Original posted by Jessica
Date posted: 3 April 2013
If you’ve never written a book review before, then here are a few basic guidelines that might help:
Start with a short setup of the book. Book reviews are written for potential readers, so it is helpful to provide some setup of the story. Consider writing an intro paragraph that introduces the main characters, the setting and the primary conflict. Be careful not to give away too much of the story, or you’ll ruin it for new readers.
Tell readers what you liked. After the setup, explain what you liked about the book. Did you have a favorite character? Was the plot fast and entertaining? Did the author have a strong narrative voice that had you laughing and crying? Don’t worry about trying to be particularly witty or finding the exact word. Just be honest, and readers will appreciate your thoughts.
Tell readers what you didn’t like. If you absolutely loved the book, then there might not be any need to point out deficiencies. However, if there were areas of the book that you thought could be strengthened, you can address these concerns in your review. Just take care to mention weaknesses in a constructive and fair manner.
Add caveats. Remember, your book review is written to help other readers decide if the book might be right for them. If you think the book would appeal to a specific audience or that a specific audience would find it offensive, consider adding a caveat at the end. For example, if I review a book that contains graphic violence or sex scenes, I make sure to mention that at the end of a review.
Create a strong headline. Many book review retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, require reviewers to title their reviews. You may be able to just reuse your summary sentence at the end. If not, think of a short sentence or phrase that sums up the book in a positive manner. As you write more reviews, you’ll find that this part becomes easier and easier.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind when writing book reviews:
Be sensitive. Authors spend a great deal of time and effort writing their books. To an author, their book is like their baby. Even if it’s a very ugly baby, it’s still their baby. Be sensitive when writing a critical review. If you felt a book was not very good, you certainly have the right to air your opinion, but be mindful that hearts and feelings are on the line. Be fair in your judgment and constructive. If you come off as a hysterical hater, then you’ll end up looking worse than the book you’re trying to haze. Many authors read every review of their book, so keep this fact in mind when writing anything critical.
Limit spoilers. Nobody likes to read spoilers in a review, though they can sometimes be hard to avoid, especially if you want to talk about how much you liked or didn’t like specific plot twists. When discussing later parts of the book, be as general as possible. It’s better to say that, “The surprise ending was disappointing to me.” Rather than, “I can’t believe Krista got hit by a car on the last page after surviving that psychotic stalker.”
If you feel you have to give something away, then make sure you warn readers so they can stop reading. The best way to do this is to write SPOILER ALERT in all caps before revealing any spoilers.
Keep it clean. Writing a book review doesn’t have to be hard, but it does require a little effort and focus. Make sure you write your book review with care, focusing on correct grammar and crafting a solid, well-organized piece. If your review is all over the place and half the words are misspelled, no one will take you seriously.
Spread your review. If you really want to help your favorite authors, then post your review to multiple websites where readers are likely to congregate. The top websites include Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads. If you have a personal blog, consider posting your book review there as well and then be sure to link to your review on your social networking pages to let your friends know about the great new book you just read. If you want to go the extra distance, post a link to the review on the author’s Facebook page. If it’s a positive review, it’ll definitely make their day.
Read other reviews. One of the best ways to learn how to write a review is to read other reviews. Reading a dozen reviews for your favorite books on Amazon will give you some insight into all the different ways a review can be constructed. At Compulsion Reads, we provide reviews for each of our endorsed books. In some cases, the authors ask us not to post their reviews (which we respect and comply with), but you’ll find our reviews on most of the book pages in our Endorsed Books Library. Go ahead and give them a look and see what you think of our reviews at Compulsion Reads.
- What Friends Can Do For Authors (lawritersblog.com)
- A rant about reviews… (eblco.wordpress.com)
- AuthorHouse Book Reviews (authorhousepublishers.com)
- Book Review: The Awakening(The Judas Curse) (therantingpapizilla.wordpress.com)