(Click here for Review That Book! Part 1: For the Average Joe Reader)
I’ve been posting reviews on my website since about 2018. I started on another website, one I’ve retired, and now I post them in the book review tab above with two sections: contemporary and historical fiction.
I’m coming up on 4 years of book blogging, and I’ve learned a few things along the way that I hope other book bloggers will find helpful.
First Things First
- Choose books to review you think you’ll enjoy.
I really, really, REALLY, don’t like giving less than 4 out of 5 stars when I’m reviewing books. Authors pour hours and hours, blood sweat and tears into their book babies, so I try to take care when I commit to reading a book for review. I prefer certain genres and I want the books I read to be clean and hope-filled. With this in mind, even if a book lands in my favorite genre and everyone is talking about the story, I look up reviews for that title, or if it’s too soon for that, I’ll look at the reviews of past books by that author. If it’s a debut novel, I’ll look at their website or instagram to get a feel for what he or she is about. Because if I review that book, I really want to be able to get behind it and help promote it. So, yes, I pretty much like to know the answer to the question “Is this a book I can promote?” before I commit to reviewing it on my website.
If you read my reviews and wonder why it’s so rare to find a book with less than 4 or 5 stars, now you know. 😉
- Read it within a month of receiving it.
When I’m given a complimentary copy of a novel to review, it’s usually not released yet. Authors depend on early reviewers. A lot of people like the book they’re purchasing to have some feedback they can look over.
I recently discovered that my iPhone can be set up to read to me. You go into your settings, to accessibility … maybe google it if this is something that would help you out. ‘Cause I really try to get the books I review done by the author’s launch day or shortly after, but I’m also a mom and wife and gotta get *gasp* laundry folded and all, plus working on my own works-in-progress … anyway. The last time I did this, I was listening, and the book got to a really emotional scene. I had to pause the audio and devoured the last 10 or 15 percent in almost one sitting. I for sure prefer actually reading books. But this is an option I keep in my back pocket. Literally, with my headphones on.
- Keep it honest. But keep it KIND.
When I’m given an early copy of a book to read, I’m asked for my honest review. No author (I’d hope) wants you to put up a review you don’t stand by. And the reviews are for authors and readers alike. But if you have to say something negative about a book, do so in the kindest way possible. And then find a couple of things about the book you can brag about.
Again … this is why I’m so picky about the books I commit to reading for review.
Making It Happen
I stick to a particular lay out. You can check out one of my latest reviews (like this one) for an example. Of course, these are all suggestions and I’d love to hear what you’d add or change in the comments!
- Book Cover
Put a picture of just the cover of the book as the featured image.
- Write an intro paragraph to grab the interest of reader.
Something like “Wow this book was amazing, I just can’t wait to tell you about it!” and so on.
- Back Cover
Say something like “Let’s look at the back cover” and then share the back cover from amazon or wherever you grab it from.
- Your Review
Get thoughtful about it. Get out of the box. Saying “it was well written” isn’t enough. Tell the readers how the book made you feel. Who was your favorite character? How did you as a reader relate to in the story? Did the book have your favorite elements (for me that would be faith, a love story, danger & suspense, adventure, mystery)? If you didn’t love a thing or two, mention it. If you didn’t love a lot just give one or two negative things and a few positives. Don’t get too long. I mean, we’re bloggers and we love to talk about books. But don’t get so long that you’ve lost the reader. 🙂
Try not to write the same phrases for every review. Challenge yourself to dig deeper. Maybe share a couple of your favorite quotes. I try to search for 3-5 of those as I’m reading.
If you like, tell them your star rating. I don’t always, although on amazon you can’t avoid that. I just think people can tell if you’re raving about a book compared to when you just liked it simply by the tone of your review. “I couldn’t put this book down!” vs. “I enjoyed this book” definitely conveys a 5 vs. less stars. Don’t you think?
- About the Author
Go to the author’s website, grab their bio and an author photo (if you can find one). A lot of authors have this prepared on their website for us in their ‘media kit’. Add this to your post and add a hyperlink so readers can be taken directly to the author’s website. Even if no one clicks it, this helps the SEO of the author’s site.
- Full Disclosure
As always, be sure to add somewhere if you got the book for free for review. When I really love a book I like to say, “I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. I love it when reviewing books is this easy!”
Sharing is Caring
When I really love a book, I share my review everywhere. Amazon, goodreads, Pinterest (be sure to add some fresh pin photos to your post for easy sharing!), Facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. You’ll have to tweak and probably shorten your review for retail sites, but then it’s just copy and paste. Easy.
Do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments!