So, you want to start reviewing books?

When I started book blogging, back in 2013, my ultimate aim was to start working with publishers and authors and being seen as a worthy enough book blogger to get sent books to review. Now don’t get me wrong, the free books are not the be-all and end-all of book blogging but having an author or a publisher contact you, regarding reviewing one of their new titles and allowing you to be a part of that pre-publication hype and providing your honest thoughts on a book which, chances are, people are going to read before they decide to buy the book themselves, is quite special. Book bloggers and book reviews are so very important so it’s not surprising new book bloggers (or even experienced bloggers who haven’t yet ventured into the book blogging world yet) want to be a part of that.

I saw a tweet from a girl the other day who, from what I was aware of, is a blogger but wanted to find out how to start building that relationship with publishers and eventually, hopefully, being sent some books in exchange for her fair and honest reviews. I think this is a very valid question because we all have to start somewhere right? So I wanted to offer some pearls of wisdom today for those who want to start working with publishers online.

Showcase your writing and reviewing skills

If you’ve never reviewed a book before in your life then maybe now is the time to start! If you’re already a blogger, chances are, your writing skills are up to scratch anyway but remember that reviewing books is very different to reviewing a make-up product or any other type of blog post. Start by reviewing your own books; books you’ve bought yourself or got from the library and build up a little online portfolio of your book reviews, so they’re all in one place. I also wrote a post on quick tips for writing book reviews here!

Create a review requests page

Reviewed a bunch of books? Brilliant! Now’s the time to make sure publishers are aware that you are actually accepting books to review. A review requests page with an email or a contact form is really important as a quick and easy way for publishers and authors to find a way to contact you, if they want to offer you a book. I wrote a post here with more information on what is important to include in your book blog’s contact page, including; what genres do you accept? and what formats do you accept?

Don’t be scared to contact publishers

If there’s a specific book you’ve seen around that you really love the sound of, is your kind of book and you would just love, love, love to receive an early review copy of it then don’t be scared to contact the publishers yourself. Do your research and make sure you find the correct email (lots of publishers have many different departments with many different publicists who work on specific books so make sure you find the correct person!), be professional and enclose some previous examples of your book reviews – if you’re a new book blogger and haven’t worked with publishers before. This will change over time when you’ve built up a relationship with certain publishers or publicists.

Remember the hard work

Any book blogger will tell you that it’s not easy and takes up a hell of a lot of time; and that’s without the extra pressure of having review copies, some of which that have to be read and reviewed by certain dates. If you want to start working with publishers and continue to work with publishers, you have to show them that you’re reliable and not just out for the free books. Remember that they’re sending you this book out free of charge and are going to expect a review, especially if you’re the one that’s asked for it in the first place. It’s so worth it and working with publishers and authors is one of the most satisfying things but ensure you’re aware of the work you’ll need to put in, before you contact a ton of publishers, get sent a ton of books and then find yourself swamped.

If you’re a book blogger, do you have any tips to add to this list for those who haven’t started working with publishers yet? Can you remember the first book you were sent? How did you start working with publishers yourself? Let me know and let’s chat!

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29 thoughts on “So, you want to start reviewing books?

  1. I remember the way I started getting books was by contacting Little, Brown UK. I told them that I was planning a giveaway, and asked if they’d be interested in sending me a book to give away. That turned into my first blog tour date, and since then, I’m a regular receiver of Little, Brown books, and all I had to do was ask. I also joined your blog tour list around this time too! 🙂

  2. This post summed up the work of a book blogger pretty nicely. I don’t think there’s much that can be added, however, I would point out that international reviewers should always be prepared that getting physical ARCs is really highly unlikely. It depends on the territory, but most of my friends and me included only ever get offers for ebooks. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I didn’t have an eReader when I first started book blogging and reading on my laptop was a nightmare.

    • That’s a good point – being from the UK it’s really not something I’ve ever had to think about. I do think it’s a shame for reviewers not in areas where delivery is so easily accessible!

  3. This is a great post and really interesting from an author’s point of view too. Receiving a review from someone who has taken the time out of their busy day to share their thoughts with other book lovers, is really appreciated by authors. A big thank you to you all from me!

  4. Excellent post.
    A great place to look for prepublication books for new bloggers is NetGalley. Ebooks are cheaper to produce and distribute so publishers are more likely to approve an ebook for review than a paperback. Once you’re more established, you may be more likely to receive paperbacks. Here’s a link to my Top Ten Tips for NetGalley Newbies to get you started.
    http://heysaidrenee.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/top-ten-tips-for-netgalley-newbies.html

    • Very good point about NetGalley. Although in my experience, I was always sent paperbacks first and rarely got sent eBooks. NetGalley is good but new bloggers also have to remember the work that goes in to maintaining their %. NetGalley isn’t something I’ve ever been overly fond of to be honest to use myself but I know many, many people who love it. I use it on almost all of my blog tours and it’s so handy to easily distribute books to multiple bloggers.

      • NetGalley is about the only way for internationals. Which makes me sad, but oh well. Better than nothing, right? It’s still the same book. The biggest drawback is the photos you could take with a paperback, but like I said… the inside is still the same.

  5. This is really helpful for me as I’ve not long started reviewing books sent to me. I would say another tip is not to just say yes to every book offered to you, make sure it’s something you are actually interested in reading as you do have to spend the time reading the book and writing about it! 🙂

    • Yes absolutely! Always something to keep in mind for the future in case you do find yourself in a position to review a book or something from a publishers! Thank you for commenting (: xx

    • Awh yay! I hope you enjoying reviewing your books! Absolutely, working with publishers is FANTASTIC and reviewing your own books is literally the best and only place to start. So best of luck in the future if you get into it! (: xxx

  6. I’m not a book blogger but i do read a lot. i never thought of book reviews at that level to be honest! and i am not sure i’d be able to deliver on time. but if i do decide to do so, ‘ill know what to do. Thank you for sharing xx Corinne

    • Not all books and publishers need things to be read in a certain amount of time. I only say that because some DO and it’s something you have to be aware of obviously. Like, seriously there’s review copies from months ago still sitting on my shelf! xxx

  7. Some excellent tips here, Jenny! I absolutely agree that beginning to write review posts and showcasing your writing talents is a fantastic way of attracting publishers to working with you! It’s always nerve wracking to send of an email pitching your skills to a publisher / PR / brand but it’s so worth it when you hear back and they are encouraging! Thanks for sharing this super useful post!

    Abbey 💋 http://www.abbeylouisarose.co.uk

    • So nice to see you NOT in my spam folder for a change haha! It is nerve wracking but I think we have to remember that the worse they can say is no. And they will be saying no for a whole bunch of reasons, not because they “don’t like us”! Whether that’s a publisher or a brand (: xx

  8. This is brilliant! I do find myself wondering where to start with things like this! Thank you, this has helped a lot. I’m going to give these tips a try, not just with books but other things as well. Thank you Jenny!

    Rosie Mauu x

  9. This is so helpful – thank you! I’m desperate to get back into reading and to start book blogging so I’m saving this post to come back to when I’m ready to start contacting people but it’s really made it seem less scary!
    Claire xo

  10. Hi Jenny, I saw your post over in Author/Bloggers Rainbow Support Group. What a great post! Here’s my advice on writing a review. I’d love your feedback. I pressed Chris Graham, the Story Reading Ape’s wonderful post about writing reviews yesterday. It seems that writing reviews has come into its own since 2013. You have great feedback here. 🙂

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