Friday, August 27, 2010

My Views on Book Reviews - A How To

People are reading more than ever. The economy is bad and a good book is the cheapest, bestest form of entertainment there is.

And online book reviews are proliferating because reader find books to be an enjoyable entertaining escape and they want to share the experience with other readers. The internet has made it easier than ever to pass on the excitement after closing the book on an especially good story.

Many sites will let you submit your own review; some will even send you the books. You might even set up your own website or blog. If you do decide to publicize your opinions here are a few things to remember.

First let me clarify -- a book review is not a book report. A report summarizes the subject matter and presents it in an objective manner.

The book review on the other hand provides a brief synopsis and the reviewer's opinion of content and technique. It's subjective and it's meant to help a reader decide if they want to spend their time and hard-earned cash on it.

Each publication or website has their own requirements. Some may want only a simple plot summary while others require a more complete synopsis. One may ask for an opinion while others call for a numbered rating as well. Make sure you read the submission guidelines and follow them.

These tips will apply to all reviews.

1. Read the book, the entire book. You may be tempted to put aside a novel you find boring. Don't. Give the author a chance to captivate you. They're not all bestsellers. Other readers want to know why. If you don't finish the story you won't be able to tell them. If it was that awful, be honest. Admit you could not finish it.

2. Do not read other reviews. At least not until you've written your own. Don't let someone else's opinion influence yours. Come to your own conclusions and have confidence in them.

3. Be objective. You may not be reading your favorite genre. If you love romance and you're reviewing true crime try to evaluate on style, structure, technique and content. Don't take off points because it's not a love story.

4. Criticize without being nasty. Try to find one redeeming feature and start off with that. Remember this is someone's baby.

5. Make notes while you read. Jot down page numbers or quotes that will help you when it's time to write your summary. Back up your opinions with examples.

6. Do not give away the ending.

Most of all have fun. Enjoy the pleasure of sharing something you love and the fun of coming across new authors and books that you might not have discovered otherwise.

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Clark Stone said...

Thanks Gale. I need those pointers on writing a book review. I started writing them last year but have fallen behind.

Right now, I have six I need to write but have not done so. I have read other reviews trying to see how to do it and this has helped. But your tips help as well.

The no brainer should be point 5 where one should write notes as one reads the book. That is one thing I have been neglecting to do.

I wished I had started writing book reviews years ago with all the books I've read. I might re-read some of my favorites and review them.

Dennis Clarkston
AKA Clark Stone

Gale Stanley said...

I really miss doing the reviews. My own writing took over my life. When I became published I couldn't review for RT magazine anymore. And there was so little time to read I remade my review blog into a promo blog:
I still do some for EzineArticles. If you like to review you should check it out. It's a good way to put your work out there and get name recognition.

Calisa Lewis said...

Great pointers. I think these same can be used in judging which I will be doing for the first time later this year. I won't say which contest, but thank you, Gale. I reviewed my first book a few years ago on my Yahoo blog. It was Sela Carsen's 'Not Quite Dead' novella. I love the story and the author!