Setting up a Review Policy

A review policy is the way you let the world (i.e. publishers, authors, publicists, etc.) know your guidelines when it comes to reviewing books. This is the way you can hopefully weed out the amount of review requests that you have to turn down.

Review PolicyWhat should you include in your review policy?

Put on there exactly what kind of books you will accept and will not accept.  Some good things to include in your review policy:

  • Genres You Prefer
  • Genres You Refuse to Accept
  • Formats you accept
    • eBooks, PDFs, Mobi etc (If you do not accept eBooks, mention it in your Review Policy)
    • Only Paperback, ARCs etc
  • What type of authors you accept
    • Do you accept Indie Authors?
    • Do you accept Small Press Authors?
  • INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL!
  • Time frame in which you review your books, or expected time frame
  • Where you publish the reviews besides your blog {amazon, goodreads, etc.}.

Include Disclaimers to protect yourself and the author:

  • I will not giveaway or resell your ARC
  • If you have provided me with an ARC I will publish no earlier than 1 month before the release date.
  • If you provide me with a digital galley, I will delete the copy after I have read it.
  • Piracy is for suckers, and I am extremely conscious of how I treat your ARCs… etc.
  • Reviews are done in a timely fashion, but can only be done so fast. Please allow XXX time frame for a review.
  • I do not write reviews of books that I DNF and notifications are not given in regard to DNFd books.

Disclaimers can protect you and show off your morals as a Book Blogger. Writing a disclaimer on your review policy might reassure some publishers and authors.

Did these disclaimers bring up any questions, like the fact that the first one is I will not giveaway or resell your ARC?

This can be a big deal to some authors, especially since they don’t want their ARCs making the rounds through the book blogging community or ending up on eBay for sale. (Yes it does happen!)

But even a diminished version of that is a simple ARC giveaway. The author might have entrusted you with the copy – but doesn’t want that ARC to just go out there again. So, having a giveaway of that ARC you might want to think first about that also – and ask the authors permission. After the release date should be fine, it is just before the release date that things get iffy.

Then there are the digital galleys. Which is a new ballgame, because a lot of authors just send out PDFs willy nilly. No cost to them, right? But, technically it could impact their bottom line, since they are SO easy to send via email or upload to one of those nasty pirate sites. Which is why a lot of the publishers have taken to go through NetGalley for review copies. This way they have an “expiration”. PDFs have no expiration. In fact an unsecured PDF can be printed into a book and passed off as someone else’s work. Think I’m making this up? Nope. There are certain authors on Amazon that all their work is other people’s pieces, pirated, with new covers. Skeezy!!! So delete your ARCs after you read them.  And post on your policy that you do this.

Reassuring statements might make authors and publishers a little more apt to send their books your way.

Do authors actually read review policies?

I don’t know how many times I have gotten a query like this:

Dear Parajunkie {sic} –

I am seeking a review of my novel ‘XXX, which I would characterize as a Coming of Age, with heavy religious undertones, along with a slight bit of paranormal thrown in (there is a ghost!). I know you love that paranormal themed books! I would need a review before the release date, which is at the end of this month. Thank you for your time.

Regards, XXX

I am referring to 1. The Religious Undertones and 2. The tight review schedule. Both could not be accommodated. Not to mention the misspelling of my junkeeness was the initial red flag. Call me egocentric, but even the email you are sending me has parajunkee in it.

While these type of review requests come in now and again, the majority of the review requests are in line with what we review here. They make mention of which reviewer they would like, requests are pouring in for Lori! They also sometimes mention that they have read my Review Policy. I have had some on twitter state that because they read my policy they didn’t want to request a review. It is what it is, wording a certain way can be intimidating. But, I do believe that the majority of authors, requesting reviews personally will take the time to read your review policy. There are only a few that will not.

Reader Question of the Week:

“I just received some ARCs from a publisher. The books themselves are okay and I would write a review but I know the authors of the books personally. I feel like I’m obligated to say only nice things about the books. I’ve thought about not reviewing them, but I’ve already dug myself into a hole by saying that I have copies of the ARC. Any thoughts on what I should do?” – Anon

I would contact the authors if you know them personally and say I have copies of these ARCs and would recommend getting XXX blogger to review them. Then pass the books along. Personally, I try very hard to avoid clients and friends books. Which is sometimes very hard to do. It would be one thing if you were a casual reader or reviewer. But, your reputation as a reviewer might get called into question if it was found out that you were friends with the author and wrote a glowing review. Hell, do a promo if you want, just don’t title it as a review. Then find a suitable reviewer that you believe would give a non-biased review to pass the books on to. Or do a giveaway (with permission of the authors). Either way, the books get attention.

Book Blogging News:

Amazon.com is policing their reviews. It would seem they have a new designation of reviews titled “Fans”. Check your amazon Likes — you’ll see a new one called Likes By Fans. I’m guess these don’t have as much “clout” as other likes do. They have also taken to removing reviews. Reviews that you do for your “friends” or peers. I don’t know how they are distinguishing who is friend/foe/fan — but a few authors are watching their reviews disappear. They have also updated their review criteria, your reviews can’t be too short, contain objectionable material or promo any type of product (I wrote a review that had “I’m a Saint’s fan — Free Payton! in it and that was the objectionable line– guess Amazon is not a Saints fan lol). A lot of grief has come out about the removal of reviews, one particular phrase that keeps getting yacked around is Freedom of Speech. But, what they forget — is that Amazon.com is a company. You couldn’t walk within the hallowed halls of Disney and start picketing right? You would have to do so outside in their parking lot — XXX amount of fee from their gates. I’m not a Constitutional Lawyer or anything, but frankly, Amazon.com has the right to remove any content they feel like removing from their pages. They pay for the bandwidth. Just like I have the right to remove any objectionable comment on this site. I think people don’t understand what Free Speech actually constitutes. {source1} {source2}

FanFic taking over the freaking world. Why come up with a new idea?? Might as well steal a best-seller, rewrite it and then SELL IT TO SIMON & SCHUSTER. Again, obviously this does not constitute any kind of copy-write infringement — but really — they are saying TWILIGHT fanfic. At least kick some money to Steph just for touting it as TWILIGHT fanfic. {source}

A group of Young Adult Authors have grouped together to raise money for the Red Cross, to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy. One heavy hitter is Veronica Roth, author of DIVERGENT. KidLitCares.  {source}

Happy Thursday. Talk Less. Read More. Blog with Integrity.

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