Tag Archives: How to Write a Book Review

How to Write a Book Review.

How to Write a Book Review with Ronovan Writes

Everyone has their own way of doing a book review and in a way that is how it should be. Always remember a book review is an opinion. That being said and out of the way, I do think there needs to be some common considerations taken.

I don’t believe published book reviews on volunteer sites should:

  • Be for tearing down an author and that author’s work.
  • Nor do I think a poorly written book should be praised.
  • And being paid for a review just doesn’t cut it, unless you work for a site that has ads and also gets paid for the service of book reviewing like major newspapers or magazines. But that’s a job, not a volunteer thing. And even then, honesty is the best policy. For most of us, receiving a good book to review is a nice perk of book reviewing.

Poorly Written Books

Yes, I’m beginning with the tough one. I’ve read books with a great idea, but poor execution. I’ve written books like that as well. We all have to learn and we get excited to get that book out and into hands. I’ve put my novels away, come back to them months later, and found so many mistakes that I didn’t realize were there before.

Personally, I offer the author an out up front. If I read the book and the review is less than a 3 out of 5 Rating, they can choose not to have it published or go forward with it. It’s up to them. If less than a 3 and published, I will make a note I have the consent of the author to do so. This consent is a question on the LWI site Book Request Submission Form. (Why do I give this out? I feel that by putting faith in me and providing a copy of the book to me, they at least deserve that option. If I buy the book myself…I have the option to post as I see fit.)

If the author says to publish, then make certain to be professional and do not write to destroy and tear down. Your Rating will give the reader one idea of what the book is, while your words explain things. Some people want to see a reviewer go off on an author and make fun of them. You won’t find that on LWI. We’re mature adults who are teachers, professors, doctors, lawyers, authors, and university students. We take our role in the career of an author seriously.

Great Books

You have to decide ahead of time what your idea of a great book is. Some may protest at this idea, but there needs to be some reference point to go by. If you are considering F. Scott Fitzgerald or Hemingway as the great, a 5 Star read, then a 4 may be an extremely great review from you. I tend to lean this way, but I do still let the book itself stand on its own merits. I do give a 5 or a round up to a 5 from something like a 4.8 at times. But for me to do that it MUST be a great book and MUST connect with me. As always, every review is an opinion. The more books you read in the genre areas you like with a reviewer mind the more you come to recognize great writing in those areas. But then you have entertaining writing as well. Book Reviewing is not easy when you are doing it seriously.

Keep in mind that even though the book is great there still might be that something you didn’t like or that bothered you. Is it something worth sharing? Did it stay with you? If if did, then you may want to refer to it. Why? Credibility. You want your review to mean something.

Book Information

For the LitWorldInterviews site we include the basic information for the book such as Author, Title, Publisher, Publication Date, ASIN and so on. You can look at any of our Book Reviews and see our basic layout. Many Book Review sites include this information. We do add some to it, such as Author, Title, Genre, sometimes formats available and pricing (If I remember to do it on mine). You can checkout Book Review of Dancing to an Irish Reel by Claire Fullerton to see how I put a book review together and how the Book Information looks.

Author Information

A Book Review, for me, is a way to advertise for an author. Therefore, I include as many of the online ways to connect to the author as I can, and I include a profile/bio of the author.

Writing the Review

Most likely if you are reading this you are wondering what you should include in the review. There isn’t a magical formula. Things I attempt (as always depending on my memory and excitement level) to include are:

  • At least the basic story idea and main characters.
  • Things that I connected to without giving away too much of the story.
  • How the flow of the book is.
  • How engaging and immersing the story is.
  • If the characters and voice are authentic.
  • If the setting is authentic, especially if describing an actual place. (You may not know this part but if there is something described that nags at you, such as a high-rise building in the middle of a swamp, then that may be an issue for you.)
  • What genres the book falls into as far as you feel. A book may be classified as a Romance by a publisher but in reality be Literary Fiction that has a relationship in it, but has very little to do with what people consider as Romance.
  • Comparison to any big ‘stars’ of the literary world that may help people connect to the feel of the story and thus prompt a person to purchase the book.

You can checkout Book Review of Dancing to an Irish Reel by Claire Fullerton to see how I put a book review together and how our rating system works.

Is it a MUST to include all of the above, or even half of the above? No. Those are suggestions, and there are plenty of other things people include. Your goal as a Book Reviewer is to give your opinion of if the book is good or not and provide enough information to send a reader off to purchase the book.

One thing to remember about Book Reviewing is to find your voice. There are a great many reviewers out there and in order for you to convey what you are wanting to say you need to say it with honesty, and that will come out as your voice. You can look here on LitWorldInterviews and see we all have different styles and voices. My style is dictated by the book and my enjoyment of it and you can easily tell by a review I have done if I truly loved a book or not before you even get to the Rating at the bottom.

A Book Review isn’t all about proper sentence structure. Sure, you want to be professional, otherwise people will wonder what do you know about reviewing a book. But you are reviewing for story, engagement, flow, and things of that nature. You are telling a story of your own when you write a review, and as James Patterson says, “Focus on the story not the sentence.”


 

Ron_LWIRonovan is an author, and blogger who shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer though his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of  LitWorldInterviews.WordPress.com, a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources.  For those serious about book reviewing and interested in reviewing for the LWI site, email me at ronovanwrites (at) gmail (dot) com to begin a dialogue. It may not work out but then again it might.

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Five of My Articles I Recommend from this year.

There are a few articles that I’ve put out since LWI was created that I want to share with those of you that might be new to the site. Since it’s the end of the year I thought I would list them here so if one looked interesting then you could go and check it out.

five articles to read

The Author Interview: How, Why, What, Who?

Find out what I see an Author should think of when entering into an interview. This also lets you know what I am looking for from an Author when I interview.

Get Book Sales with your Book Description.

This one didn’t get a lot of views but it should have. One thing Authors need to know is that when a potential buyer is looking for a book, the description is the third thing they see. You need the title and book cover as the first two and then the description to actually MAKE the sale. This is for fiction and Non-Fiction.

How to Write a Book Review.

This is one of the more popular articles I came up with. Everyone that reviews books has a method, or should. This is one way. Ultimately, be honest and informative to the reader and the author. Just don’t tell the story to the reader.

Basics for Linking up with Readers.

This is a strange one perhaps but useful. It has made it impossible for me to get in touch with Authors I want to interview. Now I go through a lot to try to find a way to contact an author, more so than let’s say an agent might who happens upon someone as they are just looking around. And a reader will not try as hard as I do to find you either.

Author Presence: Your Brand Name.

You are a brand name whether you like it or not. What other things can be Brand Names for you? Why should you bother? Go read.

 

Ronovan

Ron_LWI

 

 

 

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How to Write a Book Review.

How to Write a Book Review

One of my Mottos here at Lit World Interviews is ‘Read a Book, Write a Review’. Nice idea, huh? How do you write a review? Scary thought, isn’t it?

Trust me, it wasn’t easy my first time, and not my best. I was afraid I would say something wrong and perhaps dissuade someone from buying a book.

You’ve heard people talk about the KISS method of things. Keep it Simple Sweetie. For me I at times like to say Keep it Short Stupid, but stupid is like a profanity word around here and it really isn’t a nice word, but I was using it for myself. My having just explained all of that shows you WHY I use that definition at times, right?

Let’s give Keep it Simple Sweetie a shot.

But first;

Why Should You Write a Review?

The more reviews a book gets the better it is seen or listed on sites like Amazon. Even if you buy a book at local store, go to a site and write a review. It only takes a few minutes. Some Authors give away books and it would be kind of nice to simply write a review to help out. Free book, why not a review, right?

Okay, back to the Review Writing.

One thing above allBe Honest. This does not mean that if you hated the book that you go in and write a rant. It means you go in and give a few reasons why you didn’t like the book. Preferably intelligent reasons, or at least expressed in an intelligent manner. You don’t have to be vicious. In truth, many people will disregard your review if you are just completely one way or the other in your writing. If you are totally raving over the book, then people might look and think that you are a friend of the author or you are just too nice. If you are totally negative, people will just think you have issues. You need to give reasons.

Yes, I write reviews for friends if I have the book, but I make sure I am honest when I write them. I don’t always give the highest rating.

Even when giving 5 out of 5 stars I say why, and even give areas I would improve upon. I’ve never come across the perfect novel. Why? Because we all have our own opinions. But you don’t have to have read a perfect book to give a 5 out of 5 stars rating. If you enjoyed the book that much, then you enjoyed the book that much. That’s the real purpose of a book.

How do I write my reviews?

I like to use the sandwich method. I like to start off positive, the could have been better parts or what I would have liked parts in the middle, and then end it with something tasty as well.

Recently I did a review of a book where I started off by explaining that even though I didn’t think the book would be my kind of read, I gave it a chance and liked it. That I had let my stereotype thoughts of what a Romance of its kind was supposed to be like. I admitted I was wrong.

I gave details, that were not revealing of the full story itself in as far as giving away too much, to show I had read the book, and then gave reasons I enjoyed the writing style of the book.

Then I went into some things I would have liked to have seen such as the use of certain characters more, or the length of scenes. For this particular book there was very little to complain about. And in all honesty considering it was not my ‘kind’ of book, I was surprised. The writing was that good. I’ve spoken to the Author since reading the novel and she said, thank you but you have to remember, that is like the fifth revision you are reading, it didn’t start out that good. Encouragement for this future best selling Author, I must say. (Meaning me.)

Finally I ended with why I liked the book overall and whether or not it would make me want to read more either by the author or hope for another book in a series of the same characters.

I also gave a reason for my star rating.

A review can be as long or short as you want it to be. But it should be helpful.

The Parts of the Review

  • Show you actually read the book and why you liked or did not like the writing style
  • Were there things you would have liked to have seen differently, more of, less of
  • What did you like about the book as far as content of the story, any connections to characters, message of the book, would you read more by the author
  • Explain the reason for the rating (Optional)

Yes, if you just completely disliked the book, you might not be able to use the sandwich method, but remember to stay professional and use the review to help not only other possible readers but to also give feedback to the authors. They do read them and they want to know how to improve. They KNOW they are not perfect.

One last thing is to lable/title your review in the given field. Something that reflects your feel for the book and why you liked it.

You can read my Amazon Review here.

And as always, remember . . .

Read a Book, Write a Review.

Much Respect

Ronovan

Ron_LWI

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