In my opinion, a Review Policy is one of the most important things a blogger needs. It gives anyone interested in soliciting a review from you all the information they need in one place, so if you’re interested in authors (particularly indie authors) or small PR companies reaching out to you, it is absolutely something you should think about having.
I wrote mine with help from someone who is no longer blogging, and whose post on the topic is no longer live, so here is my advice based on that post and my own experience.
If you want to see an example, my review policy can be found here.
1. Make it visible
Ensure that anyone can find your review policy easily from the home page. You want to make it easy for people who are interested in contacting you for potential reviews to do that.
I have mine up in the top menu, so that it’s visible from anywhere on the website (in case someone’s found my website through a review.) It’s also in the sidebar of my home page, along with a variety of other links.
2. Review Guidelines
It’s called a Review POLICY because there should be guidelines included. These are there to ensure both you and the person contacting you are on the same page about what happens when they approach you for review.
Are you open or not? What’s your star rating system? How much advanced notice do you need to get a review written? How willing are you to agree to a hard deadline?
State the fact that they may get a negative review if you don’t like the book, and that you might not accept all books. Some of it seems so obvious, but including it just makes sure there’s no misunderstanding.
It’s also worthwhile mentioning when the policy was last updated. The more recent, the more confident people will feel about approaching you. If anything changes, update the policy. Even if it doesn’t, I’d advise updating the date every six months, just to show authors/publicists that this isn’t a neglected page.
The thing the author/publicist is looking for is a very clear break down of what you like and don’t like. I split mine into “Genres I am accepting”, “Genres I MAY accept”, and “Genres I DON’T accept.” Include as much nuance as you can. For example, there are many fantasy sub-genres, and you might like some more than others, so put those in the relevant lists. If there are exceptions to rules, include those too.
The same is true for age ranges. Which age ranges do you read? Picture Books, Chapter Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult?
It is also worth stating if you’re interested in diverse books. It is unfortunately not yet considered the norm for books to be diverse, and stating outright is a way of signalling that you won’t reject books based off the author’s identity. If you feel comfortable sharing it, you may wish to also mention parts of your own identity that you would like to see more often.
You’ll also need to state which formats you prefer, including which digital files (pdf, epub, mobi, etc) you work with if you are open to ebooks (ebooks are the easiest format to get.) Do make sure to mention which country you’re in so they know if they can send you physical copies or not.
4. Contact details
How do you want to be contacted? If the author/publicist has read the policy and think you’d be a good fit for the book, they need a way to contact you. The two most common ways are to have a contact page or an email address.
If it is an email address, I recommend that this is one used solely for the blog so that your private email isn’t on the web. Formatting wise, usually these aren’t written in “firstname.lastname@example.org” style, but rather: blogger (at) email (dot) com. It just makes it that little bit harder for someone to copy and paste the email to sign you up to mailing lists.
I would not include an address, even if it’s a PO Box, just because of that extra safety level. Leave that until you’ve had a discussion with the person soliciting the review (and had a chance to check they’re legit – I would advise googling the book and any PR company who contact you.)
I hope this is useful for setting up your own review policy.
Want more blogging advice? All my posts are collected here.
2 thoughts on “Review Policies: A Blogger’s Perspective”
Ha, some good and interesting advice Sifa! I don’t actually have a review policy on my blog, might be a good idea to look into it!
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Ooh, good luck! They can take a while to draft first time around but they’re a breeze to maintain once all the bones are there