How to Write a Book Review
So, you are an avid reader and you want to support authors by writing a review. However, you are not sure where to start or what to write.
Authors are excited to get feedback and other readers like to know what you liked or did not like about a book.
I am super biased in all the advice I am about to give. I'm an author and I have felt the sting of reviews by people who did not like a book. I have also felt the absolute overwhelming joy of reviews by people who loved a book.
This is simply a guide for those interested in writing reviews on retail sites and review sites that do not already have established criteria.
Stars, Apples, Thumbs, whatever it is, if there is a rating system, you may be wondering how to use it if there are not guidelines already established.
What is a 5-star review? How does this compare to a 3-star?
In most cases, the review system is not set on retailer sites, so your star is based on your own rating system. What are you looking for in a 5-star book? Knowing your own system is a start to determining what others may or may not use as theirs.
For example, if I feel entertained by a book, liked the way the characters were presented, enjoyed the plot, and closed it feeling some kind of way about it, I am probably giving that book a high level 4 or 5 star review. The author entertained me.
If I LOVED the book and would read it again, it is getting a 5-star for sure.
If I enjoyed it, but probably will never read it again, it may get a 5 because it did it's job of entertaining me, or a 4 if I felt something was missing.
A 3-star would mean I liked it, but it didn't leave me wanting more. I would probably not pick up the next book in that series. If I would, then it gets a 4-star.
Simply, if that author is going to keep getting my money, it is 4 or 5 star worthy reads even if I don't like a character or hate that plot twist because, guess what? I care about the story! That author has me hooked. Maybe I am supposed to not like someone or be frustrated in order for the plot to resolve or that character to grow later.
Hopefully, this helps you to get the idea that there is no right or wrong in the rating system you create because it is yours. It impacts your relationship with that author and that particular book written by that author.
The author published it with the purpose of entertaining you. Are you not entertained? LOL. If it is non-fiction, the goal is to inform you. Are you not informed?
You don't have to like a book for it to be a good book and you can love a book and someone else think it is poorly written. This is the complexity and the amazing part about fiction. It is ART. Every book is not going to work for every reader. Totally fine. Write down your system so you can review with a plan.
Once you have your system in place, you may think, okay got that, now what do I write?
It is not a book report, a critical analysis, or anything other than your overall opinion on the piece.
I loved X character!
Could not put this book down until I finished it.
The characters are relatable.
You will hate the villain! or You will hate that you love this villain!
If you like (insert characteristics) you will love this book.
All of those are one to five lines worth of a review and much appreciated.
No one is trying to determine if you like too many books too much. You can 5-star everything you read if you enjoy it.
You don't have to compare one book to another.
You might want to compare if it is a series, in which case you might say it is getting better or keeping you anticipating the next installment type comments.
If you absolutely hate a book, you can leave that review, too. Just remember that while you are judging the author's work, everyone reading that review is also judging what YOU write there. Be polite, be honest in your feedback, and be kind.
What is your system? Feel free to respond or if you would like to share your system, be a guest blogger on the site.