Sunday, August 14, 2022

How to Write a Book Review

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Last week I gathered with a group of local writers for a backyard barbecue to celebrate the beginning of our school year and to begin again our monthly meetings. One of the writers brought her first book which was going to release in a few weeks. I asked if she had a launch team or any other plans to get her book into the market. She looked a bit lost how to answer my question then said, “I'm going to put the cover up on my Instagram account and tell people it is available.” 
I encouraged this author to get friends and others to write book reviews because readers are making buying decisions every day when they read reviews online at any place books are sold and not just Amazon. I understand the influence of book reviews and it's one of the reasons I've been writing book reviews for decades in print publications as well as online. As you read or listen to books, writing a simple book review is a way to support other writers. If you want to know more about how to get reviews, I have created a free teleseminar on this topic (follow the link). 
I've seen many people write a sentence or two for their review but I believe a more detailed review is helpful to the readers (and the author). In this article, I want to give you more of the details about how I write a review. While each review is individually crafted, there are some consistent elements in my reviews to give you some ideas for y0ur reviews. The books that I read and review come from a variety of places. Sometimes publishers will send them to me, others will come from authors, and other times I learn about books from reading other reviews or news releases. I'm often reading one book and listening to a different book. As I read the book, I will open a Word file and sometimes make some notes about the book. These brief notes often turn into the review. Also as I read, I will mark interesting quotes or sections with post-its to be able to easily reference these sections with my review.
Every review begins with a headline. This headline can be a summary statement about the book but involves using a few words to draw the reader into reading your review.  Spend a few moments crafting your headline for the review.
In my review, I summarize the contents of the book, point out key sections of the book and in general, I include a few sentences which I quote from the book and reference the specific page where it comes from. I inelude this quote to show the reader that I've actually read the book and it gives the reader some more insights about the book. I conclude each review with my recommendation about the book.
In recent years, I've learned to use an online program called Mock-Up Shots which has a set of diverse marketing tools. One of those tools allows me to upload the book cover then I select a unique image with the book which I add to my review on Amazon and also use the image to promote my review (and the book) on social media. If you want to learn more about these tools for your use, follow the link. You can get lifetime access which is well worth it in my view and I use these tools almost daily.
The bulk of my reviews are about 150 to 200 words in length and afterwords, I will often print the Word file with my review, then read it again and make any changes before posting it on Amazon and Goodreads. The Goodreads review appears right away but Amazon sometimes takes a day or two or three before it appears. When the Amazon review appears, I will post about my review on social media to my different channels (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn).
The final step in my process relates to how I received the book. If I got it directly from an author or publisher or publicist, I will send the Amazon and Goodreads links to my review along with a link to my posting on social media. Taking this step is important to affirm to the receiver, I have completed the review—and it opens the door to additional books for possible review.
Do you write reviews for the books you read or hear? Do you have a pattern or system you've created for these reviews? Let me know in the comments below.

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