How to Write a Book Review

In my experience as an editor, a writer, and a book reviewer, I have learned the power of online books reviews. They help an author’s ranking at online bookstores. The higher the ranking, the better the sales. For each book review I write, I do my best to post the review on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, GoodReads, and Shelfari, and when applicable, ChristianBook.com. This, I hope, helps the author and gives a wider range of readers some feedback on the book.

Here are my 10 tips on writing a book review.

1. Take Notes

As you read a book, take note of things that really pop out to you. Things like quotes, a town name or character name. You might want to use this information in your review. It can be frustrating to go back searching for one detail to include. If you take notes as you go, this won’t be a problem.

2. Study Other Reviews

Check online for book reviews that have already been written on the book you’re reviewing. This is a good way to spark you memory on subplots you may have forgotten.

3. Explain the Book to a Friend

When you’re ready to start writing, think about how you might explain the book to a friend. This might be exactly how you want to start writing.

4. Promote Early

I recommend that you put the author’s name and book title in the first paragraph. I’ve seen reviews that don’t even list the author’s name! A good review is going to give the reader the information they need to find the book and purchase it. It’s important to give them that key information as soon as you can.

5. Post the book cover!

If you’re posing a blog review, post the cover. We are a visual people. You can Google the title of the book and find an image of the book cover. Don’t worry about copyrights on a book cover. The author and publisher want your help spreading work about the book. You don’t need to get permission to post cover artwork for a book review. 

6. Give a Spoiler-Free Summary

Start your review by summarizing the book, but don’t give the ending. You don’t wan to spoil the story for a potential reader. This is really good practice for writing your own one-paragraph summary hook for your own book.

7. Give Your Opinion

Once you’ve introduced the book and told what it was about, now share your opinion. What did you like about the story? Did it make you think? Did it excite you? Scare you? Bore you? Always try to voice positive comments with any negative things you might have to say. And keep in mind that the internet feels impersonal but your words have power.  Be kind. You’re talking about something a human being wrote. Very few books deserve a one-star review, unless the author can’t spell or the pages are falling out. Don’t say anything in your book review that you wouldn’t say to the author’s face. Be honest in a graceful way. 

8. Finish with a Final Thought

Give a final comment whether or not you recommend the book. Your review should back this statement up. If you only say you didn’t like the book, but don’t give a real reason in your review, then it’s not a review. Think hard as to why you liked or disliked it and make sure your review explains that.

9. Edit Your Review

Edit your review to check for spelling, grammar problems, and redundancies.

10. Post Your Review

Now it’s time to post your review. You can post it at most online bookstores and reading groups. My favorites are: Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, GoodReads.com, Walmart.com, and Shelfari.com.

Remember, the more places you post the review, the more you help the author promote their book.

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