Tips for Writing Book Reviews

Welcome back to my blog. For those of you that have already seen my How to Rate Books post, this is like part two. For those that have not seen that post, you can read it here.

This post is all about the written review part of book reviewing. I’ve always enjoyed reviewing books and other products. I only started posting them a year ago. In that year of publicly posting I’ve learned a lot and this post is going to be some tips on how you can write book reviews. So let’s get started!

First I’ll tell you about my personal process of reviewing.

First, I read the book, obviously. If I don’t finish it, then I don’t review it.

While reading, I like to take small notes throughout. Things I liked it didn’t, quotes I enjoyed, parts I want to remember, etc.

Next, I write my initial thoughts after finishing. How it made me feel, if I liked it or not. Then I go more in-depth as I write the actual review.

Then, I start the review. I write my thoughts on whether I liked it or not and what I liked or didn’t like. I include as much detail as I can to give the reader an understanding of what they can possibly expect and how I felt without spoiling the book.

Next, I’ll go through and edit my review. You know grammar and spelling mistakes and all that. Some still slip by, I’m only human. But I try to make it as professional as possible.

Lastly, I will post it! Done.

Here are some key review tips!

Don’t just summarize the book.

Reviewing and summarizing are different things. By definition, review means: evaluation of a publication etc. Summarize means: a brief statement of the main points.

With these definitions in mind, when you summarize a book, that means giving your readers a brief explanation of what the book is about. When you review the book, it means you are evaluating the book based on your own opinion. You can add a summary to your review post, but you still need to have a review for it to be called a review.

With that being said, that leads me to point two.

It’s your opinion.

When writing a book review, you are giving your personal thoughts and feelings about the book. You will have lots of people who agree with you and lots of people disagree and that’s okay. We all get an opinion and this is yours to share. So, when writing a review, it’s okay to look at other reviews to see what they said and to compare your thoughts to others, but use your opinion and your words. This takes me to point three.

Don’t plagiarize!

Unfortunately, this happens. Someone wants to be a reviewer without putting in the work, so they take the work of others. This is not okay and in lots of places it is illegal. You can compare your thoughts with others, you can read other reviews to see what they have said, but when it comes to writing it, keep it all yours. Of course, you will have the same opinion as others and you may word it the same. That’s fine. But word for word, taking someone’s review. Big no!!

Don’t be rude.

It’s okay to hate a book. It’s okay to hate literally everything about it. But, remember, this is a piece of work that someone spends hours on end, months, years, working on. They put their heart and soul into it. Be respectful when delivering your thoughts. You can say that you didn’t like the writing style because it didn’t work for you. But to call the author a horrible writer would be wrong. Again, back to point two, this is your opinion, but not everyone’s. I’ve seen some reviews that were just plain nasty. I have zero respect for people who think it’s okay to belittle and degrade a person and their work just because they don’t like it. You can be critical, just be respectful, think about the words you choose. A good reviewer can deliver their thoughts and opinions in a respectful way.

This one goes along with my ratings post.

Don’t leave a negative review for a book you did not finish.

If you did not finish a book, then you shouldn’t rate or properly review it. Because you can’t, you didn’t read the whole thing, so how can you review it? You can explain what didn’t work for you and your reason why you stopped reading it. But to say, “this book is horrible blah blah”, that’s just not true. It didn’t work for you, but that doesn’t make it horrible. So simply say, “I didn’t finish this book at _%. The reason was because _________. It didn’t work for me.” I will read those on Goodreads, when someone respectfully explains why they didn’t finish it. But I personally hate to see it when someone says they didn’t finish it because the book sucked. That just goes back to my point about respect.

No spoilers!

Online reviews on websites like Goodreads, Instagram, Amazon etc. should never include spoilers. UNLESS, like on Goodreads, you can select an option stating there are spoilers and your review can be hidden from those that don’t want to see them. If you feel the need to include spoilers, simply state that your review includes spoilers before your review. I personally will never share a spoiler review on Instagram or Goodreads and if I do here, I will put on the title and a disclaimer at the beginning of the post. However, that early happens unless I post my bookclub review answers as a post.

Some things to think about when writing a review are:

The story

Was that interesting? Did it build up well? Was it consistent? Was it a slow build? Maybe too slow or too fast? Did you get lost or was it easy to follow?

The characters

Did the characters add to the story? Did you like their personalities? Could you understand what the author wanted you to think about them?

The writing

Was it well written and easy to read? Did the author use language that fit the story? Did it read exciting in the exciting parts, or emotional in the emotional parts? Was it repetitive?

Where to share your review?

There are a lot of platforms to share these days. Social media like Instagram, TokTok, Facebook. Then you have book specific ones such as Goodreads, BookBub, Library Thing. You can also post to retailer and publisher websites. And, of course, you can start a book blog. I primarily post to Instagram, Goodreads and here. However, when an author or publisher sends me a book to review, I will also post it on retailer websites or anywhere else that is requested.

Whenever I post to Instagram, I will share a shorter version of my review. I like to keep it simple and to the point and if anyone has questions I’m more than happy to answer them. On Goodreads I will post my full review, with no summary, since you can see the book synopsis right on the same page. Here I will post either the Goodreads synopsis or my own summary and then my full review, which includes all my likes and dislikes, respectfully.

So there you have it, just a few things I like to consider when I write my book reviews. Some tips to help you write a review and hopefully you’ll find them helpful. If you have any helpful tips or ideas for when you review a book, let me know in the comments. I would love to hear about your review process!

I really hope you enjoyed reading some of my thoughts and tips on writing reviews. If you enjoyed this post I would really appreciate it if you liked, commented and shared.

For more please follow me on Instagram and Goodreads. Thank you!

1 thought on “Tips for Writing Book Reviews”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s