Friday, August 1, 2014

Ilene Cooper: How A Book Gets Reviewed - And Why It Doesn't

The author of over 30 books for young people, Ilene Cooper is a senior editor at Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association. And she just received a starred review by Kirkus for her most recent book, A Woman in the House (and Senate).

She starts by saying that

"Being a reviewer who is also a writer makes me a better reviewer."

The audience is full of mostly published authors, listening and taking copious notes.

Booklist is a recommended-only journal of reviews, where every book reviewed is something they recommend for librarians to buy.

Booklist gets 8,000 children's and teen books every year (they don't discriminate between trade and self-published books - what matters to them is if it looks professional.) They have a staff of four editors, an editorial assistant and 30 outside reviewers. All together, their team does 2,500 reviews a year. That means 5,500 books don't get reviewed.

The challenge: They have to figure out which books they're going to send out to possibly get one of those review.

We're here to understand the why behind that decision process.

As they unpack the books, they decide what goes out right away. (When they look at books, they can tell how it fits into the world of the genre. They're seeing everything.)

First, they pick out the books that are high demand. Like the new John Green book. Because there is a lot of buzz around those books, and they want to be the first, if possible, to review them.

Second, they start setting up book trucks. Every two weeks they're going to send out whatever's on that truck to their reviewers. What gets on the truck? The next level - authors they've heard of, popular series, a lot of nonfiction, and if there are certain genres they don't get a lot of (like MG mysteries.)

And Third, the books they think will be hot (or the publisher thinks will be hot.) Some galleys have a marketing plan on the back - which shows them the publisher is investing in generating buzz. Or a personal letter from the publisher - that's pretty unique and they really pay attention to it.

What makes her want to put a book on the truck?

Ilene walks us through what she considers for each category that makes her want to put a book on the truck. For Picture Books, Nonfiction, and Novels - MG and YA. She even explains how stars work!

The session ends with questions and answers...

It's invaluable information.

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