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.

How to write a book review

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
  • Author
  • Reviewed By
  • Publisher
  • Pages and format (Paperback or eBook)
  • Price
  • ISBN-10, ISBN-13 or ASIN
  • Language
  • Genre
  • Rating
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.

Plot Summary

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.  

How to write a book review
The irony of the life of a book reviewer.

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.

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50 Responses

  1. Rashi Roy says:

    Wonderful post. You make complex things easy and simple with your words. No wonder your reviews are always to the point. This post is going to guide a lot of bloggers to write a perfect review. Very well written.

    • Manas Mukul says:

      Thank you so much Rashi ji. You are very kind with your appreciation. Thanks for being a constant support.

  2. Abha Singh says:

    Great post Manas. You covered every detail that a book reviewer should follow. Congratulations for all your achievements.

  3. A helpful post. Particularly where you mention that one reviews a book that one is reading, not the one the author should have written.

  4. soniadogra says:

    This is splendid Manas. I really admire these pieces you write. Informative lucid and to the point. No wonder you are getting all the attention on feedspot and other places.

    • Manas Mukul says:

      Thank you so much Sonia ji. Dont know about the attention but yeah trying to put out work that is useful and can be used by others. Thank you so much for the appreciation and sharing 😊🤗👍🏼

  5. Archana says:

    Congratulations Manas! Can’t thank you enough for so insightful post for first time book reviewers like me, noted all the points really this so so so helpful!

    • Manas Mukul says:

      I am glad you liked it and found it useful. Do let me know if you want me to cover any similar topics. Thanks for the appreciation 🤗😊👍🏼

  6. Mayuri6 says:

    Reviewing a book is like holding a ticking time bomb in your hands. Moreso when friends ask you to review their book. This is a detailed post that should help anyone who wants to learn how to write the perfect review.

  7. This is like a Bible for a blogger who has never reviewed a book before. Thanks for this detailed and well- compiled post for how one should write a book review.

    • Manas Mukul says:

      Are you too kind or are you took kind…haha…thank you so much for the appreciation Debidutta ji. Really means a lot. Hope it was helpful.

  8. I like the way you explain things, like a teacher, making all tasks look easy. Wonderfully explained. My son needs to read this too. Thanks for writing this one.

    • Manas Mukul says:

      Hahahhaa.. I guess I was always in a wrong profession… Should have tried at being a teacher 😂😂
      Thank u so much for liking it. Yes you son would surely like it. 😊👍🏼

  9. daisybala says:

    This was an absolute guiding light! I am going to follow it step by step for my first book review ever!! Thankyou for handholding 😇😊👍

  10. Jenifer says:

    This will help me to write better book reviews next time.
    Thanks for the detailed post.

  11. Modern Gyspy says:

    Such a helpful post, Manas! You’ve broken down the review process into easy to follow steps, and provided such a comprehensive take on exactly what makes a good book review.

    • Manas Mukul says:

      Thank you so much mam. Tried to put my experience in a form where it can be of good use to others. 😊👍🏼🤗

  12. This is perhaps the best post ever written on how to write a book review and I have myself used it. Its systematic classification for reviewing covers every aspect for both the author as well as the reader.

    • Manas Mukul says:

      Thank you so much mam especially coming from you it means a lot. Really motivates to write better and put the effort. 😊👍🏼

  13. sinjanag says:

    A detailed and compact guide towriting effective book reviews. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Poonam says:

    and also not to write a book review with the thought “how readers would conceive it” but writing our honest thoughts.

  15. PRB says:

    Agree with you whole-heartedly as a fellow book-reviewer. Very well explained and this is a necessary post for most reviewers around who don’t follow any format.

  16. To borrow your words, this post is ‘lucid and the vocabulary is simple’ and it will certainly help first-time book reviewers. However, there’s one thing I feel that you neglected to point out. Every reader has a different expectation from books and I personally feel it’s also important to point out which kind of reader the book you’re reviewing, will appeal to, even if it did not appeal to you.
    I have a person from Rupa Publications who keeps me asking to review books, but I simply don’t have the time. Shall I put him in touch with you?

  17. Suchita says:

    Excellent structure. Especially loved the part where you said don’t be unkind and review the book that has been written. Simple but essential points to keep in mind.

    • Manas Mukul says:

      Thank you so much Suchita ji. Really means a lot especially coming from you. 😊😊👍🏼👍🏼

  18. Pratibha says:

    Some super valuable pointers here for those who are starting out to be book reviewers!

  19. The pointers are great.. My reviews have been scattered mostly.. And no information about the publishing or buying details 😅😅.. Yours shows a good structure

    • Manas Mukul says:

      Hahaha… I am glad you found them useful. Do try to incorporate and let me know whether they were actually of use.

  20. Thanks for writing a detailed post about how to write a book review. Its helpful.

  21. Atulmaharaj says:

    Great tips sirji, for someone like me who doesn’t read much and reviews everything but books, this is quite helpful. Frankly, I didn’t even know what all should be covered in a book review, so thanks much for sharing.

    • Manas Mukul says:

      Thank you so much for this kind appreciation. Glad that you found it useful. Keep visiting. 😊👍🏼

  22. This is a very well detailed post on how to write an effective book review. I say effective because all these components if mentioned in a book review would make it easy for a reader to decide whether they want the book for themselves or not, and will also glean a view point.

  23. Doctor mommy says:

    Such a wonderful post. Thankyou for all the knowledge

    • Manas Mukul says:

      Thank you so much for taking out time and reading this one. I am glad you liked it. Keep visiting.

  24. That’s insightful read with proper approach for book reviews. Noted the points. #dewreads

  25. Leha says:

    Such a well written post, and yes classics are classics to this day because of those reviews. That’s such an important point.

Love your feedback!