BookLife Offers Free Book Reviews for Independent Authors

free book reviews

Publishers Weekly’s BookLife program offers free book reviews for independent authors — the BookLife Prize offers a cash grand prize to boot.

A professional, independent review can validate an author’s hard work and can encourage readers to take a chance on an author they don’t know. The difficulty for independent authors is to find trusted third-parties who will review their books.

At Publishers Weekly, reviews are our core business. We receive over 25,000 submissions a year and we review almost 9,000 of them. These reviews tend to run two-to-three months in advance of the book’s release date and the primary audience for our reviews is booksellers and librarians who use our reviews to help make buying and acquisition decisions. In some library systems, a book can’t be acquired unless it has a Publishers Weekly review.

In 2010, we recognized that self-published books were becoming an important part of book publishing, so we started experimenting with reviewing them. By 2014, our bookseller and librarian readers were asking us to help determine which self-published titles were of professional quality, so we launched BookLife, which gives independent authors a FREE way to submit their books for PW review consideration.

While the BookLife program doesn’t guarantee a review — books are chosen on their editorial merit – since its launch, we’ve published thousands of reviews of self-published books. These reviews are no different than any other PW review: they run alongside other PW reviews in each issue of the magazine, they are searchable in our reviews database, and they are syndicated to PW‘s licensees like Amazon, Apple, Google, Ingram, and Baker & Taylor. And they are free.

In 2016, we launched the BookLife Prize, not only to give indie authors a chance to win a $5,000 cash grand prize but to give every author a chance to receive a guaranteed, publishable assessment from a PW reviewer. The 2019 BookLife Prize entry period is open for fiction titles until August 31, and this year we’ve added a nonfiction contest with its own $5,000 grand prize — that doesn’t open until October of this year.

This year, BookBaby has contributed nine social media ad packages (valued at $1,000 each) as a prize for all of the category finalists. Plus, BookBaby authors receive a special discounted entry fee of $75 by clicking here or using the promotional code BBABY when entering.

We encourage every independent author to take advantage of BookLife’s free Publishers Weekly review opportunity, and we also encourage you to participate in the BookLife Prize, where you have a chance to win great prizes and receive the type of feedback from an experienced, professional reviewer that can mean so much in promoting a book.

Your path to self-publishing


  1. What do I need to do to have my book(s) reviewed by your organization? Presently, I’m not able to enter the contest, but I’d appreciate an honest review from you. I have a children’s book. and an inspirational nonfiction book about to be launched, and I believe a review would help an unknown author like me.

  2. I am new to the Self-Publishing world. I appreciate all the services you provide at BookBaby.
    I plan to publish my book with you before the end of the year.
    Thanks for your help.

  3. Thank you for the information about BookLife and all the informative posts on the Blog.
    There are so many things that need to be considered when publishing. I have learned things that never knew.
    I am new to the publishing world and plan to have my novel published with BookBaby.
    Thank you for your help.

  4. This sounds like a great idea and I would love to use it but I’m not sure I qualify for it. I have two books which were published by Black Rose Writing, a small indie publishing house. The first book he did some promoting with, not much, and because sells weren’t stellar, he made the next book a POD, nonrefundable, and bookstores will not carry it nor will they host an event for it. I am unemployed at the moment so I can’t afford to do much marketing. If I can take part in this, I would love to. Please let me know.


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