How to write a Book Review | A Structured Approach
How to write a Book Review | A Structured Approach
Note – Applicable to the participants of Blogchatter Ebook Carnival – Many of you have just published your first eBook and by now some of you would be overwhelmed with the download numbers. But the task doesn’t end there, one is required to do a couple of Book Reviews ( One to be provided by Blogchatter and another of your own choice) and I am getting a lot of questions on how to go about it.
Based on my experience of book reviewing for the past ten years, I would try to explain why they are important and how to write a Book Review in a structured manner.
Importance of a Book Review
A Book Review is a detailed analysis of a book – what it is about, what are the high and low points of the book, the style of writing, what is the message (if any) the author is trying to convey, how effectively the message is being conveyed and whether it reaches out to the readers, etc. etc.
Overall a good book review should help a reader decide whether to go for a book or not. Simple.
A good review is balanced and honest, whether it is done by a professional or a reader. With each review, the reviewer’s authenticity and credibility is built. It’s like movie reviewers; we trust only a few for a reason. Try not to read other reviews about the same book before writing yours. It influences your writing.
The art lies in ‘Calling a spade a spade’ without being overtly critical – it shouldn’t kill the book. Any author looking to genuinely improve will take the reviews seriously and will know what advice and suggestions to work on and which ones to ignore.
A book review can also turn out to be a good marketing tool if you are a first-time author. Many loyalists trust and abide by a particular reviewer. Readers can easily spot bias. Do yourself a favor – don’t even try that.
For a tenderfoot author, a book review can do wonders. A credible voice will bring a lot of attention to readers and invariably other reviewers. You don’t have to agree to every word said in a review but trust me a reviewer is just trying to help the author.
Have a structured approach to it. There are many templates, choose one and be consistent in every review. Over time you will develop your own process.
How to structure your Book Review
If you start doing book reviews or have been doing for a long time you will develop a structure or a format of your own, even if you aren’t following any pre-described one.
I usually follow this structure
- Introduction and Information about the book
- About the Author
- Plot Summary
- My Review
- Hits and Misses
- Verdict and Rating
Introduction and Information about the book
Try to begin with a scenario or a topic similar to being discussed in the book, which a reader can relate to and wants to go ahead with reading your book review. Consider it like bait or a hook. Additionally, give a reader the essential book information. I try to provide these basic details every time I begin a book review.
- Book Name
- Reviewed By
- Pages and format (Paperback or eBook)
- ISBN-10, ISBN-13 or ASIN
About the Author
You can include a small section about the author. Here you can tell what the author has previously written, if this is not a debut work, what genre he/she usually sticks to and a little about the author’s personal life. You can also put social media links to the author’s profile in this section.
Many times reviewers add the blurb of the book too. I avoid it. If you feel that the blurb is really interesting then it’s better to put the image of back cover. It looks more appealing and saves some word count too.
Give a bird’s eye view of the plot, like a gist of what the book and story are about. Avoid sharing spoilers and the climax of the book, especially when reviewing mystery and suspense thrillers. Never ruin it for the readers of the book. Discuss the characters – protagonist and main characters.
My Review – The Review Section
Anybody can summarise a book, but a reader has come to know your take on the book. This is the section where the crux of the book review is – a detailed, specific and to the point analysis of the book. It should be your longest section.
Begin with the cover and title of the book – how apt they are to the subject of the book. How appealing they are, whether they will attract readers if it is on a bookshelf.
What are the most important aspects of the book, the author’s writing style, your favorite lines from the book, how closely can you relate to the book, from what point of view the book is written, the arch of the storyline feels complete or not, or if the climax was rushed, all of it can go in this section.
Always keep in mind to review the book that you are reading and not what the author should have written.
Hits and Misses
In this section, you can highlight what are the things you like and dislike the most about the book. Discuss things like what is definitely working for the book. For example, the writing is lucid and the vocabulary is simple, which helps the book in being a fast read.
Remember while criticising don’t be mean or nasty to the author. Keep it honest but don’t take the review as an opportunity to make personal attacks. Discuss things like any unnecessary character introduction, whether there are any loopholes in the plot, how crisp it is, whether the author has done justice to the subject or not.
Verdict and Rating
Use this section smartly to summarise the review and if you liked the book and would recommend it, then this should work as a pitch for someone going to choose the book . Have a consistent rating system – it builds your credibility over a period of time. Rating is important as the ones who are skimmers, they will also get a rough idea of how good the book is. If you are using your own rating system then definitely explain it.
So remember, how to write a Book Review – keep it crisp, insightful and honest. Don’t be unkind. Never give away any spoilers and always try to help the author improve through constructive criticism.
Millions of books have been written since the beginning of writing and there is a reason why a select few are classified as classics. It is because of the reviews that those books have garnered over the years.
I would like to thank all the platforms, publishers and authors who gave me an opportunity to do book reviews. Without them, it wouldn’t have been possible.
As the blog is nearing its 10th anniversary, I am proud to announce that ‘The Contemplation of a Joker’ has been given the 21st spot on the Top 100 Lifestyle Blogs, Websites & Influencers in 2020 in the world by Feedspot.
Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul
I hope you liked this post on ‘How to write a Book Review’ in a structured way – do share your views in the comments sections.
Please reach out to me if you want me to review your book.
If you are a first-time author – You can also read ‘Things to try to Promote and Market your Book’
Rashi Roy and I have collaborated and come up with an anthology – ‘The Woman That I Am’, which is a part of the Blogchatter Ebook Carnival. It would be so great if you can download a copy. Do share your feedback on the same.