Confident Reads (6) Review Policies & What Should Be in Them

Hello everyone! Confident Reads is a way to open communication between readers and indie authors.  This  is to help readers feel confident in the books they spend their money on, and for authors to feel confident in the book they publish.  You can find this feature each week (Wednesdays except in September when it will be Tuesdays) discussing a different subject regarding indie books and authors.

Previous Posts:
Week One: State of Publishing Guest Post by Jeff Bennington about the differences in publishing terms.
Approved Read: Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe by Jeff Bennington
Week Two: Let’s Talk Covers Part One
Approved Read: Exiled by M.R. Merrick
Week Three: Let’s Talk Covers Guest Post by M.R. Merrick- The Magic of Art

Approved Read: Entangled & Duplicity by Nikki Jefford
Approved Read: A Place in This Life by Julie Rieman Duck

Last week we talked about what we want in a review request.  Now we need to talk about what should be in a review policy.  Since I started booking tours and doing book promotions for authors I have read a lot of policies.  And I have a good idea of what should be there.  Now, this is just my opinion and perhaps some authors have a different opinion.  And traditional publicists are probably even more specific.  So this week’s post is a bit different then usual, but I think it’s important so I decided to do it anyway.  Sorry about it being more of an advice post then a discussion post.
When I am looking up review policies for the purpose of finding reviewers or tour hosts what I want to see has all of this:
  • First it needs to exist.  Lots of blogs don’t have one.  I don’t care how many followers you have,  have a review policy, even if it’s just in the About Me section.  
  • Have the review policy easy to find and clearly labeled.
  • Include your email.  I understand that some want you to read the About Me section to get it, or click to a Contact section.  I get this, but still prefer to not have to search for the email.
  • Include what age groups (children’s, middle grade, YA, and adult) you read. And if you have a preference for certain ones.
  • Include what genre’s you enjoy and even what you don’t enjoy. This is surprisingly helpful and will help you get less requests in genre’s you don’t read.
  • Include what formats you can accept.  
  • If you live outside the US include that as well.  
  • If you only accept books published in your country and you live outside the US, it’s helpful to let us know this.  
  • Say you accept indie, self published and small press books.  Okay, obviously you can say you don’t accept them as well.  But if you don’t accept them just because you’re booked, say so.  When it says you don’t accept indie or self published books it sounds like you don’t support them.  
  • This isn’t completely necessary, but if you do (or don’t do) author interviews, guest posts, etc, say so. It can be helpful.  There are a surprising amount of blogs out there that don’t do them and it always feels awkward getting an email back saying that they don’t.  I feel like I should know that already.  
  • Tell us a bit about your reviewing.  If you post DNF (did not finish) reviews, if you rate on a scale or don’t rate at all, etc.  And if you review everything you get. 
  • Include some stats. I’m no expert on this, but I include monthly visitors, absolute unique visitors, feed subscribers, email subscribers, monthly page views, twitter followers and GFC followers.  These are the same stats I send to publishers. 
  • Have your name somewhere.  Some people prefer to not have their name on their blog, so sign it with your ‘name’ you want used.  So many times I have searched and searched for a name to address my email to and it can be very time consuming.  I know people like to be addressed by name, so make it easy to find!
  • It’s also nice to have is a list of other sites you post reviews on.  This is especially helpful if you have a new blog and few readers because authors find it well worth their time and money to still provide a book for review if they know it will be reviewed other places.
  • Last but not least, try to not get too wordy.  This is a lot of info to post, but if it’s TOO long it’s too easy to skim. 

    Authors, do you have anything to add?  Bloggers do you have any comments about what I have listed?  Remember that this is just my opinion and what I have come across while looking for blogs to feature books I’m promoting or have on tour.

    Approved Read: This weeks approved indie read is What a Boy Wants by Nyrae Dawn.  I just reviewed this one the other day (HERE) and really enjoyed it! It’s another young adult contemporary, but this was a light read that pulled me right out of my reading funk!

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    1. Thank you for posting this, as a new blogger there is so much I don’t know and having posts like this is SO helpful. I have my review policy in a separate tab at the top of my blog, where it’s easy to find. I also have all but two of what you listed and I agree on all of it. It just wastes less time for both parties involved if the blogger puts as much information as possible. I also included where I would be posting my reviews ASIDE from my blog (GoodReads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble) as well as let them know that I am open to posting the review somewhere they’d like as well.

      Very helpful post.

    2. I love these posts Candace! They are absolutely great! I was very eager to hear your thoughts on this topic. I have our Review Policy up since quite a while and I was hoping it would be ok the way we have it. And, Ijust realized that I have all your suggestions already in! Makes me glad :)

      • My review policy was horrible until just recently when I completely revamped it. It’s hard to know what to include and it wasn’t until I started reading others that I got a good idea of what should be there.

    3. I absolutely love this meme! I have an Indie Book of the Week I try to post weekly that is sort of similar (I mostly just highlight an indie book or author I have found and enjoyed). It will be great to get more ideas and find new authors.
      I will definitely be tuning it to see what you post!

    4. Great advice! My review policy needs a slight overhaul, now that I realize that it’s missing a few things. I recently realized that my name is NOWHERE on my blog. That wasn’t on purpose, I just didn’t think that anyone would need to address me by name. Then I got an email addressed to “Jennifer”…my name is actually Chelsea, I think Jennifer is a frequent commenter…awkward.

      • Yeah, I don’t think I could find your name anywhere on your blog when I looked before. I felt like I should know your name but was coming up blank! Your not the only one though, trust me!

    5. That’s a fantastic list Candace, and very helpful as it’s making me go back through my review policy to ensure I have posted all the necessary information and haven’t forgotten anything. I feel like my name is all over the blog since it’s at the bottom of each post, but I should probably go ahead and add it to that page as well since it’s a pet peeve of mine to have a review request sent to “Blogger”:)

      • I think if your name is in the review policy then they have no excuse to not use it. But if they have to look other places then you’ll get more ‘dear blogger’ emails. I usually am checking out their ‘about me’ sections if they are new to me bloggers, but it is time consuming. I just like to know them better before I send them an email.

    6. This is perfect timing- a Review Policy is part of my September blog plan!
      I like how you laid out what should be included and little details!
      Thanks :)

    7. It’s embarrassing to admit that I don’t have a review policy. I keep meaning to, but to go through a whole bunch of other people’s/blog’s review policies seemed like so much work…creating a review policy turned into a “do it another day” item. Because as a new blogger, it’s all I can do to keep up with my reading and reviews. So this post is great, Candace! You saved me quite a few hours of research that I wasn’t really up to doing. When I do my review policy- and I guess I now have no excuse not to- I’ll be using this as a checklist. And, of course, adding to it all the good ideas in the comments section.

      • You definitely need one! I know that as a new blogger it’s hard to imagine people wanting you to review, but you’d be surprised! If you review on other sites (goodreads and amazon) it’s definitely worth it for them to send books even to the smaller blogs.

        Thanks for tweeting for me!

    8. This is an awesome post…I think that I have most of everything you mentioned in mine…except for the stats…I need to think about that one. I do worry though that mine is too long and detailed… I need to take the time to go back over it.

      • Yeah, it’s hard to keep it short. But when it gets too long it’s tedious to read. The stats are mostly for publishers so if you don’t care about getting contacted by them then it’s probably not as necessary.

    9. I think something bloggers should include is whether or not they review every book they read. Like I have in mine that I have the right to NOT review a book if I choose not to. This is usually rare, but there are times that I DNF or didn’t like it, so I don’t want to review it. That way the author or publisher sees upfront, and the blogger can always point out his/her policies if something ever comes up.

      Love these posts, Candace!

    10. Thank you for mentioning stats too. It is SO hard to find stats on blogs easily, if you can find them at all! And they’re SO important for publicists to be able to access.

      • I’ve noticed that stats are rarely found on blogs. Mine has been there since I started blogging (or close to it) and I assumed everyone posted their stats. But I read review policy’s all day long and most blogs don’t have them.

    11. Yes, yes, and yes. All of these things are things that I have found after revising my review policy over and over and over and over again!!

      Also, bullet points (instead of bunching everything into large paragraphs) are SUPER helpful because they are quickly read.

      • You’re right, bullet points make it much easier to scan the policy quickly and soak up the info faster. I think I’ll spiff up my policy with the bullet points. Thanks for the reminder about that one!

    12. Great post! I check out bloggers’ policies in my work and the items listed above are exactly what I look for and I try to put them in my own review policy as well. Thanks! :)

    13. I want to thank you again for this post. I now have a review policy- and I was able to do it in under an hour. I linked to this post in my review policy in case anyone is checking out my policies because they are trying to make one up.

    14. Just wanted to say that this post is amazingly helpful to me right now. I started blogging a few months ago and never got around to writing any review rules; I didn’t realize how important they are, and then I procrastinated. I just designed my new blog and have been trying to think of everything to add to it, and now I have the perfect guidelines for my policy tab. Thank you!!!


      • No, not typically (and I suggest you don’t). The unsolicited books come from publishers who keep you on a list and automatically send you books they think you’ll like. Sometimes I’ll request one book from them and receive others with it as well. Generally this is with established blogs that the publishers have worked with for awhile.

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