An author’s POV: 8 ways to improve your book review blog

8 tips for Book reviewers & bloggersI have empathy for book reviewers. Once word gets out that they review books, they’re inundated with authors pushing their books. (Hint to readers who want free books – become a book blogger. If you review it, they will come…).

In the process of submitting my books for review, I’ve visited a lot of book blogs. I don’t want to bother someone who isn’t interested—it’s a waste of my time and theirs. So I have suggestions to streamline the review process to eliminate inappropriate and/or unwanted requests.

  1. Post your review policy. Be specific about what you read and review. List the genres you like and the ones you wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.
  2. Have a search box on your blog so that I can search by name or title to see if you’ve reviewed my book in the past. I try to remember to check back, but often reviews don’t post until months after I’ve submitted a request. When I remember to check back, I need to be able to search by my name or book title. I can also check to find out that you’ve never reviewed any of my books, so I can cross you off my list of contacts.
  3. Update your policies and statements periodically! I’ve visited a number of blogs stating they’re no longer accepting review requests until they’ve worked through the backlog. But I know from having visited several times the message is a year old. Or the blogs state in January they won’t accept reviews until March, and here it is August. So are you accepting requests or aren’t you?
  4. Include a list (with links) to past reviews organized by author name so I can see who you’ve reviewed in the past. This helps me to decide whether you will be interested in my book.
  5. Tell me how to submit a review request. Some blogs have no email address posted or online form. If you’re not accepting requests, you should say so. If you are accepting reviews, tell me how you want to be contacted.
  6. If you use a request form, don’t make the buy link mandatory. You say you need a long lead time to review a book, but I can’t submit it to you in advance of publication if you require a buy link because I won’t have it until release day.
  7. If I’ve submitted to you several times and you know that you will never, ever, even under threat of death, read or review my book, and you think, “Oh, god, not her again,” please email me and tell me. Then I’ll stop contacting you, and we’ll both be happier. I can’t tell you how many times I put a reviewer on my “last call” list and then had a book accepted for review. So, I’m pretty persistent. I’ve learned that “next time” often does pay off. You’re going to have to tell me outright if you don’t want to be contacted. A lack of a response won’t work on me. Not for a long time anyway.
  8. If you are a “consumer reviewer” and request my book from NetGalley, you should know that I check out your past reviews. Mainly I verify that you do review the books you request. If you state that you review on Goodreads and your “book blog,” and your reviews are two, three, four years old (or nonexistent), I’m going to decline your request. What you say in your bio on NetGalley matters too. Ifyou  talk about books and how much you love to read a variety of genres, that’s a big plus. If you have no bio and no links to where you post reviews, I’m going to decline your request. If you say you’re so busy you rarely have time to read or review, why in the world would I give you my book?

If you’re author, what do you wish reviewers would do? If you’re a reviewer, what do you wish authors would do to make your job easier?

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6 Responses to An author’s POV: 8 ways to improve your book review blog

  1. Great post Cara! The main thing I run into as a reviewer is short lead time to publishing date. I know, authors often tell me they don’t care when I review, but I do. I like to be able to be one of the first reviewers. Sometimes authors are only able to offer review copies until a couple of week prior release date and I understand. But personally, I like 2-3 months. And I am one of those who has, at least temporarily stopped taking review requests. (New job – still adapting to odd schedule.)

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I wish I could get on a schedule where I had ARC’s two to three months in advance. I’m one of those who are lucky to get them a couple of weeks before. I totally understand the time crunch.

      Although I’m not officially a “reviewer,” I do try to review many books that I read.

  2. Laurel Lasky says:

    I’m an author (one book) a reader and a reviewer of about 800 reviews on Amazon, blushing books, Barnes and noble, goodreads, about 4 street teams, individual authors and two publishers. I love BDSM, DD, spanking romances and sometimes mainstream novels and short stories. (I prefer longer books but flexible) I only review books and authors I like and won’t give less than 4 stars. Mom always told me “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything ” if one of my authors books is less then 4 stars I will contact them with hopefully positive critique. I occasionally like to explore other genres and after reading some of your Sci-Fi books, Cara, I now read Sci-fi and paranormal books by you and new authors. It’s true that the more you review the more requests and its good for my elderly ego, lol well I think I’ve rambled on enough.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      You must be one of those “voracious” readers. I’m amazed at how much you read and review. Thank you!

  3. Amazing post….as a blogger and reviewer it is great to know what an author needs us to provide to make the process easier for both. Will definitely have to look into implementing some of these into my page.

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