I recently asked a question of many of the publicists who are kind enough to float review copies of books towards the EWN. The reason for my question stems from a couple of recent reviews and some events of my own.
I have had three different publicists recently all but make me promise I would not review the book I was requesting before the publication date, before they would agree to send a copy to me. As I am perpetually behind, I did not see the problem in promising.
Then the recent reviews were read. The NYTBR revieweed Susan Straight's new novel, A Million Nightingales, a couple of weeks ago. The review made the book sound great, plus I already like Straight's work. As I was skimming the NYTBR in a Borders, I immediately went to the new fiction section. No dice. So, I went to the literature section, S section. Again, no copies. I threw the information into their wonderful little computer system and was surprised to find out that the book in question would not even be published until the following Tuesday.
The most recent issue of Bookforum has a fine review of Charles D'Ambrosio's short story collection, Dead Fish Museum, due out April 16th. I picked this issue up on March 30th (though it is the April issue).
So I asked these many fine publicists if these status heavy reviewing forums were ignoring the same requests I had been getting? Or was there not a standard policy all potential reviewers are asked to adhere to in terms of when a review will appear in comparison to when the book will be available for purchase?
Some were kind enough to reply and not care that I passed along their comments (after the bump).
Okay so. In general, we publicists want reviews to run around the time, or after, a book goes on sale in stores. This not only makes the most sense for the author & publisher but for any given publication's readership as well - it's not really fair to an EWN or NYTBR or Cat Fancy reader, whatever the case or tastes may be, to tell him or her all about a book that he/she actually cannot buy yet.
Personally, I do gently request that editors/reviewers save their reviews for this publication time period (I ask this neutrally, non-agressively, in the text of my galley letter only) but I don't take it any farther than that. Sorry to hear that you've had run ins with the more fascist breed of publicist lately! But I actually don't mind a handful of things running early, since - in theory at least - it could help start a snowball sort of effect, help build momentum and excitement, especially in a situation where a beloved author has a new book coming out, and I want all that author's readers to know it is coming. I suppose it's a fine balance between early excitement and too-early-excitement that turns into frustration when the reader makes a trip to the store and leaves empty handed.
Lastly BookForum is an unfair example because they are a monthly magazine - of course any monthly magazine in their April issue wants to cover any and all books coming out in April, whether that is April 1 or 16, like with Charlie's new collection. But of course the April issue of BookForum will be on stands for several weeks, including the time period when Charlie's book does come out, so, well, there it is.
Hope this helps! All the best,
Jynne Martin - Director of Publicity - Random House
We try to have all reviews come out on or shortly after the pub date, but we appreciate any coverage, even if it does happen before the book is ready. There are a few journals, primarily, Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, that put their reviews out pre-pub, but they are catering to folks that need to know what's coming in the future. Most reviewers do tend to be conscious of the pub date though, and I can't say we've had too much trouble.
I hope this is helpful,
Nickole Brown - Director of Marketing and Publicity - Sarabande Books
No - not unless there is a very large gap between pub date and the date that the review runs. Generally speaking, it is nice to have the review run right at pub date so that readers can purchase the book immediately. It is also beneficial to the book to have reviews run in advance of pub date, as it builds buzz for the book.
Does that make sense? Maybe I'm wrong, but I think we're happy to have a review run whenever a publication can fit it in.
Mary Matze - Publicist - Graywolf Press
I think we all ask for pub date reviews ... can't imagine there is a double standard. Some folks just review late ... and we're grateful for any review, whenever it appears!
Caitlin Hamilton Summie - Director of Marketing and Publicity - Unbridled Books
For us, it doesn't matter when a review runs. if we have it early we can use it as leverage to intrigue and entice other potential reviewers/writers. if we have it after/around the pub date it only helps get us more attention. Just as long as it's not several months ahead of the pub date (and therefore forgettable, having fallen off the radar) we're happy to have a review anytime.
Hope this helps,
Julie Burton - Director of Publicity - MacAdam/Cage
I think it is standard convention for publishing trade media, and the major newspaper book sections, to time reviews as close to publication date as possible -- but reviews often appear sooner. They do typically note the month of publication in the review, which is helpful to readers who may look for the book in stores or online. We send out galleys 4 months prior to pub date, and have never told anyone they must hold a reviw until the exact date of publication. In today's world of shrinking book coverage, we're grateful to have the books noticed, and pre-publication reviews help add to buzz for the book. Because of the huge amount of new books coming out each month, I imagine it would be impossible to stick completely to pub dates -- they would have to have some leeway.
In a quick check of reviews for some of our spring titles, the reviews appear in issues from one to two full months prior to publication month -- with some falling in the same month of publication. The early ones have not presented a probelm for us. The same goes for electronic media -- we appreciate reviews any time we can get them.
I hope this is helpful,
An anonymous university press publicist
So, what do you readers think? How much does it bother you to read a review and then find you cannot get the book for a day or two, or a week? Any? Or do you prefer the advance notice?