I’m a pretty contemplative person. Recently I’ve been contemplating a lot. Big things. Little things. Silly things. Doesn’t matter the “what,” I contemplate it. One of the less important things is book reviewing, and more specifically whether or not there’s a right or wrong way. Recently I did hear thoughts on the subject, and so I began to think about it and wonder about the question that is how to write a book review. Is this even a question or is it more of a “guideline.”WRITING A GOOD BOOK REVIEW: IS THERE A WRONG OR RIGHT WAY? #Discussion #Opinions #BookTwitter #Thoughts Click To Tweet
When I first started blogging, I think I was one of those people who felt timid about writing a book review. Especially one that came with an expectation (and a book from a publisher). This was kind of a “big deal” for someone who didn’t think they had anything more important to say than any other blogger in the sphere. As a result, I grew and sure, I wrote about tips for writing a book review. Did I think they were THE only way to write a review? No. It was more about remembering how I felt at the start.
Two things recently sparked my feeling about this topic. One is something I heard and another is the re-edits I’ve been doing on the old reviews here on this space. There are some basic courtesy “rules,” if you will of book reviewing. Some of them are as follows.
HOW TO WRITE A BOOK REVIEW
As is the common rule, most publishers will asks for a minimum of x-amount of words, minus the synopsis. This seems fair.
PROS AND CONS
The idea of a review is to share what you love, but if you lower the rating, no matter the reason, to also share why you gave it a three or maybe two star rating. This, while maybe a little bit more of a challenge, can be done in a kind way that doesn’t bash.
While I don’t know that this is a “general rule” of thumb or not, it’s nice if you mention who publishes the book or the link to add the novel on Goodreads. Most publishers also like you to share your review on Goodreads and/or Amazon, and as a rule, you do have to mention if a publisher sends you the book.
Beyond these courtesy things, is there really a “right” or “wrong” way to write a review? I like to think what I’ve learned in ten years is an emphatic no, there is not.
I used to write lengthy and drawn out reviews, most of which made little to NO sense. Does this mean that they are bad? Not necessarily because at the time I put WORK into that review. I thought about each one (maybe overmuch) and I tried to be fair with what I said. My reviews today are mini by comparison. Without meaning to, I’ve adopted the “less is more” strategy hopefully by learning and by becoming a better writer. Another of my favorite things to do in a review is write my own synopsis or plot. This I recently learned is a big “no-no” (an opinion) for reviews. I do this for two reasons.
The first of which is I started as a way to challenge my writing more and try to sum up a story concisely. The second more recent and practical reason why I continue to do this is because anytime I use a back cover synopsis, it makes the SEO work for the post more work. I know that that publisher’s synopsis is likely better, more concise and tells the reader more about the book. However, because I don’t use it doesn’t mean that this method of reviewing is wrong. It just means this is how I write reviews. This is what works for me.
When it comes to writing a review, we’re all going to have a style. Or hopefully we do. Sometimes it’ll be one that readers will find difficult to enjoy or make sense of. Maybe sometimes the review will make perfect sense to another reader and they’ll enjoy that style of writing. Whatever the method, let it be your way of writing. Because, at the end of a day, what you’re doing is telling an interpretation of a story. Something that might not be the same as the person next to you, but it’s yours. Stories are always subjective, and that’s part of their beauty. We all pull something different from them, so why shouldn’t our reviews of them reflect this?
What about you? Tell me fellow readers and reviewers, what are your thoughts on book reviewing? Do you have any common rules you follow or opinions? What’s your “how to write a book review” musts or must-nots? I’d love to read all of your thoughts and opinions; sound off below so we can chat!
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