(trade) reviews

reviews of your book, published in trade magazines

When will trade magazines review my book?

Your publisher will submit review copies of your book to trade magazines, and you can expect reviews to appear online a few months before or after your book is published. Some magazines won’t end up reviewing your book at all because they are too obtuse to appreciate your lovely efforts–try not to take it personally, especially since there are so many MG/YA books published these days and review journals can’t read them all.

What is a starred review?

A starred review is a positive review of your book with a star or other mark placed next to it to distinguish your book as meriting special attention. Generally, the editor of the magazine, or a team of people at the magazine, will decide which reviews will be starred. Sometimes it’s a mystery why they choose to star one review over another–you might get a glowing review from a magazine and be surprised to find it isn’t starred. Starred reviews can help boost your visibility and even increase your sales; they can also help get you considered for awards or other lists.

Which trade magazines might review my book?

Here are the main culprits:

1. BCCB (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)

Geared toward: librarians, teachers, parents.

Star looks like: an asterisk next to an “R” near the top of your review.

Link: Accessible online through Project Muse.

2. Booklist

Geared toward: librarians (published by the American Library Association).

Star looks like: a “B” (for Booklist)

Notes: Unlike reviews from other publications, Booklist reviews can be difficult to access online without a subscription.

Link: Booklist’s website.

3. The Horn Book Guide

Geared toward: book people (I don’t know)

Star looks like: a black star

Note: The guide is published twice a year and reviews virtually every hardcover book for young readers. The Horn Book magazine is published more frequently but only includes select reviews. Unlike reviews from other publications, Horn Book reviews can be difficult to access online without a subscription.

Link: The Horn Book’s website.

4. Kirkus

Warning: Known for its particularly cutting reviews.

Geared toward: industry folks.

Star looks like: a blue star in a circle

Prize: Any book that receives a starred review from Kirkus is automatically nominated for the Kirkus prize. (Three judges will choose two YA titles and two MG titles from the given year to be finalists for the Younger Readers category; finalists are announced on September 20th. One winner from the overall category is selected to receive $50,000; the winner is announced on November 3rd.)

Note: Kirkus generally mentions the race of a book’s main characters in its reviews, not always accurately.

Link: Kirkus’ website.

5. Publishers Weekly

Geared toward: publishers, booksellers, and librarians.

Star looks like: a red star.

Note: If PW chooses to highlight your book on their website as a “PW PicK,” a red checkmark will appear next to the review, and your book’s review will also feature at the bottom of PW’s weekly newsletter.

Link: Publishers Weekly website.

6. School Library Journal

Geared toward: school and public librarians.

Star looks like: a red star.

Link: School Library Journal’s website.


Geared toward: librarians.

Star looks like: VOYA doesn’t technically star their reviews. They give a book 1-5 points based on quality (noted with a Q), and 1-5 points based on how popular they think the book will be with young readers (noted with a P). If your book received either 5Q or 5P, you can generally refer to the review as a “starred review,” as you would with starred reviews from other magazines.

Note: A VOYA review of your book will consist of a review by a librarian as well as one by a teen.


Help! I got a bad review!

Don’t worry–that particular review is certainly incorrect. See if you can pull a positive phrase from it for your website? Otherwise, don’t mention it online and hardly anyone will notice. And plenty of librarians will still buy your book when they read about its fascinating topic and disregard the subjective opinion of the reviewer.


Author: Parker Peevyhouse

Parker Peevyhouse is the author of the YA thriller THE ECHO ROOM (Tor Teen 2018) and the YA novella collection WHERE FUTURES END (Penguin/Dawson 2016).

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