Last updated: November, 2017
Contracts and Official Docs
UBR Associate Agreement (AA) – Revision 4
UBR AA Addendum A – Reviews and Reviewers – Revision 3
UBR AA Addendum B – Judges – Revision 1
UBR AA Addendum C – Columnists and Articles – Revision 2
UBR AA Addendum D – Moderators – Revision 1
General Review Guidelines
**Reviews should NEVER be 100% negative or 100% positive. Find something good to say, even if you hated it. And find something to warn readers about, even if you loved it.**
Choosing a Book (for Selected Reviews only)
Finding a good book is hard! Take the time to read at least a full sample chapter before you commit to a review. We value your honesty, and we don’t want you to write glowing reviews every time, but it’s in everyone’s best interest for you to pick books that excite you. Whatever you do, don’t start reading a book if you know you’re not the right audience.
Books You Should NEVER Read (Selected or Assigned)
Stay far, far away from conflict-of-interest titles. This means DO NOT review a book written by your wife, brother or boss, and DO NOT review a book put out by the publishing company you just signed with. In other words, DO NOT review a book if there is even the slightest chance that you might feel pre-inclined to give it a favorable, or unfavorable review.
Please note: we only review self-published novels! No memoirs, graphic novels, short story collections, etc… For the most part, books that are not eligible for review will be labeled “not eligible for review” and you will not be able to consider or select them.
If you are assigned a book for Review that breeches these guidelines, we expect you to report it.
Writing Negative Reviews
A time comes when all Reviewers must write a negative Review. This is part of the job, and we don’t expect it to be fun, but sometimes it must be done. After all, if we only wrote positive Reviews, not many readers would believe in us. In the interest of being fair to our readers without being unnecessarily cruel to our authors, I always recommend that Reviewers approach negative Reviews from the editor’s seat. What could have been done to make this novel great? There is always a way to put a positive spin on honesty, so we can deliver the truth without being bullies.
On Difficult Content
Often, Reviewers ask how to deal with content that is not their “style”. Erotica, horror, off-color humor, religious or political messages that you don’t identify with, and themes that you find distasteful make it hard to write an “unbiased” review. Hopefully, you are choosing books that fit your interests, and Authors are choosing Reviewers with similar tastes. But it’s not a perfect world, and tastes vary. It is important that Reviewers take a step back and look at what the book promises to deliver. If, for example, the book labels itself a “comedy” but half of it could be considered erotica… well, readers deserve a little warning. However, if the book labels itself “horror” and has graphic violence that you find hard to stomach, try to look at the book through the lens of a horror fan. Are the scenes done well; do they serve a purpose? If the answer is yes, there is no harm in mentioning how intense these scenes are, but you probably shouldn’t lower its star rating because of your personal discomfort.
What About Typos?
5 typos in the course of an entire book isn’t worth mentioning. That’s on par with best sellers. If you notice one or two typos per chapter, you might want to mention it – either directly to the author, or as a short sentence in the review, along the lines of “there were some typos, but not enough to detract from the overall quality of the book.” This should not affect your overall rating. If there were extensive typos (say 5 or more per chapter), or if the typos were large enough to get in the way of your enjoyment of the book, this should definitely be pointed out in the review, but it’s up to you how much it should affect your overall rating. If extensive typos were paired with grammatical issues, inconsistent formatting, or other editing issues, you should definitely mention it in the review, and it should definitely affect your overall rating.
Top Pick Nominations
Please nominate Top Picks sparingly. The editors at Underground Book Reviews have the final say on whether or not to label a book as a Top Pick, but we will most likely go with your recommendation. Top Picks must be 5-star ratings, but not all 5-star ratings must be Top Picks.
Reviews on Amazon and Goodreads
Starting in 2017, REVIEWERS will post an excerpt of all reviews to Amazon and Goodreads, according to the UBR Style Guide. For the rest of 2016, we will post your review on Amazon and Goodreads under the name Underground Book Reviews. To limit redundant reviews, please refrain from posting the same review on Amazon or Goodreads under your own name for all Selected Reviews written in prior to 2017.
-Reviewers may not accept payment, gifts or favors from authors in exchange for reviews
-Reviewers may read a maximum of 1 book per author per year
-Reviewers may read a maximum of 1 book per publishing house per year
-Reviewers may read a maximum of 2 books per month, and 24 books per year
-Once a reviewer receives a review copy, he/she is obligated to complete the book and write the review
Interview & Article Guidelines
In general, we like our interviews and articles to explore current changes in the publishing industry, discuss digital publishing, and point out tips and tricks for writers and authors. We prefer our interviews and articles to be roughly 1,000 words.
Submitting Your Work
To limit email attachments and make sure that we have all the information in one place, we ask that you use our website to submit your completed reviews, interviews and articles. We expect all of our writers to provide their work ONE FULL WEEK before the date they are scheduled.
Once you send us your finished piece we will comb it over and search for errors. If we find minor typos, we’ll fix them without asking for your permission. At our discretion, we may go so far as to split up run-on sentences, re-word a confusing statement, or trim the piece to meet our word-count limits. But we will NEVER rewrite your work. If we find larger issues, we will run our proposed changes by you, or contact you with suggestions for a re-write. Once both parties are happy with the finished product, we’ll format it to match the Underground layout, then publish it!
Rights and Copyrights
UBR retains all rights to original content published on www.undergroundbookreviews.org, www.undergroundbookreviews.com, or any subsequent websites, online or print journals, or media produced now or in the future and owned by UBR.
Associates may re-publish all or part of their published content from UBR on personal websites and elsewhere, so long as they link back to the original content on UBR with a statement attributing the content was originally published on UBR.
Partial quotes and paraphrases may be used by third parties, as long as the author is credited and the quote is linked to the original article at Underground Book Reviews. Any third party that wishes to republish content from Underground Book Reviews must contact us and ask permission.