As always, please let me know if this information is helpful. Keep writing. It's more important now than ever. Lyle
Five reviews out of thirty copies really is probably about average. It's sad, but with over 200,000 (Lyle: Actually, the number in 2007 was 417,000) new titles hitting the streets last year alone, it's hard for reviewers to take everything that's sent their way. And, though we may not want to think about it, sometimes the reviewer just doesn't like the book (personal taste and all that) and that reviewer may have an aversion to writing negative reviews. So, it doesn't get reviewed at all. As to the risk of sending out books that will not be reviewed, here are my thoughts:
1. Do your research. Whatever the topic/genre, look for venues that review your kind of book, in addition to the generic places. You increase your chances that way.
2. Query first. Send an email or postal mail with a press pack (i.e., cover shot, blurbs you have gotten, brief synopsis that does not give away the ending, etc.) and ask if they would be interested in reviewing the book.
3. Send out press releases, but don't rely on them. It's foolish to ignore the possibility, however slim, that someone will read a press release. However, don't waste a lot of time or money on this. Most unsolicited press releases go into the circular file (this from my newspaper friends.)
4. Write thank you notes to the reviewers who DO review your book, whether it's a great review or a so-so review. That makes them at least somewhat more receptive to your next book.
5. If you can make it work, offer to write a feature piece for your local paper or community paper, that somehow ties to your new book. That may, in turn, interest the reviewer onstaff in reading and reviewing your book. When I say a feature piece, I mean a short article that exploits some tie-in to a local place, person, legend, upcoming event, etc. If you wrote a book about Ireland, for example, maybe you'd want to write a feature piece about St. Patrick's Day and get in a mention or two of your book in the body of the piece. - Tony Burton