainment journalist, she wrote for The Hollywood Reporter, Daily Variety, and Orlando Sentinel, and currently writes a blog called “Seen It, Done It, Reviewed It,” located on her website at
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 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

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