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Writing for Booklist

What Booklist reviews are for

We are a part of the American Library Association and our reviews serve a specific purpose: guiding school and public library workers in purchasing and suggesting books.

Booklist reviews are “the haiku of book reviewing,” brief but impactful. In 150-175 words, our lively reviews place each work in context, provide a synopsis of plot and other appeal, suggest the ideal audience, and offer readalikes.

Booklist is a recommendation-only journal; every book we review is recommended for purchase in a library setting because of the content, the potential popularity, or other compelling collection development metrics. It’s crucial to keep this in mind when writing and submitting your review. If you don’t personally love a book but understand how some reader out there likely will, your review can help a librarian put that book in the hands of its ideal reader.

Who can review for Booklist

Because our audience is school and public library workers, Booklist reviewers must be familiar with both books and libraries as well as the U.S. and Canada book market in general. A library degree is not required but library reader's advisory or selection work is highly desired.

Becoming a Booklist reviewer

Before filling out the new reviewer application, take a moment to read through what we expect from reviewers, and what reviewers can expect from us. Also, familiarize yourself with our publications and writing style by perusing reviews on Booklist Online, looking at our Reviews of the Day, or subscribing to our newsletters.

For a more in-depth look at reviewing for Booklist, including some answers to questions we commonly get from prospective reviewers, tune into this recorded webinar (approximately one-hour long):

Video - Everything you want to know about reviewing for Booklist but were afraid to ask

Expectations of Booklist reviewers


It’s important for reviewers to not only meet deadlines but to be forthcoming if they can’t. Our deadlines can be demanding. Let your editor know when you can’t take new books: if you’re going away, ill, or have too many obligations. Otherwise we keep sending them!


Don’t plagiarize jacket copy, Amazon book descriptions, other reviews or use ChatGPT or other AI tools to produce reviews. Plagiarism isn’t only copying word-for-word; if you swap out some words with synonyms, that’s still plagiarism.

Our social media policy is short and sweet. Please follow it!

  • If you want to share your review, link to the published review on Booklist’s site.
  • Don’t post the text of your review before it goes live on our site.
  • Don’t contact publishers to ask for books to review, or to inform them you’re giving a star to a book.

We expect that our reviewers will use their knowledge of the books they review in their work elsewhere. But we ask that in your subsequent writing about the books you review for Booklist you maintain the same overall sentiment of your Booklist review (e.g. don’t pan a book on your personal blog that you starred in Booklist). Also, don’t plagiarize yourself. Subsequent writing on the books you review should be substantially different from the review you did.

Professional Curiosity

Books aren’t read in a vacuum, so a review is most useful when it is written with an understanding of the book world and in the context of U.S. and Canadian libraries. How does this title stand in a field of similar books, within its genre, or in comparison to the author’s other work? Is this a debut or Own Voices author?

Social Awareness

Our readers deserve reviews that accurately illuminate racial, cultural, gender, ability, neurodivergence, and even socioeconomic representation in books. Include racial and other specific descriptors for named characters, and stay current with correct identity terminology.

Be specific about your preferences and areas of expertise

The more information we have about you as a reader, the better we’re able to select books you’ll like!


What you can expect from us


Booklist pays $15 for each review, and the average reviewer writes two to three reviews per month. You’re paid for a review once that review is published in the magazine or online. If a review is held for a later issue, that means you might not get paid for it for a while. If you reject a title, you’ll get a “reject fee” of $5. Reviewers will also receive a subscription to Booklist in print with online access.


All of our reviews are signed, so your name will appear in the byline both in print and online. If you provide one, a bio will appear on the Reviewers page on our website.


When you start reviewing, you’ll be considered “in-training,” and a Booklist editor will be in touch regularly to guide you through both our process and style in more targeted detail. In-training reviewers will get one book at a time so we have an opportunity to work through individual submissions, until you get a solid grasp of our style and expectations. Your editor will remain a resource to you beyond your training period—let us know if you are stuck, need a read-through, or just need to share something about the book you read!

Please fill out this new reviewer application, and indicate your areas of interest. Your application will be directed to the appropriate editor in Adult Books, Books for Youth, or Audio. Due to the volume of applications we receive, we cannot respond to every application.