Quick Tips for Writing Book Reviews

quick tips

Now, I know this post may seem really obvious but I was surprised by a few people mentioning on twitter that they feel like their book reviews were lacking and that a lot of people would find a post like this helpful. I’m no expert on writing book reviews, far from it. But I’ve been doing it long enough to establish a “voice” and know what generally makes a “good” book review.

Everyone has their own voice and does book reviews in their own way and it’s always great to read reviews which are in different formats and written in different ways but there’s always a few concrete things you should think about when writing them.

1. Leave links

I know Amazon is never too far away but it makes things a lot easier if you leave links to the book you’re reviewing in your post. This might sound lazy but people are much more likely to purchase the book if yourย review can take them straight to where they can buy it instead of opening up multiple tabs and having to search for it. Which will often lead to getting distracted by videos of singing cats or something.

2. Write in short-ish paragraphs

During a Twitter chat the other day where we were discussing blog posts and what makes you want to keep reading, a surprisingly lot of people mentioned short paragraphs and from my experience, the same applies for book reviews. Reviews are generally long and it breaks it down and makes them a lot easier to read if you write in short paragraphs.

3. Don’t rehash the plot

Rehashing the entire plot and saying very little about what you actually thought about the book is a massive no go. A paragraph at most will very much suffice in telling us what the book was about – it shows you read it thoroughly without giving too much away. We want to hear your thoughts not a retelling of the book.

4. Be yourself

If you have a blog, chances are you have your own “voice” which people will come to recognise so you don’t have to write book reviews like anyone else or write professionally if that’s not your style. If it means a lot of raving about a book you loved, then go for it! It’s great to see emotion and enthusiasm about a book come out in a review.

5. Always mention if there are spoilers in your review

This is important and I’ve heard so many people since I started book blogging say how annoying it is when everything that happens in a book – all the twists and turns are in plain sight in a review without any warning. Spoiler reviews are fine because there’s bound to be people reading your review who have already read it. But please mention it at the beginning!

6. Don’t attack the author

You’re reviewing the book, not the author. So try and keep it that way. I know it’s frustrating when you hate a book and it’s so hard to review a book you actively disliked but try and talk about the book and only the book.

7. Include a rating system

Stars, cupcakes, Tom Hiddleston’s, choose a rating system to give the reader of your review some information about what to expect in your review. If it’s a book they really want to read and they see you’ve given it 5 glowing stars, they’ll want to know why. Similarly, if it’s a book they really want to read which you’ve given 2 stars to, they’re going to want to know what went wrong.

8. Take notes but not too many

I know a fair few people who don’t like taking notes for book reviews because it makes it feel like a “job”. Which I totally understand and by notes I don’t mean a 2 page essay every two chapters about the meaning behind the colour of the curtains in the main characters bedroom. But if, while you’re reading, a word or sentence pops into your head which you’d like to use in your review, note it down on your phone so you don’t forget.

9. Be constructive, not destructive

Even most 5 star reviews will have the odd thing in them the reader wishes was different. We want to hear everything; what you did and didn’t like but we don’t really want to hear you mouthing off about it. Be constructive in your criticism, why didn’t you personally like it? Because chances are, if you didn’t like a book because it featured too much romance in it, a romance fan will love it. So not all criticism is bad.

10. Be honest

I think the most important point of all. Honesty really is the best policy and book reviews are your opinions, so that’s what we want to hear. Your God’s honest opinion of the book you just read. If we’re thinking of buying the book ourselves especially, we want to read a genuine opinion.

I also had a question from author, Liz Fenwick on Twitter asking whether from the writers point of view, should they comment on our reviews. I can’t speak for every book reviewer in the world, but personally I love it when an author comments on my review. If not a comment, then definitely a little tweet. It’s always nice to see your review is appreciated. If it’s a bad review however, then maybe a message in private to say thanks for your honesty.

I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any other questions or want to leave some of your own tips, please comment below, I love hearing your feedback!

68 thoughts on “Quick Tips for Writing Book Reviews

  1. Very apt points to keep in mind. I am beginning to wonder though if the Amazon links are superfluous. It seems no one clicks on them. I am seriously considering removing them from my blog.

    • Thank you very much ๐Ÿ™‚ And you may be right. I know on the WordPress Stats page you can see who clicks on what but tbh, I don’t check it that much so I don’t really know if people click on the links I leave in posts. But I know from my own experience, when I’ve read a book review before and really wanted to buy the book myself, I’ve definitely used the reviewers links they leave multiple times ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

  2. These are great points! I’ve been doing a number of book reviews lately but have not created a rating system yet… I think I need to add one. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you very much! ๐Ÿ™‚ I mean, a rating system isn’t the life or death of a book review but I think they help. Also, by doing it on your own blog, it gives you the freedom to give half stars, where needed. Unlike Goodreads and Amazon! ๐Ÿ™‚ xxx

  3. All really good points! I feel I need to jot down just a couple of notes to hold on to certain feelings or thoughts but can’t take too many notes or I don’t enjoy the book. And I definitely think short paragraphs are needed – When I see giant blocks of texts in reviews my eyes glaze over – Great post!

    • Thank you Grace! I’m exactly the same when it comes to notes. If a certain word or phrase comes into my head about a certain part of the book or a certain character I will always note it down so I can use it in my review. But I used to take extensive notes… Like sometimes, almost the whole review would be written in notes by halfway through and it was getting ridiculous. I was more focused on my review than the book whilst I was reading it so I’m really glad I don’t do that anymore! xxx

  4. Great post, Jenny!!
    I tend to do shortish) reviews, and I NEVER rehash the plot or put spoilers. What’s the point? if its a good review you want the readers to buy the book!

    I tend to say how I enjoyed, or how I found the book.

    I realised I wasn’t putting links in, then I also realised – I’m reviewing on Amazon anyway!! LOL

    Keep it up,
    John

    • Thanks John! Glad you like it! And I agree, what IS the point? You don’t need to know anything else about what happens in a book other than what’s written on the blurb, I think!

      Haha, I guess links don’t matter when you’re Amazon reviewing ๐Ÿ˜› xx

    • Aww, thank you so much, that’s so kind of you to say ๐Ÿ™‚ I love helping other bloggers when I can. And yes they absolutely could! I’ve wrote a few film reviews before and actually find them a LOT harder than book reviews! xx

  5. This was very helpful. Thank you for the tips. I especially need to add links to my reviews, I guess the rest of the points for me would improve in time. This is certainly a list I can work upon. Great post! โค ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. In the last few months I’ve lost the love for reviewing books and I’m really glad I read this post it really helped me feel better about reviewing books again! Great post as always Jenny!

      • I don’t know but I think I kinda didn’t have my own review style and just never really liked the way they turn out I guess. I think I might of found a style that would work for me. I haven’t posted one yet following that style yet but hope to soon.

      • I think everyone should have their own reviewing style and most people do and it’s great to read reviews in different formats. I’m glad you’ve found a reviewing style that works for you ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. It’s the short paragraphs that are hardest for me. I’m so long-winded.

    I agree links to some place you can learn more are important. I much prefer Goodreads to Amazon, but that’s a personal preference and a strategic choice. (Strategic because I’m a very active on GR and sometimes crosslink, but I don’t do Amazon.)

    I love posts like this. It’s so interesting to read the discussion.

  8. Great post Jenny. You nailed it here for me โ€“ as a writer, it’s great to see this summed up so perfectly. Fab tips too, for the times when I review. Thank you xx ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. This is great Jenny! I’m always wondering how I can improve my reviews and this was extremely helpful! I still have long ways to go before I’m completely content with my reviews, but applying these tips will definitely help me get thereโ™ฅ

    • Thank you so much, so glad you liked it and found it helpful! ๐Ÿ™‚ I think your reviews are fab but I hope that you’ll become content with them soon. I know what its like to not be happy with your own reviews, it’s rubbish! Despite people saying otherwise xxx

      • Awh, thank you! Your reviews are truly incredible:) And yes, it’s rubbish not being happy with the reviews you write! But sometimes we are too hard on ourselves, I think. We are our own worst critics after all, haha

  10. This is an epic post Jenny. I think ive said before that i struggle with writing reviews, i sometimes make notes but with a really gripping thriller im too busy reading to do so Lol
    I will take away some good ideas from this, thank you
    Gill X

  11. Thanks for this – I’m just starting a book blog and it makes it (somewhat) less terrifying to read solid, well-meaning advice like this! Do you have any tips about writing posts that are book-related but not strictly reviews? Cheers x

    • I’m so glad it helped you! Book blogging is amazing but hard work so if you need any advice just holla! Book-related posts that aren’t reviews… Hmmm… Well I don’t have any blog posts on this but the only advice I’d say is be original and yourself – don’t copy anyone else’s ideas. Be passionate, talk about books you love ๐Ÿ™‚ xxx

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  13. Pingback: My Blogging Year, Shout-outs & Aims for 2016! | Jenny in Neverland

  14. I’ve been reading a lot of your posts lately, and I just posted my first book review on my blog. Before I did post it, I came straight to this post, knowing that you’ve given a lot of good advice and helped a lot of bloggers on here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Pingback: So, you want to start reviewing books? | Jenny in Neverland

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