Being a book reviewer for the last two weeks and having many of my books reviewed by others, I tend to see a lot of commonality in reviews. Mistakes, gestures, and things that are just inappropriate for a book review. It is one thing to tell someone that their book is great and others should read it. It’s practically a cliché at this point. Reviewers have to make prospective readers thirsty and energized in interest to the point where they want to purchase the book. Book reviews have the same flavor and sensitivity as a sales pitch.
How do I write a book review? Where do I start? How long should it be? Common questions with various answers! I only speak, in this blog post, from personal experiences as a book reviewer. When you begin writing a book review, start off thanking the author for their publication. You can include if you won the book through a giveaway, but know that this is a necessary evil. After being complimentary, start addressing the overall design of the book. What feeling did you get when you looked at the front cover? Does the title give off the main idea? Are the designs on the front and back covers an act of symbolism? Does the small wording on the back cover heighten your interest to open the book? These are the things prospective readers want to know.
The next portion of your book review should address the grammar and punctuation. Yes, something not often placed in reviews. It’s imperative that you get someone else to check your grammar and punctuation. Go through an editor or agent, if you have to. You’ve read the book. So, did you have to stop and almost stutter because the fragments were not revised properly in the sentences? Did the author wean off topic for a long time without reeling you back into his/her main purpose? Prospective readers and book reviewers look for the author’s purpose, focus, and moral in every story. At this point, you can begin considering the format and layout of the book. Was the table of contents outlined correctly? Were page numbers included? Was the book entirely too long with unnecessary information in chapters? Was the font and alignment of each page hard to conceptualize? Think about this when writing your book review.
These pieces to a book review are great, but the most crucial and last component of the book review should be recommendations. Make the sales pitch! State the type of audience who should be reading the book and address any internal/external feelings they may run into. Is the book full of adventure and suspense? Is it religious? Are profane words and derogatory remarks made in the book? Why is this so important? The prospective reader wants to know if they’re the right audience! For instance, I’m a poet and when I read reviews for poetry books, I want to know if the books are centered on the same themes I write about and read about. If I was a counselor and the book is full of adventure, but doesn’t hold a dramatic event requiring counseling for someone, this may not be the book for me. Make your recommendations and state why such audiences are the right candidates.
In closing, have fun with your book reviews! Don’t make it into an assignment or required duty. Don’t treat it as some book report or an exhausting activity one does when they finish a book. Write your review while you’re in a happy mode and when you think and concentrate about the interesting pieces of the book. Even if the book is terrible, don’t come right out and say, “this is the worse book to buy.” Mention the author’s weaknesses and give suggestions on how they could become strengths. Don’t tear down your author publicly, but address horrible matters through private communications.
Good luck and I look forward to seeing some of your book reviews out there!