In response to Carol (Dizzy C’s Little Book Blog) and my collaborative post on How To Get (and keep) A Book Blogger On Your Side, we would now like to share with other bloggers strategies that have worked for us in reviewing and blog admin.
Do respond to emails as soon as you have them. Often emails can be overlooked because we open them on our phones or tablet when we have a few spare minutes. These can be forgotten later.
Do flag important emails that will need more action, such as a response or to be scheduled into a post.
Do make files for each Author/Publisher that you work with. Much easier to find that email from weeks/months ago that had important information.
Do send a link back to the publisher/author when you have reviewed the book or a guest post goes live.
Do keep a diary just for your blog. Always add a date for guest spot or review due date to the diary as soon as you have agreed a date with an author/publisher. Often these dates can be weeks/months in advance.
Do add another note to the diary a couple of weeks before the due date to check you have read the book.
Do add another note to the diary a couple of weeks before to remind you to check that guest post/tour post details have all been received. This gives you and the author time to get everything together in plenty of time.
Do be realistic with your timescale for reviewing a book. Real life gets in the way often so do make allowances for this.
Don’t be afraid to let an author/publisher know that you would like to review a book but be realistic and let them know a good timescale for reviewing. Sometimes authors/publishers are quite happy to wait for a review if they know you are interested.
Do have a review policy page on your blog.
Include information about the genres and formats (ie ARC, pb, eformat) you will read.
Do stress whether you will always guarantee a review (even if you haven’t enjoyed the book). Personally I stress that accepting a book for review does not guarantee a review if the book is not to my liking. I only post reviews of 3 stars or more.
Don’t use the above point to accept books and then not read.
Do stress that you will not sell ARC or review copies.
Once you have read a book do remember to add your review to Goodreads and Amazon as well as your blog.
If you really do not like the book, do let the author/publisher know, in an email, using constructive critcism. Authors/Publishers know that not all books will be to your liking and appreciate the feedback.
On the day your guest post/review goes live on your blog, remember to send link to the author/publisher, tweet the post and include the author and publisher in the tweets.
Excellent strategies from Carol.
Additional things that work for me:
In the same way that Carol recommends creating files in your email account, have files on your computer/Kindle where you store the ‘to be read’ ecopies. Don’t leave them attached to emails – it is very easy to delete them when you’re having a mad housekeeping session and clearing out emails! If you have accidentally deleted, contact the author and apologise. Don’t feel embarrassed. The author would much rather you request another copy then never hear from you again. Don’t have their email? Check their website contact page or tweet them/leave a Facebook message.
Rename the files with numbers and title if it helps you to keep track of the order they need to be read.
Don’t forget they are there! I’m always doing this on my Kindle with books I’ve bought. I’m always excited to find I have a book I’d forgotten about! However, you don’t want to do this with a promised review …
I always write my reviews in a Word doc and then I copy and paste to the blog. I was so glad I did this when in December 2011, the provider I was using deleted my blog without a reason (or an apology). Yes, I did panic but I had all the reviews I’d written and could easily re-create the posts. Of course this isn’t an essential thing to do … but like me, you might benefit from it one day!
Have a back-up post
It’s getting close to the date you are hosting an author with a guest post/interview but you haven’t heard back yet and you don’t want to have a date where nothing goes out because you’ve built up regular readers and you don’t want to let them down … Have a back-up post! Is there a book you want to spotlight? An author or a publisher you’d like to spread the word about? Is there something you’ve wanted to post about but haven’t had a spare date on the blog? Use that instead.
But wait, you’ve scheduled your back-up post and the night before the post is due to go live, the author has emailed with the post. Don’t worry. Explain that you will have to re-schedule. Most authors will be understanding and still want to be hosted on your blog. Be honest!
FTC Disclosures are for the US but it’s also good practice to do this with your reviews, no matter which country you are living in.
There’s a great article here ‘What Book Bloggers Need to Know About FTC Disclosures’ to give you more information.
I always add a disclosure near the end of my post although some book bloggers do it at the beginning.
And I always say if it’s a book I’ve bought.
The MOST important for me is my Reading Schedule.
Plan in the books you have already agreed to read. Be realistic. Plan according to your other commitments (work, family, friends etc) How long does it take you to read a book? Two days? One week? Two weeks? Do you have novellas on the TBR? An epic? Obviously these will take different lengths of time to read. Will you be on holiday and you’re planning on reading more? Do you want to keep a couple of weeks free to read those special offer Kindle books you downloaded?
Once you have scheduled everything … stick to it. Don’t keep moving books around. You’ll only get stressed.
Having a reading schedule means that when you have a review request and it’s something you would like to read, you will be able to share with the author an approximate date. This eliminates the author waiting on tenterhooks for a review and getting into the should I/shouldn’t I cycle. Should I contact? I emailed last week, should I email this week? Will the blogger get fed up with me? Will I be badgering the blogger? Be honest! They may feel that your silence means you didn’t like it… but the truth could be that you just haven’t got round to reading it yet and with a feeling of guilt, you’ve chosen not to respond to emails, putting it off … Empathise with the author, how would you feel if you were the author and someone had agreed to read your book?
What about unsolicited book post? Most bloggers who read published books have certain publishers that send unsolicited mail. So programme those in too! Are you sent four books a months? Six? Ten? Always overestimate – you can always fit in those books you’ve bought or move other books up the list/accept new review requests.
Please remember, it has taken an author months if not years to get their story to the polished version that has been published. In good faith they have offered you a review copy. You have accepted. Follow through with a review. Communicate with the author.
Don’t ever accept a review request that you know you can’t fit in. Be honest! Don’t ever accept a review request for a book you have no intention of reading. Learn to say no.
If you didn’t like it, let the author (or publisher) know. Be constructive with your feedback. What didn’t work for you? Don’t let silence hang between you. Build that two-way relationship.
The important thing to remember in all of this is that authors are trusting us as book bloggers. They’re trusting that when we say we’ll review we will and that’s whether we give an approximate date or not. It is our responsibility to honour that. Think carefully about the implication of accepting to review and if you can’t meet that commitment, don’t say yes.
We need to build a two-way relationship with authors based on honesty and trust. Start building that relationship today. Communicate.
You’re welcome to leave tips in the comments of what works for you/you have something else you do that helps you organise your blogging.