Strategies for Writing Stellar Book Reviews

As a reader, you know the importance of a well-crafted book review. They help you understand what a story is about and whether or not you should add it to your ‘to-read’ list. Of course, authors appreciate reviews as they significantly impact sales.

But authors aren’t the only ones who benefit from stellar book reviews. As a reader, you reap the rewards as well. Through your reviews, you expose others to books they may not have chosen or introduce them to a new author. If you have a social media presence, well-written reviews position you as a knowledgeable resource about storylines, genres, and in the case of audiobooks, narration. People who consistently write reviews are part of an important community or readers and writers.

Creating a helpful and insightful book review requires a strategy. Before you begin typing out your review, think about what to say and how to say it. An informative and engaging review will answer the following questions:

What is the book about?

In answering this question, include basic information about the book including the author(s), if you read an ebook or listened to the audiobook, genre(s); plotline; and if you think the book is targeted towards a specific audience.

What is the plot or premise of the book?

Depending upon the type of book, either focus on the story’s plot or its premise. For a work of fiction, explain the central theme of the story, conflicts or problems experienced by the characters. Don’t give away the resolution of these issues or the story’s conclusion—no one wants a spoiler!

A non-fiction book review should delve into the ideas, theories, or assumptions that are central to the book. Describe how the book is relevant to different contexts (politics, business, arts) and what the author brings to the table on the topic.

What are your thoughts about the book?

Weave in specific aspects of the book. Describe what you liked, struggled with, or didn’t enjoy. You can cite specific features of the book or even discuss how the story or premise resonated with you personally. Adding in brief passages and quotes from the book will help support your position and allow the reader to better understand your viewpoint.

What is your recommendation?

In crafting your recommendation, explain why you recommend or don’t recommend the book. Here you will want to add in praise as well as critique. Tell the reader why the book held your attention or failed to fully engage you. If the site you are posting on has a review system, explain why you gave the book the rating you did.

You can structure your review in any way unless a site requires a certain format. As you prepare your review, keep in mind that you want others to read it. Using an interesting headline that will capture readers’ attention will ensure that they will continue exploring your review. Additionally, think about a compelling statement to use early in your review that will spark interest in what you have to say. Of course, as you finish your review, don’t forget to check for grammar, typos, and accuracy. You want to be viewed as a credible reviewer.

Finally, post your review on multiple sites as readers look for reviews in various locations. Certainly, you will want to post on the site of the bookseller, like Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  Also, consider adding your review to community sites like Goodreads or Bookbub.

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