Writing Book Reviews to Jump Start Your Writing Career
"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot."
-- Stephen King
Write Reviews to improve Writing Skills
Two of the most frequently stated pieces of advice for an aspiring writer are: first, read many books on a number of subjects and second, write every day. By reading many books on various subjects, you will increase your knowledge base. By writing every day, you will develop better writing skills. A way that I discovered that I could use to support both of these objectives is by writing reviews of the books that I am reading.
What to Include in a Book Review
For me, writing a review is no more difficult than writing a book report was when I was a child. To write a review, I first read the book. As I am reading, I jot down notes about what I am reading in the book. I write down what I like about it, and I write down what I did not like about it as well. If the book was nonfiction, I ask myself if it inspired me to take action. I ask myslef if the book could have better addressed the issues expressed in the title? Did the end of the book leave me satisfied with the outcome? Did the book deliver everything that the title of the book promised?
If the book was fiction, I ask myself. Did I become engrossed in the story? Was it a story that had me at the edge of my seat? Was it a story that I could not put down? Were the characters believable? Was the plot plausable? What did I like about it? What did I not like about it?
A book review is simply a critical analysis, description, and an evaluation on the quality, meaning, and significance of a book, not a retelling. My focus when writing a review is to determine the book's purpose, content, and authority. Although I said it was as easy as writing a book report, it is not a book report or summary of the book. It is in essence an op-ed piece. My reviews describe what I believe are the strengths and weaknesses of the content of the book. My analysis includes what I believe the author attempted to say, whether I, as a reviewer, thought the author succeeded and then I describe why I felt the way I did about the book.
Writing Your Reviews
For your first review, I suggest writing a review about a well-known book. Create a Word Press blog (free version) specifically for your reviews. Now that you have a place to post your review, you can write your book review. You can do this in a countless number of ways. Your book review is personal to you and reflects your opinion. A review written for publication can be as little as 50-100 to upwards of 1500 words depending on the word count specifications of the publication for which you are writing your review. In writing your reviews on your blog, however you should write between 400-700 words.
Include in your review the book’s title, author’s name, copyright date, type of book, subject matter, any special features, price and ISBN. Determine the author’s reason for writing the book. Usually this is stated somewhere in the first chapter or preface of the book. If reading fiction, put into as few words as possible what the story line is. State the theme and thesis of the book.
Evaluate the book for interest, accuracy, objectivity, importance, thoroughness, and usefulness to its intended audience. Show whether the author's main arguments are true. In the case of a novel, was the story well written, easy to follow? If the book was fiction, what was the story line? Was the story similar to something else to another author's fiction? If you are familiar with the author's work, did this book live up to or exceed this author's story telling reputation? Respond to the author's opinions. What do you agree or disagree with? Why? Illustrate whether or not any conclusions drawn are derived logically based on what the author has written.
Writing Review Articles
To Help you Write Reviews
Why Reviews Help Your Writing Career
Now that you have one review under your belt, write reviews on all the books as you read them and add them to your review blog. Do not simply review books at random, but read and review books specifically related to your own personal career path.
To use my own career path as an example, I read novels by popular authors in the same genre that I want to write. I write Historical Romantic Christian, so I read that genre, but I am not limited to that genre. I also read books of nonfiction that relate to this genre. I read History books, biographies from that period, Christian nonfiction, biographies of Christians, and the Bible. I also read books about writing, how to structure sentences, how to structure paragraphs, essays, descriptions, how to create character sketches, the list goes on and on of related topics.
Writing reviews is definitely a good place to begin your writing career because the process incorporates both habits of reading and writing. Writing reviews might never become the focus of your writing career, but it definitely can help to catapult your writing career by developing the two most important professional writing skills—reading and writing on a regular basis.
Writing Reviews connects me with the popular writers in that genre. Subsequently, it also connects me with the readers of that genre as well. As I write reviews, the readership of that genre sees my name in connection with that genre and so when my own work comes out, the readers are already familiar with me so they buy what I write as well. Reading what I want to write and then writing reviews about what I read entrenches me into my future as a writer.
Writing Book Reviews on Amazon
Writing book reviews on Amazon adds to getting your name associated with the genres that you want to write.
One of the benefits of this is that many of the books are free from time to time because one of the reasons that the book is free is so that readers will review the books. Writing reviews helps that author and it helps you.
If you write within a specific genre and provide well thought out reviews, you will be presented as an expert in that genre. When people start to read the book reviews, your name will show up in those reviews as someone who knows the subject. When your own book comes out on that subject, the readers of that genre will recognize you as someone who knows that genre.
Once you have written a large number of reviews on Amazon, the authors of that genre will also start coming to you for reviews. This will help you connect with those authors who are in that genre. This also will benefit you in numerous ways because you will be able to then connect with those writers on professional and personal levels. Because you have written a review for them, you might be able to ask them when you write your book to beta read, give you publishing advice, or perhaps write a review for your book. Professional writers know that if a reader likes to read the genre, they will read all the books in that genre your book and their book. Competition between good books does not exist.
Read Daily, Write Reviews Regularly
Make reading books in your genre a daily habit. Whether it is done first thing in the morning or during your lunch break, or when you go to bed, read something every day. Take notes about what you have read. As soon as the book is finished, look over your notes, write your review both on your blog and on Amazon. Reading the books and writing those reviews will improve your knowledge of the genre. The practice will connect you with other writers in your field, and with the readers who you want to contact. Most importantly it will demonstrate that you are a serious about your craft.
Write Reviews On Other Things
Once you have learned to write books, you may even consider writing reviews for other things. Sometimes, people with products want people to review their products and will send you that product to try to review on. You might even consider contacting specific product makers that you are available to review their products.
To do this, provide a portfolio of book reviews that you have written and send to the company and wait for their reply. They might say no, but they might also give you an opportunity that you would not have had if you had not started writing reviews in the first place.
© 2012 Donna Brown