I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always rush to review books that I’ve finished (or haven’t been able to finish). The thing is that it’s very important not only to the author of the book, but also for potential readers too.
Reviews are the lifeblood of many authors hoping to sell their books. Whether it be on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, your personal blog, doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you do it. I’m going to take my own advice and do a whole bunch this weekend.
The review process is one that is completely open and objective. The reader is the one wielding the power and needs to keep this in mind.
At no time should you write a review just to tear down an author or his/her work. It’s okay to disagree, dislike, or even despise a piece of work but ask yourself if there is anything redeemable about the work itself.
Why Do a Book Review?
A.) For the Reader: I know that when I go to purchase a book I check the reviews. They’re so powerful and can sway me both ways–to buy or not to buy. If a review is too positive and too gushy then I question it. Is it real? Was it a friend who did the review? But if the review is written in a factual tone to relay the fact that the reader enjoyed the experience then I’ll look at it further. A review allows the reader to some insight into the readability, style, and tone of the author. If I read something that says the author uses what I call $20 words just for show that’s a definite turn off for me.
B.) For the Author: Authors really do need reviews because it brings them more readers which of course means sales which in turn means visibility. Having several reviews for readers to consider could mean the difference between building an audience and not.
Authors, and writers in general, are insecure folk. I know many who don’t talk about their writing because it flusters them to a point of speechlessness. For many the power is in the pen and having someone (anyone) actually read their work and make a positive comment is very validating.
These Seven Steps have been borrowed with permission from fellow writer Alexandra Peel when she guest blogged for Emma Lombard. The part in italics has been added by me. The link is here to see the entire blog.
7 Easy Steps to Follow
- Include title, author, publisher, publication date, pages, price, ISBN. This type of information would be very important if you were doing the review on your blog. If you’re on Amazon or Goodreads then that information will be linked.
- You might want to include information about the author. If you’ve read the author’s work before then you may want to include the titles of his other works.
- A quote from the back-page blurb, or a quote from another source.
- Review the book you read -not the book you wish the author had written. Alexandra has said this so well. The thing is that you can’t look at how you think it should have unfolded. That’s not fair simply because this story belongs to the author. Examine things like character development, tension, plot, or theme. How well did the author draw you into his story?
- Think about the person reading your review. Is the review for readers looking for information about a particular topic, or for readers searching for a good read? As I write most of my reviews on my own blog, I feel free to write in my usual chatty manner for my followers and I primarily review works of fiction – all sorts of genres. This is a good point to consider. Who is the review for? We need to remember that not all people like all things and that’s okay. If you’re writing a professional review then the language and vernacular will be different than what you use on Amazon for example. Avoid curse words–just makes you look stupid and warn the reader if you’re going to go into spoiler territory.
- If this is the best book you have ever read, say so, and explain why. If it’s merely another nice book, say so. I (Alexandra Peel) use a 5-star system which goes like this: This is a great system for most. You can also forego this step if it’s going to be a problem (like if you know the author) and don’t want to rock the boat so to speak.
- 1-star — Read it. Meh. Not recommend.
- 2-stars — Read the book and found some aspects okay. However, the book had some undesirable qualities and therefore will not be recommended.
- 3-stars — Read this book and can say I enjoyed it. However, it was simply an enjoyable read. It lacked specific qualities to make it spectacular. I may or may not recommend this book.
- 4-stars — Read and enjoyed. There were qualities of the book that maintained my interest and kept me entertained. If it is a genre you’re interested in I recommend this book.
- 5-stars— I read this book and loved it! Every aspect of the story was interesting and contained psychological realism. I found myself unable to put it down. I couldn’t wait to read more and find out what happened next. I would definitely rate this and recommend this book. This is one I would keep on my bookshelf.
7. Your conclusion should summarise, perhaps include a final assessment. This is a personal decision of course and can bring in such things as believability, liability, etc. It can also be a place where you decide whether or not you recommend the book. If you go by the star system provided by Ms. Peel then you’ve already identified this. In this part I like to make a final statement specifically to the author. If I’ve really enjoyed the book then I’ll tip my hat and say Bravo/Brava to the author and thank them for their work.
8. I had to add a number eight because to me it’s important to mention that if you have nothing nice to write about the book and you feel that there is no redeeming qualities it’s okay to say so…or sometimes it’s better to say nothing. When you are reviewing it’s a powerful pen you wield and while you want to be truthful you don’t need to be cruel.
Thank you Alexandra Peel.
Connect with Alexandra on her blog, Twitter and Facebook.
11 thoughts on “Why You Should Write A Book Review and Seven Easy Steps to Make it Happen.”
I’ve been a member of BookCrossing since 2004, although not as fanatically active as I used to be. One of my favorite features was writing a book review for each book read or passed along. It’s something I enjoyed doing. I fell out of the habit when I stopped registering books on the site, but I’m back at it again on Goodreads and for books I purchase on Amazon. Hoping I can convince readers of my new book to take a moment to write a short review. As you say here, reviews are EVERYTHING.
Thanks for commenting Lynn. It’s so true that reviews are imperative to authors. I hope posts like this make a difference to those who are a bit lazy like me. I’ve done five in the last two days. Ugh. Totally my own lazy fault. What’s your book Lynn?
when do I get to read or review something of YOURS???? BTW, I taped a podcast with Sheila Bender yesterday that will air March 3 in Seattle area and then be available online. It was fun. Are you in touch w her? Send me your e mail so I don’t reply through this next time!! M.
Hey Mindy! You are commenting on something of mine right now. Lol. I’ll dm you. I haven’t kept in touch with Sheila. I hope she’s doing well. I should get her email from you. xo
Yes! I love reading and writing reviews. My first port of call is the bookstagram community. Lately I’ve been avoiding rating with stars, partly because I know how much time effort each author spent just getting to publication and it feels mean to give 3 or fewer!
Hi Fiona. Thanks so much for commenting. It’s very much appreciated. I’m not familiar with “bookstagram” so will look that up.
I agree with you. Rating by stars is so difficult because you can’t give half stars and sometimes it seems very low. One thing I think all readers and reviewers need to do is find something positive to say about a work. The author does work hard and it’s not our responsibility to tear it all apart. We’re here to help build each other up.
My motto….If the work is so poorly written or riddled with grammar and spelling mistakes then I probably wouldn’t star it and perhaps not review it at all. A story would have to be pretty special for me to read through errors etc. so it probably wouldn’t be one that I’d finish if that makes sense.
Faye, would you please submit this article for the “WE PAW Bloggers E-Zine: Creative Toolbox” issue? The submission directions and submission email are in the “Creative Toolbox” document found in the menu to the left of the group main feed in “Files.”
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I’ll do the submit today. Thanks for your support.