Writing Effective Book Reviews
Ready to get noticed in the industry as a source of good book information?
Here are two resources to help!
Let’s talk about what a book review is—it’s meant to help other people decide if a book is a good fit for them or not.
I’ve been training book reviewers for years—since longggggg before I became a best-selling author. I’ve studied and tested and here’s what I’ve learned
And this is the #1 thing people get wrong when writing a book review—it’s not about YOU and how YOU felt about a book.
A book review’s entire purpose is to help someone else decide if they should buy it.
Think about any other product you’ve seen on Amazon….makeup, gardening tools, clothing, whatever. Why would you check the reviews? To see if it lives up to the hype in the description.
If you’re buying a shirt on Amazon, you want to know if it’s true to size, if it rips easily, if it’s see-through, or if it will function properly for whatever you need it for.
If you’re buying a balloon arch, you want to make sure that it really will look like the photos shown in the description and not some pitiful rip off of it.
You don’t check reviews to see if other people liked it, you check to see if it will work for what you want before you spend money on it.
Book reviews are no different—your opinion of it doesn’t matter unless you’re a celebrity in the book world. People are reading your review to see if it’s a good fit for them.
And when you write in a way that takes your personal emotions out of it and specifically gives information that helps people make a choice for them and their preferences, you’re going to start getting noticed.
Think about it this way—if I went to a restaurant and I didn’t like a dish because of my own personal preferences and I just said I didn’t like it, does that help someone else? No. But if I state who would and wouldn’t like it, that enables people to make a choice for themselves. Maybe it was one ingredient I didn’t like that someone else does.
For example, I’m kind of allergic to onions. So when we go out to eat, sometimes I’ll order something not realizing it will have onions in it. For me, that wasn’t a good dish, but for everyone else, it tasted great. I could say “it was awful” or I could say that there was an abundance of onions and that would enable people to decide if it would be too much or just enough for them.
But let’s talk about something even bigger that will shock you.
I used to live within a few hours of Hershey Pennsylvania (yeah, like the candy company) and one year we all went to stay on site during Christmas time as part of our present. The resort we stayed at pumped in the scent of chocolate into the lobby….and to most people, that would be heavenly.
But I don’t like chocolate and I’m allergic to most scented things, so not only did I not like it, but it was so strong that it made me sick. Instead of blasting the venue, if I were describing it, I’d point out that it’s chocolate scented, even overwhelmingly so at times, so that people could make that decision for themselves. For the record, everyone else in my party loved it and had no trouble with the scent.
Using a book review to give information on who will and will not connect with the book should be your priority.
So let’s break this down.
No matter what you thought of the book, there will be people who will like it and not like it. It’s totally fine for you to point out things you enjoyed and things you object to—just remember, no spoilers!!!! Don’t be that jerk.
Your objective is to give people enough information to decide if it’s a good fit for them.
Point out the tropes in the story—people will either like them or will not like them.
Specify who the book would be a good fit and who the book wouldn’t be a good fit. Be very clear. Use comp titles if you can (say something like fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent will enjoy this books…or fans of Harry Potter may be disappointed that there isn’t as much magic in this story)
Using common or well-known stories, movies, or tv shows allows people to easily understand the vibes of the story in the book you’re talking about. Give them a point of reference to help them gauge it.
Your entire goal is to leave your feelings out of it and be objective so people can make a choice to buy the book or walk away from it.
Take notes while you’re reading. Mark the tropes and anything people might search for when questioning whether a book is. good fit for them.
Then write a short, concise review outlining who would and wouldn’t vibe with that book.
Reviews don’t have to be more than a few sentences long. Keep them as short as possible while outlining what people need to know to make a decision without giving spoilers.
If you absolutely feel your opinion needs to be heard, tag a line at the end on your personal feelings, but remember that the objective part of this review is what people will read—they’ll likely skip over personal feelings.
Writing a review is as simple as that.
But, if you want to make it easier to track your reading and write your review, I made a resource for you.
The Book Review Journal gives you pages to track your reading, take notes that will help you later, and is a great way to study how you behave as a reader.
In the back of the book, there’s a template for your review.
You can either fill in the blanks and post it or you can use it as a guideline and write it entirely on your own.
The journal accommodates up to ten books in its page.
You can get it on Amazon if you think it will help you—but even without it, you can still write a highly valuable and actionable review specifically from what you learned in this video.
You’re not learning anything new in the journal, it’s just helping you to organize your thoughts easier than doing it yourself (and it’s super pretty!)
I’ve helped hundreds of readers create reviews that help people take action. So many of them have reported back that authors and publishers reached out to them to thank them for helping other readers make decisions whether or not they enjoyed the book personally and actually invited them back to read again.
But did you know there are specific platforms where reviews matter more than others (hint: it’s not Goodreads) and in the next book world tutorial, I’m going to break down the most helpful platforms to review books on to help other authors and reads and the ones that don’t actually matter. Hit the subscribe button on YouTube so you don’t miss out and I’ll see you in the next video!
ENHANCE YOUR BOOK EXPERIENCE
FOLLOW K.M. ROBINSON
All content is the property of K.M. Robinson Books, K.M. Robinson Photography, and Reading Transforms and may not be used without permission.