Learn how to write an awesome book review that’ll leave the author with a guaranteed tear in their eye…
I love reviewing books.
Because it’s not only promoting a book for an author. It’s giving them a smile because of something you liked, giving constructive criticism from a reader’s perspective, and sharing what you love with other people in the community.
It’s a great feeling for an author to receive feedback on something that they have created from scratch. Not that I know from personal experience (because I’ve still not gotten round to finishing my first novel), but because I’ve reviewed tonnes of books for indie authors over the past year or so. Every author I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and those I haven’t, all know the value of getting the opinion and approval of their audience of readers.
If you’re keen to help out the people who work their arses off to bring you a little joy in a couple of hundred pages, then a book review is possibly one of the best things you could offer in return.
What you should know before you start.
Reviewing books in the popular places, such as Amazon and GoodReads, for example, is all well and good; it gives an author a rough idea of how much you liked a book by using a star rating of 1-5. However, if you’re aiming to write something much more valuable and insightful, something that the author can learn and grow from, then you need to write your thoughts down. This will require a little more time and effort from your part.
Right, I’m glad I got that out the way. Reviewing books takes up A LOT of time. Especially if it’s something you want to do right and become known for.
I’ve worked as hard as I can in my own time to give amazing indie authors the recognition they deserve. I write long, detailed blog post reviews about what I loved and what worked well in my eyes, as well as the things that I personally thought could have been changed or improved upon. Of course, the way in which you write your reviews doesn’t have to be long or at all critical – it’s just my own personal opinion. I want each author to take away some key points from what a real reader thought of their little work of art.
Here are some great, essential ways you can help those hard working authors get recognition, new readers and feedback for their books:
Set up a blog, Amazon and GoodReads account.
Before you start looking for books to review, you need all the relevant platforms to submit your reviews. Amazon and GoodReads are the most suitable ones in my eyes, but Netgalley is also a personal favourite for many. I can’t give much feedback on how Netgalley works as I don’t use it myself, but I’m sure many people who read this can shed a little light!
It’s also great to have a blog or website set up where you can write your main reviews and create a nice collection for other authors to look at, and for readers to browse through when looking for new books to read. Think of a blog name that has meaning – then you can create social media profiles to match. That’s where you can share links to your reviews and follow new authors and readers alike.
Ask for submissions.
Social media is incredibly powerful. If you post about your book reviewing services and that you’re open for submissions, you’ll be surprised at how many authors will contact you directly. Authors everywhere are crying out for reviews! Use hashtags such as #authorswanted to make your presence and service known. If you like the look of a book, contact that author and see if they will send you a review copy. To make things easier to manage, it’s also a great idea to set up a new email account, solely for your book reviewing services.
If you do things the right way, your submissions list is going to grow…and grow…and grow, (like mine). You need to stay on top of your submissions. I have a spreadsheet where I track information such as book title, author, email address and a link to where you’ve stored any files an author has sent over. I use Google Drive to store files and images sent over from authors, so they’re easy to pick up whenever it’s time for a new review.
Your first review…now what?
Okay, you’ve got your first book to read and review. You know you want to do a good job and provide some thoughtful sentences about the book to help the author and promote their book in the best light possible, whilst also being honest. How do you do it?
Plan your review.
If you’ve read any of my book reviews in the past, (if not, you can see them here) you’ll notice that I have a set template. I usually split up my reviews in 4 sections; the beginning, the middle, the end, and overall thoughts. As I read each part of a book, I pick out the parts I loved and explain what I liked in detail, as well as mention parts I may have been confused about. I always make my feedback constructive to the best of my ability whilst being as honest as possible. That’s what authors appreciate the most.
Split the book you’re reviewing into sections and make sure you don’t forget about the parts you’ve already read. Write your review as you go – as I read the first few chapters of a book, I then go to my review and write about ‘the beginning’. I do this for each separate part of my review, so I always have a clear mind and plenty of things to talk about. This makes your review detailed and clear to those reading it.
Provide a summary.
I always make sure I summarise my entire review into a couple of paragraphs at the end. Some people will glance through your review instead of reading it in its entirety, so this section can be the decider. Should a reader looking for a new book to read try your most recent read? This is the part where you can really sell a book.
Tell your readers more information about the author.
I know you’ve worked hard on your review, but don’t steal all the limelight – give the author a shout out! I always thank each author for providing me with a copy of their book and give out links to their websites and where people can purchase a copy of their books if they want to grab a copy.
Share your reviews wherever you can.
As well as sharing your reviews on Amazon and GoodReads, you can also share links to your review on your social media channels. I use my Twitter and Instagram accounts to shout about the books I’m reading and the authors who wrote them. It gives them yet more exposure to new people.
It’s a simple process…you just have to be committed.
The only problem with providing an insightful review for authors is the amount of time it takes to create. It can be difficult to read and review a book, especially when you have a full time job and a life of your own to live. However, if you are committed, you’ll find the time. The end result will be more than worth it!
While we’re on the topic of book reviews… if you need one, drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. 🙂