Some Tips About Writing Book Reviews

I’ve recently read several blog posts about book reviews that got me wanting to chime in on the the subject myself. There seems to be a difference of opinion out there. I’m obviously not a professional reviewer but I am an author and I’ve received both good and bad reviews for my first book.

There a few things I’d like to go over when it comes to writing a review of a book you either did or did not like.

1. Read the Book

The first is that the book, at least in part, needs to be read. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for you to write a scathing review of a book that you read only the first two chapters. You are not helping any other reader and you’re definitely not giving the author any information as to how come you decided to write the review that you did. You can’t talk about the story or the characters or anything. So before you put your reviewer hat on just remember to read before you review.

2. Review the Book

This may seem straightforward enough, but browse the reviews on Amazon and you’ll likely come across a number of reviews that appear to have nothing to do with the book. What I mean is that you should be able to give an explanation as to what you did or did not like about the book and be on your way. There’s no need to sit there for an hour trying to come up with ways to bash the author. So you didn’t like the book, right? Then tell other potential readers why you didn’t like it and be done with it. I understand that it isn’t your job to be nice in your review, but what’s a review if it isn’t fair?

3. Proofread your Review

You may be laughing at this, but think about it. How much credence are other readers going to give you if you write a very detailed review of a book that is riddled with typos and grammar mistakes? Again, this is something that I have personal experience with. Just take a minute or two, because your review shouldn’t be the length of the book, and read over what you’ve written. There’s probably something that needs fixing.

4. Good Books need Reviews Too

Everyone wants to rush to write down the one star review of their latest read. The book was so bad that you threw it into the middle of the street for any unknowing motorist to run over so no one would ever have to be subject to its awfulness. But what about the book you read before it? That you thoroughly enjoyed but never took a few minutes to review. I’d argue that five star reviews are just as important to potential readers as one star reviews. So don’t forget that potential readers can also read about how great you think a book is and not just how bad.

Lastly, I encourage you to check out a few blog posts written by some bloggers I follow and some I don’t. I think you’ll find that there is no consensus on the matter.

The first was written on the blog A Platform of Sorts.

The second was written on the blog Raven Reviews.

The last one was written on author Shannon A. Thompson’s blog and goes beyond just the simple book review.

6 thoughts on “Some Tips About Writing Book Reviews

  1. I wish all of my friends and readers and family members would read this post.

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  2. Thank you for linking to my website. I really appreciate that, and I thoroughly enjoyed your post.
    ~SAT

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  3. Re. your rule #1, I’d say it depends. If the first two chapters are all a reviewer can bear to read because the book is so completely awful, I think saying that, and explaining what was so completely awful about those chapters, can constitute a valid review.

    Which brings me to a point that, while you briefly mention it, I think deserves more emphasis: Don’t just give your opinion, but try to explain and justify that opinion. A bad review would be “This book was boring and pointless.” A better review: “I found the characters so unrealistic in their behavior that I just couldn’t get engaged in them or what they were doing. In chapter one for example, the protagonist…”

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    • I’d still tend to disagree. There are far too many unknowns at the point to be able to write a review of the work.

      I agree with your second point. Writing a review in generic terms that has another person reading it and asking themselves, “Okay. But why?” is about as helpful as no review at all.

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