How to Write a Thoughtful Book Review

If you see a book with a lot of reviews, does it make you want to buy it? If a ‘review’ simply says ‘it’s great’, or ‘buy this book’ is that enough for you to want to spend money to read the book?

A good book review will give the reader something to think about before they decide whether or not it is for them. Reviews are important to authors as certain algorithms show that the more reviews a book has, the more sales the book generates. Great books inspire readers so much that they want to talk about them and what better place to spread the word than to write a review and post it in a prominent place. Similarly, if you feel the author could have improved the book in some way, and you have some useful comments to contribute, leave a constructive review. If you feel disposed to write a review for a book you have just read, and aren’t sure how to do it, here is a simple guide.

Read the book. This seems obvious, but I have seen ‘reviews’ where people have said ‘I didn’t finish the book’ and then give it a very low rating. I have started some novels that are just so badly written that I can’t waste another minute of my time on them, but I just move on to the next book in my reading pile. If you don’t read the book, don’t leave a review.

Don’t feel obligated to give a glowing review. You can always tell the reviews that have been written by friends of the author. They usually have five stars and talk more about the author’s talent than give the reader any insight into the content of the book. Were you unsatisfied with the ending or did the blurb not accurately describe the story? For you to leave a review, the book must have had some impact on you, so state the facts simply and leave out the gushing adjectives.

Be constructive with your criticism. Whether you enjoy reading the book or not, there will be some people, places or events that stand out. If you feel there is too much dialogue, or not enough description, then say so in your review, but also point out anything you may have learned from reading the book or any characters that you could identify with in some way. Did the book make you laugh or cry? Was it a gripping read that you couldn’t put down? Did you like the author’s writing style? Whatever you say will have an impact on other readers and the author, so give your view but be kind.

Don’t leave a one sentence statement such as ‘it’s great’ or ‘buy this book’. It doesn’t help anyone.

As a reader, I have written reviews for a lot of great, good, and those-that-have-potential books. As an author, I have received a lot of great feedback in the form of reviews from people who have enjoyed my books. You get people who take issue with a particular subject because it offends their particular tastes, and that’s OK as long as they say that in their reviews. When I am looking to purchase new books, I look at the five-stars and the two-stars to get a good overview of readers’ thoughts.

Keep writing book reviews, but be kind, and if you can’t be kind just move on to the next book. A well-written book review will always be appreciated by an author.

Why You Should Write Book Reviews For Other Authors

If you’re writing non-fiction books, you should be reading non-fiction books. Why? You might ask, and you know I’m going to tell you… If you’re writing non-fiction, you’ll want to read in the area you’re writing, to make sure your content is fresh, different, and valuable.

Don’t copy their books. That’s NEVER a good idea.

But do use their books for inspiration, for publication style, concept delivery, and comparison. Other writers in your industry are a direct link and connection to other readers in your industry. Connect, and befriend writers who actively promote information in the industry! They will be your best assets.

Review Their Books –

Did you know that writers read every review? They do. They may say they don’t, or tell you they don’t care about bad reviews, but they do. And even moreso, they read and remember good reviews – and good reviewers. They’ll think about the words and thoughts from a good reviewer, and quite often even mention them on their blog. But THAT isn’t why you’re writing the review.

The reason you should write reviews for other writers in your industry is to improve your ability to recognize and understand good information. The better the information in their book, the better your review should be. I would even encourage you to not write a bad review – even if the book is really bad – but to find something good to write about. If it’s really bad, you can focus on the good part and mention that you found some parts to be redundant or overwritten, etc. but find and point out the GOOD first. Be sure your review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble includes at least a 100 words – seriously, you’re a writer, you should be able to write at least 100 words about ANYTHING.

Visit Their Blogs –

Does this writer have a blog? Or a discussion going on Amazon? Visit their blog, add comments to blog posts, mention that you’ve read their books, and add to the conversation on the blogs. Ask questions. Do you have any experience with other writers in this genre? Do you recommend other writers? Is there one thing you’d do differently now that your book is published? Find a quantifiable question and ask it.

Hopefully, they’ll respond to your comment, maybe even visit your blog! Interacting builds connection, and you could make a new friend.

Invite Them to Review Your Books and Visit Your Blogs –

Remember the basis for your interest? Building connections. Growing relationships. Doing whatever it takes to build an audience in your industry means actually connecting with other writers. Don’t slack off…