Some people may recognise the phrase and some may have heard it for the very first time: a review policy. In this post I am going to talk about what it is, why it is important and best of all, how to make one.
I realised how important a review policy is shortly after I wrote my own. I got my first 5 or so review copies because someone read my policy and approached me and had several others later. It is also freeing as I never (okay, once or something) get requests of books I don’t like or mails with a ton of questions.
Don’t think a review policy is only for bookbloggers. It is incredibly handy for everyone who reviews, whether it be books, food or other products. In this post I use my own review policy as example, which is written for book reviewing, but you can apply it to anything really. If you can’t come up with a non-bookish substitute, comment below and I will help you think of one.
If you aren’t familiar with what a review policy is and/or what it looks like, I would suggest that you take a look at mine to better understand what I am talking about in this post. Having my review policy open in a second tab is encouraged even, if you are following the tutorial, as I refer back to it quite often. Click here to read my review policy.
What is a review policy? A review policy is a handy overview of your preferences in books/products and what you do/don’t accept for reviewing and why. These are main the main points, but most people include things like their review structure or policy for giveaways/interviews/guestposts etc. It is basically your ‘reviewer resume’.
Why should you have a review policy? A review policy covers everything people need to know if they want you to review their book or products, to avoid needless, repetitive questions every time you get an email and saves time for both the author/publisher/shop owner and the blogger. This makes both parties’ life a lot easier.
Why is a review policy so important? We bloggers often underestimate how little time people have on hand to look for reviewers. Trust me, it isn’t much. Evelina @ Avalinahbooks had an interview with a publisher and shed some light on that topic (Click her name to read the post).
Long story short, people looking for reviewers cannot afford to spend too long looking for all the info they need per blog and often just move on to the next blog if they can’t find it right away.
Below I wrote a ‘how to’ on how to make a review policy yourself. I based this on my own experience and even though I am in no way an expert, this can be really helpful for people who don’t know much about the importance of a review policy.
How do you make a review policy?
In this section I am going to explain how to make a review policy. Well, I am explaining how I made mine after I read a post about how to get review copies and took the review policy of that blogger as an example. This has been about a year ago and I cannot remember whose it was, so I am unable to credit the blogger, sadly.
Table of contents
Personally, I think it is very useful to have a table of contents. It shows all your heads at once, so the people looking for reviewers, who are already little on time, don’t have to scroll or skim through your whole policy to find the info they are looking for. This is mine for example.
The general information is what is exactly what it says: it is general information. Nothing complicated. I will list the important points I included, but the body of it is completely personal. Take a look at my ‘General information‘ section as an example.
- What age categories do you accept? (MG/YA/NA/A)
- What is the email address people can contact you on? (Write is as ezziesbookshelf at gmail dot com)
- What are the platforms you leave your reviews on? Think about other platforms beside your main platform, like Amazon, Goodreads, NetGalley, etc. List them all as people appreciate it if you are able to leave reviews on mulitple places.
- Which formats do you accept? Choose from: physical, audiobook or ebook (Make sure to include the correct file type you can use!)
- Which formats do you NOT accept? See above.
For this part, start with making yourself a list of all genres you know, even if you don’t like them. This is important so you don’t forget any.
I introduced the ‘Genres’ section with a few words of myself. I cannot tell you what to put here, as it is personal preference, but you can take what I wrote as a suggestion:
I separated the body into these three sections. You don’t have to explain why you do or do not accept genres. It is just more information, which takes up more time reading, and it isn’t necessary.
- I accept books in the following genres.
- I consider books of following genres, since I sometimes find myself liking books of these genres, but not always.
- I am NOT accepting books in the following genres:
This section is your personal version of ”I reserve the right to not review to book”. Basically, you write down that even when you accept a book, you cannot guarantee a review. It is hard to explain into detail here, but I suggest you read my ‘Accepting books’ section here to see what I wrote down. Writing this down is a sort of protection for the case you are unable to review a book for whatever reason.
The next items are things I included in my review policy, but aren’t as important for review copies as the things I listed above, though they can be helpful for the author/publisher/shop that wants to approach you. I am keeping the explanations briefer than the ones above, as I also suggest you take a look at the mentioned section in my review policy.
This is a very personal section really. In this section you tell about your reviews in general and your motivation behind them. For example, I wrote down that I do reviewing for fun, that I am a casual reader and in no way a critique. Visit my ‘My reviews‘ section to read the whole block.
You can include anything you like about your reviews here: That you are a professional, paid reviewer; that you review things by making videos, because you love showing your new stuff; why you started reviewing; etc. etc. etc.
In this section I tell a little about what information or content I include in my reviews and how. I included a simplified list of what my review look like below. You can find the detailed version in my review policy. I included this section as sometimes people are looking for a certain style or way and this way the people looking for reviewers don’t have to analyze several of your reviews to find out.
- Picture of the book.
- Star rating.
- Little introduction of the post and book.
- What I liked & what I didn’t like.
- Links to reviews of other books in the series or written by the same writer.
- Goodreads link to the book.
Star ratings can look very obvious to some: five stars means amazing, one star means it was really bad. But sometimes people their meaning can differ, especially in gray areas like three stars.
There are plenty of people who use other of custom ranking systems, in which case I would go with the head ‘Ranking system’. If you are one of these people, including this section will become just as important as the first four sections I mentioned to avoid unclarity towards the people you will be working with.
Blogseries that feature others
Once again, a personal section. I have a blogseries called MEET THE AUTHOR in which I feature debuting/indie/self publishing/less famous authors in a sort of interview/guest post hybrid. Not everyone has a series like this, but maybe you have other blog series in which you feature other people. This can range from authors to fellow bloggers. Including a little information about those series can be very useful, as it can attract volunteers for the feature. Especially if your series feature authors, it can also attract review requests. Authors, especially the debuting or less famous ones, often look for more exposure besides a regular review and with this knowledge they can kill two birds with one stone. I do suggest to use different heads for each blog series if you have multiple to avoid confusion.
In the case you are happy to do giveaways for others, this is the section you need to write.
In the introduction I specified what kinds of giveaways I do and do not want to host and why. Read my ‘Giveaways‘ section if you want an example. I also included a list of all the information I want about the giveaway to avoid miscommunication, missing information or confusion. This also saves time in needing to email at a later point or after the winner is chosen to get the information you need or don’t understand.
(Book)blogger/author guest posts and interviews
In short, this section is to write down whether you are currently accepting any collaberations, interviews or guest posts and from whom. I cannot give you a guideline on how to write this properly, as it differs from person to person. You can, however, look at this section in my review policy to get an idea. I do note that my section is just about fellow bookbloggers, as my MEET THE AUTHOR series covers everything I do to feature authors at the moment.
I have been planning to write this section for myself, but haven’t been able to sadly, so I can’t refer you to my version as an example. I do however know what I want to include:
- What kind of blog tours do you want to participate in? (Books that already out, around the release, extra promotion, just for fun as the book is just really good, etc.)
- Do you require a review copy of the featured book to be send to you or do you provide yourself with a copy? If the former is the case, specify how long in advance you want to have the book. Don’t forget to refer back to your review policy, so the host can see what books you accept for reading and reviewing.
- What kinds of posts can you write for a blog tour? If it is just reviews, that is fine too, but mention it. If you have various sorts of posts you can feature, list them. Most people write reviews, so having a spotlight or interview in the mix is most appreciated.
- Any other information or preferences you want to list. Everything you want to mention about blog tours, be it what you like/dislike about blog tours, about previous experiences, if you are happy to help with the hosting OR if you are open to host a blog tour yourself, mention it. Just remind yourself that you don’t need to write an essay, just keep it brief and clear.
I really hope this post is helpful to you guys, as writing my own review policy really helped myself and my blog. If something is unclear or you need suggestions for non-book reviewing review policies, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or DM me on Twitter!
I would love to hear if this tutorial helped you write your first review policy or improve your current one. All feedback is very appreciated as I really like sharing my own experiences on my blog.