A New Book Review Program for Bloggers

A few months ago, we began an experiment. We offered a free book to anyone who agreed to post a 200-word review on their blog. We started with The Faith of Barack Obama [affiliate link] by Stephen Mansfield. We had almost 200 people request books and almost 70% of them posted book reviews.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/firstthingsfirst, Image #2991594

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/firstthingsfirst

We were so pleased with the results, we decided to do it again. We offered Through the Storm [affiliate link] by Lynne Spears. However, this time we required bloggers to post their review on Amazon in addition to their own site. We had slightly fewer requests and reviews, but we were still pleased with the results. Almost all the reviews were positive.

Regardless, I challenged Lindsey Nobles, my Director of Corporate Communications, to create a Web site specifically designed for bloggers who are interested in reviewing our books. As a result, we launched the Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers (BRB) site yesterday. I am especially proud of what Lindsey and her team accomplished in less than six weeks.

If you are a blogger, this new site has at least three benefits:

  1. Free copies of our best books. We will send you a free copy of the book you are interested in reviewing. In addition, after you have requested a review copy, we will email you a PDF of the first two chapters so you can immediately get started. Meanwhile, we will drop a physical copy of the book in the mail.
  2. Content resources for your blog. We will provide you with free resources to use in your review. These include things like cover art, video or audio clips (when available), external links to other related items, etc. Frankly, this is the part of the site that we need to expand upon the most.
  3. External links to your blog. We will provide a link back to the your actual review of the book. As you may know, external links are what drive up your blog’s ranking on Google. In general, the more links the better.

What do we require? Bloggers must agree to write a 200-word review—good, bad, or ugly—and post it on their blog and on any consumer detail page for that book (e.g., Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, BooksAMillion.com, Borders.com, ChristianBook.com, etc.). Obviously, the review can be longer, but we wanted to set the bar low in order to encourage participation. I think this is a case where if the products are WOW, they will generate enthusiasm and buzz. If not, then that will also help us create better products in the future.

My goal is to recruit 10,000 active bloggers, categorized by subject areas. That’s aggressive, I know. But, why not? Like they say, “Go big or go home.”

Then, when we want to get the word out for a specific book, we can distribute 1,000 or so review copies at a time and use the reviews to jump-start the most important component of any marketing campaign: word-of-mouth.

To get started, click here.

Question: Do you think it will work? What needs to be added to the site to improve it?
Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to self-hosted WordPress? Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://bookcritiques.blogspot.com/ Sally

    What a great idea. I already review books on my site, and because I love to read, I always want more. I see plenty of comments from authors I admire. GREAT!

  • http://bookcritiques.blogspot.com/ Sally

    What a great idea. I already review books on my site, and because I love to read, I always want more. I see plenty of comments from authors I admire. GREAT!

  • Pingback: Book review blogger « Another Startup

  • http://www.modernekklesia.com/ Rodlie Ortiz

    Is it just me or is anyone else having trouble with the sign up link? I just tried on another computer and it's a no go. It's just not doing anything when I click on the link. Any ideas?

    'Cause I'd really like to sign up. Sounds like an excellent prog.

  • http://www.modernekklesia.com Rodlie Ortiz

    Is it just me or is anyone else having trouble with the sign up link? I just tried on another computer and it's a no go. It's just not doing anything when I click on the link. Any ideas?

    'Cause I'd really like to sign up. Sounds like an excellent prog.

  • amysorrells

    This is awesome! I really want to join, but the site is taking error-length time to upload . . . if I can't sign up via this site, keep me in mind, please!

  • amysorrells

    This is awesome! I really want to join, but the site is taking error-length time to upload . . . if I can't sign up via this site, keep me in mind, please!

  • amysorrells

    This is awesome! I really want to join, but the site is taking error-length time to upload . . . if I can't sign up via this site, keep me in mind, please!

  • http://deepfriedbrain.blogspot.com/ Harwinder

    Great idea. Looking forward to my first book.

    - Harwinder
    http://deepfriedbrain.blogspot.com/

  • http://deepfriedbrain.blogspot.com/ Harwinder

    Great idea. Looking forward to my first book.

    - Harwinder
    http://deepfriedbrain.blogspot.com/

  • http://therempels4.blogspot.com/ shirley

    I have been a Thomas Nelson reviewer on my blog for a while now…have done 6 reviews and I love this program. Not only do i get to read some great new books but I get to share my thoughts to those in my readership on my blog and those in my life!

  • http://therempels4.blogspot.com/ shirley

    I have been a Thomas Nelson reviewer on my blog for a while now…have done 6 reviews and I love this program. Not only do i get to read some great new books but I get to share my thoughts to those in my readership on my blog and those in my life!

  • http://michellesidles.com/ Michelle

    Awesome!! :) I'm in!

  • http://michellesidles.com/ Michelle

    Awesome!! :) I'm in!

  • http://michellesidles.com/ Michelle

    Awesome!! :) I'm in!

  • http://twitter.com/vinzrothenburg @vinzrothenburg

    Hey Michael,

    what a great idea! I love this. I'm sure this will generate a lot of buzz for many new releases. Just one suggestion: I'd recommend that you encourage bloggers who receive books under the BRB program to mention that fact in their reviews. You don't want casual blog readers to think that Thomas Nelson is trying to "buy" favorable reviews. I know it sounds ludicrous, but I've seen people jump to such conclusions when reviewers aren't open about this sort of thing.

    On another note: Will BRB be open to international bloggers too? I know I'd love to enter!

  • http://twitter.com/vinzrothenburg @vinzrothenburg

    Hey Michael,

    what a great idea! I love this. I'm sure this will generate a lot of buzz for many new releases. Just one suggestion: I'd recommend that you encourage bloggers who receive books under the BRB program to mention that fact in their reviews. You don't want casual blog readers to think that Thomas Nelson is trying to "buy" favorable reviews. I know it sounds ludicrous, but I've seen people jump to such conclusions when reviewers aren't open about this sort of thing.

    On another note: Will BRB be open to international bloggers too? I know I'd love to enter!

  • http://onebonnie.blogspot.com/ Bonnie Ann

    You're very upfront in your expectations and that is great, but I think you should take it one step further and provide a standard disclosure statement to be included in each review. Maybe just a short sentence (Like "Reviewed for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers program") that would link back to a clear full disclosure on your site.

    Love it or hate it, I feel it would be unethical to post a review that I was paid for (you're paying free books) without disclosing that relationship. Adding to the transparency will add to the credibility of the program. And by linking back to a full disclosure, you may actually recruit more bloggers.

  • http://onebonnie.blogspot.com/ Bonnie Ann

    You're very upfront in your expectations and that is great, but I think you should take it one step further and provide a standard disclosure statement to be included in each review. Maybe just a short sentence (Like "Reviewed for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers program") that would link back to a clear full disclosure on your site.

    Love it or hate it, I feel it would be unethical to post a review that I was paid for (you're paying free books) without disclosing that relationship. Adding to the transparency will add to the credibility of the program. And by linking back to a full disclosure, you may actually recruit more bloggers.

  • http://onebonnie.blogspot.com/ Bonnie Ann

    You're very upfront in your expectations and that is great, but I think you should take it one step further and provide a standard disclosure statement to be included in each review. Maybe just a short sentence (Like "Reviewed for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers program") that would link back to a clear full disclosure on your site.

    Love it or hate it, I feel it would be unethical to post a review that I was paid for (you're paying free books) without disclosing that relationship. Adding to the transparency will add to the credibility of the program. And by linking back to a full disclosure, you may actually recruit more bloggers.

  • http://tgteecher.blogspot.com Tammy

    I love the idea of the "common people" reviewing great books that their peers will want to read. Thanks for letting us be a part of this grand scheme!
    My recent post Reading Is Everywhere

  • http://tgteecher.blogspot.com/ Tammy

    I love the idea of the "common people" reviewing great books that their peers will want to read. Thanks for letting us be a part of this grand scheme!
    My recent post Reading Is Everywhere

  • http://tgteecher.blogspot.com/ Tammy

    I love the idea of the "common people" reviewing great books that their peers will want to read. Thanks for letting us be a part of this grand scheme!
    My recent post Reading Is Everywhere

  • http://www.reachinghurtingwomen.com/ Tamara

    This is really cool! I'm looking forward to getting my first book!

  • http://www.reachinghurtingwomen.com/ Tamara

    This is really cool! I'm looking forward to getting my first book!

  • http://www.reachinghurtingwomen.com/ Tamara

    This is really cool! I'm looking forward to getting my first book!

  • Kenny Holloway

    marketing genius

  • Kenny Holloway

    marketing genius

  • Kenny Holloway

    marketing genius

  • Scott Michaels

    Very smart, Michael.  Will our radio station’s website be accepted as a “blog”?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Do you have a literal blog? This program really is for bloggers. However, radio stations can usually get books through the usual publicity channels.

  • http://www.lionstand.com Jamie (Lionstand)

    Great stuff!

    Looking forward to this.

  • http://joshuamonen.com Joshua Monen

    Very cool. I will check it out. In fact I’m getting ready to launch a new blog: http://www.socialbooknetwork.com so this will be perfect!

  • Momma in Progress

    Would love to do this. Having some technical difficulties with the application, though. No matter what I try for a password, it is rejected and wants a new one. Any thoughts? Any one else have this problem?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Hmm. We haven’t had that reported. You might try clearing your browser cache or even visiting the site with a different browser.

  • Jonathan Bartling

    This is a great idea! As a new blogger who has recently committed to using my blog as a way to keep accountable to the reading and reflecting I know I should do, I’m hoping this will be a win-win! Thanks!

    Jonathan
    http://passleadershipon.wordpress.com

  • http://paulbooks.blogspot.com/ Paul

    Micheal – This is a great idea. Always wondered whose idea it was to start this wonderful program. I am involved with this book review program and have been blessed by it. Looking forward for more to come from this initiative in the future. I have been an active follower of your blogs and have learnt much. Keep up the good work and may the Lord bless all that you do.

  • Vera Godley

    I am a participant of the BookSneeze program and am currently reading Tyndale.  This is a great program, the only drawback that I see so far is the very limited available books in PRINT form for the reviewers.  I realize lots of people are going for the ebooks, but not I.  From comments of other participants on the BookSneeze Facebook page, I gather that more print copies are desired.  Realizing this increases the out-of-pocket cost for you, I sympathize.  However, book lovers are BOOK lovers first and electronic groupies next.

    Vera
    http://ChatWithVera.blogspot.com

  • http://www.ontargetcoach.com/ Brent Pittman

    I’m going to sign up soon! I have a goal to ready 15 nonfiction books in 2012, so this will be a great resource for material! 

  • Amy Miles

    I try to do this one my own as a self published author and it’s wonderful.  I am looking forward to signing up.

  • Diana Harkness

    I’m already blogging reviews  for Bethany House, Waterbrook, and Booksneeze, so what’s one more?  I have three I need to finish and post reviews, as well as get my own novel ready and submit my essays, short story, and poetry for publication, and run my business, and manage my home, and get taxes ready to file.  I’m hoping there aren’t any books I want to review for the next few months!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been a Book Sneeze blogger and love the books and the opportunity to review new items.  I’ve even given away my barely used copy on occasion to someone who could use it. 

  • http://jacklloydsinger.com/ Best Western Fiction Author

    Really Its a great program. I like it. Your blog page is excellent. Thank you truly for sharing a huge amount of powerful ideas. I will bookmark your web site and will be without a doubt coming back. Again, I appreciate all your work and supplying much priceless info for the many people.

  • Jason

    I currently do book reviews on my blog for Little Brown and Company. I am always interested in doing more reviews. I am an avid reader and writer and welcome any more opportunity to read and write even more.
    My site is:
    http://www.thejagreview.blogspot.com

  • http://bestbookscorner.blogspot.com/ sofyan

    The biggest constraints for me as a new blogger is how promote my blog on internet, in order to be known by others and how to invite visitors to come to my blog

    Greats Stuff ……………Thanks

  • Hharris

    Any limitation on age? We may have students who want to join in the reviews.

  • mcnairwilson

    Signed up. Waiting to pass through Nelson’s TSA screen so I can get and read the new Leonard Sweet. Thanks for this program, Michael. I suspect other pubs will follow.

  • James

    Great idea. Will it be open to those living outside of the USA? I live in Australia so I am unable to join :(

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You’ll have to check with Thomas Nelson. Sorry, this is an old post, and I no longer work at the company.

  • punith_kesarkar

    THat’s an awesome idea! I so want to be a part of it too! How can I get involved with my blog (which is about book reviews? 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Visit the link provided in the article.

  • punith_kesarkar

    So let’s say I do post a review of the selected book..does that review go onto your blog or mine? 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yours.

  • Mary P Anthony

    Michael…love this idea, but wonder if a newly published WestBow author like myself has a venue for pursuing a good review as well?
    see: http://lovesongofaflowerchild.com

  • Nastya Paun

    Hi.I’m from Romania.I’d love to participate to this program,but my eyes don’t let me read on pc.I’d be more then glad to find a program in USA that sends paperback books international.