How to Write a Great Book Review

Updated on May 28, 2020
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

I teach creative writing to adults and love helping my students improve their writing skills.

A good review is subjective. Allow your personality to shine through.
A good review is subjective. Allow your personality to shine through. | Source

What Is a Book Review?

A book review is an individual’s opinion of a book that they share with a wider audience. Sharing could be by word of mouth, informally between friends, or more formally with a Reading Group. A few people try to get them published in conventional print media such as a newspaper or magazine. However, for longevity and ease of access, many book reviews are uploaded to the internet. The online world of blogging, personal websites, and product review sites offer a chance to interact and network with a global audience.

A good book review is subjective. It is written in an interesting and engaging manner and helps the person reading it to decide whether or not to read the reviewed book for themselves. A good reviewer can become an influential driver of book sales.

What Does a Book Review Include?

  1. Include the title, author, genre, and length of reviewed book. This helps the reader categorize the novel, and subject matter.

  2. Give an overview of the plot, discuss the theme and characters. Make positive or negative comments about each.

  3. Give your personal views, a good review is subjective. Be rounded with your comments. Give reasons for your views.

  4. Summarize the content and theme without revealing too much of the plot. You should conclude the review with a recommendation about whether or not this was a good read.

  5. Don't give away surprise twists. No matter how good your review, no-one will thank you for spoiling the plot tension or revealing an unexpected ending.

How to Write a Killer Book Review in 5 Steps

How to Write a Book Review

Writing a book or product review sounds like an easy task. But is it? Anyone can write a review, but not all of them achieve wide readership. A well-written analysis contains enough material to inform the reader of gist of the story, but stops short of revealing key plot twists.

Your reader is unlikely to have read the book yet, so you need to provide a skeleton of the story with just a little of the flesh. Your own views are a key part of the review. Don’t just transpose an outline of the plot from the book’s blurb. Your assessment should be a subjective piece of writing and your emotions and reaction to the storyline should be made plain. Comment on and be critical about the book’s theme and characters, and give reasons for your views.

Do You Need an English Major to Write Book Reviews?

Online review sites and blogs have democratized the art of writing a review. Anyone can write one. You don’t have to be a journalist or a recognized authority on literature. You don’t have to be a celebrity or politician to have an opinion on the latest best-seller. You just need to be someone who wants to share their love of books with other people.

There are thousands of book reviews posted on the internet every day. Many of them are not well written. If you can write an interesting and informative short article, your work will stand out from the crowd. A balanced review is not a glossy glowing report, but a fair account of your actual reading experience.

Write Book Reviews Online to Up Your Game

If you have an internet presence, either professionally (like LinkedIn) or a website that you need to promote, review writing is a useful tool. An article written by you will get you noticed. You can write a decent review in any spare moments you have. This could be while you sit in the dentist’s waiting room, as you travel or during that annoying wait for a delayed train. With a little effort you can up your game and get your name in front of a wider audience. The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing is a great guide to the do’s and don’ts of producing a top-notch review. It’s a handy reference book that every aspiring reviewer should own.

Your opinion of any book is of interest to others. Choose to write about one you have read to keep your career up-to-date, or a novel you have read for pleasure. There are many people looking for something interesting to read on their daily commute. They value the opinion of other readers.

The internet is a crowded marketplace and you need to shout a bit louder than the next person (metaphorically speaking) in order to get your work noticed. An online book review stays visible far longer than a Tweet or Facebook post. They are a great way of alerting visitors to your writing style and profile as they browse through cyberspace.

So many books and so little time. Reviews help you choose which to read first.
So many books and so little time. Reviews help you choose which to read first. | Source

You Can Write Reviews for Love or Money

You may be tempted to dismiss the idea of writing reviews online because not many authors receive direct payment for posting them. This is a short-sighted in my opinion as there are non-monetary rewards from this type of writing. Instead of earning money directly from posting a review, your short article or blog post can help raise your internet profile. They help build your reputation as a credible writer.

You may be able to earn a few pennies using affiliate links in the text. An engaging and interesting review can persuade a reader to click on a link and make an immediate purchase and earn a commission from any sales made.

How to Get Free Review Copies of Books

Most publishers distribute free review copies to teachers and lecturers in return for an attention-grabbing opinion piece. Some publishers will send a free book to you once you are recognized author. First you must establish your reputation as a fluent and interesting writer. You do this by publishing thought-provoking reviews and blog-posts, either on your own website or as a guest reviewer on someone else’s.

There are many places to post your book and product reviews. The main ones are retailer websites, blogs (your own as well as other people’s) and social networking sites like Facebook. You can also publish them as articles on generalist websites as a guest reviewer.

Do you have specialist knowledge in a particular field? Does your blog have a wide readership that you could interest in the reviewed item? If you can offer a niche audience to a publisher or manufacturer then your request for free samples is more likely to be granted.

How About Amazon Book Reviews?

Sharing your opinion about a book is helpful to other readers and can be financially rewarding too. Many retailers, including Amazon, send their top reviewers free books to review. The reviewers have built a reputation for giving honest feedback, i.e. both positive and negative.

Amazon Vine Reviewers are expected to give their unbiased opinion. Their reviews are informative, and their writing style is friendly and easy to read. Their feedback helps both authors and readers and encourages interaction and discussion, so leading to additional book sales for the retailer.

What Is the Format of a Book Review?

A well-written review should flow like a story. The narrative has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The introduction should grab the reader's attention. The middle will contain the meat of your review; a brief synopsis, the key characters, and the high and low points of the plot. The concluding paragraph will tie up all the points you have made in a logical, and interesting manner. You may find it helpful to read my article on how to write a very short story.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

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  • Kristen Howe profile image

    Kristen Howe 

    6 months ago from Northeast Ohio

    Great hub, Beth. Thanks for the tips. I would keep this in mind to expand my two-graphed book reviews including the length part. I just state the title and genre. Two great sites to win free e-arcs are Netgalley and now BookishFirst. First to Read was another great site before it closed its doors this summer. A Twitter friend of mine got a job reading books for Suspense Magazine and reviewing them for the magazine. Thanks for sharing.

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