Also, if any of you have book blogging questions, I'm open to creating a sequel - Book Blogging 101: The Q&A Edition! Just send off an email or chime in at the comments below.
Book Blogging 101: The All-Inclusive Guide
Getting a Book
- NetGalley - I have not used this because reviewers must be eighteen or older.
- LibraryThing's Early Reviewers and Member Giveaways - These can have great books, awful drivel, and everything in between. You just have to be willing to sort through it all and sometimes end up with a book not as good as you'd hoped. Keep in mind that these are two separate programs, and (especially if you select the multiple-books-per-batch option), they will require as much attention as individual programs.
- Zondervan Street Team - I just joined this group, and I'm psyched for what looks like some great books!
- Team Novel Teen - I've never used this program and don't know how it works, but I know of several great bloggers that love it. (I just sent in a request to join, too, so we'll see what comes of it! :] )
- Tyndale Media Center - One I tried and didn't care for, mostly because I prefer fiction and they offer more inspirational nonfiction, memoirs, self-help, etc. Lots of other reviewers love this program.
- Be on time. While many programs don't have any deadlines, others require a review within thirty or ninety days of receiving the book. You can check the rules of the program you're using, but I try to post all reviews within thirty days, just to be safe.
- Keep it a good length. Most programs have a minimum word length, but you don't want your readers to get bored and leave, either. Check your chosen program's rules if you want. I generally try to stay around 200-400 words.
- Make it worthwhile. Readers don't want you to ramble on about your favorite part, and they don't want something that sounds like a book report for sixth grade. (At least, most of them don't.) If you're not sure what to write, start out with a summary of the book. Make sure not to give away any plot twists or surprises, but give the readers a general idea of the book's storyline or theme. Then write your opinion. Did the writing stink? Were the characters amazing? Were there holes in the research? What did you (or didn't you) learn?
- Rate it. Whether or not the program you're using requires a rating, I recommend using a 1-5 star rating chart. It helps sum up your review and clarifies your opinion. (Plus, if readers are in a hurry, they can skip to the star rating to get your 5 second opinion.)
- Share the cover. It's a well-known fact that readers prefer blog posts with pictures, and a book review already has a great built-in photo op: the book's cover! No review is complete without it.
- Add some links. Everyone has a different idea of what you should include. I link up to the Amazon book page, GoodReads book page, and author website, and I try to include a book trailer if there is one. I also link up to related reviews of mine - like a book from the same series or by the same author. Other reviewers include the LibraryThing, Shelfari, Barnes & Nobles, Christian Book Distributors, or Books a Million links; publisher site link; the author's social media links; first chapter previews (only if already online; don't add that yourself!); and other fun extras.
- Include a disclaimer. This is one of the most important steps. The easiest way to explain is to show you Waterbrook Multnomah's explanation: "As of December 1, 2009, new FTC Guidelines state that bloggers receiving any kind of compensation should disclose that information on their blog when positing a review of the product. As you are responsible for complying with the FTC Guidelines, we recommend that you review them, available at http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html."
Posting Your Review
Now that you've got a nice review ready to be read, you have to get it out there. Once it's on your blog, you should copy and paste it to your favorite consumer site. I use Amazon, since it's a widely known site and most review programs accept it. The lesser known your favorite site is, the less likely it is to be accepted by your program. Check the program guidelines. (Just a note: you can post your review on multiple consumer sites. If you use several sites and have the time, I recommend doing that. As a rule, I post on Amazon, GoodReads, and LibraryThing, regardless of how or where I got the book.) Make sure to include a link to your original review.
After the review is on your site and a consumer website, most programs require that you post it on their website. If this is true of your program, there should be fairly easy instructions on your program's website.
And if you really want to get that review read, share it with everyone you know. Share the links - to your original blog post and/or the review program site - on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and any other social network you use. Ask your blog readers to check out the review program site, and ask readers on the consumer sites and review program to stop by your blog. Keep your posts connected, and your voice is sure to be heard.
You've signed up for a review program and received a free book. You read the book. You reviewed the book. Your review is now all over the Internet. So what do you do now?
Start over. Request a new book to enjoy. All the programs I've seen have no limit on how many times you can get free books for reviews, as long as you always post the reviews on time. This is the great thing about these programs - it keeps going for as long as you want! All you have to do is give your opinion or thoughts on the book and you get more books for free.
But if you want to show your appreciation for this wonderful deal, here are my suggestions:
- Share on your blog or website. If you go to my Reviews page, you'll see links to posts (including this one!) about writing reviews, links to my reviews... and links to my programs.
- Share on social networks. You don't have to have a recent review to share your program with the world. Every so often, share the program link on those social media pages of yours. If you have reader friends who might be interested, share it on their profile.
- Share on your blog. Write a post on how awesome your program is, or (like me!) share with your readers how they can use it to get their own free books.
- Do a giveaway. After a while, the books can pile up. If you loved a book and think your readers will too, have a giveaway! Let readers know that on a certain date this gently-used book will be shipped to one lucky winner. Have them stop by the program, author, or book webpage and share what they learned; share/tweet/blog about the giveaway; or like and follow you, the author, and/or the publisher to enter. As a bonus, running giveaways (and posting them on giveaway sites online) is a great way to boost blog traffic and followers. (P.S. From my personal experience both as host and as an entrant, it's a much better idea to use Rafflecopter than to stick it out with the comments-as-entries method. The website has very simple instructions and is super-easy to use.)