An Author’s Perspective: What I Look for in a Review Blog

I tend to keep my toes on both sides of the author and book blogger line. I straddle the fence, teetering frequently into the territory of both roles. For posts, I much prefer blogging about books I’m loving, authors I want to support, and other more reader-centric topics. Of course, since I am an author, my blog frequently does feature posts about my books.

As a blogger, I get a bit nervous requesting review copies from net-galley, but I haven’t had the time to really query authors to ask for books to review. My reading list is already quite full, and the day is already not long enough.

As an author however, I’ve spent a fair amount of time emailing bloggers to ask if they might be willing to have a look and maybe a read at my book. It is as nerve-wracking and nausea-inducing as querying agents used to be. I am a tiny tiny fish in a huge ocean of authors, and book bloggers sit high on a pedestal in my mental court of community opinion. Reading a huge time investment, and asking anyone to invest multiple hours reading and reviewing my book is intimidating. But I’ve done it, and will continue to do so, time permitting.

Lately though, I’ve been receiving requests from bloggers who want to review my books. There is nothing that will make me float higher on cloud nine all day than receiving an inquiry from a blogger/reviewer or a message from a reader. I mean it is like an instant headrush of happiness. So please, keep them coming.

I have noticed that when I get these messages, I tend to go through the same set of motions each time. I wanted to take a moment to share them with you, so that if you are starting a blog, or are just curious, you might have a better idea of what us authors (or at least this author) look for when deciding to accept requests for review copies.

(This applies to blogs I am querying as well)

I generally click the link to the blog. You did include a link to your blog when you emailed me asking for a review copy, right?

One thing, and just about one thing only, will make me immediately close the blog and consider declining the request. If the page begins flashing at me, sparkling, twinkling or otherwise blinding me, or will not load because of an overly abundant amount of ostentatious graphics, I’m out of there. Blogs are personal and individual and I entirely respect that. But if it hurts my eyes, I simply won’t look at it. Don’t misunderstand me. Graphics are great. As long as they don’t interfere with the overall impression. They should feel like part of the blog, the whole picture. If I notice the graphics separate from the blog, you might be on your way to making a bad impression.

If I can’t see through the bling and graphics to find content, your readers–you know, those people I am hoping to reach by providing you the requested review copy–won’t be able to find it either.

Once the blog has loaded, I usually look for a menu or navigation bar/area. I want to be able to find your review policy. I also want to be able to tell from something on your blog what types of books you like. If you mostly read and review horror, I’m going to be hesitant to send you my YA fantasy romance. If I have to really search hard to find this information, or I struggle to understand your navigation, I’ll be less impressed.

Now, less impressed doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll say no. If you are requesting an ecopy, I will almost always say yes. Mostly because I am entirely grateful that you took the time to ask, and because it doesn’t cost me anything to agree to the request. Eventually, I hope to have the budget to send out paperbacks as review copies, and at that point in time, I may have to be more selective.

Here are a few more things that I usually take note of. Are almost all of your reviews one and two stars? This is something would be a huge flag to me. There are blogs out there that enjoy being as critical as they can, and I would be concerned.

When you post your reviews do you post a link, either a buy link or to the book on GoodReads or another site like it? Things like this are a plus in my opinion because you are making it easier for your readers to find more information. Here’s another thing I love seeing in reviews : what you didn’t like. If I’m personally reading a review to decide whether I want to read a book, I want the whole picture. If you hate love triangles so you marked it down because of it, I want to know. I hate love triangles too, and may want to stay away from it.

Additionally I will check out your follower count and your post engagement. If you have 800 followers but only one out of five posts gets a single comment, then I’m going to wonder why. It is more likely to make me think that people are following your blog, but no one is reading it. Likewise if you have 50 followers but each post gets a comment or two, I’m going to believe you’ve cultivated followers who care about your content. I know numbers are only a small part of it. Getting comments is hard and certainly isn’t everything. But it is a definite bonus.

So there you have it. I hope this gives a bit more perspective on what I look for in review blogs. What do you look for in blogs you follow or blogs you submit your books too?