Book Review Help
Occasionally these entries about the writing life spring from a question someone will ask me. It happened this week. Someone was looking for tips on writing book reviews at Right-Writing.com and they didn’t find anything. I don’t believe there is anything on the site about that aspect of writing—but the site covers many others aspects.
For almost twenty years, I’ve been reviewing and writing about books. After thousands of reviews, it’s almost second nature to write these reviews—on many different types and genres of books. For example, I was the original book review columnist for Christian Parenting Today which means I selected and wrote all of the book reviews for the magazine in those early days. If you love books, it was a great task because publishers poured review copies of books for consideration into my mailbox.
The key from my perspective on writing a book review ties back to something basic about magazine writing. Who is the audience? What are the expectations of the editor (who guards and intimately knows his audience)? How can you meet those expectations? I find each publication has a special need in this area--for example some publications only want to print positive reviews (they don't want to give the space for critical reviews) while other publications want critical reviews. It varies from magazine to magazine and online publication to online publication.
With a quick Google search, I located several articles with detailed teaching about writing book reviews:
I've not fully studied these various links but they look like they have some good tips and advice.
One book that I have on my shelf of writing books about this topic (and I read many years ago) is called Book Reviewing Edited by Sylvia E. Kamerman. It has loads of information and chapters on the different aspects, formats of book reviews. In the early days of my reviewing, I read this book and learned a great deal. Originally released in 1978, I find the lessons and teaching still applicable to today’s writers. Like any type of magazine article—long or short—it’s a matter of knowing your audience and meeting the needs and expectation for that audience.