Simple Steps To Writing A Book Review
By Leigh Holland.
Have you ever wanted to write Book Reviews? Maybe you’ve been blogging for a while about writing tips and writing prompts. Or you’re thinking about starting a new blog, you haven’t decided what you’d like to post yet but you do read a lot of books in a year. Writing reviews is pretty simple and I’ll cover some of the tips below. Writing reviews for nonfiction will be a little bit different than writing a book review for a fiction book, so I’ll cover a few of those differences.
1. Basic Information is a must.
Make sure you include the following: Book title, author name, genre, ISBN (if appropriate), publisher, publication date, edition, and pages. If it has special features or is part of a series, be sure to mention that as well.
2. Include a Cover Image.
People do judge books by their covers. Make sure you include that with the review. If you include a link to the book online in the body of the review, that’s great. If not, make sure the reader can click the photo of the cover to arrive where it’s sold.
3. Link to where it may be purchased.
If you haven’t made the cover clickable in this fashion, make sure in the review body to include a link to where it may be purchased. You may also include its current price.
4. Read the Book.
Don’t review a book without reading it in its entirety. You can’t give an honest opinion otherwise. It is also a good idea to let the reader know the format if it’s different from what you normally review. For example, I almost exclusively review e-book formats. If it’s an Audible or paperback, I’ll note that.
5. Reflect before writing.
Think about what you read before you sit down to write. Points to ponder include:
What was the story about? How would you summarize the plot?
Were the characters credible? Could you relate to any of them?
What adventures and obstacles did the main character encounter? How did he or she deal with it?
What was the theme of the book?
Would the book meet the expectations of readers of its genre? If not, how?
What was your favorite thing about the book?
Was the writing good? Was it great? Did it need more work?
What point of view was it written in?
6. Personal Connections?
Were you able to link any part or characters in the book to your own personal life experience? If so, how did that affect you? How did it affect your opinion of the book?
7. Don’t Destroy a Book.
There are people who will disagree with me. But I believe it’s important to frame what you don’t like about a book in a constructive manner. Don’t rip it to shreds. Say what you think needs work and be honest. You don’t have to cruel, though.
8. Assess the book for what it is, not what you want it to be.
If you only truly love Psychological Thrillers, don’t say “This is a romance. Stupid. One star.” If you’re reading a romance, you must judge it by the standards of that genre, or just don’t read and judge it at all. It’s best practice to let people know what you prefer to read. In fact, it may be a good idea to narrow down to one or two genres and become an expert reviewer in those areas.
9. Recommend it to its target audience.
Make sure to let people know who you think would enjoy this book. If it’s a book about a romance between an alien from Jupiter and a vampire bullfrog, you shouldn’t recommend it for fans of hardboiled mysteries. Likewise, don’t recommend it if you don’t think they’d enjoy it.
10. Summarize the Plot.
Summarize the plot but don’t give away the ending. If you’re worried people may get upset about how much of the book you describe in the summary, post a warning about potential spoiler revelation. Make sure you give enough information so the reader can decide for themselves if this sounds like a book they’d be interested in reading.
Nonfiction vs. Fiction
There are some additional things to ponder when doing a nonfiction review.
- What does the title suggest?
- Read the Preface or Introduction if there is one before reading the rest of the book. This provides information about the author’s intentions regarding the scope of the book. How wide is the scope?
- Examine the Table of Contents. It shows how the book is organized, its main ideas, etc.
- Can you identify and follow the main thesis?
- Is the style formal? Informal?
- Make notes as you read in case you want to quote them in the review.
- Is the work convincing? Do you agree with the thesis of the book?
- Is the author’s index accurate and sources properly noted?
- If the author has written other related works, list them. How does this one compare, if you’ve read the others?