What Is an Editorial Review?

Updated on April 28, 2020
heidithorne profile image

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing expert and advocate. Author of nonfiction books, eBooks, and audiobooks. Former trade newspaper editor.

Read on to learn what an editorial review can do for a book!
Read on to learn what an editorial review can do for a book! | Source

Customer reviews aren’t the only reviews that can help give your book credibility and visibility. Editorial reviews can provide valuable insight about your book for potential readers.

Editorial Review Versus Editing

While the term editorial can be used an adjective used to describe activities that include editing, there is a difference between editorial and editing. Editorial usually refers to opinions. Editing refers to the activity of correcting or rewriting done to improve written work.

In an editorial review, no correcting or rewriting of a manuscript occurs, even if a professional editor does the review. The review would be more accurately described as editorializing, meaning the act of offering opinions or interpretations of a work.

What Exactly Is an Editorial Review?

An editorial review is an objective, third-party review of a book, by a professional editor, columnist, critic, or other authority in the book’s genre or topic. Surprisingly, an author’s friends or family are eligible to write editorial reviews, though their relationship to the author should be clearly noted in the review to identify bias and perspective.

Even more surprising is that editorial reviews may be paid reviews, and Amazon is okay with that! However, they must be posted as editorial reviews, not customer reviews.

Editorial reviewers usually have some special interest, experience, or insight in the genre, topic, or author that lends credence to their opinions of a book. This provides readers with a more in-depth review of the work than that from customers.

Some reviewers are widely recognized for their opinions. A famous example from the entertainment world were film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert who were widely recognized for their “thumbs up, thumbs down” movie reviews. So authors may seek celebrity level reviewers and experts for their work since to even be reviewed by these people is an accomplishment.

When Are Editorial Reviews Done?

Editorial reviews can be done for a book anytime in the book’s life. However, they are more likely to be done during the book launch or just before. Posting them on the book’s product page for pre-orders would be recommended since customer reviews are not yet available.

Are Editorial Reviews More Valuable than Customer Reviews?

Both types of reviews bring different value to authors and readers. Editorial or critical reviews offer third-party or professional opinions on the work. Customer reviews provide feedback from those actually buying the book.

There can be a huge discrepancy between critics’ and customers’ opinions of a book. So which one wins? These days, genuine customer reviews can carry a lot of weight with buyers. Editorial reviews can carry weight with true fans who often want more in-depth opinions. Seek both.

Where Do Editorial Reviews Appear?

Editorial reviews, or portions of them, can be posted in many places including:

  • Major media such as newspapers (very common in newspaper book sections!), as well as radio and television shows.
  • Amazon book product pages under Editorial Reviews.
  • Amazon book descriptions.
  • Websites and blogs, including those of the author or reviewer.
  • Social media.
  • Book promotions and advertising.
  • Book cover copy (back cover, dust jacket flaps, etc.)

On Amazon, authors can post editorial reviews they receive on book product pages via Author Central. Multiple editorial reviews are allowed, and some books display several in the hopes of showing how credible and valuable the book is. But they should NEVER be posted as customer reviews!

Should You Pay for Editorial Reviews?

Whether you should pay for editorial reviews depends on multiple factors including:

  • Budget: No money to hire a celebrity or expert reviewer? Then it is easily a no. But you may have people within your social or professional sphere who want to support you and your work and may be willing to do it for free.
  • Credibility: If having a celebrity or expert editorial review would help your book’s acceptance in your target market, it might be worth it.
  • Objective Marketing Copy: Within the review, there will likely be a number of statements that would be good as marketing quotes. It’s difficult for authors to say these things about their own work, making a paid review worth doing.

Should You Get Permission to Use the Review From the Reviewer?

You should have a written agreement with your editorial reviewers that covers how and where you will use the review. The reviewer may instead offer authors a standard agreement with guidelines that they expect to be followed. However, the agreement is done, there should be something in writing.

The agreement should also address royalties. This is particularly the case if the reviewer’s writing is integrated into the actual book manuscript.

Consult a legal professional to develop an agreement for your unique circumstances.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2019 Heidi Thorne


Submit a Comment
  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    2 months ago from Chicago Area

    Peggy, I do like sharing what I learn about the book biz. I think a lot of people are like you in reading the reviews if they're not too familiar with the seller or author. My husband ALWAYS reads reviews.

    Thanks for sharing and have a beautiful day!

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    2 months ago from Houston, Texas

    Hi Heidi,

    Thanks for giving us all these tips about the ins and outs of book publishing. I generally read customer reviews before purchasing books, particularly if I do not know the author.

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    12 months ago from Chicago Area

    Hi Shaloo! I think a lot of people prefer the customer over the editorial review. Thanks for chiming in and have a great day!

  • swalia profile image

    Shaloo Walia 

    12 months ago from India

    Good information. I generally buy a book based on readers' reviews rather than editorial reviews.

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    12 months ago from Chicago Area

    Hi Pamela! You're like my husband. :) He always reads a ton of reviews for everything he buys. Thanks so much for stopping by and have a great weekend!

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    12 months ago from Chicago Area

    Linda, indeed they can be useful. They're not used often by authors, especially those who are self published. But there are advantages to using them.

    Thanks for stopping by! Have a lovely weekend!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    12 months ago from Sunny Florida

    This is such important information for any author to understand. I typically read numerous reviews before I buy a book. This is really great information as always. Have a nice weekend Heidi.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    12 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

    An editorial review sounds like it could be very useful. It's certainly something that a book writer should think about. Thanks for sharing the information, Heidi.

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    12 months ago from Chicago Area

    Mary, a lot of people aren't aware of them! They're not common in the Amazon universe where customer reviews reign supreme. But they are a tool that authors can leverage.

    Thanks so much for dropping by and have a beautiful weekend!

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    12 months ago from Chicago Area

    Flourish, it's the same situation that I have when I read critics' reviews for movies. I keep thinking, "Did we see the same movie?" And some reviewers are notorious for their overly positive or negative reviews, be it for books, movies, music, or whatever.

    Over time, I think people start recognizing the work of reviewers, in addition to that of the authors. That can either be a good or bad thing for authors. Know your reviewers!

    Thanks so much, as always, for adding your experience to the conversation! Have a beautiful day!

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    12 months ago from Chicago Area

    Liz, glad you found it useful! Thanks so much for dropping by and have a lovely day!

  • aesta1 profile image

    Mary Norton 

    12 months ago from Ontario, Canada

    Heidi, thanks for the education. I was not aware of this when I read the reviews of books I intended to buy.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    12 months ago from Olympia, WA

    Good information as always, Heidi! In a world where anyone can publish a book in a matter of weeks, this is the type of information which can be important but is widely unknown. Good on you for keeping us educated.

    And with that I wish you a brilliant weekend!

  • FlourishAnyway profile image


    12 months ago from USA

    Sometimes I look upon editorial reviews with a grain of salt depending on who it is. I’ve read so many books just because of another favorite author’s likely paid recommendation or industry connection and ended up so disappointed. One recent example is a book about Harper Lee’s Supposed missing manuscript. Spoiler: no one can find it. The book is called Furious Hours and it received a brief but rave review as a President’s Pick for the bookstore I go to. This alleged year’s best book was eye bleedingly detailed, one of the worst books ever, and I will never listen to any more of their editorial reviews and recommendations. They obviously did not read it cover to cover.

  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    12 months ago from UK

    This is a really helpful article for explaining exactly what an 'editorial review' is. I had an idea before reading, but this has given me a much fuller picture.


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