Some bloggers find that doing reviews is a good way of driving traffic to their blog, and this is true. As an author, I love directing my audience to a site that has favorably reviewed my book. Why? Because it’s not on Amazon where the reviews tend to get bunched together. It’s more fun to read a single great review on a site than a whole bunch that make your eyes glaze over.
If the blogger includes a link to my book as well, this can be a terrific landing page for on-going promos even after the post is not on the blogger’s top page.
However, if you are going to do reviews for your blog, here are some points to consider.
#1 Reading takes time. Even if you are an extreme speed reader, there are more books than you can ever read. With the advent of ebooks, that is more true than ever. Once your site is found by readers, you can be sure the authors will pounce. That’s great as you might get a bunch of free books, but you can lose credibility very quickly if you promise to do 10 books a month and find that is not feasible. So go slow at first. Only commit to a couple of books and see how it goes before committing to 50 and realizing you can’t keep up.
#2 Set your review policies. Are there certain types books you don’t want to read or review? Put that in a Policies Page that is visible on the site. You don’t want to be wading through tons of submissions that turn your stomach.
#3 In fact, on your policies statement, also include information about what happens if you hate the book. Do you politely but not publicly let the author know the book was below what you could give a good review for? Or are you comfortable giving bad reviews to crummy books you’ve been given? If you are an author, this gets to be a particularly thorny question as publishing a review that is less-than-favorable can come back to haunt you when you are asking for reviews for your own book. As much as possible, think through these issues because if you review, you will face them sooner or later.
#4 What will you include with the review? I’ve seen bloggers get really creative with reviews, asking the author for “casting calls” of who they see as their hero and heroine. I’ve seen bloggers do character interviews coupled with or after a review. Challenge yourself to find a way to make your reviews MUST READS! THE review everyone clamors to get and every reader wants to read. Don’t be boring!
#5 Think through how to stem the tide when you start getting too many submissions. Do you close submissions? Put news ones on a to-be-read list? What?
#6 I know there are sites that request payment for reviews. I would discourage you from doing so unless your site offers the chance of more than one reviewer and there is an issue of download space on your server or something. Otherwise, if it’s just you reviewing, consider the reviews the price of attracting traffic to your site.
#7 Promote your reviews! Maybe that sounds obvious, but don’t just review and let them gather dust. Tweet about them. Facebook them. Let others know you have a new review out, so they will come, read it, love it, and want to read more reviews by you!
In short, think through your policies and know that this route of blogging takes much more time than simple blog posts. However, if you absolutely love to read and want to point people to great books, this is a fabulous way to do it! (And authors will love you to boot!