tips and tricks

How to Get Started as a Book Reviewer

So you want to be a book reviewer?

Yay! Welcome to the reviewer side of the book community👋

One of the best things about being a book reviewer — aside from scoring some free books — is that anyone can review books! As long as you’re interested in reading books (hardcovers, paperbacks, ebooks, and/or audiobooks) and happy to share your thoughts and opinions on what you’ve read, you can review books.

You may have noticed “your” was highlighted in the previous sentence. That’s because sometimes reviewers decide to be a bit sneaky and copy + paste the thoughts and opinions of other reviewers to pass as their own. This is a big no-no (and thankfully, something that doesn’t happen too often). As a book reviewer, readers want to hear YOUR thoughts.

You may wonder if people are interested in what you have to say, but the internet is vast, books are in abundance, and I can guarantee there is someone out there who will appreciate reading your book reviews! Especially, the authors whose books you’re reviewing, as they count on reviews to help promote their work to more readers. There’s a reason word-of-mouth is a top marketing tool — and book reviewing is simply word-of-mouth marketing on a larger scale!

So how do you get started as a book reviewer?

In all honesty, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. I know plenty of book reviewers and each uses different ways to find their next reads and write their reviews. However, one thing is for certain, you’ll need a platform for your reviews.

When I first started reviewing books in 2017, I used Goodreads. If you’re unfamiliar with Goodreads, it’s essentially a huge database of books and a great way to research new books, write book reviews, log your reads (or TBR), and connect with authors and other readers. Six years later, I still use my Goodreads account.

In 2018, I began a “bookstagram“. What is bookstagram? It’s an Instagram account dedicated to books and reading. Bookstagramming is one of my favourite ways to review books, connect with other bookstagrammers and authors, and find romance recommendations. Although my bookstagram focuses on the romance books I’m reading (or want to read), I know plenty of bookstagrammers who integrate their bookish content with other personal content (e.g. their daily lives, their addiction to coffee and latte art😉, or their love of flowers and plants). One of the greatest things about bookstagram is you get to showcase your creativity with photos and/or reels — your posts can be as simply or intricate as you want!

As I started getting more serious about reviewing romance novels, I created this blog and a Netgalley account. Netgalley is a great way to access Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) to read and review. I’ll talk more about Netgalley below (so keep reading!), but the key point to takeaway is that it’s a great platform for authors, publishers, and PR companies to access your reviews.

The fifth and final platform that I regularly use is Amazon. Since Amazon is a retailer (i.e. a place to buy books), authors and publishers love Amazon reviews. It helps boost book promotions for authors and gives readers a one-stop-shop component to their purchases (no more flipping between browser tabs to check out reviews before making purchase decisions).

Other examples of platforms reviewers use include:
Other retailers (e.g. The Ripped Bodice, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, QBD, Dymocks, Booktopia)

Whatever platform(s) you choose, make sure they work for you. If you’re not interested in reviewing ARCs or latest releases, Netgalley may not be a priority for you. Not sure if you want to create a blog? You don’t have to. Plenty of reviewers stick to retailer and social media sites without creating a blog. Despite so many books coming out with those “As seen on Booktok” perma-stickers on the covers, I have no plans to create a Booktok at this stage and that decision works for me!

However, I will suggest that having at least one retailer platform is a good start if you’re wanting to access free review copies from authors! Amazon is probably the most popular since it’s the largest book retailer across the world with millions of titles available.

While BookBub is gaining popularity, keep in mind that your geographic location may affect your access to the site’s features. For example, us Aussies may not be able to leave reviews on the platform or view the full list of books by a particular author, but US folks can.

Remember: reviews promote books to readers and authors want their books to sell.

Also Amazon is a super easy way to review books. They do all the hard work for you with their coding. All you need to do is give the book a star rating, write a review title, and submit your review. Just keep in mind that Amazon has review guidelines so check those out before you hit “Submit”. For example, they don’t like swearing or certain trigger words used, and they require disclaimers stating you’ve received a free review copy to be written in a particular way (receiving a book “in exchange” for a review is a no).

Let me know in the comments below which platforms you use or plan to use!

Where do you get books to review?

The short answer? Everywhere!

When I first started, I was reading and reviewing books that I already owned and books that I borrowed from my local library. I also picked up a few cheap reads from thrift stores around town; however, you don’t need to spend money on books if you’re on a budget (check out my blog post here on ways to access free/cheap books) and you definitely don’t need to be spending a fortune on the latest releases (unless you want to) to be a book reviewer.

Other ways you can access books to review include:

Amazon – You can buy books, download freebies, or borrow books through subscription services (Audible, Prime Reading, and Kindle Unlimited).

Netgalley/Edelweiss – Both are sites where you can request ARCs from authors, publishers, and PR companies. I personally use Netgalley and have found that some books will only be available in certain regions so definitely keep that in mind. I’ve set my region settings to ensure only books available to my location will show. Also don’t be discouraged if your request gets rejected. There are a number of reasons why you may get rejected (and trust me, we’ve all had requests rejected at one point or another). The best way to minimise rejections is to view publishers’ review criteria (e.g. update your bio with what platforms you use, traffic statistics, and genres you read).

Promo/PR agencies – Depending on what type of books you want to review, you can find promo and PR agencies to match. If you’re on my site, you probably already know I review romance books. There are lots of great PR companies that focus on romance books (I have a list of several in my sidebar) and offer free review ebooks (and sometimes audiobooks) in exchange for reviews on release day.

Author Newsletters – Sign up to your favourite authors’ newsletters! I cannot stress this enough. This is such an understated and great way to access free reads. So many authors offer “reader magnets” in the form of free books or novellas. One of my all time favourite authors, Cate C Wells, regularly offers one of her books for free (and nearly always has a ridiculously cheap sale happening) in her newsletters. She also has a list of free short stories and bonus epilogues that you can download straight from the email.

Book Breaks – If you enjoy Harlequin romances, check out Book Breaks. Hello, free reads!

Book deal sites – Check out sites like Prolific Works and BookBub to be the first in the know on cheap book deals and promos!

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but hopefully it’s given you some ideas on where you can access free/cheap reads. Whether you’re a seasoned book reviewer or newbie looking for ideas, there are tons of ways to find books and many different reviewing options.

Let me know in the comments below what type of books you review and how you access copies!


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