Saturday, February 5, 2011

How I Write My Reviews

Book reviews are amazing things. They can connect fellow bookworms, they can help readers know what books are good and what aren't, they can help publishers and author get publicity (any publicity is good publicity in many cases), and the blogger can sometimes get free stuff in exchange for a review!

I thought maybe you'd like to know how I write my reviews, because, according to a friend, I just churn 'em out. If you are interested in writing your own reviews in exchange for free books, it can get pretty hard to keep up with everything. I use a basic format for all of my reviews, and I'd like to share it with you in hopes of helping you on your journey to becoming a blogger book reviewer.

Cue the inspirational music!!!

Here goes:

Get good books. Review books that you want to read. The more you wanted to read it, the more honest your review will be. To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of nonfiction books. I hardly feel qualified to do them justice. So, I tend to lean towards Christian fiction. Base your choices on YOUR preference, not your readers' likes. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The more YOU your blog is, the more you'll enjoy it and you'll get readers with similar interests.

Want to get started? Go here for my post about some publishers and publicity groups I review for.

*Keep a list. I use this handy-dandy sticky notes program on my computer to keep things organized.

Now, you really don't need to be all high tech. Start a blogging notebook. I had one for a long time until I was able to get a laptop. Simply use that to write ideas and get organized. Also, blogger is awesome in being able to keeps drafts and such, so use that too.


Review of (insert title name here)

Prism quirk alert: It's something I started a while back, and I doubt anyone has really noticed. When I really like a book, I put an exclamation point after the title of my review.


Include a picture of the book/product you are reviewing. This is so the reader can get a glimpse of what the book is like and judge it by its cover. (Okay, I know it sounds really bad, but admit it, we all do it for books!) Search it on a picture search engine, like google images

*Be careful, my dear little ones, on what you search. The more specific you are (book title and author, spelled correctly) the less likely you are to pull up irrelevent images or even innapropriate/gross images. 

Anyone care to join me in a rousing rendition of "Oh, Be Careful Little Eyes What You See?"

It's really, really simple. My advice is to write the review as soon as you can after reading a book. If you're like me, you forget key points in the book that you want to remember for the review pretty quickly. 

1. The Synopsis.

Tell us what the title is, who the author is, the genre, if it is in a series, and finally, give us a quick summary of the book. I usually also put an attention-getter in the form of suspense and then a question to keep the reader guessing.

For example, if I were doing a review of my blog, I'd start it like this: A Girl of Many Colors is the latest blog by ~Prism~. Its posts mainly contains book reviews and random snippets ~Prism~ enjoys collecting throughout her walk through life. She says she's going to post about her secrets of reviewing books soon, but is she really going to?

Okay, that was a lame example, but go to any of my reviews (except for the most early ones I have posted... they shame me) and you'll probably see what I mean. Oh, I am so PREDICTABLE!

As for the length, that's totally up to you. I usually make it one paragraph, but if my attention-getter needs it, I single out a sentence and maybe put the rest of the paragraph after that sentence.

2. The Good

Next, tell us what you really like about the book. Was the plot believable? Did the author do a good job of setting up the story? How did you feel, and how do you think other readers will feel while reading the story? There's always something to merit, so even if you didn't like the book, find at least something to complement it on. Make this section one to two paragraphs.

3. The Not-So-Good

Even if you think this book you have just read is the greatest piece of literature on earth (after the Bible, of course), there's still always something that could be better. I mean, nothing is perfect, right? Okay, I admit in some reviews I have had absolutely nothing even slightly negative to report, but a true book critic shows things from both extreme standpoints, like a Justin Beiber fan and a Justin Beiber hater. Maybe not as strongly, though...

*Always, and I mean ALWAYS tell us if you read something inappropriate/non-Biblical in the book you are reviewing. You can word it in a way that isn't offensive or makes readers uncomfortable, though it can be hard sometimes. Be aware that young readers may be visiting your blog. In a way, I feel obligated to notify people about things that aren't good because they trust me to be honest.

4. The Verdict
So, what's your final opinion? Did you like it or not? Who would you recommend it to (age, gender)? You may want to rate your books on a "star" system. I use a five star system.


This stuff may or may not be included in your review. 

*By law, if you receive a free product in exchange for a review or receive ANY compensation, you must acknowledge that in your review. 

I've changed my format over time, but I'm now using the basic:

Note: Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book for reviewing purposes. 

The exact wording is up to you, but if you got a free product for reviewing, you must acknowledge that.

I usually also put product information in case the reader wants to find out more about the book without going anywhere else. I usually include the format (hardback, paperback, ect.), the number of pages, the publisher, and the date of publication. I have recently decided (like, as in effective from now on) that I will no longer be including the dimensions (how long, wide, and tall?) of the book.

It's up to you. You may decide to post more about the author, about the author's other books, about the publisher, and maybe about the author and publisher's websites.

Close up the review as you usually do your posts, and you are done!

Congratulations, you have completed a review, Prism-style!



Bookworm said...

Thanks so much for posting this! I've had trouble trying to figure out what I should include in my reviews (even though I haven't done that many yet:)

Rachael said...

thanks Prism!
thats a real help!

God bless

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