Chatterbox: Publisher Q&A for Bloggers & Reviewers: An Insider’s Guide

April 18, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | Books, Chatterbox, Features

This week I have for you guys an insider’s guide into what publishers expect from bloggers and it was definitely a relief to hear their answers! I got to ask some of the publishers on the Aussie YA Bloggers Group on Goodreads (please join if you are an Aussie YA blogger!) some questions I have been wondering about. I’ve gotten permission from these publishers to post this and I think it provides an honest and valuable insight for us bloggers and reviewers.

The round up:ย Felicity from Penguin Teen Australia, Stephanie from Text Publishing, Amanda from HarperCollins, and Polina from Harlequin Australia

1. Would you prefer to receive a negative critical review on a book or no review at all? As they say, any publicity is good publicity, does that ring true here?

PenguinTeenAus:ย We prefer an honest review, whatever that review is. Obviously trashing books with no real reasoning isn’t our favourite thing but if the review is honest, offers reasonable critiques, then fair play to you. There is no way possible, you’ll love every book we ever do ๐Ÿ™‚

Harlequin Australia:ย We understand that not all the books we send over will be to your liking. You do not have to write a review if you don’t want to – a simple email letting us know is enough. But if you still want to write an honest review as you feel that’s what’s right by your followers / readers, then that is up to each individual blogger.

HarperCollins:If you have requested a book for review and you’ve read it, we appreciate you taking the time to post the review – even if it isn’t a rave. That being said, if it’s a choice between no review at all and a complete trashing that’s nastier than it is constructive – we prefer the former.

2. Similarly, how are negative reviews taken, are they passed on as constructive criticism or as mindless ranting? Are they passed onto the authors?

Text Publishing:ย Depends on the author! I don’t pass on bad reviews but they often read them anyway. Whether they’re passed off as mindless ranting depends on whether they are, in fact, mindless ranting. We don’t get many of those thankfully!ย I don’t think reviewers should censor themselves, I just ask that your reviews are informed. I’ve read things that might be said offhand but are insulting to the author because they are factually inaccurate. That is just a shame, if you ask me.

Penguin Teen Australia:ย Most of our authors are aware of their reviews, sometimes even before we send them. As above, if it’s a fair and honest review then everyone, from author, to publicist, to sales rep should accept it. You are a reader who is very much entitled to their opinion.ย If there are errors in the review such as mistaken plot points or books being mixed up (we’ve seen it happen) we can and do contact bloggers to amend. We also don’t condone reviews that contain hateful or racists comments or any such things.

3. What is your ideal turn around time for a book review? Is it just before release, on release day or a week/month after release? Also, do you do ARCs on release or after release?

Harlequin Australia:An ideal review would be in the month of the book’s release (no earlier than a month prior). However, we also understand the ever-looming TBR pile and that sometimes it all gets overwhelming with life and non-bookish things (yes they exist), so we’re flexible. With ARCs we try get them sent over a month before the release date – eARCs can be sent earlier.

HarperCollins: No earlier than a month before (a week before really, if you want to get picky), with the ideal timing being the week of release. We understand reading schedules can be tricky though. We prefer to send review copies out in the month prior to release. If you request after the book is out in stores, I’m less inclined to send a copy to you (because now you can buy it), so get in early.ย 

4. Do you expect to receive reviews on unsolicited review copies?

Text Publishing:ย I send you things unsolicited hoping you’ll enjoy and review but not expecting anything. No obligation. I don’t send unsolicited copies that don’t make sense, like if you’re an SF/fantasy reader I won’t send you our new contemporary and visa versa. If you don’t want to receive things you didn’t request, you should let me know.ย In an interesting point, I send out unsolicited copies all the time. I get relatively few requests from bloggers, even the ones I have sent stuff to before, but often get reviews of unsolicited books.

HarperCollins:ย I have only sent unsolicited review copies if I know the blogger has enjoyed previous books in that series OR by accident. A review would be great (why else send the book if you’re not hoping for one?) but it’s not expected.

5. How do you pick who receives a review copy or not?

Penguin Teen Australia:ย ย It wildly varies from book to book. It includes available number of copies, level of release, embargo status and so much more. We do try and match reviewers to their genres, authors and also give up and coming bloggers a chance at books. Every day our list changes and alters.

HarperCollins:ย Firstly, you have to request it! Secondly, you have to have a blog you update frequently and a social media platform from which to promote it. After that it depends on how many review copies we have allocated to the title in question. If a book is popular and you request too late, it can be a no. Similarly, if there’s a track record of you requesting and not reviewing, it can decrease your chances of receiving review books.

Harlequin Australia:ย It really depends, with eARCs there isn’t really a limitation if a blogger matches our criteria. However with print books, we do sometimes run out of copies, so it is at times a first-come basis. But we try our best to scout a copy (sometimes steal from other departments), so do still send over your request even if you think it’s too late.

6. Do you personally follow any blogs?

Penguin Teen Australia:ย YYYYEEEEEEESSSS!!!!!!!!!! It’s one of the reasons #PTAChat has recommendation night, so we can talk about all sorts of books. Before any of PTA, I was (and still am) a MAJOR YA fan so I love seeing any and all conversations around the topic.

HarperCollins:ย Sure do. I actually used to read YA blogs before I worked in publishing – but I wasn’t aware of just how many there are (particularly locally) – so it’s great to be properly in the community now.

Text Publishing:ย I check out several blogs somewhat regularly. I also wish I had more time to read everything that’s coming out. It’s easy to only read for work but like…someone said…I’m a bookish type at heart. I’m quite often as excited to read the new INSERT EXCITING TITLE HERE as you are!
ย epiloguepink

  • Honesty is the best policy when it comes to reviews (provided they are constructive).
  • Best time to post your review is a month within release date, but any time after is still fine.
  • If the book isn’t to your liking, you can notify the publisher if you won’t be posting a review.
  • Unsolicited review copies don’t necessarily need to be reviewed.
  • To receive review copies, you need to register your details with your local publishers.
    Publishers love to follow us!

Thank you to the participating publishers for taking part in this Q&A!

I hope you guys find their insight to be of value for your own blogging, reading and reviewing.

What would you like to ask a publisher?ย 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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90 responses to “Chatterbox: Publisher Q&A for Bloggers & Reviewers: An Insider’s Guide

  1. I actually stumbled on this post by happy accident. While I live in the US, this information is still incredibly relevant and I am extremely grateful to have read this post. I am terribly behind on my reviews for publishers and i need to work on that. Guess I am reading all print books for the next few weeks. I am MONTHS behinf.
    Lisa @ just another recently posted…#ArmchairBEA: Wrapping Up The WeekMy Profile

  2. This is very helpful information and I enjoyed reading it. One thing I wonder about is how publishers expect us to submit reviews. On Netgalley it is easy, since we submit feedback via the site. But what about if we receive a print copy? Are we expected to just review it on our blogs, amazon, etc, or do we also have to notify someone at the publisher?
    Julie S. recently posted…Wings of Shadow Audiobook ReviewMy Profile

  3. Thanks for that, it's always good to hear from the horses mouth! I've often wondered whether publishers want reviews for unsolicited books as occasionally I get sent ones not to my taste and never get around to them. Now I don't feel so bad and I'd rather spend my time with books I requested and am genuinely interested in.

  4. I was actually really wondering about question number 3. Thank you so much for putting all of this together! I recently requested and got accepted for my first book on NetGalley. It's kind of intimidating entering this world of ARCs so I'm taking it nice and slow =)
    Stephanie@ThesePaper recently posted…Review: Split SecondMy Profile

  5. Ah well, I would register my details, but I can't give out my address – nor do I want unsolicited review copies hopping my way, lol! Great post though, but I'm still sticking with Netgalley/Edelweiss/ebooks! ^_^

    I usually post a week before the release date though… but sometimes a few days after publication date if I can't stick it in a week beforehand. :3
    Sophia @ Bookwyrming recently posted…The Sunday Post ~ 51: Bunny EditionMy Profile

  6. Thanks for sharing this with us, Jeann! I used to review eARCs as soon as I finish reading them, but now I really try to limit myself to reviewing them within a month of the book's release. I didn't know the publishers read our negative reviews as well, lol. And it's so awesome that they love to follow bloggers as well! <3
    Aimee @ Deadly Darli recently posted…Discussions & Confessions: LGBT BooksMy Profile

    • No problems Aimee, happy to share ๐Ÿ™‚ great idea, reviewing ARCs a bit later would definitely take the load off when the ARC comes out! I know right, I was happy to hear that they do <3

  7. No problems, I was the same about negative reviews as well! Yes definitely send your reviews to the publisher, they love to read them and at least they know once the review copies are up.

  8. Thank you Kelly, I think it's hard to find out what they are looking for but I'm glad a lot of people find this useful. I was surprised too Kelly, they are quite reasonable which is great!

  9. Thanks Siiri, I don't do many rant reviews at all but sometimes can't help it lol! I totally know what you mean about the constructive criticism, it's a fine art. Wow, I'm actually quite surprised about getting the same book so many times! No problems ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Great post Jeann!

    I definetly find this useful (even thouhg i've been blogging for about two years myself) but i'll probably also pass this along to some newbie bloggers I know that have been struggling with getting some questions answered that are along the lines of this post!

    Lily @ Lilysbookblog
    Lily recently posted…Reading Reviews Before the Books Come OutMy Profile

  11. Oh this is such an amazing post, Jeann. Thank you for gathering those people as their though will for sure help us reviewers. Sometimes I read the eARC way before the book is published and it's hard to wait for your review to go up so long. But I shall resist. Great post! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Tanja recently posted…Cover Reveal: The Night House by Rachel TafoyaMy Profile

  12. Really great post here, Jeann! Thank you so much for sharing this. We know so much about our side and the side of authors, but how negative reviews are seen by publishers, I've never really heard about them except now. I'm guilty of posting ARC reviews way early before the release date, but I've been trying to fix that now. We all have that responsibility after all, a responsibility we accepted the moment we requested review copies. Also, yay for them reading YA blogs!
    Faye @ The Social Po recently posted…ARC Review: Tease by Amanda MacielMy Profile

  13. This is a very helpful post! I think it's always interesting to hear from the publishers themselves, as I know a lot of the questions that come up about ARCs and review copies are usually about what the publisher might want. I don't think I could ever be so far ahead in my reading schedule to post reviews more than a month in advance of the release date. ๐Ÿ˜› So I'm glad that's not an issue for me. And I love knowing that publishing people read YA blogs beyond what they need to do for their job. That's definitely encouraging to know! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks so much for sharing.
    Sam @ Realm of Ficti recently posted…Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne BlankmanMy Profile

  14. Thank you for sharing this, Jeann!

    I don't request any arc because I'm afraid of lacking time (work 8-5 and I'm a slow reader), but these informations are very helpful if I want to request one. And you came up with questions that I was actually really curious with.

  15. Liz

    This was very interesting to read! As a non-blogger but an avid YA fan and library worker who is frequently asked to recommend YA fiction of all sorts I rely heavily on you trusty bloggers and honest reviewers.

    I do love to get my hands on early copies and review them (on Goodreads for example) because then I can find new series, authors, authors-who-write-like-other-authors, etc. to recommend.

    Thanks for the post ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Thank you for this Jeann! I always get a little worried before posting a negative review so I'm glad to know that it's okay. But then again, I hardly ever write completely negative or trashing reviews so I think it should be okay. Do you know if publishers expect us to send them our reviews? I never do but thinking back, maybe I should. Do you?
    Laura Plus Books recently posted…Win Pre-Screenings to TFIOS + 20% BooksMy Profile

  17. Absolutely love the post Jeann, asking the questions that so many book reviewers really should know and perhaps can't ask themselves. I was surprised that our publishers all seem to have similar expectations, which were really far more relaxed than I expected.
    Kelly recently posted…Falling From the Sky by Nikki GodwinMy Profile

  18. This actually makes a lot of sense and I'm glad to hear that pubs prefer honesty above all. While rant reviews may be fun, they often come off as hurtful even to me and I, most of the time, have nothing to do with the book in the sense that I haven't even read it, let alone wrote/published it lol. It's hard to write good constructive criticism, not gonna lie. I admire the bloggers who always manage to give the hard blows to the book in a classy, soft manner. As for unsolicited copies–these are interesting to hear from a pub's POV. I think it was Giselle (Xpresso Reads) who got Wake by Amanda Hocking 3-4 times and she had no plans of reading that one, but they still sent it multiple times. And it's awesome that publishers actually read blogs ๐Ÿ˜€ That was a great post, Jeann! Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚
    Siiri recently posted…Review: Believe by Erin McCarthyMy Profile

  19. Oh my gosh I needed a post like this…this just clears up all the stresses and worries I had over reviewing books. I wish I had just gone and asked myself ages ago. I think everyone really needed this even if it's just Australian publishing but it was such a smart idea to get an opinion from 3 publishers. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!
    Francoise recently posted…{Review} Pivot Point by Kasie WestMy Profile

  20. This is an awesome post! Thank you so much for sharing this with us! Atleast now I know that I can actually not review a book if I didn't really enjoy it and I don't really feel like writing a review. I'm working on receiving physical review as you know and I really hope I get there soon! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Amir recently posted…Audiobook Review: Written in Red by Anne BishopMy Profile

  21. This is brilliant!

    I've only just started trying to connect with publisher's and receive review copies, and so far I've had one success! I got an email back from Allen and Unwin and I should be getting my first review copies soon! I am so super dooper excited.

    So really, this couldn't be more perfect timing. It's great to see what publisher's expectations are and what the do's and dont's are for reviews. I don't think I intentionally bag out books I don't like, and I normally always try to be constructive (even with the books I love). But now I am going to be extra careful when writing up a negative review.

    And I did become a member of the GR group.. but I haven't had a good look at the discussions and such yet. I should probably get to that… ๐Ÿ˜›
    Brea @ Breezy Reads recently posted…If I were a Fictional Character (#2)- Riley Carver from Outcast!My Profile

    • Awesome, thanks for joining the group Brea! It sounds like it did come with the perfect time, receiving ARCs is the best thing but it can get overwhelming at times. Glad to share and I hope this helps you with your reviewing adventures ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. This is such an important post Jeann! It makes me feel much more confortable when I review a book I didn't really enjoy, because I like my blog to be vaired and not just be full of raves, so it's nice to see publishers really don't mind that, and when it comes to putting the review out, I also try to aim for 2 weeks either side of release, so I think I do quite well there too. It just highlights that what I'm doing is great for the publishers, and my readers and I are happy, so I'm clearly doing something right. Thank you so much for this post! ๐Ÿ˜€
    Amanda @ Book Badger recently posted…Five Friday Favourites #11 – Favourite VillainsMy Profile

  23. It's been so much fun following all of these answers on the Goodreads group – I've learnt so much! I only started receiving review copies and ARCs this year, and I've still got so much to learn. But I love blogging so much, I can't believe it's taken me this long to get properly started ๐Ÿ™‚
    Emily @ The Loony Te recently posted…Book Review: UnhingedMy Profile

  24. Thanks for this post! It's so interesting to hear everything straight from the publisher and I'm sure this advice is largely true for non-Australian bloggers/publishers (like me!). I was surprised that HarperCollins actually wanted people to request copies for reviews… I'm always so shy when it comes to that!
    Karen M recently posted…One More Page Nominated for A Liebster Award!My Profile

  25. This is a fantastic post full of loads of interesting information! I've always wondered about the appropriate timing for posting reviews of ARCs, so now I know that even if I read it earlier, I should hold on posting the review on the blog until a month away from release day or less!

    Thanks a lot for all the info, Jeann!
    Pili recently posted…Introducing a new feature: Ink & Batter!My Profile

  26. Eee! I like this post so much (mind you I've been reading the answers as they trickle in on the group, but here they're all in one spot and BRILLIANT. Bookmarking for sure). x) It's good to know they don't mind receiving the negative reviews. I confess, when I started reviewing, if it was 2-stars I didn't send the review back! Which is dumb, because no one would have known if I was a consistent reviewer or not…gah. >.< And it's also nice to know you're not EXPECTED to review unsolicited books. I have an issue with getting ones that are sequels…I've had it happen several times now, and seriously, sometimes I can't even FIND the first book in the library and I'm not buying a book I don't even know if I desperately want. *sigh* But at the same time unsolicited ARCs are awesome surprises. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Cait @ Notebook Sist recently posted…Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (OH THE BRILLIANCE)My Profile

    • Thanks Cait! I thought non-Aussies could benefit from this publisher insight as well. I was exactly the same with negative reviews, thinking if I rated a book low then they would be less likely to send me any. And yes, I've been mixing up my unsolicited review copies with the actual ones I requested, causing me to fall behind in the actual ones! So the insight has been awesome ๐Ÿ™‚