What makes a good book review? Do you read reviews before you buy or read a particular book? Or do you read some reviews when you've finished reading the book? Maybe a little of both. Do book reviews influence your decision to purchase/read a book? Do you trust book reviews? Do you write reviews? Why or why not?
Despite predictions to the contrary, the book industry continues to thrive. Bricks and mortar book shops perhaps not, but there is no shortage of books being written, published, read and reviewed. In fact, in the 21st century, the digital publishing age, there are more books available than ever before. Many readers have switched to e-books only, but most use both paper and screens while only a few remain resistant to the use of technology.
Book reviews are coveted by writers as one of the most effective weapons in their marketing arsenal. This is not only because they are usually free, but because they are personal. Advertisers are always targeting you, even if you belong to a specific demography, they are still trying to sell something to you. It's the power of a personal invitation, a personal call to notice what is missing in your life and recognize from where, or from whom that need can be met. A book review is no different to any other sales pitch.
What makes a good review?
I've been a member and a reasonably active user of Goodreads since 2009. I've read and reviewed 328 books in that time. I also have an author page. I always try to keep my reviews quite short because I'm a fan of being succinct. I write like I shop. When I shop alone, I know what I want, I go and buy it and then I get out. When I write, I say what I have to say in as few words as I need to make my point, then I finish. Sometime earlier in the year, I taught a class called What a Novel Idea during which I taught my students how to write a good book review. I did some research and found a process which I thought was very simple and very effective. In fact, I still use this style.
- I write a brief introduction to the review, and a description of the plot or subject matter.
- I write about the things I didn't like.
- I write about the things I did like.
- I write a closing sentence with a recommendation.