So, you have your first review. Now what?

By Maryglenn McCombs

One of the most rewarding parts of my job as a book publicist is delivering that first review of a new book to an author, and in some cases, the first ever review to a new author — especially when said first review is a good one. Getting that first review is a momentous occasion, a real rite of passage. I’ve heard many authors say that seeing that first review in print is when it REALLY sinks in that the manuscript he or she worked so hard on is becoming a book.

Aside from celebrating that first review, basking in its glory, or reading it aloud (and loudly) atop the highest mountaintop, what’s an author to do with that first good review? Here are some tips:

  1. Say thank you. Take time to send a note (email is sufficient, though a handwritten note is always a nice touch) to both the editor of the publication that reviewed the book and the reviewer — assuming the reviewer’s name is listed and contact information is readily available. Saying “thank you” is a good strategy regardless of whether the review is good, bad, or indifferent. Let the reviewer and editor know that you saw the review, and that you appreciate the time, effort and energy that went into it. If you think the review is particularly insightful, say so. Do not delay in offering thanks. A well-thought-out, sincere thank you note is time well spent.
  2. Get permission. Be sure to ask the editor of whatever publication/outlet ran the review what his/her outlet’s policy is regarding allowing you and/or your publisher to quote from a review. Be certain to ask if there is a limit to the number of words you can use in a quote, and if so, what that number is. Also, make sure you ask how the editor would like the attribution to read. Just outlet name? Outlet name and reviewer name? Be sure you get clear instructions on what the editor does/does not want you to use and how he or she wants the attribution to run and make sure you follow instructions. You might also inquire if there are specific places where the editors would prefer the review not be posted. I’ve come across a few reviewers who do not want their reviews to run on a certain online bookseller’s site.
  3. Select the quote you want to use. Have too many options from a single review? That’s what we call a high-end problem. Remember that brevity is the sole of wit, so the shorter the quote, the better.
  4. Share the news with your publisher and/or sales force. Most likely, your publisher/distributor/sales force will have people with whom they’d like to share the review.
  5. Now that you have the quote, add it to your website. If you haven’t already done so, consider adding a REVIEWS tab to your site. After all, this excellent review may be a harbinger of things to come. Often, reviews beget reviews. In the case of an excellent review, make sure it is prominently displayed on your website: consider adding to the first page people see when they visit your site.
  6. Spread the word on your social media. Include a link to the review if you can — and be sure to add some commentary as in how excited/thrilled/humbled/delighted you were by the kind words. Share, share, share.
  7. Create a REVIEWS document — a living, breathing document you’ll use for keeping all of your reviews. It’s a good idea to create two documents — one of reviews in their entirety, including date of review, and another that just includes quotes from reviews. These can come in handy on down the road. Keep these documents current.
  8. Update your press materials — especially your press release — with the review quote. In the case of really excellent, high profile reviews, it can make sense to issue an entirely new press release highlighting the review. However, before you do that, make sure to check with editor/reviewer. Most likely, they will be happy for you to spread the word, but again — it’s easier to ask permission on the front end, than have to beg forgiveness after the fact.
  9. Add the review quote to your signature line (and if you don’t already have a signature line, consider adding one now.) I recommend that authors have a standard signature line that includes NAME, author of, BOOK TITLE, contact info, website, and review quotes. You may also want to use the signature line as a preview for coming attractions, such as: Jane Doe, author of THE FABULOUS BOOK, now available where fine books are sold and the upcoming FABULOUS BOOK II, coming in June 2018.
  10. Share your good news (and review quote) with others who might be interested — and others include fans, other reviewers, bookstores, local media, libraries, etc. These are the people who may or may not be reached via social media. Sometimes one good review can start an avalanche of other reviews…but you have to let people know about your reviews. Don’t be shy!
  11. When it’s time to reprint, consider revising the back cover, or even front cover to include the review quote. Again, it’s an excellent idea to ask permission before you do.

These are just a few ideas for maximizing reviews, but as you can clearly see, taking a few quick steps can get you a lot of mileage out of one single review.

MARYGLENN MCCOMBS, is an independent book publicist who has worked in the book publishing industry for more than twenty years. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Maryglenn serves on the board of the Nashville Humane Association.

Maryglenn is a native of South Central Kentucky. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, Tim Warnock, and their Old English Sheepdog, Majordomo Billy Bojangles. A native of South Central Kentucky, Maryglenn currently lives in Nashville with her husband, Tim.

You can reach her via email at or by phone (615) 297–9875. Follow her on Facebook:

Originally published at on April 5, 2017.

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