Monday, June 7, 2010

Yes, We Do Read Your Review Policies

I was hanging out on Twitter, and I noticed people talking about review policies on their blogs--whether they should they even bother writing them, and what to include.

A few months ago I wrote a post for publicists wanting to work with book bloggers, so I figured that this was a good time to write a companion post for it. Book bloggers... how do you get a publishers attention and what are we looking for?

There are so many book blogs out there and as a publicist, it is hard to sort through them. There are a few things that stand out to me though that will make me take the time to look through a blog to see if they are a good fit for our books:

  1. Is the blog organized? If a blog is cluttered with tons of stuff that make it difficult to find things, I will go on to the next blog.
  2. Is the blog easy to read? Sometimes people use fonts and colors that make it really difficult to read a post.
  3. I am a grammar snob. Sorry. I judge poor grammar. A typo here and there is fine, because it happens (even with yours truly), but a blatant disregard for the rules of the English language miffs me and I will quickly move on. I admit, this may just be me though. 
  4. Is the blogger a good writer? Do they have insightful reviews? I like to read a review that is entertaining, but also is fair to the books. I like to hear pros and cons. I buy a lot of books based on reviews I read on book blogs. I think that giving a fair and honest review is a lot better for a book than simply saying, "OMG! This was so awesome!" and not explaining what was so awesome about it. The review doesn't have to be traditional to be good. I love reading reviews that people do with their kids, or from a different perspective. Sometimes more than one person reviews a book and it is written out more like a dialog. Every blogger has their own voice that comes though, which is what I love to see and read.
  5. I like to see if there are comments on posts and if the blogger interacts with people that leave comments. I would rather have my books reviewed on a blog where people are actually reading and interacting, instead of just sending them to a blogger with a gazillion followers, but zero interaction between the readers and reviewers. Note: this does not mean that you have to have tons of comments on everything you post or that you have to comment on everything. Those are not realistic expectations. Different books are of interest to different people and different types of posts get more or less response from readers. We know this, but it is nice to see you interacting, or even just your readers commenting with each other relatively regularly.
  6. That being said... we still look at your followers, and if you're willing to give us stats about the number of visitors you get, it is helpful. As a publicist, it helps to know the reach of a blog and numbers are a part of that.We look at the circulation that a print newspaper has to see the reach that it will have, so we like to know online stats as well. I know that there has been a lot of debate as to whether or not a blogs stats should be paid attention to, so you don't have to share, but it is helpful to us.
  7. I love a good review policy. Seriously. I get unnecessarily excited when I find a blog with a clear review policy. If a blog does not have a review policy then I rarely contact them. A blogger comes across as much more professional when they have a review policy in place. It also helps me know what to send. I don't want to waste your time or mine, by contacting you about books you aren't even interested in. A helpful review policy should include: contact info, what books you will consider for review, what you won't even touch, how far in advance you need a book, what formats you're willing to review (i.e. ARCs, Galleys, E-books, finished copies, etc.), if you participate in blog tours, and if you do guest posts and author interviews. 
  8. Lastly, please contact us! There are so many book blogs that it really helps for you to drop us a note on Twitter, Facebook, or e-mail us. It's easy to introduce yourself, your blog, and let us know what you're interested in. I personally like it when I blogger includes a mailing address so that I can send them a catalog of our books to look over and request for review. Remember, we want to work with you, so don't be unsure about approaching us!
Did I miss anything? Do you have any questions? Are there things we as publicists could be doing differently? Let me know! 

***If you want more information about this topic, check out the Bookalicous blog post from a Pam's, a book blogger,  perspective.***

43 comments:

  1. This is fantastic! Personally I think it's a must on every reviewer's site who is looking to receive books for review. If you're just planning on reviewing your home library a simple, "I'm not accepting review copies at this time" is perfect and saves everyone a lot of time!

    I definitely think everyone who has a book review blog should read this post. You did a great job! I'm afraid you might be getting some requests for reviews of review policies now. LOL.

    PS...now I'm going to fret over my grammar even more than I already do. :o)

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  2. I'm glad this is helpful!I think we're all working towards establishing great blogger-publisher relationships. Don't fret too much over your grammar! I make plenty of mistakes myself, even when I have other people check over my posts. It's the throwing the rules out the window that gets me. I can't read anything that spells "you" as "u." Is it really so hard to type three letters instead of just one? ha!

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  3. Erin what a great post. Very helpful. I think I need to update my review policy. :)

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  4. Great post. I think you covered all the major issues. I also think it's reassuring to know that we can contact you (publicists in general) to ask for a catalog or to inquire about review copies.

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  5. Thanks for the post!

    I don't have a review policy as I don't think anyone will contact me anyway (but that sounds like a vicious circle given that you don't contact anyone without a review policy!).

    More of an issue is that I'm from the Netherlands and I have the feeling no review copies from Dutch publishers are sent to bloggers in the Netherlands (I don't know many, to be honest). Will US or UK publishers send review copies to me in the Netherlands? My blog is international, but still I doubt it.

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  6. Thanks so much for your responses! As for sending books internationally, it can be very costly, so I don't do it often. I will typically send a pdf of a book to international bloggers. I wish we could send more actual books to bloggers over seas though. However, it never hurts to contact a publisher and ask!

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  7. Wow, this is a really fantastic post! I think, as bloggers, we really do need publishers to lay out exactly what they want from us and you did that SO well. And now I'm off to rewrite my review policy :)

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  8. Someone linked to this article on Twitter and I have to say thank you! It's always helpful to know what Publishers are looking for. It also makes me feel a little less worried since I've been doing many of the tips you suggest from the beginning. Switching platforms recently has helped me integrate some of them better now. :)

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  9. I have a feeling that I am going to see some very well written review policies in the future! Thanks for stopping by and for the feedback. It is much appreciated.

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  10. Thank you for an informative post with some great advice. It never hurts for a blogger to take a step back and look at their blog with an objective eye - I try and do that from time to time. I only wish I were more tech savvy.

    I will say, I finally published my Review Policy - it only took me a year to write it!

    Thanks again!

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  11. This was a very informative and helpful post! Thanks so much for sharing the publisher's prospective.

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  12. This is awesome! I've linked to it in my New Book Blogger FAQ: http://presentinglenore.blogspot.com/2009/01/new-book-blogger-faq.html

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  13. Great post! I appreciate the frank tone and the helpful information!

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  14. Thanks for linking back to the post Lenore! (and thanks to everyone for stopping by!)

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  15. I am excited right now. I always wondered about review policies and how necessary they really were. I bookmarked this post so that I can come back to it in the future! Thank you, thank you.

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  16. Thanks so much for this really helpful post! I've been procrastinating for five years on posting my review policy, so I guess I'd better get to it.

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  17. Wow, great post! I've never written a review policy. I just write about books when they excite me. It's good to know that publishers do care about what bloggers are writing.

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  18. Lenore beat me to it, but I'm going to do the same thing ... I'm going to link to both of your posts on my review policy page.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Professionalism is key, and you've set a great example for us.

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  19. Does it make me a huge nerd that I am quite excited to check out these review policies you all are talking about writing?! ha! Thanks so much for linking back to us Terry. It is quite flattering. I am glad these posts can be helpful. If there is a topic you would like us to blog about in the future, feel free to let us know!

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  20. Oh wow thanks so much for writing this Erin! I'm new to blogging and I've wondered if I needed a review policy at all since not every blog has one. Now I'm off to write one :)

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  21. OH what an AWESOME post! thankyou so much

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  22. Thank you so much for sharing. It's great information in general, and I'm glad to learn you are open to working with book bloggers!

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  23. Great post! Review Policies are great. I'm also a huge fan of 'About Me' pages. The more info I know about you, the better I'm able to gauge what your interest might be in a title.

    If I see you have children, I will keep you in mind for any upcoming children's books I have. I did that with a middle grade recently. I approached people I knew had children and asked if they would be interested in having their child review the book on their blog!

    One thing I always look for and don't always find are where bloggers are on the planet. I do my best to work at least a handful of international bloggers into every campaign, but I'm often limited in how many I can send overseas. Knowing where you are helps me know whether to pitch to you directly or steer clear so we don't have to have an awkward 'I would love to send one, but can't' conversation. It's a little too 'It's not you, it's me' for my taste. :-P

    And always, ALWAYS feel free to reach out and ask us questions! Publicists are like stewards on the Recommended Reading ship. We love to help guide you along on the journey to your next favorite read. ;-)

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  24. Thanks for posting on this topic. I have a very general review policy posted on my blog but may update it after reading your suggestions.

    As far as reader interaction, many of my readers are bloggers so I try and return the favor by commenting on their blogs instead of posting comments on my own blog. I will answer questions if posed to me, but sometimes I'll do that privately via email.

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  25. Awesome post. I've substantially revised my review policy thanks to your great pointers!

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  26. Good point, Brimful. I know I try and comment on blog that post about our books, so it leaves less time for me to answer and comment to people on my own blog. Comments aren't a deal break, it's just nice to see people interacting on a blog. If there is a good review policy in place that makes me think a book would be a good fit for a blog, that trumps a lot of things.

    Oh Online Publicist... How your comments bring me such joy. I will be calling myself "steward" for the rest of the day!

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  27. Between the post & comments, I'm now wondering what should be in the about me. A few of the things I thought I'd put there I'm going to put in my review policy now.

    Very Helpful post & comments! Thanks!

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  28. wow thank you for this such a great post!

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  29. GREAT topic and I really appreciate your answers. The one thing I have been nervous about is contacting publisher's. I know they get so many requests and I'll just be thrown in the pile, I do get sent books occasionally though. I will now send out some emails to my favorite publisher's and introduce myself. I think my blog has something to offer!

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  30. Thanks for being a publisher who looks at review policies!! I love to hear that. :) Great post.

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  31. I'm inspired to revise my review policy too! Although it's rather late at night and our summer reading program starts Saturday so I'll probably have to do it again when I'm awake...I was so pleased to discover Peachtree has a blog - I am a huge fan of Cathryn Sill and Martin Chatterton.

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  32. I love your post! It is so helpful to read what publicists want rather than playing the guessing game and hope we're getting it right!

    I do have a review policy that I try to update with my stats each month. I personally think it is important to provide that information ~ but that's just me.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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  33. Thank you! I'm definetly updating my blog based on this, Its nice to here what a Publisher is looking for :)

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  34. I landed here thanks to Anastasia Suen's Social Media workshop. I learned from your post as well as the comments so will be updating my review policy and location on my blog soon. Thanks for the wealth of information.

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  35. Thanks for the feedback everyone!

    Catie, I think your about me should show a bit of your personality, but also how you fit in to the book world. Are you a teacher or librarian? Maybe you just love to read and want to share that. I always like to know peoples favorites book as well, but that is just because I am curious.

    I am so glad that Anastasia sent you our way! She does great stuff. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us!

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  36. Do you mean followers on Twitter or the amount of followers listed on a blog? I noticed a blog will have a massive amount of followers because they state when they do a contest post, "if you are a follower, you will have an extra entry for the contest"

    That is the reason I don't trust the amount of real followers a blog has because one of the reasons they have so many followers because of this rule to win prizes and not because they are true followers of a blog.

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  37. Good point, Katie. I personally look at both. Seeing people commenting and interacting is more important for me. Especially now that I have my own blog, I realize that the number of followers on a blog isn't necessarily an accurate portrayal of who is reading the blog. Again, this is where stats are nice to have, but it can be a touchy subject. Some people are happy to share them and sometimes others get offended when you ask. I try to be mindful of this. If a blogger has a Twitter feed, I will check that out, see who follows them, check out their recent tweets, etc. I try to follow book bloggers and start conversations as well. Long story short, it is a little of everything and beginning a dialog, in any way, is the best way to go!

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  38. This is a great post thank you for the helpful information!

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  39. Wonderful post! Very informative to the newbie blogger as well as those in the community for a bit now. It's nice to see what you are looking for when seeking ou sites...very helpful indeed. ^_^

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  40. Absolutely loved your post, thank you! It made me feel better about the amount of time I've spent writing and revising my review policy.

    In regards to contests and followers, I agree that one cannot completely rely on blog follower numbers. I think contests with the "extra entry if you follow" option is a great networking approach for new bloggers. It's hard to gain an audience when you only have two blog followers. Yet, when people demand that I follow, tweet, fan them on facebook, friend request their best friend on facebook, friend request their mother on facebook, and then offer my first-born child in order to qualify for the giveaway, I tend to run away. Screaming.

    Typically with blog follower numbers, I take it with a grain of salt. It's nice to have your number up there, but it's even better to have people who leave you thoughtful comments. That's why I wanted to blog in the first place.

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  41. Thank you for the tips! I just started 2 book blogs recently. One is with a group of friends from the College Students group on Goodreads that I created and the other is my own personal book blog. So, I'm pretty new to all this and it is nice to hear what you are looking for. I don't want free books for the sake of free books..(well I do--but not from publishers). I truly want to share my experiences with other readers. I've been able to do that tremendously through Goodreads and now blogging!

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  42. Thanks so much for this post! It's great to get information like this straight from the publisher. As a new book blogger, I wasn't sure exactly what to include with my review policy and exactly how much weight the number of followers carried when determining which blogs received review copies. Thanks again!

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  43. Thank you for this post - as others have said, it's great to get the info straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak! I've rewritten my policy a little bit & included more info, thanks to your info.

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