The Importance of having a Book Review Policy

by EverydayMiracles

A book review policy is important for all book bloggers to have. This article will help you to create your written policy for your blog.

Did you know that being a book blogger comes with enormous perks, including receiving free advanced reader copies of books that interest you? The first step to getting in touch with authors and publishing houses that can help you on your quest to build a better book blog is to make sure that you have an excellent review policy put together. If authors and publishers don't know what it is that you want to read and review, it makes it much too difficult for them to determine whether or not to approach you. After all, nobody likes to be rejected!

There are several components to writing the best review policy that you can, and you will find that information compiled below so that you can create a policy that will really POP.

Why your book blog needs a review policy

It's all about trust!

In another article, I talked at some length about the value of trust in book reviewing. If you're going to be successful with a book blog or other book review platform, it is to your greatest advantage to be honest with your readers. Putting a review policy on your blog (or on whatever platform it is you use to write your reviews) is very important to building trust with your audience. Authors and readers alike need to know a few things about you in order to determine whether or not your book reviews are to their advantage to follow.

Your review policy tells your audience (and authors who might want to use your services) just what they can expect out of your book reviews.

For example:

  • Are you really tough on the authors you read when reviewing a book? I'm not an easy reviewer. It's hard to get a five star rating from me! For a book to earn five stars it has to be one that I'm adding to my stack of favorites. A four star review means that I thought a book was utterly amazing. If my audience isn't aware of that, it might look as though the best books I review are only mediocre. Only about one in ten or fifteen books gets five stars in my reviews. I'm a hard reviewer. Authors and readers want to know that so that they know how to interpret my responses. My review policy might put some authors off of propositioning me for a review, but I accept that as a potential consequence of my decisions.
  • Do you only review young adult fiction? Paranormal romance? Self-help? Once again, authors and your own audience both want to know what types of books you review. I'm not a big fan of self-help, so reading a book blog (or a series of book reviews) that only features self-help books isn't going to be of interest to me. If I was an author, I wouldn't want to submit my cozy mystery to a reviewer who only reviews mid-grade or children's books, for example. Your review policy lets everybody know what kinds of things you review, and helps to you obtain followers as well as deterring people who aren't interested in the books you review.
  • Do you write long and detailed reviews, or short and concise reviews? Some publishers are especially fond of concise reviews, assuming that they are more likely to be read by the readers who matter. The majority of readers I have encountered, on the other hand, prefer longer reviews in the vicinity of 750 words or so. Knowing how long your reviews are on average helps authors and publishers to decide if you fit in with what they want from a content reviewer, as well as giving readers a heads up as to what to expect from your reviews.
  • How do you rate books that you've read and are reviewing? Do you use a five star system? A ten point system? Neither? Especially if you use a five star system or a ten point scale, you want to ensure that your audience is fully understanding of how your system works. For example, as I stated above, it's very difficult to earn five stars on a book from me. It's equally difficult to earn one star. All books start out at three stars and the majority will become either four star books or two star books by the time I'm finished with them. I only rate five stars on books I really love and one star on books that I believe nobody should read.

Where should you put your book review policy?

The importance of placement

The majority of serious book reviewers do their reviews on a blog. Your blog can take various forms, whether you choose to self-host a Wordpress blog or you'd rather opt to put a blog on the Blogger platform, you have plenty of options for your setup. However, some reviewers enjoy the extra traffic boost that can be gained from using a platform such as Wizzley (where you're currently reading this article). One way or another, you're going to want to make sure that your review policy is prominently placed so that readers and authors can both find it without having to go on a hunt.

Wordpress and Blogger both allow you to create pages on your blog. Note that pages aren't the same thing as posts. Pages will remain "pinned" at the location where the pages widget has been installed. If you are using any kind of a book blog at all (even if all you use it for are the book blog memes, like I do), I recommend putting your review policy on one of these pages, then make sure that you have the pages widget installed. I like to have mine display at the top of the page, but you can also put them in the side column on either Blogger or Wordpress. In fact, you can do both. Either way, make sure that your review policy link is prominently displayed!

But what should you do if you're putting your book reviews on a platform such as Wizzley? If you do have a blog (like I do), I recommend using the "my website" space of your profile to include the link to your review policy on your blog. Most platforms have a space for you to include a link to your website. If your platform does not, then include it as a hyperlink in the profile text, where possible.

On the other hand, not everyone is going to run a book blog of some sort or another. If you only do book reviews very occasionally, then there really isn't any point in keeping a whole blog for the sole purpose of writing reviews. You might use another service for your book reviews, but you'll still want to have a review policy posted publicly. For this, you have two options.

The first option is to create a page for your review policy, then link to this as suggested above. I don't like this option, however, because the chances of the page getting any traffic, direct or indirect, is unlikely. Instead, I suggest using your profile's "about me" field to include your review policy there. You'd be surprised how many visitors will click through to your profile page to learn more about you, and this is a great way to earn yourself some advanced reader copies!

What should a book review policy include?

Several important things

You want to keep your book review policy simple enough to make it readable (i.e. keep it short and to the point) while including all of several key points. Try to break things down and use headers in order to break up the page. Using shorter paragraphs can also keep your pages more readable, so try to stick to three to five sentences for your paragraphs instead of the ludicrous eight paragraphs that some writing sites are beginning to recommend.

It's important to remember that writing for the web is different than writing for print.

For best results and clarity, include the following in your book review policy.

  • Tell authors and your audience what types of books you review. It's best to keep to one primary genre. Make sure that anyone reading your review policy knows what that primary genre is. If you review more than one genre it might be best to have more than one blog (or account)!
  • State your turnaround time on all reviews. You know how fast you read and review and you know how many books are on your stack of books to be reviewed. In all fairness to authors who may be willing to send you an ARC, you will want to state how long your turnaround time is.
  • Let your readers (and authors) know what your review policy is. Are you hard on the books that you read? Do you use a star rating system? What type of information do you provide in your reviews? Give your audience an at-a-glance way of knowing how you review books. Don't make them read every review you've ever written to get this information!
  • Provide contact information to authors and your readers. If an author can't contact you, they can't submit a proposal for you to do a book review for them. If your readers can't contact you, you may lose followers. Provide a simple e-mail address so that you can be contacted, or if you're not comfortable providing your address, use a form. Google Docs provides a form creator.

My Book Blog

Read my Memes and follow along with the other articles I've written!
Through the Fog is the story of Evan Nash, an eighteen-year-old senior in high school whose life changed after a bike accident two weeks after his eighteenth birt...
Bait, by Courtney Farrell, is the story of sixteen-year-old Jack and her crew of boys living in an apocalyptic dystopia. A pox has spread across the United States and ...
cc by-sa 2.0 Enokson on TwitterI recently stumbled across a blog that reviewed one book a day. While I'm quite sure that this blog is written by multiple people r...
Surviving the Stillness, by Jessica White, is the story of two orphans in Montana struggling to make it through the winter while the elder keeps a dark secret from her...
Updated: 04/02/2012, EverydayMiracles
 
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sandyspider on 01/07/2016

I just updated a book review. Wish I had read this first.

Guest on 04/21/2014

Thank you I will get it started up and running.

paperfacets on 12/04/2012

Thanks for the professional tips on books and authors and writing about them.

Mira on 08/07/2012

Great article, EM! I'd love to get ARC copies someday. :-) I agree it would be a good idea for us to do book reviews here on Wizzley :-) You and Jo Harrington today have certainly inspired me to start.

SharileeShares on 05/09/2012

This is great information! I started a book blog but then let it go because I had so many other blogs on the go. If I ever start again, I will definitely use this as a reference. thanks!

nickupton on 04/24/2012

Excellent article. I have a book review site that I haven't done anything with for ages. I got snowed under with books that I had been sent for review! Your article has encouraged me to revive the site.

EverydayMiracles on 03/23/2012

It does take patience, Lissie! That is for sure! :)

Lissie on 03/22/2012

Must admit I have a book review site that I've done little with because I found it tough to search traffic too - and I don't have the patience for social. Very nice hub though

EverydayMiracles on 03/22/2012

Sheilamarie, it's not necessarily all that easy to get recognized if you're a blogger. Search Engine Optimization has never worked for me on my book blog. I don't get search engine traffic there at all. The key is constant promotion. Join Book Bloggers (on Ning) and promote your reviews there, Twitter, Facebook, and network like crazy. The key for me has been to get a steady following of people who want to read MY reviews, or reviews of the types of books I review (which is virtually everything).

I'm trying something different now by reviewing on different platforms instead of putting them on Blogger. I have a few on Squidoo and one on Hubpages, but I don't like the format. I LOVE Wizzley for book reviews so they're going to be coming here in the future I think. I'm blogging all the memes (which is another good way to get your name out there.

sheilamarie on 03/22/2012

Great advice for book reviewers. In general, how does the reading public find you and your blog? Do they just google the book title? What about people wanting to discover new books who do not already know you as a reviewer?
I was just wondering this.


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