I once read that reviews are gold for authors. I’ve never forgotten that and it inspired me to write more book reviews. But I prefer to think that book reviews are breadcrumbs for authors—not the kind that gets gobbled up by birds and prevents you from finding your way home—but the kind that leaves a trail for others to follow.
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What is a Book Review?
A book review is your opinion of a piece of writing. It’s your way of expressing what you thought about the book and how it made you feel. You may also choose to include a summary of the book in your review.
Advantages of Book Reviews
Now you may wonder, why should you write a book review? After all, it takes time to write it and you don’t know what to say anyhow. I know exactly how you feel. For years, I consumed hundreds of books—okay, maybe more like hundreds of thousands—and I never wrote a review until I started blogging and became a book reviewer. But bear with me, will ya?
Until a few years ago, I never even knew there was such a thing as book reviews and I certainly never knew how important they were. If I liked a book, I told people about it or shared it with a friend. (If I really loved a book, I hoarded it and only shared it with a few SELECT people who I knew wouldn’t forget the address—but that’s a whole ‘nother story.)
But now that I know why it’s important to write book reviews, I want to share my thoughts on the topic with you. Here are my top three reasons why you should consider writing a book review.
1. It encourages the author—this is a major reason for writing a review. That book that took you a few hours to read was a labor of love for someone. Let me just come right out and say it: writing a book is hard. It takes hours of research, planning, and yes, actual writing. Then there’s the editing, rewriting, and marketing aspects of writing a book. The process can take months and even years.If you're wondering what's the point of writing a review, here are 3 good reasons. #bookreviewtip #amreading #readingcommunity Click To Tweet
During that time an author has to deal with many challenges—one of them being the fear that the piece of work they just spend oodles of time on won’t be any good. Or, worse: no one will like it. A book review is your way of letting them know that their effort was appreciated. Just think of it as hitting the like button on a YouTube video that you enjoyed–but in words. You don’t have to write an essay, a few sentences will be fine, but more on that later.
2. It increases the visibility of the book—there are millions, okay trillions of books out there. A lot of them sink to the bottom of the bottomless pit that is cyberspace and stays there. Many good books are doomed to obscurity because its fans don’t understand the importance of their review.
3. You get to share your book love with the world—when you love a book don’t you just want to tell everyone you meet? Alright, just me then. Your review lets people know what you thought and that has a greater impact than you might think. Many readers check out reviews before they purchase a book.
They want to know what other people are saying and if it will be something they’ll enjoy. Just think about it: how many books have you bought or read because someone recommended it? I’m guessing lots. This is your chance to do the same for someone—lots of someones.
What If You Didn’t Like the Book?
If you’ve read this far, it may seem as though you should only write a book review if you liked a book. But what if you didn’t like it? Does a negative review have any benefits?
Even if the review is less than stellar, there are advantages to writing it:
The author learns more about what their audience wants—since your book review is an opportunity to let the writer know what you thought about their work, a negative review lets them know where they can improve. It doesn’t necessarily mean that their next book will be tailor-made to your recommendations, but it does mean that they have the chance to either take the suggestions or market in a new different. The reason you disliked the book could simply be because you were not the author’s intended audience. So that might be something to consider as well.
Other authors learn what readers want to read—when they are researching their next book, a lot of authors look at the reviews of similar books to see what the audience loved—and hated—about that book. They then have a choice to make: will they address the concerns of dissatisfied readers? Or, will they take their idea in a new direction?
If they decide to go with resolving the issues of the readers who hated the books, this is your chance to voice your opinion.Why should I write a review when I hated a book? Here are some three reasons. #bookreviewtip #amreading #readingcommunity Click To Tweet
Other readers get information before making a purchase—the influence of a less than stellar review is still important. You may not have liked the book but that doesn’t mean everyone else will hate it. Your job as a book reviewer is to state your reasons for disliking the book, not to dissuade other readers from buying it. As I said earlier, maybe you hated the book because you weren’t the right audience for it.
Characteristics of Book Reviews
While it is possible to just write “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it” as your entire review, that’s not very helpful. Remember, that there are advantages to your review and you want to make the most of it. As such, your review should include a few things.
Critique the book, not the author. If you disliked the book say what you disliked or why you disliked it. Do not use your book review as an opportunity to criticize the writer. Remember we are to represent Christ in all things–even in our book reviews.
Focus on the premise. Try to keep your comments focused on the premise that the book promised. Our enthusiasm to read a book can sometimes cause us to misunderstand what the author promised in the blurb. It’s the premise that should be used to review a book, not what you hoped it would be.When you're writing a review, try to be kind. That book you hated represents someone's time and effort. #bookreviewtips #amreading #readingcommunity Click To Tweet
Be kind. Whatever your opinion of the book, remember it represents someone’s time and effort. So, be honest, but try to be kind in your review.
Be specific. Give examples of what you liked (or did not like) about the book. Don’t just say “it was a bad book” because really what did the book ever do to you?
Don’t give away all the details. Okay, so we live in a world where people go on YouTube and timestamp videos with a bullet list of what the youtuber was talking about…and we love them for that. But, please, don’t do this in your book reviews.
Allow the people who read after you to have some mystery and the chance to make up their own minds about a book. If your review includes spoilers, say that so that persons who are turned off by knowing the details about the plot will know not to read it. Ideally, a book review should not include spoilers, but sometimes it’s really hard to avoid.
What to Include in Your Book Review
If you’re writing a book review on an online bookstore such as Amazon, some of these things can be skipped, but try to include the following:
- Book title
- A summary of the book (this can also be the back copy information)
- Your opinion of the book
- What you liked or disliked about the book
- Who the book would be a good fit for
If you received an advanced reader copy or a review copy that should also be stated in your review.
Now that you know the importance of book reviews, let’s talk about how to write a good book review.