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A simple way to become known, hobnob with bestselling authors, and garner reviews for your book

June 17, 2012

by L. Dean Murphy

Five decades ago, my father first saw his name in print—in an obituary as the surviving spouse.

There’s a less lugubrious way for aspiring writers to see their names in print: Review books for the online review venue Bookreporter.com, or interview authors for The Big Thrill, a monthly publication produced by International Thriller Writers.

About reviewing online

The advantage to writing for online venues is that each item is permanently on the Internet and can be posted on your website or sent as a link via email. When querying agents or editors, it’s easier to send links than PDF attachments. Print publications offer limited opportunity for readers to see your reviews, and many in the publishing world won’t open attachments because of potential viruses. Some automatically reject messages with attachments or those that consume too much memory.

Online review venues generally don’t pay for a writer’s work, but often send novels written by bestselling authors at no cost long before official publication dates. Those editions are called ARCs, Advance Reading Copies. I received FWA Person of Renown Julie Compton’s Rescuing Olivia months prior to the release date in 2010, and it was one of my Top Ten Picks that year. Meeting Compton at a book signing later led to my FWA membership.

For Bookreporter and The Big Thrill, I interviewed four times and reviewed as many books by R.J. Ellory, the international bestselling author of intense crime fiction. Ellory will be the next Person of Renown and Celebrity Author at the FWA Conference, and host the Florida Writers Foundation preconference seminar on October 18.

Becoming a reviewer

It’s easy to publish a book review. Open Bookreporter.com. At the bottom of the page under FAQ/Help, click on Become a Reviewer. Complete the form and paste your review specimen. It’s best to read the target publication, and limit the sample review to 300 words.

At ThrillerWriters.org, click on the Contact page, and select Volunteer. Choose Big Thrill Contributing Editor and submit the completed form. Each month at TheBigThrill.org, a score of interviews and thumbnail reviews are under Hot Off The Press. At the Home page, click About ITW for information to join a group of dedicated authors that includes Mary Burton, R.J. Ellory, and Julie Compton. ITW features its members’ new releases on The Big Thrill, and seeks contributing editors to write those features. Contributing editors are ITW members with two classifications: Active and Associate. Active status is for authors of books released by an ITW-approved publishing house, and there are no fees for those members. Associate members have not yet had books published and there are annual dues. Membership is required for any ITW contributions.

The mission statement says it all. “ITW was never intended to be a writers’ organization like most others. We are a group of published writers who have banded together to promote our genre in an innovative, effective way, to support and encourage each other, and to promote literacy in a world increasingly unfriendly to the reading of books. Asking members for dues is inconsistent with that mission.”

Check it out

Bookreporter and ITW are premier online venues for publishing your reviews and interviews and honing skills as a writer. Both are excellent arenas for promoting your published books, and their websites have instructions to submit ARCs for consideration. Writing reviews and interviews before your novel is published exposes your name to readers and increases chances of having your novel featured. It’s called Writers Helping Writers.

What are your writing goals? Will writing reviews help you attain them?

For additional information, contact FWA Lifetime Member Dean Murphy at Dean@DeanMurphy.net.

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