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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

10 Tips to Writing Excellent Book Reviews

Seen on Lauryn April's Website:

Reviewing books is a wonderful way to share your reading experience with others, but if you’ve ever read reviews to help you buy a book you’ll know some are more helpful than others. Here’s Lauryn April's advice to writing an excellent book review.


Reviewers should understand what the point of writing a review is. Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Goodreads, ect… allow readers to write reviews to help other readers decide whether or not they will like that book. Above all else your review should provide helpful information to other readers about the content and feel of the book.
Here are ten tips to being a good reviewer…

1. Finish the book – Many people write reviews for books they don’t finish reading. Personally I have a problem with this. Book ratings and reviews should be based on the entire book. Reading only part of a book and writing a review would be like watching only part of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and telling all your friends that it’s a horribly depressing movie. If you’re going to comment on a book, comment on the entire book. (And if you absolutely cannot make it to the end, at very least make it clear in beginning of your review that you did not finish reading.)

2. Don’t just give a summary – Readers can read the back blurb to know roughly what a book is about. Give information about the storyline but make sure you’re also sharing your opinion. Did you like the plot, characters, setting, writing style? Overall how did the book make you feel?


4. Use proper English – Write in full sentences and use real words. This is a book review, not a text message. Remember, you’re writing this for other readers to use as a source of information in their purchasing decision. If it’s not worth your time to write something legible, it’s simply not worth your time to write it. Spell-check and re-read your review before you post it.

5. Double check names – I see reviews all the time where the reviewer spelled the author’s name wrong, or a character’s name wrong, or even misspelled the title of the book. Spelling mistakes like this stand out, and can even be confusing to those reading your review. This can also be embarrassing, so do yourself a favor and take a few seconds to make sure you spelled all names correctly.


7. Be professional – As I mentioned above a review is for the next potential reader. It’s not a way for you to send the author a note, or to bash a piece of work. Just because you have a certain opinion about a book doesn’t mean other readers will agree with you. For example don’t say a book is terrible because it has a love triangle and you hate love triangles, and you think all books with love triangles are cliché and not worth reading. Say that that was something you didn’t like about the book and that love triangles aren’t your cup of tea, but be respectful of the fact that some people love love triangles.


9. Don’t spoil the story – Sometimes it’s impossible not to comment on a part of the story that happens to spoil, or give away, part of the plot. Sharing spoiling information is fine so long as you put a warning. Maybe try and save spoilers for the end of your review and clearly mark them so those who want to be surprised when reading can be. Goodreads lets you hide your spoilers behind a clickable link simply by putting these html tags around the spoiling information Spoiling info here .


Read the full article at laurynapril.blogspot.com

Lauryn April is an indie writer in the young adult / adult paranormal romance genre. She's 24 and lives in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with her boyfriend and two dogs. Currently she's seeking a degree in Psychology. She likes learning about what makes people who they are and why they do the things they do. In her debut novel, Into the Deep, she wanted to look at the intricacies of the adolescent mind and explore how teenagers deal with feelings of loneliness and judgment.


Unknown said...

Great post. My biggest struggle writing reviews now is how to give a bad review while staying professional.

Recently I've read two books by different authors who didn't take the time to proofread, let alone edit. For example, they stopped capitalizing the first letter of a sentence. The writer/editor in me wants to smack them with a dictionary. All I can saw is "This book is currently not readable because of poor proofreading."

Unknown said...

Good information.

Unknown said...

I am planning to have my 8th grade students publish book reviews this year. You have some great tips here, and I plan to share this article with my students. Thanks!

Unknown said...

This is great. My problem with writing reviews isn't creating the review itself, it's that I feel responsible to read every single word of a book and re read parts I don't understand. (I don't get too many out) The good side is, not only for the author, but that I've read and loved books I might not have finished before I started reviewing.

Jeanette Bennett said...

Excellent post. I wish some of those professional reviewers in newspapers would read this. Snarky remarks no matter how clever are unprofessional even if they are paying you big bucks! Even if it's a book or movie I didn't like I still find these reviews irritating. So all you unpaid reviewers who are nervous you might not being doing it right, just following these rules will make you classier than the New Yorker.

Meg said...

You are kinder than I would be, but I probably would stop reading and not review it myself. If it were a friend or review pay were involved, your line would work well. I suppose there could be instances of A for great plot or characters and F for editing, but the lack of professional editing detail is almost impossible to overcome?

Sue @ Crushingcinders said...

This is good advice. I would also add try to be concise.

Susanti Hara said...

Really nice post

Unknown said...

I notice many typos, misspellings, and punctuation errors in books. I learned with my own book, however, that there can be upload errors which make it look like the author or proofreader messed up. Still, I hate how distracting mistakes are. Also frustrating: endless adverbs, words or phrases repeated too often. Not long ago I read a book by a very famous author who used the word "elated" about a thousand times. I hate that word now!

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