The Art of Book Reviews: How To Write A Satisfied One

You've slipped the bookmark out from between the pages, closed the back cover of the book, and released a pent up sigh that's been held in for over 50,000 words. It was good. Oh it was real good. Satisfying in every way that it needed to be. It touched all the right places and maybe even left you wanting more. Yeah, it was good. Real good.

Eventually you have to slip out of your reader's reverie and snap back into reality. The reader's hangover is never pleasant and the itching jonesing that follows for a new paradise, a new adventure, a new heroine, a new lover are hot on your heels. But before you leap into your next world of fiction, take a minute to pause and write up a review. Be the book peddler you are and encourage other readers to be sucked into the world you just left; perpetuate the cycle of good literature, and tell the world how much they are missing having not read what you've just read.


Writing a positive review seems simple enough and, honestly, it really is. No author is going to turn down a praising review no matter how it is tossed together, but for the sake of future readers, you want to give it a little more thought and care. That's what we forget so often - a review benefits the author, yes, but they are intended for people who might pick up the book. We, the battle weary veterans, must tell them whether or not it's a good idea... and then explain why.

Here are some helpful tips for writing a positive book review:

Structure:
Check out the blog post dedicated to structure which clues you in to the basic look and content of the review. The Intro, Synopsis, Background Info, What Your Liked, What You Didn't Like, and Recommendation are all important pieces to include if you have the time.

Educated:
Read through your review after you've written it and send it through a Word .doc to make sure the spelling and grammar police have had a go at it. Punctuation and spelling are important because when you start to talk lyk dis m8, u loose all credibility. (Ya feel me?)

Another aspect to this topic is making sure you know what you're talking about. If you aren't 100% sure about a character's name or job, etc., look it up in the book or (if a popular book) online. I've read reviews where people have misquoted the book, written the wrong name, etc. for a book I know thoroughly well and it drives me nuts. It all goes back to the credibility piece... did you actually read the book? Were you paying attention? How can I trust you if you call it Henry Porter and the Cup of Flames? If you don't have time to go back and confirm a piece of information leave it out or find another way to talk about it.

Length:
There's no need to write an essay about a book when it comes to reviews. They need to be less than 500 words if you're trying to catch people's attention and aren't writing it for a blog or news article. If it's too long people will skip right over it  and go to the next guy who only left a paragraph. Give them the essence of what you have to say rather than adding a bunch of filler with metaphors and "I think what she meant there was this...."

Too short, however, and you end up leaving out important bits of information. So find balance.

Reactions:
Don't be afraid to get a littler personal if the book evoked an emotion in you. Great literature leaves you thinking, feeling, and seeing things differently so talk about it! Do you believe in magic? Or are you remembering what it felt like to be a kid for a little while? Has the novel put into words things you couldn't identify about yourself? Or what about the physical sensations you felt throughout - did the hair raise on the back of your neck.... maybe you started to sweat? Let future readers know this book is powerful in whatever genre it finds itself in.


The last thing to do is make sure you post the review on Amazon, etc. More on that next week.

What was the last book you read that you absolutely loved?