Every author has different goals. I once heard an author say that they would only count themselves successful if their book was reviewed in the New York Times. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but when doing some research this week, I found out that the New York Times Book Review has an open submission policy. This means that anyone can mail them a review copy of their book for consideration.
Now, not every author would want to consider this as part of their marketing strategy, in fact, I am not currently interested, but wanted to share it with you. So, if you are interested in having your book reviewed by them, here’s what you need to know.
The New York Times Book Review Submission Guidelines
1. You must send in a review copy 4 months before the official release date
The New York Times Book Review prefers to receive pre-release galleys from book publishers 4 months prior to the books publication date. However, they will accepted a finished book if a galley is not available. This does not mean you can send a book that is already published, just that if your book is finalized (yet still 3-4 months from actual publication) you can still send them the final copy.
Not familiar with a pre-release galley? Find out more in our book, “How to Get Honest Reviews.”
2. There is No Guarantee, Returns, or Updates
You can send your book in, but they do not promise to review it, return it, or even update you on the status. They admittedly only review a small percentage of the books they receive and do not say what they do with the review copies they are sent other than that they will not return them. Likewise, they are very clear that they won’t respond to questions about the status of reviews, or notify authors if they
3. You Must be Published within the United States of America
The New York Times Book Review will only review books that are published in the US. If you are published through a Canadian, European or otherwise non-US publisher, as a US newspaper, The New York Times Book Review isn’t open to you.
4. Your Book Must be Available in Bookstores
Their rules also state that your book has to be made available to general-interest bookstores. Obviously if they are asking for pre-release galleys, it doesn’t have to be currently on a bookstore shelf. However, making your book available to bookstores must be part of your marketing plan, and it needs to be available to them by the time of your scheduled release (usually through a distributor such as Ingram).
Those are all of the qualifications they have listed on their website, but don’t go sticking your book in the mail just yet. Before sending your book off for their consideration, you will want to take some steps towards success.
How to Increase Your Chances of a New York Times Book Review
1. Read the New York Times Book Reviews
This should go without saying, but if you want your book to be reviewed by the New York Times Book Review, you should actually read it. See what kinds of books they review, get a feel for what they like and don’t like. Basically, if this is your target audience, know what they want to read. You shouldn’t write a book just for them, but if you’ve written a book, reading what professional reviewers say about other books can help you fine-tune your own. If you’re not already subscribed, you can find out how to get a subscription mailed to you (separate from the Sunday paper) here.
2. Establish Yourself in Your Niche
If you have never before published a book and are virtually unknown, your book is likely to get lost in the high percentage of books that the New York Times Book Review doesn’t have time for. If this is something you are interested in, I recommend building yourself up first. Publish a book or two, build an online following, make some noise!! If you become a household name in your niche, you are more likely to be recognized and picked up by the editor.
3. Have Your Book Professionally Edited
The New York Times Book Review is the big leagues. Just because it’s free to send them a book, doesn’t mean that you should skimp on the costs of publishing. Make sure that you put forth your best work by having it professionally edited (maybe even by two or three different editors). You can find a list of editors we recommend here.
4. Get a Killer Cover Designed
You’ve heard the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” right? Well, it’s a saying because all of us do it. If we see a poorly designed cover, we assume that the book itself will be just as crummy. It’s not always true, but without an eye-catching cover, your book is likely to be tossed aside. Most authors are just that, authors; not graphic designers. So get some help from someone who knows what they are doing and really make a great first impression.
If you are interested in submitting your book, you can mail a copy to the following address:
The New York Times Book Review
620 Eighth Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10018
Note: If you are sending a children’s book to them, you should address it to the “Children’s Book Editor”