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Let's Talk About… Review Policies

OK… time to have a chat peeps.

I read a lot of blogs, I request a lot of reviewers for my job and I read a lot of Review Policies.  They may not all have the same title ‘Review Policy’ but no matter what they are called they are super important for you as an author or publicist trying to find reviewers for your fabulous book.

There are loads and loads of Book Bloggers on the internet, Google couldn’t even give me a number but I’ve no doubt it’s high.  They all love different genres, writers, and types of books.  As an author you really want to focus on the bloggers who love your particular genre.  If you write a sci-fi fantasy horror book, a romance blogger probably is not the right reviewer to request.  The easiest way to find out if the book review blog you’re staring at is right for your book is to look for a ‘Review Policy’ type page.

Most review policy pages will list the following things:

-Genres the book blogger is likely to accept.
-Genres the book blogger doesn’t accept.
-Formats the book blogger accepts.
-Wait time for reviews.
-His or her name and how to contact them.
-Hints and tips on how to successfully pitch your book to them.

Not all Bloggers
I know from experience that a LOT of bloggers get dozens if not hundreds of book review requests each month.  For a gig that is FREE it’s very hard to answer and accept each and every request.  Hence the review policy page.  Policy pages help keep our requests only within the genres we love, which makes us continue to love blogging about your books.

I know from requesting bloggers to read a book of my clients that I’ve had the BEST luck getting yes’ when I’ve read the complete policy page and made sure that this blogger will be interested in the book I’m pitching them.  I think the biggest reason writers are having such a hard time finding reviews is because they are ignoring the fact that not all book bloggers read all books.  It is VERY time-consuming to sift through dozens of blogs and read every single policy page, I know it is.  But the question you need to ask yourself before you give up and send a request to anyone with an email is… ‘do I like good reviews or bad reviews?’.

Now don’t get me wrong, not all reviews from bloggers who love your genre will be good but a majority won’t be bad because they already enjoy your style of book.  If you’re pitching your erotic novel to a children s book blog, chances are, if they accept it they’re not going to love it and they probably won’t give you a glowing 5 star review, or any review at all.

Not all Bloggers (1)

There are a couple of things that you can make sure to avoid so that your request email doesn’t get deleted the moment it pings into a reviewers inbox:

Not all Bloggers (2)
Make sure you’re including whatever that particular reviewer needs to decide if your book is right for them – it will be listed in their policy page.
Most reviewers want your name, email, bio as an author, book cover, book blurb and a link to amazon or goodreads to check it out.  It also is super smart to start your email with a personalized message letting them know, by name, why you chose to request them to read the book you worked so hard on.  You need to start a relationship with a blogger in order to find great and consistent reviews and ‘hey I wrote a book, it doesn’t fit your genre but I’m obviously desperate so please let me know if you’d like to review a book I’m telling you nothing about’ is not the way to do so.

Not all Bloggers (3)
Make sure you’re genre fits their preferred genre ‘completely’.  So many times I get requests where the author assumes that ‘chick lit’ means a book that a woman might enjoy, or a book with a ‘chick’ as the lead character.
Delete.
Please, know your books genre and know that a one paragraph ‘romance’ scene that you found funny does not qualify your horror fantasy book as a ‘chick lit’ or a ‘rom/com’.  Pitching with that as your ‘you’ll love this specific chapter even though the rest is not for you’ makes you look desperate and not very proud of the rest of the book.  Bloggers will include genres they do or do not enjoy on their policy page.

Not all Bloggers (4)
I can’t say it enough.  When I get requests titled with ‘Dear Blogger’ I know for a fact that you couldn’t even tell me the name of my blog if I asked, let alone my name.  Nothing screams – ‘I only scanned your blog for an email address’ more than a request email not personalized.  Be proud of your work and be proud of who you’re asking to review your book baby.  Names are generally found on Policy Pages.
Keep in mind, not all book bloggers list their name but there is ALWAYS a way to personalize a request email, even without a first name.

Not all Bloggers (5)
Don’t send your manuscript with your initial review request email.
I hear everyday about authors finding their books on pirated sites, which is TERRIBLE.  But, how do you think those books got there?  Not every ‘book reviewer’ is a good apple, unfortunately.  There is always someone to ruin it for everyone else.  Authors, you need to know, at least a bit, who you’re sending your precious manuscript to.  The whole point of a policy page is so that you can get to know the reader a bit and see what kind of info they require, if they seem like the type to send your book out to 30 of their closest, faceless internet friends or if they will really read it and review it.  Research their social media and their past reviews.

Not all Bloggers (6)
Don’t follow-up every other day to see if they’ve ‘read your book’.  Many book bloggers have ‘to be read’ lists that are a few months long.  Most bloggers I know are fabulous as letting you know when your review is up but maybe can’t give you an exact date.  We have families, jobs and lives outside the free job that we call ‘book blogging’.  Give us time, and we’ll let you know when your review is up.  Sending a ‘follow-up’ email every week just annoys me to pieces and is about the fastest way to the ‘do not read’ pile I know of.

Not all Bloggers (7)
Don’t request on social media.  My goodness that is about as impersonal as it gets.  Can you image pitching a Doctor with symptoms in a grocery store?  And hoping they will ‘diagnose’ you, just real quick like.  I don’t know a single Doctor who loves that scenario.  Book Bloggers are people, so don’t tweet them ‘hey will you review my book?’ just because you saw them post about doing book reviews.  GO to their blogs, find their review policies, read some of their reviews.  Maybe they are an anti romance, man hating, serial killer loving personality and your sweet romance about finding the perfect man will only get you blocked, muted or a snappy comeback telling you to check out their blog before begging for a review.

Conclusion-

Review Policies hold the key to what you need to know about book reviewers.  If they don’t have one, they don’t have one.  If they do, make sure you’ve read it, read it a couple times if need be.  We want to read the genres we love, so make sure you’re requesting the right book bloggers to get the best reviews for the book you’ve worked so incredibly hard on.

Book bloggers love to work with Authors and be opened to allowing other types of posts other than ‘just a review’.  Like I said, we’re busy, with huge to be read piles and sometimes, even though your book sounds fabulous, we just don’t have the time to read it but we’d love to post an excerpt or a guest post by you.  Give us some options, some respect and for the love of the God, learn our name and preferred genres BEFORE you request.

Not all Bloggers (8)
I have a review policy.  I made it super easy to find by titling the page ‘Review Policy’ and I feel like it’s pretty straight forward, yet I still get a ton of requests that do not follow it.  Check it out and it’s ok for you to use mine as a starting point for yours.  🙂
(click the yellow words to head to my review policy)

Do you have a review policy?

Comment below with what works for your policy and what maybe isn’t working?

-Aimee

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13 Comments

  • Reply Melissa A

    Great post! My policy is pretty straightforward. I sometimes get people who try to manipulate erotica, romance, or new adult as chick lit or who get huffy when I pass on their book. (“Well, it’s getting 5 star reviews already…”) If they didn’t read our policy, it’s pretty obvious. I love the new clause I added in about one feature per book. Makes my life so much easier!

    January 7, 2016 at 12:13 pm
    • Reply chicklitaimee

      That is a good idea the ‘one feature per book’ I may have to implement that one as well!! 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and commenting Melissa! You’re awesome!

      January 7, 2016 at 1:56 pm
  • Reply Libby

    Thanks, Aimee, great advice!

    January 8, 2016 at 5:05 am
  • Reply Stacey

    Twice in the last week I have had a request addressed to the wrong name. No my name is not Melissa, it shows my name on my blog and review policy. I can only conclude that the request had just been copied and pasted after sending to another blogger. Nothing makes me say no more than that. Also I’ve been addressed as, Dear Sir. Um no again, you are not getting a review by calling me sir. It just shows me that they weren’t interested in my blog, they were interested in any blog that will have them.

    January 9, 2016 at 2:25 am
    • Reply chicklitaimee

      I hear ya Stacey! Even with posting this I get requests for majorly wrong genres! Thanks so much for reading!

      January 9, 2016 at 1:09 pm
  • Reply Catherine Hokin (@cathokin)

    Really good post – us authors need to research this as carefully as the agents/publishers we approach. I’m about to launch and am eternally grateful to the 12 bloggers who are doing a tour based on what is an unknown product.

    January 9, 2016 at 1:17 pm
    • Reply Aimee

      Thank you so much for reading Catherine! I so agree with you!

      January 12, 2016 at 6:38 pm
  • Reply Rosa

    Great post! I can’t stress enough how grateful I feel that a book blogger will review something of mine. I wouldn’t dare pester anyone and not read their Review Policy. I can’t understand why writers can’t get that into their heads, but I guess there must be many who can’t.

    January 9, 2016 at 1:35 pm
    • Reply Aimee

      Way to many, Rosa. Thank you SO much for reading!! 🙂

      January 12, 2016 at 6:38 pm
  • Reply Tamara

    Girl! I’m in love with the honesty of this post. This is true in every sense of the word. I’m fairly new to book blogging but I’ve had a lot requests in less than a month. I put up my review submission guidelines and the part i found most important, was that I want to gain the trust of authors and I believe the protection Intellectual property rights for them and my blog. It’s something that I’ve been told is their biggest worry. I agree with everything you said. Keep it up Aimee! 🙂

    January 22, 2016 at 5:46 pm
  • Reply Amy

    And… This makes absolutely perfect sense! We don’t have a review policy yet, but it’s in progress. I really need to get that up; we’re being swamped with stuff right now. This is so helpful! 🙂

    February 16, 2016 at 7:45 pm
  • Reply Kaisha

    Fantastic post! I’ve been meaning to get my review policy set up so it at least covers me a bit. I do agree massively with the personalising of the request email. I got one today that didn’t even have a hiya or anything, just the details of her book. I find that rude, I am quite happy to review people’s books if I have the space but I do want to know why they chose my blog. Takes seconds! X

    May 3, 2016 at 11:47 am
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