Wednesday, December 6, 2023

How to Write a Book Review

The IWSG question of the month: Book reviews are for the readers. When you leave a book review do you review for the Reader or the Author? Is it about what you liked and enjoyed about your reading experience, or do you critique the author? 

I would argue that book reviews are not only for readers, but for authors as well, and not just for the author of the book being reviewed, but for authors of similar books. They help us get a feel for our readers, what they like and dislike. They help us write better books, and they help us with marketing those books. 

So it’s important to know how to write a book review 

1. Most people would suggest you start with a brief summary of what the book was about, but when reading a review, I generally skip over this part because I’ve already read the blurb. But if you do include this, try to avoid spoilers. 

2. Share what you liked about a book. Did you like the characters, the pace of the story, particular scenes? Did the book keep you guessing or was it an engrossing page-turner. How did the book make you feel? Did it make you laugh or cry? 

3. Share what you didn’t like about the book. I’m guessing most authors wouldn’t like this part, but a well-rounded review has more weight than one that only talks about the best bits. Maybe the book had a cliffhanger or left you unsatisfied. Maybe the book wasn’t what you had expected. Maybe the characters were unlikable. 

4. Would you recommend this book to others? If so, who? 

Reviews don’t have to be long and they don’t have to be eloquent. Us authors appreciate any form they come in. A review is a way of spreading the word about the book. The algorithms of online retailers favor books with many reviews. 

Remember, every review helps.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yes it does. Even bad ones. Usually, they are so badly written that most people would discredit them anyway.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Alex, that's so true! I usually read those one star reviews for a giggle and instantly dismiss them.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I write really short reviews of books I like to help readers and the author. If I don't like a book, I just don't review it. And you're right, every review helps.

Liza said...

Good reminder. Every review helps.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I say skip the summary part except maybe one line. I've seen reviews where the summary is 90% of the review and that doesn't tell anyone anything.

J.Q. Rose said...

I'm with Diane. I always skip over the summary. Your suggestions for writing a review are excellent. I think it's easy for writers to leave a review, but readers may be hesitant to do so. I hope many readers can discover your guidelines, especially the idea of a review being only a few lines. Thanks.

Tyrean Martinson said...

I love this! Thanks for sharing the parts of a review.

Patricia JL said...

Good breakdown on how to write a review, and you're right, it doesn't have to be elaborate or super long.

cleemckenzie said...

I know it's good form to write a quite synopsis at the beginning of your review, but there are usually lots of those by the time I get there. I do like sharing the positive first.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Natalie, I'm the same. If I don't like a book then I don't review it as well.

Liza, Those reviews really do help.

L. Diane, yes!! Totally agree. when the review is 90% a summary of the book, it's so unhelpful.

JQ Rose, yeah, I think the idea of writing a long review turns readers off. It's too daunting. I hope they realise it doesn't have to be long.

Tyrean, Thanks :)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Patricia, Thanks. The number of readers I've spoken to, trying to encourage them to write a review...when I tell them it doesn't have to be long and complicated, they go, "Ohhhhhh!"

Lee, I tend to sandwich the negatives with the positives, so there's more positives to focus on. If I really didn't like a book, then I won't bother writing a review.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Good Post! I agree.

Have a Blessed Merry Christmas!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

What a good idea to answer the question with details of how to write a book review. Hope you have a lovely holiday.