Slight disclaimer: I am by no means the world’s best reviewer. However, I have reviewed a lot of books in my time, and I thought I would share some of my tips of how to make your reviews rock. Or, at least, be mildly interesting.
This is one of three different blog posts in the mini series (they’ll be going up in the next few weeks). This one is (as you have seen) about the writing process of the actual review; then we get onto how to write a rocking book description; and finally just some final hints, tips, and pieces of advice to be a kind and considerate, as well as good, reviewer. Enjoy!
- Firstly, you need to read the book. That might seem like a very simple point, but trust me, it needs to be done.
- As you’re reading the book, you could be making mental (or physical) notes about what happens. For example, if something happens like I spot a racist comment, or a character does something awesome I want to reflect in a book, I update my Goodreads status to show how many pages I’ve read so I can come back to it later! This step isn’t necessary, but might help!
- Once you’ve read the book, start bullet pointing things you want to write about (after you’ve mopped up your tears if you’re reading a tear-jerker, of course). You’re fresher once you’ve immediately finished, so make sure to not skip this step. It makes review writing harder.
- Once you’re ready, open up a document/post/notepad (I write straight onto WordPress nowadays, but whatever floats your boat). I always begin by writing “Book Review | [Title] by [Author]” in the title column.
- I then write/copy a book description from Goodreads, but you don’t have to do this step just yet, that’s just personal preference.
- Now, I have certain things that I make sure to (almost) always put into the book:
- How I felt about the main characters (and any prominent others)
- Plot thoughts
- Writing thoughts
- You probably have your own little tidbits that you might like to (almost) always put into reviews, but feel free to use mine too.
- This is where the previous steps come in. Say there was a scene I thought was really triggering, as with The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett. I made sure to do a paragraph on that. Or, for example, I really enjoyed science in the novel, as with Stalking Jack the Ripper. I wrote a paragraph on that. Or the BSL in A Quiet Kind of Thunder or the ridiculous names in Etiquette and Espionage (still not over it). I will have already written these down/pondered about them, so, theoretically, the paragraphs should be fairly easy to write and will help to fill out my review and make it unique to me and my blog post!
- Your reviews don’t have to be long. Oftentimes, mine are around 700 words (or so), including the description. However, sometimes they are as short as 500, or as long as 1500. Honestly, though, I would say that unless you’re writing for publication, it honestly doesn’t matter the length, as long as you think you’ve said everything you wanted to say and you are happy with it.
- I think it’s always worth remembering that you can pop back to what you review. For example, you could do an updated review, or just a discussion post about it.
- I always try and end on a positive note. Even if I gave the book 1 star (eg Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List), I know that others might like it (unless it’s really problematic!). So, I might say, “I recommend this for YA readers,” or I might say, “I didn’t like this at all, but who knows, someone might.” It’s boring if we all like the same thing.
It’s up to you how you start and end your review. I always start with a description (including a cover photo) and finish with my little list of important info – like title, author, publisher, ISBN, and Goodreads link. You can do what you want, though, there’s no right or wrong way.
Stay tuned for later posts on the same topic: how to write a book description, and also final hints and tips.
But in the comments until then, tell me how you write your reviews! 😀