Welcome to the kid lit review queue.
Dear authors and reviewers,
My own TBR pile is too large to take on any more reviews until I catch up, and most of my blog partners have the same problem. But I love reading, and I want every author to have the best chance to succeed that I can give. I got hooked on reading because of good books, and I want every child to learn to love reading like I do. That’s why I started writing and why I became an editor. However, editing keeps me so busy I don’t often read for recreation anymore.
When I do, I take Kindle notes on the worst errors and send the list to the author. It’s free proofreading, not in full, but at least enough to keep other reviewers from downgrading ratings due to poor editing. On the flip side, I get way more requests for reviews than I can handle. So I racked my brain and had an idea to create a new method for authors to receive reviews in case I never get to your book. At the bottom of this page, you’ll find a list on which you can sign up your kid lit book for other readers and/or authors to review. I recruit new reviewers on a regular basis, and this is where I send them to find books until they start getting their own requests.
Note that you do not have to review books to receive reviews. Of course, authors are welcome to review books for other authors. However, one told me he doesn’t feel comfortable giving reviews. So to avoid the appearance of impropriety, authors should avoid direct exchanges of reviews with each other by choosing books only from those listed before his or her own. To allay fears of bashing, I will do my best to make sure that reviews are fair.
How to move up the list (for authors only):
You will move up as the books ahead of yours receive reviews. To move up the list faster, simply review other authors’ books. This is entirely optional. I’m not sure how this will work in practice, but in theory, I will delete a book from the list once I receive notice of 2 or more helpful reviews. If the book sounds interesting enough, it may move up until it ends up in one of my blog partners’ TBR lists or mine. Conversely, if I receive notice of at least 2 private critiques in lieu of bad reviews, I will delete a book from the list and offer editing service. For authors who can’t afford editing, please check the SCBWI boards for critique groups within your area. If you notify me of any spam links, I will delete them and you will move up the list. I will also delete any books that remain on the list for 6 months because nobody wants to review them. This may sound harsh, but it’s a sign you need to write a better blurb. Maybe you need to rewrite the book. Then feel free to re-enter your link at the bottom of the list.
Take note that I will move you up the list if you review enough books to at least equal the word count of your own book. If you do not review other books ahead of yours in line, you will move up by attrition; however, the process will be slower.
How to write reviews (for everyone):
Choose a book that sounds interesting (If you’re an author, please choose one ahead of yours in line.) and contact the author for review copies. Read the book(s), then write at least 200 words analyzing each book. Your review must meet my “fair review” criteria. Be honest, fair, and helpful. No brown-nosing. No bashing. What worked in the story? What didn’t? Use the sandwich technique for criticism: put negatives between positives.
Analyze characters, world-building, plot, pacing, setting, etc., if you know how. If you don’t, try to minimize your own likes and dislikes and decide whether the author writes well, whether the story is interesting, whether it teaches important life lessons and/or good moral values without being pedantic, and whether you’d want your own children to read it — even if you don’t have any.
Please, no spoilers! Last, is the story complete? Did the author tie-up loose ends? Wrap up with pointers for parents and/or teachers. Which age group(s) would like the book? Include content warnings if applicable. Give the final rating in stars, 1 through 5. Include a disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Anyone interested in writing can learn to write better reviews by joining a children’s author critique group such as those of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). That’s where I learned to analyze story structure and all the other elements of story-telling when I started writing. I still try to write my reviews as helpful critiques. Whether you’re an author or a beginning reviewer, I also recommend you read a post by Author Tara Tyler about writing solid reviews. For a series, please let the author know what direction you’d like his or her next book to take. Bottom line for authors: write as if you were going to use your review to write your own next book because you’ll probably get as much help as you give.
Where to post your reviews:
Post 3 star or higher reviews of 200 words or more on Amazon and Goodreads; then send me the links. If you include the code (html) from Goodreads, I can blog your review as a guest post. Authors, include social media links and a press kit for your own book if you want some free publicity. For reviews of two stars or less, email the author a short critique in private and copy me. I see no reason for public criticism to the extent of discouraging readers unless an author doesn’t respond to private critiques or in the rare case where a book may harm children emotionally or physically, alienating or making them angry or depressed to a dangerous degree. If in doubt, ask a parent with children of the target age group and let him or her help you decide.
Due diligence (for authors):
For those who receive review requests, I caution you to check that person’s previous reviews before giving out books. I will not be held responsible for negative reviews or illegal copies passed around due to your lack of diligence in screening reviewers referred from this site.
Link up instructions:
Find the “Mr. Linky’s Magical Widgets” form at the bottom of this page.
In the “Your name” box, enter 4 things:
1. author name
2. book title
3. category code (listed below):
Picture books = PB
Early readers = ER
Chapter books = CB
Educational = ED
Middle Grade = MG
Hi-low = HL
Young adult = YA
Poetry books= PO
Short Stories = SS
4. Word count. Round up to nearest 1000; i.e. 53,563 becomes 54,000. For picture books, round up to the nearest 100.
In the “Your URL” box, enter the web address where reviewers can read the synopsis (blurb) and contact you for a FREE review copy. If your book is not always free, do not link to Amazon unless you also include your email address in a comment under this post. Also comment with email address if you have no website or contact form to link to.
That’s it. If I’m going about this all wrong, please contact me in private or leave a comment. I’m open to changes for the better, meaning more helpful reviews for more authors so parents, teachers, and librarians will have plenty of information to guide their choices. Thanks!