Writers' League of Texas 2010 Agents Conference.
The moderator was Rusty Shelton of Phenix and Phenix Literary Publicists. The panelists were: Book editors Kimberley Jones of the Austin Chronicle and Jody Seaborn of the Austin American-Statesman, and Ed Nawotka of Publishing Perspectives.
The book editors stressed the need to emphasize how the book would be interesting to their readers. A local connection is a plus. They both said they get many books to review and currently have hundreds unread. Neither accepts self-published books as a way of cutting back on the number of books to be considered. Jody said he knows they will eventually need to take a look at self-published books, but he's not sure when that will happen. Press releases from self publishers are filtered and not read. They mentioned Lulu and iUniverse in particular.
They said a local bookstore (BookPeople, in Austin) stocks and pushes self-published books that have a local connection.
Kimberley suggested trying to get reviewed on blogs instead of newspapers since the review will be available much longer in the blog than in the paper.
In addition to the many books they receive, they get about 200 digital galleys each day. However, neither one of them reads anything unless it is printed so that they can easily make notes in the margins.
They also talked about the need to be timely, since they write for newspapers. However, if the book has been out for awhile, they may use an event date such as a book signing as a reason to write about the book. Events may help you get reviewed, or at least listed in the newspaper.
Jody said a book with an Austin or Texas back story has a better chance of mention in the paper. This was encouraging to me since Where Love Once Lived is set in Austin. However, it is self-published, so it probably won't be listed for that reason.
If you have a book to sell, let me know if any of these suggestions from the panelists help.