How to Become a Professional Reader

If you spend most of your time reading newly published books and enjoy sharing your opinion and excitedly discussing those books, then you’re the perfect candidate to be a professional reader. If you don’t know what a professional reader is, it is someone who reads, reviews, and recommends books to other people, whether for libraries, bookstores, in classrooms, or online via blogging. For more information, read this post where I explain and discuss what professional readers are and what they do.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re interested in becoming a professional reader- or maybe you’re just curious. Either way, here are the steps to become a professional reader:

First, you have to have some kind of influence.

This can be through your professional job, as a bookseller, librarian, or educator, or through having a social reach online, etc. You need to have a large audience of people to influence. Think of it this way: as a professional reader, your job is to help inform people about books before and as they are published, therefore, you have to have an audience to inform.

Many people already have this kind of influence, but for those of you who don’t it can be a lot of work to gain an audience. Personally, I gained an audience by creating a blog and posting reviews. However, I created a blog before I learned what professional reading is, so while these steps are (hopefully) helpful, I haven’t used them in order to achieve the goal of gaining an audience- at least not initially.

This post is going to focus on gaining an influence as a professional reader by using a blog.

Second, you have to build a blog.

Creating and managing a blog can be a lot of work- it involves creativity, effort, time, and a whole lot of writing. You’ll need to write blog posts regularly, and by regularly, I mean nearly every week or every couple of weeks, if you want to continually attract readers and build up an audience. This is especially difficult if you’re the only content creator for your blog. Teaming up with a friend or several friends is always a great idea when it comes to blogging.

You can create a blog (for free!) on several different platforms, although the most common are WordPress and Blogspot. Once you’ve set up your blog, start creating content (that’s the blog posts): you can scour the internet for all kinds of inspiration.

It’s a good idea to consider writing book reviews for books you’ve already read to start practicing your review technique and to set up a portfolio of sorts for publishers to view when you begin requesting to review their galleys.

Third, reach out to your favorite publishers.

Once your blog is all set up, you can contact your favorite publishers and begin requesting advanced reader galleys. You can do this directly by emailing the publishers (you can find contact information for those in charge of publicity on many publishers’ websites) and requesting specific titles. However, if you’re new to this, you might not know which titles are available as galleys and you might not be sure how to format your request. You can find this information on many websites.

I recommend using a service such as Netgalley or Edelweiss (both websites are free to join) to request titles when you’re first starting out. Personally, I primarily use Netgalley, which has catalogs from various publishers of the available galleys that you can request through their system.

While the contact with publishers is indirect, it can be much easier to find titles this way. Additionally, if you review galleys for a publisher regularly and they value your feedback, they may contact you directly through email (if you choose to allow them to view that information) and ask you to review other galleys.

Fourth, review the galleys you receive.

If you’ve set up your blog and requested galleys from publishers (and we’re approved), now all you have to do is read them and provide honest feedback. You don’t necessarily have to write out a review, although it is recommended, as long as you do provide some kind of feedback on the galley you received.

If you do choose to write out a review, you can be as creative as you’d like. Most publishers appreciate enthusiasm and helpful critiques, but they also just value the opinion of the reader, so be sure to be honest.

You should post this review on your blog and share the feedback with the publisher (you can do this by emailing them a link/copy of the review, or if you use Netgalley, you can just use their feedback option).You should also share your review on social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. Goodreads is especially helpful for finding readers who share your taste in books and for influencing readers looking for new titles to read.

Fifth, keep on reading and reviewing.

Being a professional reader isn’t an actual job when you’re a blogger, but it does take a lot of effort and persistence to continue regularly reading, reviewing, and blogging. So if this is something you enjoy, keep on doing what you’re doing (and if this sounds like something you’re curious about and would like to start doing- go on and get started!).

– Jessica Trudeau

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