Book Reviewers: An Author’s Best Friend (Part 1)

One of the best resources for both readers and authors are online book reviewers—particularly book bloggers.

Readers often trust the honest reviews of book bloggers (especially because online bookstore reviews can often be stacked by friends and family).

Authors covet all the help we can get in spreading the excitement about our books. Book reviewers can play a huge role in word of mouth promotion, spreading the buzz about a book beyond the scope of our usual circles.

But with all of the books out there, how do reviewers decide which ones deserve a spotlight? What are some wrong ways to go about soliciting reviews? And what are some of the best ways to garner attention from reviewers.

To help answer some of my questions, I invited Rel Mollet of Relz Reviewz, a talented and prolific book reviewer (from Australia!), to share some of her thoughts. She’ll be answering a couple of questions today and Friday.

1. First, give us a behind the scenes look at what goes in to being a book reviewer.

Most serious book bloggers/reviewers, once they’ve gotten over the initial thrill of receiving free books, are only in it for the love of it. Reading, reviewing and blogging is extremely time consuming and something bloggers/reviewers take very seriously.

Here’s an overview of the process I (and many other reviewers) go through:

1. Select a book (surprisingly, not an easy process with so many great books available!).

2. Read the book.

3. Write my review, appreciating the writer has spent months if not years investing themselves in the story, so choosing my words with care and integrity.

4. Locate cover art.

5. Locate and link to the author’s website and blog.

6. Locate and link to Amazon and Koorong (Aussie bookstore).

7. Link to other blog posts I have posted previously for the author.

8. Post review with said cover art and links 5 – 7.

9. Publicize my review on Twitter and FB, linking to the author, publisher and/or publicist.

10. Publish my review on Amazon or CBD (if requested).

11. Email review link to author, publisher and/or publicist.

In exchange for a $12 book, I spend anywhere between 5 and 10 hours of my time, with the variation mostly dependent on how long it takes to read the book. Bear in mind I am a fast reader so for other bloggers the time frame is likely to be longer.

As I said, we are in it for the love of it! What that means, though, is that most bloggers review because they want to support the industry they love, the writers and their fellow readers.

2. With so many talented authors and books out there, how do you choose which books to review?

With great difficulty! I'm offered books to review from a number of sources including publishers, publicists, and authors. I can also request books from the same sources and blog tour programs.

As much as I would love to read and review every great book available, with a family and day job commitments, that's just not possible. I've chosen to limit my blog reviews to Christian fiction as a starting point. I know there are amazing general market and non-fiction books out there I’d enjoy reviewing, but I’ve chosen to draw a line in the sand and stick to it. From there I still need to be selective if I want my family to remember who I am! Here are just a few ways I decide:

1. Of course, there are authors I love to read so they are easy to choose.

2. I also try to accommodate publicists and publishing houses with whom I have built a rapport and relationship, especially if a particular request has been made.

3. I also love supporting new authors. So if I have the opportunity to do so and I’m interested in their novel, I’ll work them into my schedule.

4. I base some review decisions on what I believe the readers of my blog are interested in, even though a book may not be my usual cup of tea.

My (Jody's) closing thoughts: In the scheme of marketing and promotion, we as authors can’t overlook book reviewers! I’ve found them to be some of my biggest and most critical supporters in spreading the news about my book.

Come back on Friday for Part 2, when Rel will be sharing some things that annoy book reviewers as well as some positive ways authors can connect and cultivate relationships with reviewers.

Question for you: If you’re a book blogger, how do you decide what books to review? And if you’re an author, have you given enough importance to book reviewers in your marketing plans?


Thursday 10/6: I'm visiting with the adorable Casey Herringshaw on her blog and sharing one of the most enjoyable aspects of my writing career.


  1. What a great couple posts you have planned, Jody. I look forward to what the book reviewer says on Friday. And admittedly, I know very little about book review bloggers, but I have availed myself of their services numerous times.

  2. Thank you, Naomi! The longer I'm published, the more I'm realizing that book reviewers/bloggers are such a big help to authors! But I've also realized that many authors aren't utilizing book bloggers as a resource in their marketing plans. Rel was incredibly gracious to answer my questions to help us all do better at connecting with book reviewers!

  3. Yay for Rel! As a fellow book blogger (Rel and I actually both started our blogs 5 days apart from each other five LOOOONG years ago, we're ancient in the book blogging world), I share in EVERYTHING she said.

    I have a review policy on my blog. In it I state what genres of books I review (I review both Christian and general market), what formats (no ebooks, will do ARCs, bound galleys and audiobooks), what books I won't review (genres and I don't review self published), and WHEN I will review them (I currently am booked until April of 2012). I get a LOT of review requests every week. Many fit my review policy but there are some that just DO NOT READ it. No, I'm sorry I'm not going to review your self help, self published PDF copy of your book and have it reviewed in two weeks. Most of the books I review on my blog are ones that I personally selected or I felt was a good fit from the pitch that was sent to me. There are MANY MANY MANY books out there that I would love to read/review but I just don't have the time. I'm a fast reader and I read A LOT but there are only so many days in the year. I am welcome to email pitches but please read my review policy before sending me one. I can guarantee you that many of the popular book bloggers out there will be more willing to read/review your book if you check their policy first before pitching them.

    Looking forward to tomorrow to hear what annoys Rel. Hahaha, I'm sure what she says, I've probably complained to her myself.

  4. one more thing, as Rel said, we do spend A LOT of time when it comes to putting out a review. If I love a book, I will do everything I can to let other people know about it. Many of us do this completely for free, a lot of times we'll BUY the book instead of asking for a review copy. Book bloggers who stick out for the long term do this for the love of reading and not for free books.

  5. Awesome interview! It's fascinating to learn more about professional reviewers. I do blog about books sometimes, but I don't consider myself a professional reviewer.
    Thanks to Rel for sharing!
    I'd love to know when I should request a review. My book comes out in April. Do I request six months in advance? 3? Thanks!

  6. It depends on the book blogger. Some are very flexible and will review with only a few weeks notice, others like myself schedule in advance and would like to be pitched in advance. My tip is to check review policies. Many book bloggers will say in their review policy what month they are scheduling for or how far in advance it will take them to review a book. Believe it or not, many book bloggers are already scheduling for 2012.

  7. Thanks for jumping in here today, Deborah! I'd like to add one more thing to Jessica's comment. I think there are plenty of bloggers out there who review books occasionally, which is good and helpful for authors. But there are specific book bloggers whose blogs are geared around reviewing and attracting readers. As authors, those types of book reviewers can put our books in front of more readers.

  8. Jody, Thanks so much for this great post featuring one of the top book book bloggers/reviewers around. Rel is a tireless worker with a heart for writing and for writers, and her reviews are honest and accurate.
    Rel, thanks for sharing.

  9. Jody ~ thanks for the opportunity to share some thoughts on book reviewing/blogging. It's a privilege to do so :)

    Deborah ~ I knew I would see you here :) Love your thoughts and yes, on Friday you will read my comments on review policies, too!

    Jessica ~ hope the posts are helpful to you. As Deborah says, when to pitch will vary but certainly, I am booking dates for 2012 for my Character Spotlights (you read more on those on Friday) and for reviews, also, although I am more flexible with my timing on reviews. As for being 'professional reviewers', I wouldn't use that term myself as like Deborah said, we don't get paid for what we do on our blogs. Still, it sounds good!!

    Richard ~ thanks for your kind and generous encouragement, especially for seeing my heart for what I do! You made my day...well, night really! It's past midnight here in Oz so I look forward to dropping by again in the morning :)

  10. Great post, Jody. I couldn't agree more about the important role reviewers play in the publishing world.

    Rel, you are one of my favorites. I visit your site often. I loved the behind-the-scenes info you shared today and look forward to Friday's post as well.

    Deborah - What is the name of your book review site? I'd love to check it out. Got a 2012 release, you know.

    Thanks for your love of books and Christian fiction in particular.

  11. Hi Karen! I'm a HUGE fan of your books and have reviewed them all on my blog: Books, Movies and Chinese Food.

    Books like yours and Jody's are some of the very few romance novels that I really enjoy and I do my hardest to promote them.

  12. Awesome, Deborah! I recognize that blog title. I just didn't realize you were the voice behind it. Fabulous! I'll visit and send you my info for my next release.

    Thanks so much for all you do. Jody and I are big fans of yours as well. :-)

  13. As a book blogger I have to repeat what others have said, that reading the review policy is a must. My policy is posted on the front page at the top and also on a separate page. And yet I'm constantly getting emails, mostly from smaller PR companies, for reviews of books that don't match what I review. Even when my policy says I am currently not accepting reviews, I get these emails. That does turn me off anything the company sends me.

    I haven't had any problems with authors sending me pitches that don't meet my review policy and I believe that is because authors take the time to do their research when looking for reviewers as opposed to just sending out mass emails.

  14. What fun to learn more about Rel, her awesome site, and how much time and effort she puts into each review. She does a stellar job! I look forward to Friday's post and hearing more from her.

  15. Rel pretty much nailed the review process and the book selection criteria. I also like to read authors that are new to me, whether debut or not. Given a book blurb that grabs my attention or sufficient buzz coupled with an okay blurb, I'll go looking for their book.

  16. I loved reading the answers to these questions and look forward to Friday's post!

    I also have loved reading the comments, especially since my debut novel releases in eight months from Waterbrook Press.

    What an awesome service - Rel and Deborah - that you do for both writers and readers!

    I'm off to go check your blogs now.

  17. What a great idea, Jody!! This is an awesome topic for both writers and readers--love it! :-)

  18. Jody, thank you so much for spotlighting such a great topic! Most of us book bloggers really appreciate the hard work and effort that goes into creating quality reads, and others are just in for the free books. I admit I was part of the latter group when I first started blogging and reviewing, but I've got both feet firmly planted in the former group now. :o)

    I count it such an honor to help spread the word about Christian fiction by so many talented authors (including you) through blogging, and now that there are so many different styles to choose from to read and review...I confess it's a bit overwhelming to narrow it down so there's plenty of time to get that book read and reviewed. Most of the time, I choose books from the publishers that I know and trust, and will often branch out for debut authors promoted by those same publishers. I don't mind reading self-published novels so long as they fit within my genre choices, and it helps if they've already gotten some buzz that has me eager to read the book.

    Thanks to you and Rel (and Deborah) for sparking such a great discussion, and I'm looking forward to Friday's post!

  19. Karen ~ thanks for your encouraging words and for your appreciation of book bloggers/reviewers :) Like Deborah, love your books!

    Shan ~ thanks for your comments on review policies! I think authors will realise how important it is to us, given your comment, Deborah's mention and mine on Friday :)

    Keli ~ your are very kind! You are one of those new authors I'm excited to highlight on my blog and we have already made arrangements for your 2012 release.

    Thanks Patricia ~ so glad to hear you say I nailed the review process. I really hoped to do my fellow bloggers, like yourself, justice :)

    Katie ~ congratulations on your upcoming debut novel. Hope what you learn from these posts and the comments is really helpful as you look to promote your book :)

    Wasn't Jody clever, Shannon? She always has terrific ideas for her blog posts and I so appreciate being a little part of her intelligent and helpful blog.

    Hey Christy ~ great to see you here. You are another dedicated reviewer that is doing great work for your readers and authors you help promote their books on your blog.

  20. Thanks for this Jody. I am building my author platform right now and have not given very serious consideration to book reviewers in my marketing plans. This is a really useful article and I will be back for part 2 on friday.

  21. Thanks so much for this Jody and Rel! It is so exciting to see authors and bloggers partnering together.

    I echo what has already been said by my fellow bloggers about a review policy. It really helps to define your reading tastes and expertise in a concise way so that authors/publishers/publicists/readers know what to expect from your blog.

    When I don't have a book scheduled for a review, picking something to read is an endless possibility. I have a "To-Read" spreadsheet that I update every week and it is currently sitting at 7 pages. There is bound to be a book on there to suit my every mood, but I am always open to suggestions! I visit blogs and author websites regularly to keep up to date with new and interesting reads.

  22. Hi Lydia,

    Thanks for jumping into the discussion (and Christy and other book reviewers up there too!). Since you're prolific book bloggers, we're appreciating your input! I'm hearing from a lot writers (on Twitter) who are learning from all of you in the comments here! So thanks for sharing a little bit more about what you do!

  23. How do you find reliable book reviewers? I spent hours and hours hopping from blog to blog after my book released, finding the reviewers I thought might be interested in my novel, emailed a ton of them and only received one or two replies. Rel was one of them and she graciously agreed to review my book. It was very discouraging. Is there an easier way to find reviewers?

  24. not sure if you've tried it but the Book Blogger Search Engine is a good way to find bloggers who have reviewed books that are similar to yours

    Book Blogger Search Engine

  25. Thank you, Deborah! I was hoping one of you book bloggers would chime in to answer Cathy's question!

  26. Rel, I want to thank you and the other serious book bloggers here (and I know some of you already) for the time and energy you give to supporting good books. Your love for what you do comes out in the quality of your reviews, which are always thoughtful and balanced.

  27. JODY -- what a GREAT idea for a blog subject!!!

    AND what a GREAT blogger/reviewer to interview!! Rel is one of my favorite bloggers AND online friends, so it's a joy to get a peek at her process.

    Your words that Rel is "a talented and prolific book reviewer" are DEAD-ON, and I am grateful for her contributions in this VERY important process of promoting the Christian books we all love.


    P.S. Jody -- SUPER CONGRATS on the INSPY final, girl!!

  28. Hi Julie!

    I agree! The more I rub shoulders with book bloggers, the more grateful I am for ALL they do to promote authors!!!

    And super congrats to you too, Julie, on your INSPY final! I recently had a reader compare me to you and I was so honored! :-)

  29. Hi Jody,
    I am a new blogger/reviewer. I have a friend who is published and another who is an editor. We were talking and I was bummed because I felt like I could be doing something with all of the books I was reading. I read them and put them on the shelf. Seemed anti-climactic in a way. So with their encouragement, I started my own review blog last month. I am completely a newbie so don't have mush to offer in the way of advice.

    But this is what I do: I give every book a chance so long as I know I can read it with time to spare before the release. This is for ARC's. I still try to do books that have already been released in a timely manner though. I have a particular genre I review, but I am always open to others. Catherine Ryan Hyde and Jody are great examples of "outside of the box" for me. But I gave them a chance and was pleasantly surprised with my time spent in each book. I have learned that limiting myself oftentimes means I (as a reader, not just reviewer) lose out.But I understand that some people want to stick with a certain genre and that is alright too. I feel that the reviewer has to do what he/she is comfortable with.

    When I review, I always give and honest opinion. I highlight what I liked and include either a favorite snippet of dialogue or a favorite quote. When I dislike something in a book, I try to find something positive to say as well. I do not feel that it is my job to try and crush an author into the ground if I dislike their work. They worked hard and deserve recognition for that. But realistically, not ever author can please the same reviewer, so there will be some less that glowing reviews at times. On the flip side, while trying to be "constructive" in my reviews, I know I cannot please ever author either.

    I did speak with a reviewer the other day that refuses to review a book she dislikes on her site. I do not agree with this approach. I feel that if you dislike a book, as an honest and reputable reviewer, it is your job to give an honest account of what you read. Like it or not, your audience depends on honesty. Am I right in this view? Thoughts?

    Anyway, I have received good feedback on the reviews and already have 3 scheduled guest author appearance from what I write. The recognition from the authors makes it all worth it. I am helping them and they appreciate it. Though, like Jody, I had no idea how important I could be to an author as a reviewer. I have been told that I "pimp my reads". I post my reviews everywhere I can: the blog, FB, Twitter, LibraryThing, Shelfair, Amazon, Goodreads, and publisher sites specific to the book when available.

    As a new reviewer, I am completely open to the thoughts of others. Please let me know what you think about my approach if you feel so inclined. Also, thanks to Jody for all of the excellent advice you always post!

  30. Hi Kendra,

    I think that if book bloggers only post positive reviews, they risk being seen as "stacking the deck" which is what often happens on Amazon and causes readers to mistrust Amazon reviews. As you said, your readers are looking to you for the good and the bad. So if all you ever post is how much you always love every book, they could come to distrust your reviews.

    However, I also think that reviewers need to utilize caution in how far they go in derailing a book. I think there are ways to kindly tell the pros AND cons of a book without coming across harsh. Hope that makes sense!

  31. Great interview - I love it when Rel is on the other side of the interviewing fence. It's always a fascinating read.

    There really is much more to reviewing that just reading the book!

  32. Hi Jody!

    I really loved this post. My book will debut in February and I am hopeful I'll be able to find (and appreciate) reviewers to help spread the word! I also love to review books when I can, but I admit the time factor gets in the way. You're so right to point out how much time they put into reviewing...thanks for this interview! Very eye opening read!

  33. Hi Courtney,

    Glad you found the post helpful! I wish you all the best with your book's release in February! It's an exciting but also a busy time!

  34. I also do book reviews but now that time is more limited than ever I have found I love to do cookbook reviews the most. So I'm going to start looking for cookbooks to review more often. Good post I like how you mention the actual time involvement in the review process.

  35. Sorry it has taken me a while to stop back in. We have been out of our house the past week needing to have our floors repaired after flooding damage! Home today ~ yay!

    Lydia ~ you are amazing! Thanks for sharing about your spreadsheet - it made me smile as I know exactly that feeling of having to choose the next book :) It can be stressful when there is too many great choices!

    Cathy ~ it can be hard. Deborah's idea is a good one and as I say in Part 2 of this blog post, ask other reviewers who they might recommend. No guarantees but hopefully it gives you more options. LOVED your book, BTW!

    Rosslyn ~ thank you for your lovely words. So very appreciated - balance is definitely something we try to achieve.

    Julie ~ hey you! Thanks for your encouragement! You received a mention from me in the comments in Post 2 as an example of great author input on a blogger's site :)

    Jody ~ you may have had more than one readers compare you to Julie, but one of them was me - LOL!

    Kendra ~ great comments! I hope your reviewing really takes off and you enjoy it. I agree that only publishing positive reviews is probably not the best way to go about it, neither is ripping an author to shreds. As Rosslyn mentioned, getting the right balance is important.

    Tracy ~ hey, dear friend, good to see you here :) Wish you had more time to do your fabulous guest reviews on my blog! Hugs xo

    Courtney ~ like Jody, I'm delighted you found this post helpful :) Music to my ears!

    DSG ~ yes, the time factor is significant and I don't think I quite realised how significant until I worked it out for this post!

    Jody ~ thanks again for raising this topic for discussion for writers and reviewers alike :)


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