I like to write book reviews, and that’s a large reason why I started My Author Home Reviews, so that I could write reviews of the books I’ve read. I also belong to a few review groups and street teams from which I also receive books to review. You don’t have to be a reviewer, or an author, to recognize a good or bad review. Any reader will see the reviews written on Amazon and be able to determine which are “good” and which aren’t.
With that in mind, I wanted to share my own list of elements required in a good book review.
- Spoiler free. Don’t give spoilers or big plot points. Try to stick to what’s in the blurb, but don’t copy it word for word in the summary section of the review. You can certainly hint at big plot twists or surprises, but don’t give them away.
- Balanced. Even if you loved a book to pieces, or as we used to say in a writing group to which I belonged, “read it, loved it, made it a part of me”, you can still create a balanced review. Was there something you wanted more of? A character that needed fleshed out? If you do have to review a book that was horrible, there is surely something good you can say. And if the book was good, but just not your thing, say that too.
- Quotable. Pull quotes are the quotes from the review that you often see in blurbs, on websites, or even book covers. You may not know which part of your review will be quoted, but think of what you’ve seen on book covers or used in advertising and go from there. “A page turner…a must read!” Something like that makes an excellent quote.
- Constructive. There are times when the books we read end up being stinkers. You will want to write the review, but keep in mind that any criticisms should be constructive. “If the book were longer the author would have had time to flesh out the characters and the universe,” makes a much better line than “this book sucks.”
If you’re an author, one of the best ways you can ensure that you’re writing good reviews is to ask yourself if the review you’re writing is one that you would like to receive. Even if you’re reviewing a poorly written or poorly executed book, you still should be able to say something positive and constructive and helpful to the author.