Wednesday, July 1, 2015

All About Book Blogging #2: How To Get Free Books via Blog Tour and Review Programs

Started a book blog? Awesome! Congrats and welcome, we are happy to have you!

Now, you're probably wondering when you can start requesting complimentary review copies? How to approach the publishers? How many followers / page views/ posts should you have before you even start thinking about asking for review copies? What other ways are there of getting free books?

I'm here to answer all these questions for you!

The topic of today's post is: Getting FREE BOOKS for review via book blog tours and review programs

In case you missed the first post (How to request books for review from the publisher) you can find it here: CLICK

Be sure to check the publicist interviews as well - they are very insightful!

2/7 - Publicist Interview with Kelsey Dickson from Simon and Schuster
2/8 - Publicist Interview with Elizabeth Mason from Bloomsbury Children's
2/9 - Publicist Interview with Rachel Lodi from Penguin Young Readers

Sign up for Blog Tours:

This is possibly one of the easiest way of scoring review copies. There are new blog tour companies created every year and they're all looking for bloggers to participate in their tours. They're more willing to work with new bloggers than publishers, and they will not only provide you with review copies, but they will also send over neat blog tour packages (consisting of a book cover, synopsis, author info and giveaway widgets) that will make putting your blog posts together way easier. PLUS, because you're on a tour schedule and likely hosting a giveaway on your blog, you will get a significantly higher exposure than when you're reviewing on your own. Everyone wins!

Here are some of the blog tour companies we  love working with:

Book Review Programs:

Many publishers, services and PR companies come up with unique reading programs allowing readers (not necessarily bloggers, but it's usually preferred) access to free books in exchange for reviews. These are different than being on publisher's mailing lists or requesting books for review directly from the publisher mainly because they all follow specific rules and usually don't require big stats and big blog fellowship.

Here are some of them: -only advanced digital galleys

An online service connecting book publishers with reviewers, media, librarians, booksellers, bloggers and educators. "NetGalley delivers digital galleys, often called advance reading copies, or ARCs, to professional readers and helps promote new and upcoming titles. Professional readers--reviewers, media, journalists, bloggers, librarians, booksellers and educators--can join and use NetGalley at no cost." (from the ABOUT section of

How does it work?
  • Publishers working with add their upcoming titles to the database and reviewers can then request them. If they're approved, they can download a digital galley onto their ereaders or computers.
  • Though there is no limit as to how many galleys you can request, if you download galleys but won't review them, your stats will affect future approvals.
  • Before you can request galleys, you need to create a profile and keep all the stats up to date. A strong profile, with good stats and more info will improve your chances of being granted access to popular galleys.
  • After some time, some of the publishers might auto-approve you for their galleys, which means you no longer have to hit the "request" button, you will be able to access any and all of their galleys.

Edelweiss - only advanced digital galleys.

An online catalog and a service quite similar to NetGalley. The only difference is, in addition to filling out an "about me", when requesting a galley, you are also asked about the reason WHY you want to read this particular book.

  •  From my experience, publishers are less likely to approve your requests on Edelweiss than they are to do so on NetGalley, but if you review galleys in a timely, consistent manner, you might score an auto-approval, and that is like finding a map to a hidden treasure. Seriously.

First to Read (from Penguin) - only advanced digital galleys.

How does it work?

  •  "At least once a month, First to Read will offer digital galleys of not-yet-published books to members. You can request access to a digital galley of one or more of the books on offer via entering a drawing for that galley or through redeeming your points to guarantee access. You earn points for your interaction on the site, including reading, reviewing, and sharing." (from the First to Read FAQ)
  • From my experience, interacting with the First to Read site (sharing on Twitter and Facebook, reading excerpts, etc) gets you just as many - if not more - points as reviewing books. The points get added to your account with about a 40-60 minutes delay, and they accumulate fast. Reading 5 excerpts and sharing info about books on social media (through the share option on the website) gets you enough points to "guarantee" a copy of a book when new books are "on offer". Books go "on offer" anytime from 1 to 4 times per month and there's usually a 3-5 day period when you can request / guarantee a copy.
  •  Your review can be anywhere from one paragraph to as long as you want it.
  • There's no strict time limit for posting your reviews, but each book has a "we would like to hear your thoughts by...." date specified.

Blogging for Books (from Random House / Crown) - both digital and print review copies.

How does it work?

  • Blogging for Books offers free books to bloggers, librarians, retailers and media outlets in exchange for honest reviews.
  • They have a variety of books in their collection ranging from fiction and cookbooks to crafting, business, religious books and more.
  • Unlike First to Read, this program requires you to have an active blog. The good news is, there's no minimum of traffic required.
  • You will need an Edelweiss account in order to request ebooks from the program.
  • Printed copies are only available for the US residents.
  • The way it works is: you get one book, you write your review, and then you can request another. There's a "in transit" period for physical copies, which means they take the delivery time into account and during the time your book is in "the limbo", you can't add your review.
  • Your review should be at least 3 paragraphs long and original.

Book Look Bloggers - both digital and print review copies

Book Look is a book review program from HarperCollins Christian Publishing. The program features books from imprints such as: Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, Westbow Press E-books and more (both fiction and non-fiction).

How Does it Work?
  • You sign up, create a profile and you can then request your first book. After you submit your review (within 90 days), you can request next one,
  • If you post regularly of at least once per week and your blog fellowship exceeds 300 people, you can apply for Gold Membership which comes with special perks, like the ability to request 2 books at a time.
  • There are very specific guidelines for posting your reviews. 
  • "In order to encourage BookLook Bloggers to be active readers and reviewers, there is a 90-day policy for reading and requesting a book on BookLook Bloggers. If you have requested a book, you must submit a review on BookLook Bloggers at least 90 days after the initial request. After you have submitted your review, you must request another book within 90 days of your last review. If your account remains inactive during this 90 day period, your account will be deactivated." (from FAQ section of Book Look Bloggers)

Bethany House - both digital and print galleys

How does it work?
  • Bethany House offers bloggers free review copies in exchange for them posting honest reviews, at least 75 words long (not including a plot synopsis), on their blog and a retailer website. 
  • Each month they send out two newsletters, one for fiction and one for nonfiction, listing the titles available for review. Bloggers can request one title for review each month, though that doesn’t guarantee they will be on the final mailing list, due to limited number of copies.
  • They now offer the option to review books in electronic format through NetGalley.

Free Reads Program - online reading only

How does it work?
  • "Every week, pulseit features full books or exclusive extended excerpts of the latest in YA. Check back regularly to discover new authors and read excerpts from our extensive library."(from
  • This is a YA program featuring books from Simon Teen. You can't download egalleys onto your ereader, you can only read in your browser. 

Shelf Awareness - both print and digital galleys

Shelf Awareness publishes two newsletters, one for general readers and one for people in the book business. Bloggers can sign-up for the Shelf Awareness Pro (for people in the book business), and get some really cool information daily, plus - if you pay attention - almost every issue of Shelf Awareness Pro offers opportunities to request ARCs of upcoming books from various publishers (MG, YA and Adult books). You will find these in the ads, such as this one: 

 Entangled OPT-IN Mailing List - digital galleys only

How does it work? 

  • For readers (don't have to be a blogger) interested in reviewing Entangled titles, participating in blog tours or interviewing Entangled's authors, Entangled has a special opt-in newsletter with titles available for review.
  • You are expected to post your review within a week from the publishing date.
  • You are expected to cross-post your review on Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes and Noble
  • You can request an author interview, guest post or some other form of promotional post. 

Xpresso Book Tours - REVIEW DEN - both digital and physical review copies

Aside from organizing book blog tours, book blitzes and cover reveals, Giselle over at Xpresso Book Tours also connects readers and reviewers with authors seeking book reviews.
example - from Xpresso Book Tours newsletter
How does it work?
  • You can browse books currently available for review and request them by filling out a form. 
  • You don't have to visit the site every time you're looking for a book for review, you can sign up for Giselle's newsletter and have new review opportunities arrive in your mailbox.
  • As per Giselle's guidelines: not all bloggers may get approved for a copy, cross-posting reviews to Amazon, Goodrands, B&N etc, is appreciated; and, because these are not part of promotional book tours, you are more than welcome to post negative reviews too, as long as they're honest. 

Was this information helpful to you? Do you know about any other ways of getting ARCs and finished copies for review? Please let me know in the comment section below so I can update the list! :) 
Stay tuned for blogging-pros interviews coming up next!

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