After weeks of careful note-taking, contemplation through the early hours, and a spot of precision editing, seeing your book review published and shared online is a satisfying and rewarding experience for many contributors. Here are several small but effective ways that reviewers can ensure that their work gets seen by an even wider audience and by the right people, writes Amy Mollett.
Use Twitter to publicise your work
Each review published on the LSE Review of Books is also publicised to our 11,000+ followers on Twitter, bringing in around 40 per cent of our traffic. We ensure that all reviews receive a generous number of tweets at different times throughout the week in order to reach readers across the world. If reviewers are on Twitter we mention them in tweets too, usually along with the author and publisher, so I would encourage reviewers to join Twitter and get involved in discussions on publishing, writing, and reviewing.
Twitter has the potential to bring attention not only to your review, but also to yourself as an academic or writer, and to your own work or papers elsewhere. The benefits of tweeting about academic work have been discussed on our sister blog, Impact of Social Sciences, with researchers at NCRM receiving over 800 downloads of their paper in 24 hours, and a study on tweets about academic papers leading to higher citations. Around half of our regular reviewers are on Twitter, you can browse and follow them here.
Be selective about the books you choose to review
When it comes to choosing the next book to review there is often a great deal of choice, from accessible textbooks to wordy monographs, from edited collections by new academics to weighty tomes by established scholars. Picking the ‘right’ book to achieve a high readership is more important than we might think. Reviewers should consider how keyword-friendly or Google-friendly the title is, how well known the author is, and if the subject is currently a hot news topic. Books on anything to do with China, Marx, and behavioural economics are always popular. This time last year books on the Arab Spring, social media, and Occupy were attracting the most hits, but in the last month we’ve seen humanitarian aid and research funding both perform well, perhaps related to current events in Syria and academic funding cycles.
Contact the author or key people in the field
Publishers are notified of all reviews after they are published on the LSE Review of Books, and these will often get passed on to book authors and editors. Contacting the author yourself to notify them about the review or take the discussion further will put you on their radar; they may think of you in the future for panels, contributions, or more reviews. The same goes for contacting other key thinkers in the field.
Reviewers may also want to be strategic about the books they review, selecting the works of an academic they are hoping to impress at a conference later this year, for example.
Take advantage of the Creative Commons license to get your work published in more than one place
All content published on the LSE Review of Books is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivs license, meaning that it can be re-published anywhere as long as credit is given to the original author and place of publishing, the work is not used for commercial purposes, and the work is not edited or changed. Reviewers can make the most of this license by approaching websites, blogs, journals and publications (non-commercial, without pay walls) that might be interested in republishing their work. As supporters of open access and knowledge exchange, we welcome and encourage cross posting and republishing.
Include academic blog posts and book reviews in online academic directories
Many academics and researchers will now have Google Scholar profiles, or perhaps something along the same lines such as a Mendeley profile or their own university profile page, with a list of their publications, research interests, and activities. As open access examples of your work, make sure any reviews or academic blog posts are included in these profiles so that journalists, students, or potential employers can immediately get a sense of your written style and expertise in the field.
Amy Mollett is Managing Editor of the LSE Review of Books. Amy graduated from the University of Sussex with a First in English Language, and completed a Masters degree in Social Policy and Gender at the LSE. She joined the PPG in September 2010 as Book Reviews Editor on the British Politics and Policy at LSE Blog, before moving on to manage the LSE Impact of Social Science Blog, until the launch of the LSE Review of Books in April 2012. Follow @AmyBMollett