BookSneeze: Free Books for Bloggers

A little over a year ago, we announced the Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers program. The purpose of the program was to provide free books to bloggers in exchange for a 200-word review of the book. We don’t require positive reviews. We want bloggers to be honest in their assessment of the books they read.

Booksneeze Screenshot

This program has been a huge hit. To-date, we have over 7,500 bloggers signed up. We have received hundreds and hundreds of reviews. In fact, we now deem these as a critical part of our marketing strategy. The reason is that people tend to believe the bloggers they follow more than advertising or professional reviews.

The problem has been the name. “Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. However, in the spirit of “permanent beta,” I wanted to get something launched rather than wait for the perfect name.

One day, while re-reading Unleashing the Idea Virus by Seth Godin, I was intrigued by his description of “sneezers.” This is the term he uses to refer to those individuals who get so infected with an idea that they become contagious. They spread it to everyone they know.

Almost immediately, the name “BookSneeze.com” popped into my mind. I did a quick search on GoDaddy.com to see if the domain name was available. Surprisingly, it was.

However, we had an internal debate about the title. For starters, Gail, my wife, thought it was gross. A few others questioned it as well. But in the end, we decided to go with it. (There are some advantages to being the CEO!) I felt that it was memorable—especially with the tagline, “Great books are contagious.”

So, today we are officially launching BookSneeze.com. If you are already registered with our Book Review Bloggers program, you will be automatically registered with BookSneeze. If you are a blogger and haven’t registered with our program, let me encourage you to do so. Here are three benefits (repeated from my original post on the program):

  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.
  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.

We do not require you to write a positive review. If you take a quick look of the reviews on BookSneeze.com, you’ll see that there are both positive and negative reviews. We have never once censored a review or dropped a reviewer for a negative review.

To get started, click here. You must apply to join, but we review all applications promptly.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the people involved in this project:

  • Lindsey Nobles, my communications director, supervised the whole project from beginning to end.
  • Nick Francis and Jared McDaniel at Project 83 did the design and HTML/CSS coding.
  • Joshua Paine of LetterBlock built the underlying Web application and applied Project 83’s work to create the new site.

My original goal was to recruit 10,000 active bloggers. We are now three-quarters of the way there. If you know of a blogger who would like to receive free books, please help us spread the word.

Question: What do you think of our re-branding effort? Be honest. I can handle 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://intensedebate.com/people/supermoonman Steven Rossi

    "There are some advantages to being the CEO!"

    Haha, great line.
    My recent post Context Matters

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  • http://diongovender.wordpress.com Dion Govender

    Hi Mike, firstly. I love the name, it has a great vibe.And I think it’s a fantastic idea. I’m not sure if I’ll make the grade but I registered anyway. I just started my own blog recently after reading one of your posts. Well done guys.

  • http://bondchristian.com/ bondChristian

    As an avid Godin fan, the name jumped off the page for me. I like it. It requires explanation, which is so cool. The only downside, I think, is being tied to Seth. "Sneezer" is much bigger than he is now, but it still might be a bit too close. Otherwise, I love it. This is the first I've even heard of the program (I just started following you here). However, I'm seriously considering getting involved, just not sure how I want to do it yet. Thank you, though… I'm looking forward to seeing how this takes off (or not). :>)

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

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  • http://www.thanhdlu.com Thanh

    This is such a great idea. I signed up but waiting for books that are interesting to me.

  • http://www.thanhdlu.com Thanh

    I like the name. It's cute and it's original.
    My recent post A Plea for Pat Robertson’s Context

  • Jan

    I heard the name and didn't like it. Then I heard the explanation and really still can't buy into it. First impression are important and this one is gross. Took a chance but when you have to explain probably not a good idea.

  • http://mikekey.com Mike Key – Entrepreneurial Ninja

    The name is cleaver and catchy. I love it, I’m also interested in this program. I just started doing some book reviews of the books I consider essential to a man’s library, and I’m always looking for good christian books about manhood to share with my readers.

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  • http://nicodemusfile.blogspot.com/ Jim Whitaker

    I signed up and I am looking forward to this. I think the name is very apt considering the source. Seth’s works are always great and as long as there is meaning behind it, it makes sense to me. Have you considered offering the books in a digital format when it is available. I have a Kindle DX and love it and would think that it would be just as easy to get books to the readers and a little cheaper for you as you would not have to pay shipping and the cost of the paper version.

  • http://www.theincarnate.blogspot.com Matt

    Solid. I'm signing up.

  • bud royer

    tag line for the new site…. "It is snot what you think it is!!!!"
    love your new name & think this idea is great…. i have been teaching & preaching for many, many years that we are not in the restaurant business but we are in the marketing business…. (we have to get people in their cars and drive 77 miles to a town of 77 people to eat with us and pass over 77 places to eat!)
    As you guys are in the marketing business and not in the publishing business….. pretty simple but simplicity is genius. "a lot of people can tell you what to do but very few can tell you why they do what they do!!!" is also a part of the teaching and preaching.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    I laughed out loud when I read your tagline. Brilliant. ;-)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/daveanthold daveanthold

    The new BookSneeze.com site is fantastic. I think you captured a great new look & simple design. I like that the site has our past reviews in a little quick review area. Great Job!
    My recent post Inside-Out Change

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  • http://bookmakingblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/landmark-day-westbow-press-releases-its.html Michael N. Marcus

    I'm not part of the program, but today I blogged about the first WestBow book. http://bookmakingblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/landma
    My recent post A "landmark day" (like 9/11/01?):WestBow Press releases its first vanity book

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  • http://cordsofhislove.blogspot.com/2010/02/book-review-living-with-confidence-in.html Chew Keng-Sheng

    Mike,
    Although you mentioned above of readers having to receive the first two chapters emailed in pdf format, the reality is, of the books I have received so far, I had never received any pdf of book chapters (except of course, for Lucado's Fearless) to be read first while waiting for the physical book. Thus I got to wait some time for the book to arrive before I start. I have no problem at all with the waiting, but since the pdf samplers are not available, perhaps you may want to edit and delete off that part in your post?

    - Chew
    My recent post Book Review: Living With Confidence In A Chaotic World

  • http://decaffeinateddreams.blogspot.com/ Vernie Evangelista

    Sir,

    As a blogger since 2003, I must say this book review programs for bloggers is a splendid idea. It is after all—a win win situation for your publishing company and for the bloggers who loves books. I live in a Third World country and sad to say but books here including Christian books are considered a luxury. When I heard about Book Breeze, I said to myself its too good to be true. But I did sign up and I am still awaiting for the arrival of the book I have requested. It seems some well known Christian publishers pick up the idea on how effective it is. It is about time the they recognized the value of a blogger as someone that can influence and persuade as most of us have no vested interest but blog out the truth about what we feel on a certain product or service. I prayed that more programs like this be more available especially bloggers outside the U.S or in English speaking countries like mine—The Philippines.
    My recent post THE GOOD NEWS

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

    Hi Michael;

    Nasty storm yesterday for you. I know what 13 feet of snow is like, but I do not recall ever getting that much rain. In any event, I like "booksneeze.com" as a brand name. It is unique and attention getting. People notice difference before they notice similarity. The name itself should generate interest enough to get people to the site so you can capture their continuing interest.

  • Socialnomics NERD

    What a fantastic concept. I like the name, but I might of gone with BookAchoo.com Hope I can get my blog up and running so I can review your books!

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  • http://www.debtfree4ever.net Prince Of Thrift

    I like it. How do I sign up?

  • Lynn

    I love being a Book "Sneezer"! I love getting the books, reading the books and then reviewing them. It's a great program and a "win-win" for all!
    Blessings,
    Lynn http://lynndove.wordpress.com/

  • http://www.kathyfannon.com Kathy Fannon

    I think this is a fabulous idea! Although, I'm with Gail…it does sound kind of gross, but with a tag line like that, how could ya not go with BookSneeze?

    I would love to participate in this, but I know I'd never make it through the books. I have too many half-read books and a shelf full of 'to-read' books. But I will put the word out there!

  • ltln247

    Great title! It is concrete (brings an image to mind), memorable (unique and yet not obscure or esoteric), and simple (not a sentence or huge phrase).

  • Mary

    Sounds enticing. Will have tissue at hand!

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  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Fantastic idea! I like this new venture and novel concept. It encourages book reading at one end and marketing at the other end. Marvelous and mind blowing strategy! I especially admire and appreciate the fact that this program is not limited to North America only but covers international geography. People like me are able to participate in such programs solely because of this factor. Moreover, in a country like ours (India), pricing of many books are beyond the reach of common man’ purchasing power. I have recently signed up and waiting to read my first book under this program. — Uma.

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  • http://www.jaredmcvay.com Jared McVay

    I am the writer of two books: a children’s book, Bears, Bicycles and Broom sticks, on Amazon – and a novel, The legend of Joe, Willy and Red, for both men and women, which will be available on Amazon very shortly. My question is; how do I get it reviewed by bloggers?
    Jared McVay downwind.sailor@gmail.com

    • Patricia

      Hi,
      Jared -

      Did
      you ever get an answer to this question?

      I am
      a Newbie Reviewer, and just signed up with Booksneeze.  I found myself here after asking Booksneeze
      Customer Service where the name came from. They referred me to Michael Hyatt’s
      page, and here I am!

      One
      way to get your books reviewed is to join a site called http://bookblogs.ning.com/.

      Once
      you are a member, you then join one of the sites many Groups. Such as http://bookblogs.ning.com/group/allgenrebookreviews
      or http://bookblogs.ning.com/group/dedicatedbookreviewers
      . Those are just two of many. You can do some exploring to find a group (or
      groups), that suits your books. Then just post a comment asking for book
      reviews, with a link to your site. Someone picks you up on it, and eventually
      posts a review on their blog. We also post to major booksellers websites – websites
      that sell your books! Alot of the time, the bloggers receive the books for free
      - from sites like Booksneezers. Most of us have disclaimers on our blogs saying
      we are just expressing our own opinions, and we were not paid for the review.
      The aim is to get people who are surfer the retail sites to buy your books!!

      For
      the most part we are not professionals, as you will see, just readers – avid
      readers!!

      My
      month old Blog is: https://thejoyofthewrittenword.wordpress.com/
      , but there are alot of others much more experienced, and in depth on their
      Blogs, than I am – which you will see on the Bookblogs website.

      Hope
      this is helpful to you and you sell lots of books!!

      Patricia

      Choose
      Joy!

       

      • Patricia

        Hello again, Jared.
        Not sure why my above post turned out so disjointed looking – sorry if it is challenging to read!   I tried to delete it and repost, but no luck!!

        My apologies!

        Patricia

  • Dawn

    I was so excited to see there was an opportunity to read books and then be able to write about my thoughts and feelings concerning said book.  However, my application was turned down.  There was no explanation as to why.  I was quite dissapointed. 

  • Krista Rodriguez

    I love the idea! I am signed up as a booksneeze blogger for a month now. Congrats for a great idea and a great site!

  • http://www.destiny2lead.com/ Jeremy May

    I like this concept. Personally, I have wanted to read more and this gives me a way to do it affordably while also being able to contribute my thoughts about the content. Thanks for providing this to us Michael.  

  • David Chong

    Hi Michael, when are you opening up for more international (outside of US) bloggers for BookSneeze?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I’m sorry, I can’t answer that question. I am no longer associated with Thomas Nelson.