Debut Review Challenge: Reflections on the First Year

It’s hard to believe that I launched the very first Debut Review Challenge round a year ago today! Inspired by challenges like Storystorm, ReFoReMo, and NaPiBoWriWee, I started this challenge to support debut Kidlit creators, motivate reviewers, and engage the Kidlit community.

Marketing professionals emphasize the importance of customer reviews, which act as a proxy for word-of-mouth recommendations. While there is some debate in the book world over how many reviews are “enough”, I think we can all agree: the more reviews, the better. Reviews lead to exposure and book buzz, which allows our books to get into the hands of more children. What could be better than that?

Anyone who has published a book benefits from reviews, but this challenge is designed to give a boost to first-time authors and illustrators. The Debut Review Challenge encourages Kidlit creators, teachers, librarians, and parents to write honest book reviews, specifically for debut books. This is especially important now, in this time of virtual book launches and limited in-person promotional opportunities.

Here’s how the challenge works:

  1. Read a debut book by a Kidlit creator. Any debut book. Each round highlights a small group of authors and illustrators, but you are not limited to this selection.
  2. Write an honest review. Post it on Amazon, Goodreads, Bookroo, or other online site.
  3. Repeat! Once you complete 5 reviews, fill out this ENTRY FORM. You could win a signed book! Earn another entry every time you complete 5 reviews.

Be sure to follow #DebutReviewChallenge on Twitter and Instagram for daily posts, including announcements about social media events and ways to earn bonus entries. You can also find more info on my website, including a downloadable Review Record sheet to help keep you organized!

In reflecting on the first year of the Debut Review Challenge, I collected some data. Here is a SPECIAL EDITION of the By-the-Numbers feature from my previous blog posts!

Last Year By-the-Numbers:

Number of challenge rounds in the first year: 4; 2-months each

Number of Kidlit creators featured: 41

Number of Kidlit books featured: 44 (some authors had double or triple debut years!)

Number of countries represented (creators + reviewers): 7

Number of PRIZES: 45


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