Make A Date Now to Update Your Review Policy
It’s a few years since I last paid any attention to the Review Policy page on this blog. I wouldn’t have looked at this this week if it hadn’t been for an email from a publicity assistant at a publishing company inviting me to review a new collection of poetry.
I was puzzled why they thought I’d be a good fit for their promotion activities. I never mention poetry on this blog and there is only one review of a book of poetry on the whole site – Sylvia Plath’s second collection, Arial, that I read as part of the 1956club reading event.
It wasn’t until I looked at my review policy page that I found the answer.
The page explains the genres and types of books I read most often. But I’d never thought to include the types that I seldom or never read. That would have been helpful information for that publicity assistant, saving them wasted effort in contacting me.
Reading that page again has set me thinking about the key elements that book bloggers should include on their review policy page.
What Is A Review Policy?
Before we get into the details, maybe it would be helpful to explain what I mean by a review policy.
Put simply it’s a statement about how you will respond to approaches made by authors, publicists, book tour organisers who ask you to review their books. It sets out whether you welcome these requests, how they should be made and what types of books you accept. You can also think of it as a statement of principles – for example, explaining whether you review every book you accept and how you handle the issue of which books you can’t finish.
Book Review Policy : Essential Elements
Your review policy should include the elements that will help an author/publicist decide if its worth their time to contact you. It doesn’t need to be lengthy but should clearly set out your parameters. The elements that I’d consider essential include:
- Indication of whether you accept review requests. If you don’t it’s important to make this clear.
- Genres you like reading and will accept for review
- Genres you will not accept for review
- Preferred formats (printed copies only or print and electronic. If you include electronic be sure to specify if this is Kindle and/orMobi). Will you review audiobooks?
- Preferred method of contact: Email, contact form, via private message on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook
- Your review principles: How do you handle negative thoughts on the book? Will you still review a book if you did not finish it.
Book Review Policy : Additional Elements
These are additional points that could help give the author/publicist an even clearer picture of how you’ll handle their requests.
- Do you use a rating system in your reviews?
- Will you accept self published books for review?
- What they can expect once they have sent you their request. For example: how long can they expect to wait for your response. Do you always answer requests. How long does it typically take you to read/review a book. Will you post your reviews on other sites (eg Goodreads)
- Do you welcome other opportunities beyond reviews such as cover reveals, exclusive extracts, author interviews
One feature I’ve seen on a number of blogs is a message about whether the blogger is currently accepting review requests. Life happens and it may be that you’re over-committed and need a break or you’re taking a holiday and don’t want to accept review copies for a while. It’s helpful if you give an indication of when you think you’ll be open for business again.
How Does Your Review Policy Stack Up?
Your review policy might have some, but not all, of these elements. Or you may have more content than the points covered here.
Remember that there is no such thing as a perfect review policy. Your review policy should reflect who you are and the purpose of your blog.
Blog sites come in so many shapes and sizes that what works for one, won’t work for another. If you are a USA based blogger for example you will want to consider referencing the Federal Trade Commission’s policies about online reviews and disclosure.
Don’t feel you have to write a lengthy policy – most of the points can be covered in one or two sentences. You could even write your ‘policy’ as a FAQ (frequently asked questions).
If you’re looking for inspiration here are some examples of how other bloggers approach this topic. They range from the simple, but clear, to the very comprehensive.
29 thoughts on “Make A Date Now to Update Your Review Policy”
Envious as I am of bloggers/reviewers getting free books, I don’t have the time to deal with new releases. I still get written to very occasionally and once or twice a year Lisa directs someone my way who will suit me and that works quite well.
The review policy page can also be used to indicate you are not interested in approaches
My review policy has evolved as a result of dealing with self Pubbed people over the years. My Most hated comment: “I know your review policy says you dont review x BUT CAN YOU MAKE AN EXCEPTION FOR ME?”. Funnily happens mainly for poetry. And Christian Fiction. My review policy now starts with “I’m not accepting review requests. If I dont reply in 24 hours, take the hint”.
I get those “can you make an exception” requests too, very annoying.
It is ironic, as several commenter here have pointed out, that whatever one sets out in a book review policy — and book reviews should be all about reading — requests for reviews are almost inevitably from people who don’t read the policy in any shape or form. Ironic, but there we are. I only review what I choose now, not what I’m sent or offered without having made a connection with any reader.
I get them too. And also approaches from people who want to write a guest post on a topic completely unrelated to the content of the blog. I’ve had suggestions for travel posts, preparing for retirement and home schooling. I don’t understand why they would want to waste their time contacting me
Baffling. I don’t have those, but maybe your blog has made it onto some list for reasons one can only speculate on.
I get those too. Straight to the trash…
I don’t have a review policy on the blog, and tbh I tend to often seek out the kind of books I want to review. I’ve had plenty of offers from people who obviously haven’t even had a casual look at my blog. Mostly they get a polite refusal…
LOL, and I have just checked my blog and I *do* have a very short review policy – which I think will do for me, because judging from the comments others have made here, it does seem that not many people who approach bloggers have read them…
*chuckle* – you must have written it in your sleep….
Fair enough – yes its the offers from people who haven’t shown even the basic courtesy of reading a few posts, that bug me the most
I hate to break it to you, but publicity people never read review policies. They don’t even look at or read your blog. Your email address will be in a database somewhere. I don’t participate in blog tours but that doesn’t stop people sending me invites to them. A review policy is I believe more for your readers than publishers as it shows your integrity/values and can be trusted to review without fear or favour.
If they don’t read the blog even if only on a superficial level how have they built their database?
There’s plenty of PR services that are paid to build databases and access to these is then sold on to whomever wants access. They request your permission to do so and then ask you to update your entry every year.
I believe they do. But I have never responded to those impersonal requests, either to provide it in the first place or to update it when they’ve got the details in some other way.
I prefer to deal with small publishers who don’t treat me like part of their marketing machine, and since I don’t really care whether the big ones send me books for review or not, (because I can either buy it myself or borrow what I want from the library anyway) they can either humour me or not, as they please!
Luckily I am under the radar sufficiently that they don’t have my details
As Carol says, people (publicists who should know better) and authors (whose initiative I generally admire) too often don’t bother to read my review policy, which I update from time to time in the forlorn hope that it becomes more explicit. I find that its smaller publishers who take the time to know what I like because they value the free publicity they get; it’s the constant churn of publicists in big companies that cause the most problems. Many of them assume that they are doing me a Big Favour with their free book as if it’s in any way equivalent to the time and effort in reviewing that professional reviewers get paid for.
But a review policy is still useful. Pitch me something that is explicitly listed as a no-thanks, and (depending on the tone of the pitch, and whether on that day I feel sorry for unpaid publicity interns or struggling authors) they get referred to my policy so that they don’t take my refusal personally. Nine times out of ten it’s a pitch for short stories which are just not my thing and my review policy says so. But I understand that newbies don’t always know their way around the blogging world and I try to be patient.
But when the self-published author has tried to conceal that fact and I have wasted my time discovering it, they get no answer at all.
It’s the approach from self published authors that irritate me the most – as you say, they don’t make that clear at all and then I have to dig around to discover if my suspicions are correct.
My niece has interned in the promotions depts of a presses and has had to send out those emails. It can be a thankless job so on behalf of all publishing interns, everywhere, thank you for your sensitivity.
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Thank you, very helpful and has given me pause for thought.
Glad to have been of help
I actually decided long ago not to have a review policy, and I removed my email details – I was getting too many requests from self-published authors (despite what my policy said!). I have plenty to read via NetGalley if it’s ARCs I want, but ultimately, my blog was always a self-serving and personal project to keep track of my reading. I still get the odd lengthy comment pitching a book for review, but I reply privately and don’t publish the comment.
Oh I removed my email address as well, pretty much for the same reason.
Add insult to injury, whilst my given name was in the email address, on the copyright etc, they would never (and I mean NEVER) address my by my name. Cut and paste job every time, If they dont have the decency to work out what my name is and send me an individual email I wont spend time on their “previous” book
It baffles me why people who approach us with a request can’t get even the basics right. Luckily I haven’t had the same experience as you but I can understand why it would frustrate you
This is a good example of being true to the purpose of your blog
Then you receive requests that indicate the obvious fact that the person has never read your policy!
Yep I’ve had those. So all I need to do in those cases is to reply giving them the link to my policy page….