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Ideas to Help You Write a Book Review

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Who Should Review Books and Why

Everybody! You don't have to have a PhD in Literature to review a book, and besides, most of us are likely to have different tastes than a literary academic anyway. There are two exceptions: 1) if you haven't read at least 50 pages or so of the book, and 2) if you wrote it.

Why post book reviews? To help readers find books they will love, and to help authors find a paying audience so they can afford to write more books. Even negative reviews, as long as they are supported with reasons, are helpful, because they help other readers avoid unpleasant reading experiences, and both readers and authors benefit from that.

What To Put in a Review

Not all this stuff, necessarily, but here are some ideas to consider.

  1. Answer one or more of the following: Who, What, When, How.
    1. Who you are (when it comes to reading preference) helps readers know how much weight to give your review. Whether you're a sci-fi fan, a fantasy fan, or someone who reads mostly non-fiction, your preferences and background will color your experience with a book.
    2. What kind of book you consider it to be helps readers, especially when the book crosses genre borders. For example, a book classified by the author as a "coming-of-age fantasy" might feel more to you like an epic fantasy, or you might think the fantasy aspect was just a weird setting, but the coming-of-age story was compelling.
    3. When do you think a reader might like it? As a young student, or later in life? Or do think it would be appropriate for all ages?
    4. How was your experience? Did you stay up all night because you couldn't put it down? Or did you read a few chapters at a time, mulling over the potential directions of the plot for days at a time? Or force yourself to finish it because that's what you do, or you hoped it might get better?
  2. Name a character you liked, and include one or more of the following details,
    1. What role did they play in relation to the main character or point of view? Mentor, Ally, Antagonist?
    2. Did the character's role change or develop well over the course of the story?
    3. What attracted you to the character? Was their style or voice unique, or did it remind you of someone? Did they make good choices, or interesting choices?
    4. How did the character make you feel? Would you like to meet them for coffee, or alone on a deserted island? Or in a dark alley with a crowbar?
  3. Where does the story take place? Did you find the world expansive and coherent, or limited and implausible?
  4. Choose an aspect of the setting that you liked, and include one or more of the following details,
    1. Was the imagery especially beautiful or realistic?
    2. Did it feel like comfortably like someplace you've been, or was it like nowhere you've ever imagined in an exciting or interesting way?
    3. Did this aspect of the setting play an interesting role in the story or character development?
  5. Was the book satisfying? Even books that are part of a series should have some kind of coherent structure or resolution, even if they open a new thread that leaves you hanging at the end. Did the book fulfill your expectations for the genre?
  6. Was the writing style noticeable? If so, was it distracting, or did it add value to your experience?
  7. Was the book well-edited? Some readers are bothered by repeated errors or confusing sentences or inconsistencies.
  8. Was the pacing enjoyable? Were there long, boring stretches of background information, or constant bombardment of peril and action and worse peril and faster action?
  9. Was there anything special or intriguing about it that made you think about it after you finished?
  10. Are you eagerly anticipating the next book in the series, or not so much?

Where to Post Reviews

Everywhere! Okay, maybe not, but it's true that reviews can be helpful in lots of different places. Choose one or more from the following list. Although some places may benefit from some customization, often it works just fine to put the same review in multiple forums.

  • Amazon. Tons of book shoppers there with mouses tantalizingly close to that 'One-Click-Buy-Before-You-Think-Twice' button. This is where your review will have the most impact.
  • Goodreads. Since Amazon bought them, they already know what you like, but people go here to share that info with other readers.
  • Facebook (2 places). First, on your page, because it helps all your friends who read books, and also helps the author by reaching folks who might not know about the book. Second, on the author's page, because potential readers may go there looking to learn more about the author or the book.
  • Instagram. You can take a picture of the book with an interesting backdrop or location, and put the review in the caption, along with the #bookstagram tag, the author's tag, and any others you can think of that apply.
  • Other online forums that you already participate in (Reddit, Tumblr, whatever the cool kids are doing these days that I don't know about). If you sign up, drop the review on them, then never say anything else, that's unlikely to make them feel positively about the book, unless that's what the forum is for.
  • Your book club, your local librarian, or any group that might be interested in the topic or setting. For a fantasy, perhaps your LARP or RPG group.

Brought to You by

Belief's Horizon

Book one of The Lightfeeder Menace, a coming-of-age fantasy novel.

See Happen.net Books for more information.

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