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Book Review Etiquette - Have a Review Policy

Updated on July 4, 2015
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

Authors and publishers need reviews for their books. They seek out avid readers who give honest reviews. If these readers/reviewers have sites, they'll get contacted for reviews. This is great for readers, but it can also step over some lines reviewers don't like.

Take it from me as a reviewer. There are some instances where requests can be rude or irritating. It happens, but you can cut such instances off at the pass.

If you want people to be polite and not irritate you in asking for a review of their book, you really should have a review policy in place on your website. It makes is so much easier for everyone as all the expectations are laid out for the author and for yourself as a reviewer. You don’t have to go back and forth with them explaining what you need and want. It’s all laid out in the review policy.

What is a Review Policy?

A review policy states what you will review, how you will receive it, and any other information an author might need to know about how to get their book reviewed by you. It lays out all the information an author will need to know.

Communication is important and makes for smooth transactions. Without a review policy, you can be bombarded with requests that you do not like or want. It needs to be clearly written and complete so an author or publicist can look at it and understand exactly what your site is about and if you are even a potential reviewer.

What to Put in a Review Policy

It is important that you cover certain elements in your review policy. This can save you a ton of headache when you are dealing with authors.

Are you taking reviews?

If you aren’t taking reviews, then let authors know so they don’t have to spend any more of their time reading your review policy. They have time constraints just as you do. In fact, by telling them up front that you’re not taking books to review, you are helping them save time. But if you are taking reviews, let them know so they can read on and send you their book for consideration if it qualifies.

What genres do you prefer to receive?

If you don’t like horror, you don’t want people approaching you with them. You want to receive only the type of books you like. Then let authors know that. By doing so, you help authors out. If I wrote a horror book, I would know not to send it to you. I’d continue searching for someone who does like that genre and would possibly read my book.

What format do you take the books in?

Some reviewers only want print books while others only want ebook and a specific version at that because of what devise they read it from. If I have a book that is Kindle format only and you only take print, I need to know that. Tell me in the review policy. Then I know to not pitch that particular book of mine to you.

What is the expected turnaround for book reviews?

Are you quickly reading the books or are you several months behind? Some authors are looking for quick turnaround due to events. Others don’t care. Keep that part of your review policy updated and let authors know where you stand. Also, let them know if you are open to specific dates to post reviews. That would help authors in choose reviewers who might be able to release their review near a publication date or a promotional date.

What is your rating system?

Do you have a rating system? What is it? When you score a book as a three star, what does it mean to you? You are communicating to other readers through the rating. What are you saying when you rate a book? Though the standard is that a three star is an average book and not a bad score, to some it is. Let them know how you rate books.

Where do you post reviews?

Do you post your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads? Most authors are looking for reviewers who post there and a few other places. Let them know where you will put your reviews when they are done.

What information should the author send for you are a reviewer to consider their book?

Do you want just a synopsis of the book or do you want the cover and links as well before you make the decision. Tell the author exactly what you want to know from them to decide if you are going to review it. That way they can give it all to you upfront and make the entire process easier.

Where can they contact you?

–So, you review books. How can authors get in touch with you to get you to review their book? Is it through a form or an email address? Make sure it is plainly stated for the author to find and follow. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to contact a reviewer who says they will accept reviews and not find any way to contact them. I encounter that a lot.

If you want to help authors out and give out book reviews, make sure you have a clear book review policy laid out for the author to follow. It will save you both a lot of headache and help develop relationships.

Where to Place Review Policy

The review policy should be easy to find. I should never have to hunt for it. Typically a site should have it right on the menu. If it is not one of the main choices, it should be found in one of the immediate drop down sections typically under 'About Us'. Sometimes the main menu selection might be 'Contact Us' or 'Policies'. Just make sure it can easily be found.

Update the Policy Regularly

This is one aspect of your site that can easily get forgotten over time. It isn't something that needs your daily attention, but it does need attention at least once a month or two.

Look over your review policy. What needs to change? Life changes daily which in turns means your review policies will as well. Maybe you can't accept any more books to review at the moment because life threw you a monkey wrench. Maybe you have decided you only want to focus on one genre from now on. Maybe...Maybe...

Read over your policy and see what needs to be updated.


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