I have been around the book blogging universe for quite sometime (over six years, I am a grandma) and I have gone through affiliate programs, book clubs, and reward websites. Some have worked, some have failed, and some have retired all together.
HarlequinTeen had their book club where they sent physical copies and advanced readers copies of their titles to subscribers in return for reviews. Sadly, that one ended
One program that I used to part-take in was Random Buzzers, the online review-for-reward system Random House Books used back in 2011. After reviewing and commenting on a wide-spread selection of novels that Random House put up on Random Buzzers website, you accrued points that you could used to cash-in for physical copies of books to be sent to your house.
Isn’t that the aim of the game? Review for books?
Hell yeah it is! And to review for actual physical copies of the books was much better than any ARC or eGalley I could ever think of. Especially in this age of the book blogging community, where blogging has turned to Instagram. Hell, I’m on the #bookstagram binge. From eGalleys to physicals ARCs to hard-copies and paperbacks, Instagram has becomes a useful tool for people to publicize and promote upcomings novels and series, as well as their favorites.
But, for the reviewer that cannot afford the staggering amount of hard-cover copies or does not have the follower count/impressions/page-views needed to meet the publisher’s criteria for requesting physical advanced reader’s copies or even digital galleys, there are other ways of obtaining those coveted titles.
Netgalley, the beloved website for requesting all your favorite upcoming titles for review, has created a review-for-reward website, and Bookish, the editorially independent division of Netgalley that is designed to connect readers with books and authors, has set up Bookish First.
This site is easy to use, easy to sign-up, and incredibly fun to be on.
From it’s user-friendly interface, to the minimalist design, Bookish First is doing what it’s predecessors could not: optimize it’s resources.
Netgalley crowds together a abundance of different publishing companies and imprints so that there is mass variety. Bookish First, despite it’s recent start-up, has a wide selection of previews ranging from Dean Koontz’s new novel, The Whispering Room, to the highly anticipated YA novel by Dhonielle Clayton, The Belles. While Bookish First only gives it’s readers a chapter or two of sampling, it still gives the user the option to write a “First Impression” of the novel’s initial intake. And in return for these “First Impressions”, the user is awarded points and entrance into a giveaway for a pre-released copy of the novel.
Now that’s pretty neat.
Every action that a user makes pretty much gives them points towards free books, even signing up gives you a 500-point head start. Not to mention, with every review you share outside of their website (Amazon, Goodreads, B&N) you gain additional 100-points per share. It’s an incentive for the reviewer to spread their reviews like wildfire. It’s a publicity tactic that also takes the reader into account by providing a suitable reward system. Just like buying your Pumpkin Spiced Latte at Starbucks and earning stars for your next free drink/food, Bookish First converts your reviews into points for free books.
Now, Random Buzzers had done the same tactic back when they were around. Paperback books cost less points than hardcover, but you had a small selection of what books you could allocate your points towards. The same rules applied over at Random Buzzers–100 points for every review, no matter how long or short you made it. Your review just needed to be verified.
The only stipulation when it comes to claiming your book with your reward points (you need to accrue a total of 2,000 points before you can redeem any free stuff) is that your choices are for the books currently up for raffle. If nothing really tickles your fancy, you are welcome to save your points until something really does pique your interest, but you can still continue to earn your rewards and save up.
The website & accruing process is simple enough. 500 points for signing up. Read chapter samples and write a “first impression” — get 100 points & enter into a raffle. Write a review (stipulation: within 3 months of publication) on any purchasing website like Amazon, B&N, Play Store, iTunes, yada-yada and you get 100 points. 300 points for a review on publication date on Amazon.
The thing you need to be careful on: not every book will be a physical copy. Bookish First does stay transparent with their users on what kind of reading material they will be receiving if they do win the raffle or if they use their points for the free copy. The print is fine, so you do need to pay attention rather than assume every book on their website is going to be beautifully physical in your hands and will be in your mailbox waiting for you. Some are digital. Which is not a bad thing, but to the person expecting a physical copy of a book and instead receive a .mobi for their Amazon Kindle, it can be a let down if you fail to read the print under the book you are entering/ redeeming.
I am excited to try out this new rewards website dished out by Bookish/Netgalley. It has been quite sometime since I last participated in a bookish-rewards program, and I really do like the set-up for Bookish Firsts.
Perhaps Bookish First will release new ways in which to earn points, or double-point days to entice reviewers, or special/signed copies to keep up the responsiveness they need. This set-up is similar to previous review-for-reward programs so I am intrigued to see if this website will take a turn into something fairly different/unique once it as captivated a larger audience or even once it has gone through the ropes a little more.
Let me know in the comments if you have signed up for Bookish First, or if you have ever used a review-for-rewards website like this one. I would love to know which ones!