Monday 17 June 2013

How To Write A Book Review

All authors are told they need reviews.

With on-line book publishing and e-books being churned out at an amazing rate, it has never been more important to obtain good informative reviews - and plenty of them! 

For readers of books, this has got to be a great time too. You can pick up books cheaply and sometimes free if the author is asking people for reviews of their work. Smashwords, in the Apple iBookstore, Amazon, Barnes &Noble, Goodreads are all good starting points. Look out for authors who are requesting reviews and sometimes give out contact info so that you can get in touch (I'm one of them!). 

Ahh … you ask … but how do I write one?

You can write a review in many different ways. My own experience (as well as receiving reader reviews as an author) comes from tutoring and training candidates in employability skills, management skills, customer service and advice and guidance.

The Hamburger Method   

Years ago we had different ways of reviewing another person’s work; the ‘Hamburger Method’ was one of them, where you would say a little about the positive things, then add a little about the negative parts but finish with how to make the negatives into positives and then give an encouraging pat on the back.

There were a lot of fors and againsts to this method, but I think most of us would agree that we need to hear both positives and how to improve on what we’ve done without being torn apart or made a fool of.

One more important point to bear in mind: authors spend months, sometimes years in creating a book. Sometimes they don’t know why they’ve even written it or who will read it. Other authors will write and hope that eventually they will receive recognition, perhaps even a small amount of money. And there are others who do it to educate us in certain topics.

What I’m trying to say here is this; remember someone has spent time writing, researching and putting those words together. No one ‘intentionally’ wants to write poor quality or badly written books. It’s damned hard work, so this has got to be borne in mind when you start your review – empathise with the author and encourage them to write greater, bigger and better things.

So these are my first two important tips on reviewing work and I hope they assist you when you write your review!

1) Read the book!  How can you review something you haven’t read?

2)   Don’t give the game away!

“I liked this book because the main character, Sarah, gets her head chopped off and deep fried at the local chip shop.” 

Who’s going to the read the book if you spoil it for them? Write about the characters and how the story unfolds, but don’t write about the story and the ending. By all means say it’s got twists and turns and double twists, but don’t say what they are!

Now you’re going to start your review, and although you can do a review in any order you wish, it’s easier for everyone if you start right at the beginning - the Title and cover.

Here goes:    

Written by.

Now we go inside and start reading to complete the following …

  • What type of book – Mystery, Thriller, Love Story etc.
  •  Who is it for – Age group for Children, Adults 
  •  How many pages?
  •  Set the scene:  Where does everything in the book take place? What year?
  •  Did the author give an age group on their site/bookstore etc.?
  •  How easy does the story flow?
  •  Are the characters described so well that you can imagine yourself as one of them or you believe they are actually real?
  • For children – is it split into chapters?
  • Are there any pictures or graphics?
  • Is the writing and speech relevant to the target audience?
  • Is the story gripping? Is there atmosphere?
  • What feelings/emotions does the story bring out in you?
  • Is the book a part of a series?

You should now be getting close to finishing your review, and his is when you have to remember why you wrote it and who you wrote it for – hopefully for other readers!

So they will need to know

Where can the book be purchased (unless you’re writing this for a particular bookstore or site –Apple  iBookstore, Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, etc. etc.

You could finish by saying that you’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, or you have read their work in the past and it has always been of a high standard, it is up to you!

Whatever you decide to do and however you choose to write it up, always, always write it truthfully, professionally and how you see it, not how anyone else does.

Final points:


Please contact via website if:

You are a reviewer interested in carrying out reviews, giving your website-link if you have one or a contact email.

You are an author requesting a review of your book.

Please note: space is limited so website address/email only please.

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