Do you ever write book reviews?
If you do, then you probably do it for one or more of the following 3 reasons.
For yourself – to remind yourself why you did or did not enjoy a book
For other readers – to encourage other readers to choose or avoid a book
For the author – to give positive or constructive feedback to the writer to help with future books.
Whatever drives you to write a book review, you must always remember this is only your opinion. It’s a totally subjective response to what you have read, and other readers may feel very differently towards this book. I mean, how often have you read a book that lots of other people have raved about, and you have been left disappointed?
So as your review is personal to you, it’s imperative that you give some explanation about your thoughts and feelings. The statement ‘I really liked this book’ tells the review reader more about you than it does the book And even if you are only writing reviews for yourself, believe me, in a few years time, when you look back, you will not be able to remember why you really liked that book.
So I have a few top tips for writing a review which will be useful regardless of who your audience is
- Be timely. Write the review as soon after finishing the book as possible, whilst the feelings the book has left you with are still fresh in your mind. If you leave it a few days you may find that you have become detached from the book (especially if you have started reading another) and you may find it harder to write an interesting, passionate review.
- Be specific – give reasons for your opinions. For example, this book was rubbish, helps no one. However, you could write, this book wasn’t for me, the plot line was confusing and I found the characters were two dimensional and therefore I did not really care what happened to them.
- Be balanced. It is very normal to like some elements of a book and like other parts less. You should call out the strong and weak points of the book and say why. For example, I loved the plot line, it was fast paced and kept the pages turning, however the ending felt rushed and I was disappointed that not all the questions in the book were answered.
- Be fair. If you have read a book that is not your preferred genre, and therefore did not enjoy it so much, write this in the review. For example, I have only given this book 3 stars as I just do not enjoy fantasy based stories. I gave this one a go based on other great reviews, but sorry, this just wasn’t for me.
- Be respectful. Remember, someone has put many hours of love, sweat, and tears into this book and this is just your opinion. I have read many reviews which have put me off the reviewer far more than they have put me off the book. Get a reputation for giving useful, kind feedback, even if was not your next favourite.
- Be honest. Never write a review to please someone else. You may get asked to read and review a book by the writer. Do not feel that you have to give a more favourable review or score because you don’t want to offend. If you followed the other FIVE steps, the writer should be happy with the review. They asked for your opinion and that is what you will have given.
And finally, my biggest piece of advice is if you read a book and you have an opinion about it – write a review. It only needs to be a few lines long and will only take a couple of minutes. Reviews are invaluable to writers, especially those starting out, but are also lovely keepsakes and reminders to yourself of all the amazing (and less so) books you have read over the years
Happy reading (and reviewing)…