How to Start Writing Book Reviews
Are you an avid reader? Do you like to talk about books? Have you ever thought of writing book reviews?
Book reviews are ways to tell others about a book and help them make a decision on whether or not to buy the book. You can tell the world what you thought of the book and help them out. What do you get in return? The chance to read books, share your thoughts, and even get free books.
Know What You'll Review
Before you start all this, know what kind of books you'll read. For me, I don't read horror. Now, I have read some because the stories were so good, but as a general rule I don't read horror so don't ask me to. I also don't read any LGBT books though I have and did reviews on them. This is generally because I didn't realize what was in the book. I did the review because others might accidentally do the same thing.
You also need to decide what reviews you will do. Some reviewers review books publicly that are 5 star or maybe 4 star. I personally don't do that as how would my readers know if I just haven't read a book and rated it yet or if I just thought it was terrible. I review every book I read.
Will you only review hardcopies or will you take Kindle versions and/or Nook versions? You can choose to take pdf versions, too.
Start a Blog
A great way to get noticed and share your reviews is to start a blog dedicated to your book reviews and books in general. You can interview authors, have them do guest posts, and share your thoughts on books.
It is not that hard to get a blog started. You can find many free places to host blogs. You can buy a domain name if you want though that doesn't seem to affect how your blog is viewed unless you are wanting to turn your blog into a business of some sort which means you need to purchase a domain name. I use Weebly where the domain names are as little as $30/year with many specials offered to get them cheaper.
Make sure your domain name/name of site reflects you and what you are doing. Be creative. Also, don't get too close to someone else's name of their blog. I called mine A Book Lover's Library.
Start with Your Own Books
You don't have to go buy books unless you really want to. Start reviewing the books in your house right now. Even if you have read them before, read them again and review them. I have probably hundreds of books sitting here that I have yet to read. They are a great start for me to get mine going.
If you have limited books, check out your friends' personal library or your relatives. Trust me, they are out there to read.
- LibraryThing | Catalog your books online
LibraryThing catalogs your books online, easily, quickly and for free.
- Share Book Recommendations With Your Friends, Join Book Clubs, Answer Trivia
Discover and share books you love on Goodreads, the world's largest site for readers and book recommendations!
- Indie Book Reviewer
A Guide for Indie Authors
Get Free Books
There are thousands of free books that are yours for the taking. All you have to do is go get them.
- Library - The library has tons of free books. You can borrow books from almost any library through your local library. Many libraries are now offering the chance to borrow ebooks.
- Book Exchanges - There are many book exchanges. They could be local or they might be online. Keep in mind that the online ones will only cost you the cost of shipping the book to someone.
- Ebook Sites - Looking for free ebooks? Check out Pixel Inc, Ereader News Today, Kindle Daily Nation, and BookBub. These are just a few of the places that offer links to free ebooks.
- Contests - There are contests offered all the time to give away free books. Check out Goodreads, LibraryThing, and similar sites to enter giveaways. I've won a lot of books.
- Book Tours - To get traffic to your blog and get free books as well as get the chance to interact with some great authors, sign up for book tours. There are many sites that organize them such as Virtual Book Tour Cafe, Full Moon Bites, and Virtual Author Book Tours.
- Reviewer Sites - There are sites that target you just to review their books. Check out NetGalley.
Do you read book reviews before you buy a book?
Develop Your Review Style
Everyone's review style is different. I will tell you that a one paragraph review will just not cut it if you want to do this a lot and get good attention as a reviewer. Also, don't give a huge summary of the book. Make that a very small part. Talk about the character development, plot formation, flow of the book, and the overall enjoyment. Warn your readers of anything offensive in it. Tell them what makes the book standout from all the others.
There is no one right way to write a review, but a bad one is easily noticed. If you want to get a good idea on how to get started, check out How to Write a Book Review.
Post Your Reviews
When your review is written, you need to make it public. Put it on your blog. Put it on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Librarthing, and Shelfari. Share your reviews. Be consistent in rating; if you do a three star on one site, do a three star on them all.
Also, know in your mind what those stars mean. For me, I follow this rule:
- 5 Star Review - I so love this book that I'll buy it and read it again.
- 4 Star Review - This is a really good book I think you will enjoy and I will talk about for awhile.
- 3 Star Review - This was a good book though it might not be my style or genre. I suggest that if you happen to like this genre, give it a try.
- 2 Star Review - This book did nothing for me. I cannot recommend this book.
- 1 Star Review - I don't know why I finished this book. It was not good and needed a lot of help.
Also, there is a legal point you have to make when posting your review. You have to state where you got the book that you are reviewing. Here are a few examples:
- This book was sent by the publisher with no expectation of a review.
- I purchased this book with my own funds.
- This book was received as part of an author book contest with no expectation to give a review.
- This book was a gift from a friend.
Many people will quote the law, but this should suffice.
Don't Forget Associate Links
When you post your review, don't forget to link to Amazon and Barnes and Noble with your associate links. You can make a little money then if someone clicks on your link and purchases the book or anything else. I do pretty good around Christmas time with this. Link your book reviews and get some extra cash if they buy the book.