HOW TO WRITE A REVIEW
Whenever I write, I always think about my intended audience. When it comes to a writing a review, I wonder:
What questions do they have?
What do they really want to know?
What would be most helpful and how can I be brief and impactful?
A person reading a review wants to do what they can to ensure that they won’t be disappointed in making their purchase. And who doesn’t want a reliable preview about what to expect, especially from a book? A potential reader has already seen the cover, and read the synopsis, so by the time they get to reviews, they know what the book is supposed to be about and are intrigued. The review is the answer to “but, will I like this?” And thankfully, as a reader and reviewer, you can be incredibly instrumental in helping to answer that question, especially for a book that you enjoyed.
A prospective reader is looking for you to be a proxy in helping to make the right decision for them. So, adding some information about yourself as a reviewer helps the reader to find a good match for their own tastes and desires in the opinions they’ll be reading. A really great review from my perspective would answer some of the following more specific questions:
What genre of books do you usually read (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Historical Narrative, Biographies, etc.)? Is this in line with what you normally read? If it is, did it meet or exceed your expectations for the genre? If this book was out of genre for you, did it open your mind to new genres? Or, was it just that good that you didn’t care?
What called your attention to this book, or what made you think that it would be a good read? It’s ok to give your personal views of your first impression of the title, the synopsis, the cover, whatever. After you read the book, how did your impression line up with your original thought?
How much time do you usually have for reading? Is your schedule very busy? Was this book worth making time for in spite of your busy schedule?
Was this book an escape? Did you find yourself immersed in a new world, or experience with engaging characters?
Without giving spoilers, did you learn something? Was it expected or unexpected?
Did you find the plot and characters relatable?
Who was your favorite character? Would another reader enjoy this person? Why?
Were there any insightful moments (that aren’t spoilers) or memorable quotes?
Do you recommend this book? Who would like it? Someone like you? Someone different? Everyone?
Is this a book that everyone should read? Why? What will they learn?
As a writer, it’s pretty harrowing to think about measuring your work based on a zero to five-star scale, but we understand that it’s a simple shorthand between readers to show their enjoyment (or displeasure). Everyone tends to have their own gauge of stars, but this is the way I think about it when I write my own reviews and how I evaluate as a reader.
Five Stars means, this is a great book. I’m glad I bought it and you should definitely buy it too because you will enjoy reading it.
Four Stars means, this is a good book. It’s not everything I thought it would be, but it was still worthwhile. If you buy it, you most likely won’t regret it.
Three Stars means, eh, this was ok. It wasn’t that great and given the choice, I probably wouldn’t have bought it. I’m not saying don’t buy this book, but I’m also not saying buy it.
Two Stars means, this book was not good and didn’t try to be. I’m not happy I bought it and you likely won’t be happy either.
One Star means, this book sucked on purpose. I feel like I was duped. Don’t get suckered into buying it like I did.
In thinking about length, a helpful review is between 50 to 10 words. Think 1 – 2 relatively short paragraphs.
Reviews are helpful on almost any platform where people go to learn about and purchase books. You can leave reviews at the point of sale on places like Barnes and Noble, or Bookshop.org, Amazon, or Google Books. Or, you can leave reviews on social media like Goodreads, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s up to you and every review is helpful and appreciated!
Thanks for reading!