For any of you that knew me way back when, you’ll know that I used to be a book blogger, book reviewer AND own my own book blog tour business. That was from 2013 until 2017 – when the last remnants of my book blogging and businesses owning days fizzled out – so if you’ve been here since then, HAVE A FREAKING MEDAL. And although my blog has moved on quite dramatically since then, today I want to offer some advice on how to become a book reviewer, from someone who’s been there, done that and well and truly got the t-shirt.
Before we get into the tips, a little back story on my experience as a book blogger and book reviewer. I started my blog back in 2013, when I was in the midst of my anxiety disorder. I had absolutely nothing to do or look forward to and was slowly sinking into a pit of despair. But I’ve always loved reading, so one day, I was Googling book reviews of the current book I was reading and I found…
A book review blog.
And I was just in awe. I thought that that’s something I could do. And wanted to do. I emailed the owner of the blog (bookboodle) and she very kindly helped me set up my own book blog where I started reviewing books I was reading on a regular basis. Book blogging really did save me and come to me at the perfect time in my life.
And that was that for the next 4 or 5 years. At first, I had NO IDEA how to actually run a successful blog. I had no idea how to grow a blog following or what a DA score was. I just wasn’t aware of that side of running a blog and I plodded along, enjoying what I was doing and growing naturally in my own time.
By mid 2014, I’d already had the opportunity to review plenty of books from publishers and take part in book tours and that was when I decided to start my own business. My book tour business was incredibly successful for what it was. Although arguably I wasn’t the MOST business savvy, it was a super exciting venture into running a business.
As my blog started to grow when I decided to venture out into lifestyle (I personally got bored of limiting myself to only one topic) and I started to make more money from my blog than my business, I also realised I was falling out of love with organizing book tours, so I closed my business down. And shortly after that, stopped writing book reviews altogether.
Related: Book Blog Post Ideas
For me, reviewing books ended up taking the love out of reading. And now that my blog was gaining traction and success, I didn’t really NEED to be reviewing books anymore as my passions for content creation lay elsewhere. So I quit reviewing books and that was officially the end of my book blogging, book tour owning and book reviewing career.
I absolutely loved it but life moved on and I grew out of that phase of my life. And that’s okay! But I still have a LOT of advice to give and wisdom to share on how to become a book reviewer and how to run a successful book blog.
Anyone can be a book reviewer. Anyone can read a book and review it on their blog. But how do you gain that influence within a community of book reviewers, get opportunities to review advance review copies and grow your blog as an established book review blog? Here are some tips on how to become a book reviewer:
Start by reviewing your own books
Same as a lifestyle blog with products like skincare or make-up, a brand probably won’t send you products to review (and publishers with books to review), if you don’t have ANY reviews on your blog already. Use your blog as your portfolio to build up your work, your voice and your book reviews.
Follow the right people
Get on social media and follow authors, publishers, agents and other book bloggers. Social media is so important for networking – whatever type of blog you have and social media promotion. So by following and interacting with people in the industry, tagging them and chatting with them, you’re expanding your potential for growth.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to publishers
When you find you’re in a book place with your blog, get a decent amount of traffic and have built up some sort of social following, it’s time to reach out to publishers for advance review copies! You can contact them:
- Directly through the publishers website using similar methods to how you would pitch to brands
- Reply to tweets from publishers looking for book reviewers for a specific book
- You can contact an author directly if they’re self published
Sign up to NetGalley
NetGally is like a goldmine for book reviewers as you can apply to review literally hundreds and hundreds of books. You build up your profile, submit your reviews and gain more and more access to publishers works through this site. be careful though, you NEED to keep your percentage up. If you request and get accepted for 10 books but don’t review any of them, it’s not going to look very good.
Understand what makes a good book review
Back in 2015 I wrote this post about top tips for writing a book review which all the points still stand strong but in case you can’t be arsed to read that, in summary:
- DON’T RE-HASH THE PLOT: Re-hashing the entire plot of a book isn’t a review. It’s a summary.
- Provide links for readers to purchase the book if they wish
- Always disclose when a book is gifted / an ARC sent for review
- Keep your paragraphs on the shorter side: Longer paragraphs deter some from reading. Especially those with conditions that make digesting large chunks of text particularly difficult
So you’re well on your way to learning how to become a book reviewer. Here are 5 extra things you need for your book review blog:
- A contact page: How are authors and publishers going to get in touch with you otherwise? Make sure you have a clear and easy to follow contact page with a contact form AND your email address (never just a contact form – a lot of brands won’t use these). Here’s a post to help you establish the contact page for your book blog.
- Clear directions as to what you’re accepting: Are you currently accepting books to review? If so, state it. What genres do you accept? What genres DON’T you accept? Any topics and genres don’t you feel comfortable reading? How long will it take you to read and review a book?
- Disclaimer and privacy notice: Every blog needs one of these, not just book blogs. Find mine here.
- Categories (or an easy way to navigate your reviews): You’re going to build up quite a backlog of reviews so ensuring there’s an easy way for readers to navigate your old reviews is a good option. I personally prefer categorizing by genre.
- A Goodreads account: I bloody love Goodreads! Although anyone can have a Goodreads account, they’re particularly useful for bloggers. Lots of authors will want your review posted there too. Come and find me on Goodreads here!
I hope you found this post helpful on how to become a book reviewer. Do you review books on your blog? What extra advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a book reviewer?