Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Writing a Review Policy

A review policy is something you should consider having whether you accept review copies of books or not; but if you do accept them, a review policy is MANDATORY, especially in light of the FTC's new policies regarding online reviews and disclosure.

First of all, what is a review policy? It's simply a statement of where and how you get the books—or other items, if applicable—you review on your blog, and how you treat them. It can also include a statement for publicists on what you're accepting or not. Like giveaway policies, once this is posted you're legally obligated to follow it; but it's really easy to change, so just make sure your review policy is always up to date.

What should your review policy include? It must state whether or not you accept copies of books for review, how you disclose if a copy was provided, and what you do with the copies once you're finished with them (common opinion is that selling ARCs or even keeping them after you've reviewed them isn't kosher—you don't want to give the impression you're accepting payment for reviews). 

What else might a review policy include? Any additional information is more for the benefit of publicists, blog tour organizers, etc., who might be looking to send you a copy of a book. Some things you might want to mention: 
  • What format of books will you accept? Only print or also eBooks? And if eBooks, what file types?
  • What genres do you like to read? Anything you rabidly dislike?
  • Can the person pitching their book 100% expect to see a review on your blog if you accept their book? If yes, in what time period?
  • Are you going to be nice in your review if you dislike the book? If not, better say so. You should also mention if you don't review books you don't like.
  • What's the best way to contact you?
  • Do you respond to every review request, even if you're not interested?
  • If you schedule reviews for specific dates, how much time do you need from when you receive the book to the time of the review? If you don't get the book in time, will you reschedule?
  • Are you going to write about the book anywhere else? GoodReads, Amazon, another blog?

This really helps establish the tone of your relationship with people pitching books as well as their expectations, so you want to make sure you can do what you say you will in the review policy.

This may seem like a lot to think about it (and it is), but you can write short and sweet review policies that cover everything in one or two paragraphs. Here are some sample review policies if you want to see how other book bloggers approach them:

And that's it! Pretty simple, right? Let me know if you have any questions or comments.


  1. A very timely article for me. I'm going to rework my review policy. I have to point out this great policy:

    (I'm going to use it as sort of a template.)

    Thanks so much for this information!

  2. I get thanked a lot by publishers for "honest" reviews and get comments indicating that some people think anything I say that is not positive means I didn't "like" the book. Although I say it might be a good idea to look at my blog before sending me a book, this article is making me think that I could be more explicit about the fact that I look critically at every book I review and my praise is rarely unqualified (a variation on "my blog is not your advertising space").

  3. Very thorough information! You've got me re-thinking a couple pieces on my review policy!

  4. Very helpful post -- thanks for sharing. I finally made my review post and linked this post in it -- I appreciate the guidance!

  5. Does the FTC actually have rules about review blogs? Or do you mean that book reviews (if the book was received from the publisher) are technically considered advertisements, so we should follow the FTC rules for ads? Is this true even if the review contains constructive criticism or negative feedback, (since an advertisement, to my understanding, is by definition a positive portrayal/recommendation of a product)?

  6. Thank-you!! This post was invaluable in guiding my review policy. The examples you linked to were very helpful as well.

  7. Thanks for sharing this useful information. I really appreciate the information provided by you.

    Writing Reviews

  8. Thank you for sharing this information! It helped me tremendously in writing my review policy as a new book blogger.

  9. Excellent list of things to consider when doing a book review--I never thought of people pursuing a specific outcome with the review--But--lo and behold--That is a marketing strategy nevertheless...son some people will do whatever in order to get their "plan" going--whatever that plan may be.
    I will go ahead and explain a little about my own reason for the review—as it will provide peace of mind—to myself.
    You see—I do read because I enjoy reading and I enjoy still more—when I share and discuss what I just read, even if I didn’t like it. It sure blows my mind when my review can be an awesome 5 stars and I can read some people’s one star reviews and huge disappointment after reading the same book! I think I will write a book about that---that, for me—it is not the book! It is the reader!

  10. I loved reading this! I try to just do my own thing on my blog, but it's nice to have people who inspire you when you're just starting out! Thank You MarvelousReviews

  11. It’s very informative and you are obviously very knowledgeable in this area. You have opened my eyes to varying views on this topic with interesting and solid content.
    Tips to become a successful Academic Writer


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