I was asked on Tumblr for some tips for writing book reviews and although I rarely even call myself a ‘book reviewer’, I thought I’d post them on here too in case they are helpful to other people.
1. Practice. I know, know, but it’s so true! I read through some of my old reviews (over 2 years) sometimes and a lot of them are not very well written. Sometimes I don’t even say anything. But I think I’ve improved, 171 reviews later – and it’s become slightly easier!
2. Read lots of reviews. I found it easier to review once I started becoming familiar with reviewing styles. Think about what it is you like or dislike about other reviews, which will then help you think about how you should write yours. For example, I do not really like reviews that just tell me what the book is about. I’m not interested in that (for I shall read the book and find out for myself) – I want to know what you thought! So I try to make sure that I’m concise when writing about the book’s storyline. (But it’s really down to personal taste at the end of the day).
3. Grab a notebook! I found it easier to review once I started writing them down on paper. Everybody knows what it’s like to stare at a computer screen for hours and realise you’ve only written a few lines of an essay’s introduction, and It’s the same for book reviews. Writing on paper means I cannot delete words or sentences, trying to perfect them – that can come later once I’ve written down the outline. I then go through it properly once I’ve typed it up.
4. Spoiler alert! Make sure you let people know before they start reading your review if there are spoilers. You do not want to ruin the book for anyone.
5. Be honest. I’m a firm believer in being as honest as possible, which means sometimes you will write negative reviews. Unfortunately I’m unable to do this myself as I work in the publishing industry (although I will never positively review a book I didn’t actually enjoy), but I urge others to talk about the books that disappointed them as well as the books they loved. I’ve picked up a YA dystopia novel because somebody criticised it for having romance, which doesn’t put me off at all!
6. A little extra. I like to include a little more information alongside my review: a rating out of five (based on Goodreads’ system), category and genre (e.g. ‘Young adult – dystopia’), whether it’s in a series, a link to the book on Goodreads, and a link to where you can buy a book. It’s not necessary, but I think it’s somewhat helpful. Other people may include links to other reviews of the same book, a suggested soundtrack, what other books you may enjoy/are similar, etc.
7. Most of all, enjoy it. Don’t write reviews just because you feel you have to! If it starts to become a chore, try writing other book-related posts that aren’t reviews (e.g. a list of your favourite mystery novels).
What are some of your tips?