As a book reviewer for both TOTS and Mothers Always Write, an online literary magazine, I have learned a thing or two about writing book reviews. I’m still learning, but here’s what I have so far; perhaps you will find it helpful for your own blog.
How To Write Book Reviews For Your Blog
Remember that the authors are real people.
It’s a lot of fun to really tear a book apart. I’ve even thought I’d like to start a book review blog called, “Tell Us What You Really Think.” Still, it’s not so fun when you find yourself meeting the author for coffee and a chat later—it can happen. I have not personally published a really brutal review, I’ve just wanted to…but believe me, I’ve been glad that I didn’t. Although healthy criticism is good and sometimes necessary, it’s very rare that anyone has nothing you can learn from and nothing you can praise. Try to find it, no matter what else you feel obligated to say.
Sticky notes are a reviewer’s best friend.
My husband likes to buy me all these cute/pretty sticky notes, but until I started reviewing, I didn’t use them up all that fast. Now I can’t get enough of them! As I read, I stick a little note beside any quote I want to remember, sometimes jotting a quick comment. My books end uploaded with more notes than I can use for one review, which gives me the luxury of picking and choosing, the key to a good review.
Write what you really want to say, then edit.
I’m a huge believer in “free writing” as a way to start work in any genre, book reviews included. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling; don’t worry about being nice at this stage; do NOT self-edit yet. Just write. Go back later and grab your best, most cogent sentences and you’ll find you’re off to a good start.
Don’t agree to review more books than you can handle.
If you love to read, you may scoff at this tip. You may laugh at the idea that you could possibly be overwhelmed by books. You will chortle in delight as books pile up on your desk, unable to believe your good fortune. And then months later, you may lay awake at night wondering if they’ll make you send the books back that you haven’t finished. If you write for someone else’s blog, you’ll blush as you read their very nice e-mail asking if you might possibly have finished the book they had sent to you in 2007 (ok, I exaggerate…), bloggers have a fair amount of flexibility…don’t abuse it!
Happy reading, bloggers!