Book Reviews in Magazines

There’s always something new to learn about the book promotion business.

Over the last bank holiday I went away for the weekend and picked up a lovely free glossy magazine in one of the cafes. It had lots of interesting pieces about the surrounding area, a page of readers’ poems and a book review page. On the review page was an interview with a local author who suggested that writers struggling to get traditionally published could, instead, make their work available on Kindle.

I saw this as an opportunity to contact the editor, agree with the local author’s advice, suggest that the aspiring writers in the magazine’s readership might be interested in Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners and ask if it could be included on the magazine’s book review page.

The editor replied and agreed that my book would be of interest to the readers … and that the cost of inclusion on the review page would be £100.

I was quite taken aback, not having realised that there was a charge to appear on magazine book review pages. But on reflection, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. A magazine book review is like an advert and we expect to pay for advertising. It’s common knowledge that publishers pay for display space in the major book shop chains – so they probably don’t mind paying for magazine review space.

I politely replied to the editor, confessed my ignorance and didn’t go ahead with the review because I wasn’t sure it would generate enough sales to pay for itself. The editor did explain that since it was a free publication they were reliant on generating income where they could – which I could understand.

Am I the only one that didn’t realise this was how things worked?

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  1. #1 by Anne Harvey on May 19, 2015 - 9:57 am

    No, you’re not on your own there, Sally. I hadn’t realised either. I suppose I was lucky that my book was featured, though not reviewed, in the April issue of Lancashire Life, the only one of the review copies I sent out to be featured. Good that you took the opportunity to contact the editor though. It pays to follow up every promotional avenue.

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on May 19, 2015 - 12:34 pm

      Well done on your feature in Lancashire Life, Anne. It’s a tough old world, isn’t it?!

  2. #3 by Sharon boothroyd on May 19, 2015 - 9:57 am

    Hi sally
    Yes you’ve got to be careful here, especially when it comes to commercial magazines- even the free ones rely on ads to keep them going. Eg -The journeyman, a lovely glossy mag that paid writers a small fee for fiction, has now closed down.
    If they welcome reader’s contributions, you could consider sending them (or another similar magazine) a poem instead and include a link to your blog site at the bottom. Hopefully, they’ll publish it and include your link!

    • #4 by Sally Jenkins on May 19, 2015 - 12:36 pm

      Thanks for the update on The Journeyman, Sharon. I didn’t know it had closed down. Apart from the big publishers, I think we’re all operating on a shoestring and maybe I shouldn’t have begrudged the magazine £100 for a mention.
      The poem idea is good – but unfortunately, my poetry is not!

  3. #5 by susanjanejones on May 19, 2015 - 11:47 am

    Good try, Sally, and ten out of ten for effort, but I’m not surprised really. Maybe if you pitched an article to them, you might not have to pay, and that way you’d get publicity for the book?

    • #6 by Sally Jenkins on May 19, 2015 - 12:37 pm

      Good idea, Susan. Time to flick back through the pages and see if I can come up with anything.

      • #7 by susanjanejones on May 19, 2015 - 2:10 pm

        Go for it Sally, then do an article for WM or Writers’ Forum on how to generate a sale.

  4. #8 by juliathorley on May 19, 2015 - 4:28 pm

    I’m not surprised, Sally; but it does make you wonder whether any positive review of anything has been written from an impartial point of view. Cynical? Me? Surely not!

    • #9 by Sally Jenkins on May 19, 2015 - 7:38 pm

      I take your point, Julia. I’m sure we all think like that sometimes!

  5. #10 by Linda on May 20, 2015 - 12:24 pm

    Hmm. I understand about advertising revenue, but I think it’s a bit sneaky for a magazine to disguise adverts as ‘reviews’. If it’s a paid-for advert, shouldn’t it be labelled ‘advertising feature’ or something similar?

  6. #12 by Nick Daws (@nickdaws) on May 20, 2015 - 6:12 pm

    I’ve never known this happen myself, and am slightly surprised by it. It does seem a bit cynical. With my (traditionally published) print books, what my publishers sometimes do is offer the magazine in question a number of copies that they can give away as competition (or free draw) prizes alongside the review. This is a win-win for both parties, as it generates extra publicity for the book and gives the magazine something extra to offer its readers. Obviously this wouldn’t work with Kindle e-books, though!

    • #13 by Sally Jenkins on May 20, 2015 - 6:19 pm

      Maybe it’s just because it’s free magazine, Nick and they need the revenue. I like the idea of offering books as prizes, a shame there’s no way (that I know) of doing it with Kindle books.

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