Mint Tries It So You Don’t Have To – Itsy Bitsy Book Bits

From time to time, I get unsolicited messages from bookish companies asking me to try their products. And I guess it works, because I’m always curious about whether these sites are legit!

Today, I’m reviewing the ARC/author service company Itsy Bitsy Book Bits so you don’t have to. (And to be honest, I don’t think you should).

Why I got solicited and why I’m skeptical

I got an email from Itsy Bitsy Book Bits a few months ago. It looked like this:

I don’t know about you, but there’s something about this email that gave me some orange flags. I’m not sure if they intended it this way, but the different fonts and spacings especially reminded me of a phishing email trying to get past the filters of email providers.

This email was also sent to me as a newsletter… and I don’t remember signing up for it. Maybe I did and I just forgot, which is totally possible But if I didn’t, it feels a little invasive. How did the company get my email address, considering that I don’t even publish my email address on my blog? Did another company sell my info?

To be fair, Itsy Bitsy Book Bits seems to be a legit company…

This company does many bookish things. They distribute ARCs, set up book tours for authors, offer beta reading, and offer social media management – among other things.

I was able to find legitimate authors speaking about this service on their website and in the front matter of their books themselves. I found that they had many positive reviews on Booksy and on their Facebook page. And, I didn’t get any hits when searching up “Itsy Bitsy Book Bits scam” which is a good sign.

… But I wouldn’t recommend them for ARCs/book tours

The first problem is that the website is incredibly difficult to browse. Especially when compared to their competitors like BookSprout and NetGalley. I don’t even know what to take a screenshot of for this blog, that’s how messy I find it! I can’t imagine it’s particularly accessible to people who use technology like screen readers either.

There doesn’t seem to be any filtering system for readers to find what they want. Also, reviewers have to apply to join the review team using their Facebook group and request books using Google Forms. I think this system is inefficient and poor for privacy protection.

Second, I’m very skeptical about their reviewer policy (from their Become a Reviewer page).

I’ve been an ARC reader for several websites before and I have never seen a website asking reviewers to sign an NDA. Unless I’m missing something, it’s not standard practise for ARCs. And fairly or unfairly, it leads me to believe that this company is unfamiliar with what book bloggers and reviewers actually do.

I’m not sure why the NDA is needed. What are the terms of the NDA? What do they try to bind reviewers to? Is it even legally enforceable? My law student spidey senses are tingling… and not in a good way.

I usually try to review a book with the service in order to give a full sense of the website, but I am very uncomfortable with signing an NDA to be an ARC reader. There are plenty of other websites with great ARCs that don’t require this of their readers.

I appreciate that everyone has different experiences with bookish companies. But from what I’ve seen from Itsy Bitsy Book Bits, I feel uncomfortable using it or recommending it to anyone else in the bookish community.

This is another one of my bookish site reviews. If you’re interested in reading more, I have posts on NetGalley, Readerly, Reedsy Discovery, and more. You can find a master list to all my discussion posts here.

Have you ever heard of Itsy Bitsy Book Bits? Have you worked with them before and if so, what was your experience like?


My One Year Blogiversary on Mint Loves Books!

I can’t believe it’s been one year since I started blogging. Where does the time go? I certainly didn’t expect to meet so many wonderful people through this hobby but I’m so glad I started because I’ve met all of you!

Thank you to everyone that has made book blogging so incredible. Thank you to everyone that I’ve met, to everyone that’s ever read my blog, to everyone that follows my posts. Thank you to everyone that’s ever given me advice and inspiration. And thank you to authors for making so many wonderful books that inspire my blogging! Just… thank you!

Book blogging has transformed my reading and in such a positive way. I love being part of a community that loves books as much as I do because I don’t have this kind of support in my real life. I also deeply enjoy the act of recording how I feel about books and looking back at these records.

My first year of book blogging in numbers

In the interest of transparency and looking back on where I’ve been as my blog ages, I wanted to share some information about my blog’s stats (all from WordPress stats). Hopefully this information will be useful to newer book bloggers as well!

My blog has:

  • 150 posts
    • Most people find my blog through the WordPress Reader. Far below this number are search engines and Twitter, the next largest sources of traffic.
  • 938 unique visitors from 50 different countries
    • The top three countries traffic-wise are the US, India, and Canada.

My five most popular posts

These are all discussion posts! This is consistent with what I’ve heard from other book bloggers so I wasn’t too surprised but still. I thought there’d be at least one review or list in there.

I do think this number is slightly off though. From what I understand, it only counts views for those who read the individual posts and not those who scroll through my home page.

Thank you everyone for all of your support for the past year. If there’s anything else you’re curious about stats-wise, any questions about blogging in general, let me know and I’ll try my best to answer them.

Why I Don’t Accept Review Requests as a Book Blogger

A lot of book bloggers are open to receiving requests from authors or publishers to read and review their books. However, I don’t take review requests and I’m very happy about this decision

When I first started my blog, I put on my review policy that I was interested in accepting review requests. I’d noticed a lot of other bloggers mentioned this on their policies and getting requests from authors sounded really cool.

However, the more I blogged, the more I realized that leaving review requests open wasn’t for me. So, I decided to close them. Sure, authors and publishers might not read my review policy and send me a request anyways, but I think it’s still important to clearly state my boundaries on my policy.

I wasn’t able to find a lot of advice about crafting a review policy and the potential cons of accepting review requests when I started, so I hope this post is helpful to any book bloggers out there that might need it.

It’s important to set your boundaries as a book blogger

People blog for all sorts of reasons. Some people want to grow a platform and hopefully monetize their blog. Some people use their blog as a writing portfolio of sorts. Some people see their blog as a fun hobby and nothing more.

Personally, I fall into the last category. I want to make sure that reading stays fun for me. Having to manage my email inbox for review requests and figure out how to turn down authors and publishers I’m not interested doesn’t seem like a whole lot of fun.

When the academic year starts, I don’t have a lot of time for non-college activities. I didn’t think it would be fair to keep authors waiting for my reviews when I’m super busy.

Do what works for you as a blogger. If you decide later that you want to turn your review requests on or off, don’t be afraid to do that. And if you do decide to have your review requests open, don’t feel like you have to say yes to every author that contacts you either. Your blog is yours, and you get to decide what to do with it.

Accepting review requests isn’t necessary to drive engagement

I thought that bloggers had to accept review requests to grow their blogs when I first started, but I soon realized that this wasn’t really the case.

In general, ARCs don’t tend to drive a lot of traffic to book blogs. I wrote more about this in a previous discussion post if you’re interested in learning more about this.

I prefer to look for ARCs myself

ARCs might not drive a lot of traffic to my blog but I do find it fun to read them from time to time and to support authors in this way. You don’t need to wait for review requests to access ARCs; you can use one of the many ARC websites out there. You don’t need to be an established or big blogger to use any of these sites either.

I prefer looking for ARCs through these sites because they give me more control. I can look through all the genres and books they have on offer. I can compare the deadlines for reviews and pick the ARCs I can manage. And all the interactions between me and the author are handled through their website, which feels a little more secure to me in case something goes wrong between me, the ARC, and the author.

Do you keep your review requests open? Why or why not? I’d love to know more about your thoughts, and what your experience with review requests has been like.

5 Ways to Brainstorm Discussion Posts for your Book Blog

Do you ever get stuck when trying to come up with a discussion post for your book blog? In today’s post, I share 5 brainstorming ideas. Hopefully you’ll find one of them useful!

Think about bookish topics you’re passionate about

Maybe there’s a bookish topic that you care deeply about, but something that you haven’t had the chance to share in a book review before. If so, a discussion post is a great place to write about it!

Here are some sample topic areas to get you started:

  • What are your favourite tropes? Your least favourite?
  • Is there something you wish authors would know? Something you want to see changed in a genre?
  • What advice would you give to new book bloggers?
  • How do you rate books? How do you write your reviews?
  • ARCs: Do you read them? How do you feel about them? Do they bring your blog more engagement?

Look at what’s being talked about in the bookish community

At any given time, there are lots of discussions taking place about books or new bookish releases/controversies in bookish communities like Twitter, Instagram, the book blog community, and more.

Is there a discussion that catches your eye? A point of view that you agree or disagree with? An angle that you think has gone undiscussed? Whatever it is, you could use these discussions as inspiration for your own post.

For example, when people were discussing Brandon Sanderson’s Kickstarter and the impact of the Kickstarter on authors, I decided to write a post about the issues with Kickstarter as a platform.

Picking a recent bookish discussion that others might have seen or participated in themselves can be a good way to build engagement, as people often have their own thoughts to offer on the subject.

Answer a book tag

Tags like the Life’s a Beach Book Tag are like interviews where you answer a series of questions about books. They’re a lot of fun to answer!

You don’t have to be tagged by someone to participate because a lot of bloggers will tag anyone that wants to participate. Zeezee with Books, FNM, and The Book Nut compile book tags on their pages, and you can pick the ones you’re interested in from there.

Participate in a blog meme

These are weekly events that have a different prompt every time. I’ve also seen them referred to as book hops. They’re a great way to meet other book bloggers since everyone answers the same prompt every week. You can participate as often as you like in these memes/hops.

I like the Book Blogger Hop and Let’s Talk Bookish. Bookshelf Fantasies also has a great directory of memes on their site, and you can pick the ones you’re interested in.

Get inspired by a list

Thankfully, there are many book bloggers that have thought about discussion post ideas – a quick Google search will help you find a lot!

Alison in Bookland, Pages Unbound, and Starry Sky Books offer three great lists that can help you get started.

PSA: If you were directly inspired by someone else’s post, please credit them in your discussion post so that others can see who you were inspired by. And make sure to offer your own take instead of directly copying what others have written.

Do you have any suggestions for how to brainstorm discussion posts? I’d love to hear what your brainstorming process is like!

Internet Safety Tips for Book Bloggers

Since I started blogging in August, I’ve met so many wonderful people in the book community. Unfortunately, not everyone on the Internet is as wonderful.

Today, I’ll be sharing some of the tips I’ve learnt for staying safe on the Internet as a book blogger.

Only share as much as you’re comfortable with

Personally, I try to keep identifying personal information to a minimum because I’m not interested in sharing my blog with people in real life (at least, for now).

For example, I use a pen name on this blog – Mint. I can always change my pen name to my real name in the future, but I wouldn’t be able to take back my real name once it’s out there. As the saying goes, the Internet remembers everything.

If you do choose to share personal information, I’d recommend that you carefully consider what you share and how/whether it could be traced back to you if you’re interested in keeping your blog fairly private.

This is especially true if you share anything that’s especially identifiable – for example, if you’re the only person that shows up on Google when you type in your first and last name.

Set up a separate email account for your blog

I’d recommend doing this anyways, even if you do choose to share more personal information about yourself on your blog.

It’s nice to have a separate account just for bookish content like NetGalley notifications or emails to your blog so that these emails don’t clog up your regular inbox.

It also creates distance between yourself and anyone that might want to contact you through your blog such as authors and publishers, since they won’t be able to directly contact you through your personal email.

I take it one step further by not sharing my blog email on this blog! I’ve set it up on my so that people can only use a contact form. If I choose to respond, they’ll see my email.

Some email providers give users the opportunity to route incoming mail from one inbox into another or to stay logged into multiple accounts at once, making it even easier to run separate accounts.

Watch out for scams and spam

If someone offers you something that seems too good to be true, it probably is. If someone is offering you an opportunity that requires you to pay or to give up extremely personal information (eg. credit card information, photo ID), be very skeptical. And in general, do your research into the opportunity before giving someone anything.

As for spam, WordPress has built-in filters that try to remove spam and scam from the comment section of our blogs. Sometimes, messages that aren’t scammy can slip into the filter, but I find it does a pretty good job of getting rid of scammy content.

I also have it set up so that I have to approve every comment that people leave on my blog. If you have the time to manage this, it’s another great way to keep your blog safe for yourself and your readers while still allowing conversation to flow.

What other tips do you think book bloggers should know about Internet safety? I’d love to hear them!

4 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Book Blogging

Compared to others that have been blogging for years, I’m still relatively new to the blogging world. But in the time that I have been blogging, I’ve learnt a lot about the book blogging community and how to be a better blogger.

I remember when I first started, I read a lot of posts like this hoping to gain insight into what book blogging was like. And I finally feel like I’m comfortable enough with book blogging to offer my own opinions on the subject. So, here are four things I wish I knew before I started book blogging:

1. It is possible to get ARCs even if you’re not a big book blogger!

When I started book blogging, I didn’t think it’d be possible for me to get my hands on ARCs. ARCs are short for advanced review copies – basically, free copies of books sent to people by publishers and authors in exchange for a review.

I thought that I needed my blog to have a certain number of followers or views before I could even think about requesting ARCs.

Turns out, that’s not true! Sites like BookSprout, Hidden Gems, and Book Sirens allow reviewers to read ARCs without sharing any (or much) information about your social reach. If you enjoy reading self-published authors, there are lots of great books available on those sites.

I think it’s important to note, ARCs aren’t the be all and end all of book blogging. If you’re interested in ARCs, there are lots of options out there but if you’re not, you shouldn’t feel pressure to go and find and review ARCs. Which leads me to my next point:

2. Write about what interests you

I was a lot more worried about traffic, engagement, and followers when I first started than I am now. It goes back to me wanting access to ARCs, and thinking that all of that was the way to get them. I remember reading posts that said that book reviews drove less traffic, so bloggers should aim to do other kinds of posts like discussions or lists instead.

It’s not that this is bad advice, because if you are someone who has a goal of driving traffic to their blog, these might be steps you want to take.

But when I reflected on the reasons what I wanted my blog to be about, traffic wasn’t the first consideration. Rather, it was about having a space where I could write and share book reviews and meet other people in the bookish community.

I’ve been much happier blogging about the topics I want to write about and choosing the books I’m interested in, instead of trying to chase the most popular topics or books. For me, this has made for a more fun blogging experience. It’s also easier for me to keep up with content, when I’m excited about what I’m writing.

3. Don’t feel stressed about creating content

Do you feel like posting everyday? Only a few times a week? Only once a month? Whenever you feel like? Whatever your choice, you are a valid book blogger!

I personally have a goal of posting two or three times a week, as I work better when I set concrete goals like this in mind. However, if for whatever reason I’m not able to make this goal, I know that it’s not the end of the world. This isn’t school; I won’t get marks taken off for not posting on time!

If you are interested in regularly posting, you might want to try scheduling posts in advance. WordPress has a feature that allows you to schedule posts by setting the exact publication time and date. I find this really useful for helping me create content, as I can line up posts when I have time to write them and not write anything when I don’t.

4. Know and set your boundaries

I knew my book blog would be public, but I didn’t expect to be contacted by authors so early on in my blog’s life. Even as a new blogger, I was getting messages from authors asking about the possibility of reviewing their book or advertising their books.

It was really flattering to be reached out to, but I didn’t want to respond to all of the requests. I wish I’d known that there was no obligation to say yes to their requests. While I think it’s polite to respond, there’s no obligation to do that either.

Now that I’ve been blogging for a bit longer, I feel more comfortable in saying no or simply not responding if the message is inappropriate or if it looks like a scam. I also worked on refining my review policy to be as clear as possible about my preferences when it comes to handling review requests.

What are the things you wished you knew before you started book blogging? Any tips to share with new book bloggers?

ARCs: Can They Get Your Book Blog More Traffic?

If you’re starting a book blog and hoping to build an audience, this might be a question you ‘re asking yourself. I remember it was one I had when I first started blogging!

In case you didn’t know, ARCs are short for Advanced Readers Copies. They’re free copies of books given to readers by authors or publishers in the hopes that the readers will write and share their review of the book. This is often done before a book is released as a marketing tool to generate excitement around the book.

I wanted to provide my honest experience with ARCs and traffic as a smaller book blogger who’s been doing this for less than a year, in case this is a question that you’ve ever wondered.

In short, my answer is: it depends.

It depends on the ARCs you’re reviewing

I’ve reviewed ARCs from authors I personally consider fairly well-known in their genres before, like Betty Hechtman for cozy mysteries. WordPress stats for free blogs aren’t perfect, but from what I can tell, I’ve noticed that my traffic on these posts is slightly higher than other reviews I post. However, the increase in traffic isn’t typically very dramatic.

I’ve also reviewed ARCs from authors that aren’t particularly well-known in the genre (at least, to my knowledge). I’d say the traffic on these reviews is pretty similar to the non-ARC books I review. This is probably because the author and book aren’t as well-known, and so fewer people are curious about what this new release is like.

Just like regular reviews, ARC reviews can attract traffic weeks, or even months after you’ve posted them from people who’re interested in reading reviews. But, that’s not an effect that’s necessarily specific to ARCs.

It depends on how you’re sharing your review with others

I used to spend time cross-posting my reviews on Pinterest and Instagram, but I soon realized I couldn’t keep up all this social media activity and my own schoolwork. I never saw that much traffic coming from those sites, though it’s definitely possible that I could have gotten more had I stuck with it and/or changed my techniques. Your results may vary.

You’ll probably get more traffic on your ARC reviews if you’re promoting these posts on social media, but the same thing is true for any post.

In general, I actually find that I get the most ‘traffic’ on Goodreads, where I also post reviews. Generally, my ARC reviews get more likes compared to my regular reviews. This is both for well-known and less well-known authors. I think it’s because there aren’t very many reviews to read in the early stages of a book’s release, so the reviews that are there stand out more to readers.

I put a link to my blog in each of my Goodreads reviews, so it’s possible that these ARC reviews drive traffic to my blog, but it’s harder to verify this with WordPress stats. WordPress can (sometimes) tell me when someone is finding my blog through Goodreads, but I don’t know which review it’s coming from and where they’re going to.

In short: Don’t read ARCs thinking that they will definitely get your blog traffic!

If you’re interested in the book and the author and you have the time to write a review, ARCs can be a lot of fun to read and review. I find it cool to get my hands on new books. I like that I can help boost authors with these reviews and they help me save money as a university student.

But if you’re solely thinking about traffic, in my experience as a smaller book blogger, ARCs don’t make a big difference in generating traffic.

I’m curious to hear if this is the experience you’ve had as a book blogger. Do ARC reviews drive traffic to your blog? Are there certain types of ARC reviews that drive more traffic than others?

Reedsy Discovery: A Reviewer’s Perspective

When I first started book blogging, I had no idea how to get ARCs and felt kind of intimidated by NetGalley. So, I’m always down to check out new ARC sites, particularly those that enable reviewers to get books right away.

Someone from Reedsy Discovery reached out to me through the contact form about becoming a reviewer. Normally, this would’ve been a big red flag, but I had heard of the site before and I was able to verify that this person was real, so I decided to give it a shot.

A while back, I left a comment on this post by Amelia Hay, which was about their bad experience with the service as an author. I said in the comment that I’d stay far away from Reedsy Discovery. However, I think it was a bit unfair of me to say that without looking into the site myself. I decided to create an account and waited to be verified as a reviewer.

What is Reedsy Discovery?

Reedsy Discovery is an ARC site by the company Reedsy. Much like NetGalley and BookSirens, it promises to help authors get reviews. Reviewers get free copies of books from authors/publishers. In return, the author/publisher hopes that the reviewer will leave a review on the book.

One of the things that immediately stood out to me about Reedsy Discovery was how you had to be apply to as a reviewer in order to start getting books. I don’t know exactly what you need to do to be a verified reviewer, but my application got accepted in a matter of days. I’m guessing you’d have to have some social media/Goodreads presence.

Once you are verified, you can either accept books from their library or make yourself open to reviews from authors.

The Pros

The website is easy to navigate

It’s a really good looking website and everything is easy to find! It’s probably the slickest UI I’ve seen on any ARC site so far.

It offers reviewers monetization options

If people like your reviews, they can leave you a tip through the site. I don’t know how often people do this, but it’s nice that the option is there, as it’s something other ARC sites don’t offer.

You can also make yourself a referral code. If someone signs up for Reedsy Discovery with your link and leaves a review, you’ll get $50.

Reedsy has a marketplace where freelancers can offer their services and I did find a post where the author verified that they’d been paid for two ghostwriting jobs. To me, this is a sign that they should pay out for their referral codes on Reedsy Discovery, though I wasn’t able to find specific posts that talked about this.

I have a referral code for the site here. If you want to try out the site and you do it through my link, I should be paid by Reedsy Discovery. There’s no obligation to do, so of course, especially since I’ll be laying out the cons next.

The Cons

It’s very expensive for authors

Authors pay Reedsy Discovery $50 for the chance of getting one review. One! And they might not even get that one review in the end, as this post outlines. The good news is, the author in that post was easily able to get a refund after not getting a review.

I feel conflicted about accepting a review on their platform knowing how expensive it is. On the one hand, that is what the author paid for, and I assume they knew what they were getting into when they paid.

On the other hand, I worry about how the author might feel, and what they might do, if my review was negative or if they didn’t think it was worth $50. Since I’d be the only reviewer from Reedsy Discovery, I feel like it’d be pretty easy for them to identify and track me down as the culprit. On other sites, where I’d be one reviewer among many, I feel a bit safer about being honest.

The book selection is not very large

I’ve been reading a lot of romance and cozy mystery lately. When I wrote this post, there were 19 books tagged as romance and zero tagged as cozy mysteries.

I say “tagged as” because even though I searched by genre, not all the results I got were from the genre I searched. For romance, there were only 8 whose main tag was romance. The other 11 had genre tags that weren’t romance (eg. women’s fiction, urban fantasy). Not sure why this happened…

Reedsy can’t control the genres that their authors are interested in, but it’s hard to find books to review when there isn’t much to work with. I was really surprised to see this as romance is usually one of the more popular genres on ARC sites. And there’s usually at least a few cozy mysteries on these sites.

Some Caveats

I wanted to review a book on Reedsy Discovery to tell you more about what this process was like, but even after a couple of weeks of looking, I didn’t see anything I was interested in. So I can’t comment on what the process of getting a book and communicating with authors is like.

If/when I do get a book from Reedsy Discovery, I’ll update you with more information about my experience.

Thank you to the person from Reedsy Discovery for reaching out to me and introducing me to the site.

Do you have experience with Reedsy Discovery? If so, I’d love to know what it’s been like. I can’t find much about it from the reviewer’s perspective and it doesn’t look like there are that many active users on the site.

My Experience with BookSirens

Today, I’m going to do a quick roundup on BookSirens and share my thoughts on the site – both positive and negative.

If you’re interested in getting access to ARCs, or advanced reader copies (free copies of books given to reviewers in exchange for a review), keep on reading for more information.

What is BookSirens?

BookSirens is a website where readers can get access to books before they’re published. Authors and publishers share their books with readers in the hopes that readers will leave an honest review for that book. Through these reviews, authors and publishers can get feedback and publicity for their books.

How does it work for reviewers?

BookSirens works a bit differently than the most well-known ARC website in the book blogging community, NetGalley. I have a post all about NetGalley here.

Like NetGalley, users on BookSirens need to register for the site to get access to books. However, unlike NetGalley, users on BookSirens don’t have to request the books they’re interested in reading.

Instead, BookSirens does all the filtering themselves. They will only show you the books that you are eligible to review based on the information you provide in your profile. So, you can read the books you’re interested in right away.

In most cases, you can also read an excerpt of the book before committing yourself to an ARC. BookSirens may also provide information about the book’s genre, how many days you have to review the book, whether the ending is happy or sad, and trigger warnings about the book’s content.

You don’t actually leave your reviews on BookSirens itself. Instead, you leave your reviews on the platforms the author wants (eg. Amazon, Goodreads, etc.) as well as any personal platforms you might have like a blog or your social media accounts.

You can also leave your information in BookSirens’ book reviewer directory, which authors and publishers can use to directly contact you about reviews. You can also indicate whether you’re open to accepting review requests or not.

What I love about BookSirens

Being able to read books right away instead of potentially waiting for a long time only to be rejected, like NetGalley, is nice. This makes it easier for me to get a gauge on how many ARCs I’m juggling at once, since I don’t have to account for requests that might get approved eventually. I also like how you can read an excerpt before committing to an ARC.

BookSirens also has cool statistics on reviewer profiles about reviewer reading habits that are very interesting. They update every two weeks based on a reviewer’s Goodreads profile.

Even if you don’t end up getting any books from BookSirens, you might be interested in keeping track of these statistics – like the gender of authors you read most frequently, your average ratings when compared to other BookSirens users, or the genres you read the most.

What I don’t love about BookSirens

I haven’t requested too many books from BookSirens before. I find that they don’t have a lot of choice for cozy mysteries and what’s on my profile. This of course, will vary based on the genres you’re interested in and your own profile. They have a lot more romance novels available, for example.

I also notice that there are a lot more books by self-published authors on BookSirens than sites like NetGalley or Edelweiss, which typically feature books from publishing presses.

This can be positive or negative based on your preferences, which is why I’ve put this point in the “don’t love” category. I read a good amount of books from self-published authors so this isn’t the biggest deal to me, but I know many readers prefer to only read material from traditional publishers. If this is the case for you, BookSirens probably won’t be a good option for ARCs for you.

Is it a bad sign that larger publishing houses prefer other platforms like NetGalley? Not necessarily, but I think it’s something to be aware of. Personally, I do think it impacts the quality and selection of what’s available on BookSirens. It could make your reading experience more hit or miss than a site like NetGalley.

Are you on BookSirens? If so, what’s your experience been like? Do you have any tips for people on how to make the most out of the site?

My Thoughts on Choosing a Rating System For Your Blog

Image by Karolina Grabowska, Kaboompics

When I first started my blog, I struggled with choosing a rating system. I wanted my reviews to be fair, but at the same time, I wanted them to be representative of what I thought about a book. I wanted my ratings to be useful for others, but I also wanted to choose a system that worked well for me.

I eventually landed on my current system after reading through many posts like this one by other bloggers. Whether I agreed or not with other people’s rating systems, they all gave me inspiration and somewhere to begin from when I began to craft my own rating system.

Today, I share with you my rating system and my reasoning behind choosing it. I hope that this post will be helpful to anyone who struggled to select a rating system like I did.

My Rating System

Let’s start by sharing my rating system, which is included in my review policy. It’s as follows:

  • ★★★★★ 5 stars: I loved this book! This is a book that’s going to stick with me. I would definitely recommend it to others.
  • ★★★★ 4 stars: I enjoyed reading this book, but I wouldn’t consider it a favourite. There may have been a few things I didn’t like, or perhaps the book didn’t blow me away. I would recommend it to most people.
  • ★★★ 3 stars: A good book. However, for whatever reason, I didn’t feel strongly positive or strongly negative about it. I’d recommend it, but not unprompted.
  • ★★ 2 stars: I may have enjoyed reading parts of it, but I also found the book to be lacking in several ways. Not my cup of tea so I wouldn’t outright recommend it, but I appreciate that others may enjoy it.
  • 1 star: I did not enjoy this book at all. It had many issues. I would not recommend it to anyone.
  • Did not finish (DNF): Because I did not finish this book, I don’t think it’s fair to rate it.

Why did I choose this system?

First off, it’s important to acknowledge that ratings are subjective. Everyone has different preferences when it comes to reading. A five star book for me might be a three star book for you.

Some bloggers choose to use half stars as a way of adding more precision to their ratings. I personally don’t because half stars are not an option on Goodreads and NetGalley, but that’s a good option if you’re looking for some more precision in your ratings. You can always round up or down if you do post your reviews to either platform.

There’s also the CAWPILE system developed by YouTuber Book Roast and explained in writing by The Floating Library if you’re looking for an even more concrete rubric, though I personally think it’s a bit too complex and inflexible.

How do you handle rating books? Do you use a rating system? How has it changed over time? Hopefully, my post and your answers will help other reviewers craft their own rating system!