How to Write a Book Review
The most important thing you’re trying to achieve when writing a book review is to give a sense of the story and characters by building a picture of what the reader can expect. It’s not to give away spoilers, which only puts prospective readers off buying the book. Would you want to read a book where you know what’s going to happen and where there are no surprises in store? Naturally you don’t, neither will the people who read your book review.
There are several steps to writing a good book review:
- Read the entire book. Take notes if you wish of character or place names. If the time period the book is set in changes then maybe you might wish to note these down, too. You will need to find a way to share the atmosphere of the book and subtleties hoping to compel a reader to buy and therefore read the book and go on to review it themselves.
- Think about what you have read. Allow yourself a little time to mull over what you thought of the story and characters, what you thought of the book as a whole. Ask yourself how it made you feel as you read it and also how you feel once you had finished reading it. Don’t leave it too long though before writing the review because you might lose a little of the emotions that the story inspired in you.
- Get your facts right. Ensure your review contains the correct names, place settings – as above – the genre, when it was/will be published and the price if you’re going to include these. You might also include the length of the novel.
- Set out the review correctly.
- The first paragraph should give a bit of information about the book. When it’s set, the genre, and a little about the story – like a brief blurb.
- The second paragraph is a little more about what happened in the book. Build the atmosphere here and pull the reader into the story and the experience they can expect to have when they read their copy of the book.
- The third paragraph. Your thoughts on the book. Whether you enjoyed it and, if so, why? Was it the characters that drew you in, their love story or conflict? Did you feel trepidation if the book was a thriller? Maybe you might have learned something new from the story, if it was an historical? Although if that was the case, don’t share what it was that you learnt, let the reader discover that for themselves.
- Then a brief one, or two, sentence round-up summing up the entire book. This is like the quote on the front or rear cover of a book, ie. ‘Enticing, enchanting and intriguing’, Christina Jones, author of Tickled Pink for A Jersey Kiss.
- If you’re rating the book then do so at the end.
- Say who the book is published by and the date of publication.
- If you’re writing your review for a blog, or website, then add links in the book review so that the reader can click through and buy the book immediately should they wish to do so.
- Share your review. Make sure you do this. There’s no point in writing a book review if no one is going to read it. You’re reviewing a book because you wish to support the author. Think about where you will be sharing your review. Places for this can be your website or blog, Goodreads, Netgalley (if it’s a Netgalley arc). You can review on the platform where you bought your copy of the book, for example, Kobo or Amazon. If you post a review on Amazon.com it won’t automatically be posted on Amazon.co.uk, so you’ll need to copy and paste your review there too, to get the most exposure.
- Link to your book review. Share the link to your book review and also link to the author’s name on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest together with the book cover. On Instagram you can post a picture of the book cover and share the link of your website/blog in a Linktree and add the Linktree to your Instagram profile.
- Don’t make your review too long. Most people on discovering a book want to know the basic premis of the story, have a sense of what to expect, ie the age of the characters, what sort of conflict they’re up against and also what it was about the book that the reviewer enjoyed. Making the review itself too long will either mean the reviewer is sharing too much of the story, or they’re waffling.
- Keep the paragraphs mixed in size. The reader doesn’t want to be presented with a block of words. For example, the first paragraph describing what the book is about and the second saying what happened in the story should be the largest of the two paragraphs. The second paragraph might end up becoming the second and third paragraphs depending on how complicated the story is and how much the reviewer feels they need to convey. The third (or fouth) paragraph should precis what the reviewer enjoyed about it and the final paragraph should be whether the reviewer recommends the book and a short sentence or two that can be used by the author or publisher to promote the book. It’s a satisfying feeling having your quote used in promotions on sale platforms like Amazon, or Kobo and even better to see your quote printed on the front or rear cover of a paperback.
- Has the author written other books that you liked. If so mention this. Was this their best book yet?
- Read through your review, several times. You might discover that there was a better way of saying something, or that you had a grammatical error, or several typos and you won’t want to leave those for readers to find.
- Add a photo of the book cover to the review. If readers don’t have time to buy a copy of the book immediately, or want to think about whether or not to buy it, then at least if they already recognise the book cover when they see it again they will be reminded either to buy it, or that they have bought it but might not have read it yet. Or, later on it might remind them to write their own review that they can then share on social media.
- Include the author’s name when you head up your book review.
- Finally, don’t forget to enjoy reading the book. You might be reviewing it for others, but the experience of reading the book should also be a pleasurable one for you, too.
- Good luck.
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