How To Write A Book Review

Frequently I get asked for tips on how to write a review, so I thought I would share this advice on my site in case others are interested.

Who Will Read Your Review?

I don’t know if many people think about who will read the reviews they are writing.

Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to you but give it a moment of thought. If you understand whom you are talking to then it becomes easier to write a relevant review.

For example, if you are reviewing a young adult novel and you are targeting a young person looking for YA literature then your review may be a bit different to an audience of moms looking for YA literature for their daughters.

With the first one, you are likely to reference the drama and the love interest.

If you are talking to a mom you are more likely to compare it to other young adult books by saying – If your daughter enjoys this kind of book then she will probably like this. You may also talk about how much sex there is in the book or references to sex, as parents may not want to buy that for their thirteen year olds.

How To Write A Review For Amazon

Writing a review on Amazon is quite different than writing a review for your own website. With your own website you have a focused target market and they are likely to already know you and know what kind of reviewer you are. You can therefore treat the reviews with more depth than the ones you do on Amazon.

With an Amazon review, your goal is to target the mass market. Anyone who comes across this book, really, and so your focus will be on what the story is about and what you liked or disliked about the book more than discussing the use of language or how this stacks up to other books in the genre. The thing is, your opinion on writing style means very little the people who read Amazon reviews, because they don’t know you, so be to the point and target a broader audience for Amazon.

Where To Start

The first thing I do when I am reviewing something is to put together a structure for the review. I have a template I work with and this gives me something to focus on. Books can be complex and overwhelming, so having a structure helps me get my thoughts in order.

My template looks roughly like this:

  • Intro – what is the story about and broadly did I like it?
  • Writing style – did I like the way this author wrote? The pacing, the story itself, the use of language. For me the use of language is really important. A beautifully written book is 70% more enjoyable for me than one that isn’t particularly well written. Even if the story is good for both.
  • Characters – who are the main characters, what is their relationship, did I enjoy them or hate them and was there sufficient character growth to make me satisfied? If the main character is the same person at the beginning and end of a novel then it isn’t nearly as satisfying.
  • The Pros – highlights of the book
  • The Cons – things that bugged me or seemed irrelevant to the story
  • The Conclusion – This is the key to my reviews – do I recommend it and if so why. Most of my readers will skim the first bit but read the pros, cons and conclusion.

What Makes A Difference To The Reader?

Once again this depends on whether the reader knows you or not. Readers who know me will pick up whether or not a book is an absolute must read for me or whether it is a good book but not one that they need to get right this minute. And that comes down to the relationship I develop with my readers.

For Amazon, people want to know whether or not they will like it. That is what it comes down to. So, when you write a review for amazon:

  • Mention what the story is about if the book description isn’t accurate.
  • Talk about the writing style of the author and liken it to other similar authors if you can.
  • Tell readers what you enjoyed – e.g. great character growth, a good pace, an interesting twist in the end.
  • Think about what would make you want to buy it.
  • Be aware of the big things and mention them – there are issues that affect certain groups and with lesbian fiction, for example, I will mention men in the story, rape, violence against women and any other issues than may cause someone to react badly to the novel. I try to be sensitive to the audience I am writing for.

Why Bother To Write A Review On Amazon?

Towards the end of this article there is a bit of an explanation on how ratings and reviews can affect product sales. My theory is that if you really enjoyed a book you should give it some love with a review on Amazon and help the author. Especially with indie or small niche books like lesbian fiction. The ladies usually work full time and make very little with their writing. Let’s boost the whole industry by promoting them. Even if it is just with a review when you love a book.

On A Personal Note

I only review books I like. I do not want to put negative things out into the world. The world sucks enough and the more positive things we do and the more love we spread the happier we will make others and in turn the happier we will be.

Also, writing a novel takes a lot of time and effort and I respect that. So I would rather not review it than put out a bad review and hurt their chances of sell to someone who may enjoy their work.

But that’s just me.

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