So you’ve decided to be a book reviewer. You’re itching to get your hands on some advanced review copies for free. But how do you go about doing this?
The first thing you need to do is make sure your book review blog looks professional and represents the type of books you like and the type of reviewer you are. Then, you need to write some book reviews. Authors and publishers aren’t going to send you books if you haven’t proven that you are capable of reading a few books and writing reviews.
Once you’ve written several book reviews and posted them to your blog and elsewhere (Amazon, Goodreads, #bookstagram, etc.), you can start to position yourself as a reviewer worthy of receiving copies of books to review. Create a new page on your book blog titled “Book Review Policy,” put it in your menu, and include these seven elements in it:
1. Types of books you read
You want to be clear about which genres you do accept and which genres you don’t accept. Be as specific as possible to help weed out requests that won’t interest you. You should also state whether you accept self-published books or books published by small presses. This is a completely personal preference—there’s no right or wrong answer, but putting this in your book review policy keeps everyone on the same page (so to speak). You’ll also want to mention whether you accept both e-books and hard copies or just one of them.
2. Where you post reviews
Authors and publishers want to know where your review will be posted. Hint: The more places you post, the better! Let people know whether you’ll post to Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Include links to your profiles on the sites where you post reviews so people can see what your reviews look like and how people engage with them.
3. Your experience reviewing books
Let authors and publishers know why they should choose you to review their book. Are you a voracious reader in a particular genre? Did you study literature in school? Are you a writer yourself? Are you involved in publishing or editing in some way? Do you write reviews for a publication? Providing some background information about your experience reading and reviewing books will make you a more desirable reviewer.
4. What your reviews include
Give people a brief overview of what your reviews are like. Of course, you can point people to the book reviews you’ve already written, but don’t expect them to read through several of your reviews to get an idea of how you review. State in your book review policy how long your reviews usually are and what types of things you focus on. Do you write hard-hitting critical reviews? Do you write about your general likes and dislikes? Do you write personal essays about your experience reading the book and engaging with its characters and ideas? If you rate your books on a scale, say so. Make it easy for an author or publisher to see exactly what to expect from one of your reviews.
5. How quickly you publish reviews
No one likes to be kept guessing and waiting, especially authors and publishers who are anxiously awaiting a review before a book is officially released. Include a sentence in your book review policy that estimates how soon someone can expect a review of their book once you receive it—in general, 3–6 months is a good amount of time to give yourself to read and write a review.
6. Your insurance policy
You’ll probably want to include a sentence stating something along the lines of, “I reserve the right to not review every book I receive.” Be clear that just because you receive a book does not mean that you’ll write a review of it. This will come in handy when you get into a reading slump, need to focus on other aspects of your life, or just don’t like a book and don’t want to post a negative review.
7. How to contact you
If you want books, make sure to include a way for people to contact you! Include your email at the end of your book review policy, or better yet, create an email submission form for people to fill out. This adds a layer of protection to your email but still lets people contact you easily and safely. Obviously, don’t publish your address or phone number on your website. If an author or publisher wants to send you a hard copy, you can vet them and then send your address via email.
Once you’ve got these elements in your book review policy, you’re ready to start asking for ARCs and copies of new releases. Link to your policy page in your email requests to publishers and authors. If your book review blog gains enough traction, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to score some unsolicited review requests through your book review policy page.