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.