Reviewing Books

Do you write book reviews?

If there is one thing I have learned as a reader it is that authors LOVE reviews. Even the negative ones. Okay, well, maybe they don’t LOVE those, but sometimes carefully constructed criticism can help an author out. When I first thought about writing a review, all I could think of was the book reports I had to do growing up in school. Ugh. I hated those.

I am not a naturally gifted writer, nor do I aspire to be one, so writing reviews always scared me. When a friend of mine published her first book, though, I knew I had to write a review of it because I wanted to tell people all about it. Boy was it was hard! I had no idea how to write a review. I didn’t know if there was a right or wrong way. I actually had not read many either so I was lost.

366949f51dab3021c7e5d5f6a269d046I started reading reviews on blogs and retail websites to find out which ones were of most interest to me. I tend to enjoy the more personal ones than I do the professional ones. The reviews where the reader really uses his or her own expressive words and feelings show me the emotions they experienced while reading the book. That’s what I wanted to do, too.

When Magical Musings put out a call for reviewers, I jumped at the opportunity. Michelle Diener made it so easy. She told us reviewers to use the official book summary (so we didn’t have to summarize it ourselves – hate that part) and then just write our thoughts on the book. It was then that I realized I could do this review writing thing. I don’t think my reviews will win any awards (if they had awards for review writing), but I hope they will help someone else decide to buy that book. That is the ultimate goal after all, right?

What I am trying to say in all this (see? not a writer), is if I can write reviews, anyone can. Whether it is just a few sentences or a few paragraphs, authors will appreciative it! They love the feedback. I encourage you all to give it a shot if you haven’t in the past. Who knows? You may love it. One of these days I am going to try a video review.

Authors, what are some of your favorite types of reviews? Readers, if you write reviews on a regular basis, what are some words advice you would offer new reviewers?

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19 Responses to Reviewing Books

  1. Delene Yochum says:

    Amy, I’m writing reviews on Retailers sites, Goodreads and Net Galley. I totally understand getting comfortable doing them. It does get easier! You have been a good influence on me. Your encouragement has really meant alot to me!

    • Amy R says:

      Thanks, Delene! You have taken to this whole book world like a fish does to water. You are becoming quite the master promoter, too. If you all haven’t met Delene, check out her Facebook page – Just The Write Stuff. She is a great promoter of books, sales, contests, giveaways, etc! And she is super sweet, too. :)
      Amy R`s last blog was …Reviewing Books

  2. Edie Ramer says:

    Amy, I agree with everything you say! Of course, my favorite reviews are ones that love my books. lol And the ones that see something a little special that I was striving for in the book.

    My advice to new reviewers is that you don’t need to tell the plot in your review. If you do, that’s wonderful, too. I’m mentioning it because I used to think I needed to write about the plot, and it kept me from reviewing. If you just say whether you liked, loved or didn’t love the book, and perhaps mention something in the book that made you feel that way, that’s a great review. But like Amy said. I appreciate all reviews. :)

  3. Mary Hughes says:

    Hi Amy! Loved the post. I connected the instant I read “all I could think of was the book reports I had to write” — I love reading but cringed at writing those reports! What I liked about a book was very seldom what the teacher wanted me to write about. :)

    My favorite reviews are the ones that connect readers with the kind of story they’d enjoy. A review that helps your readers find your book is the greatest gift any author can get!

    • Amy R says:

      Mary – I know, right? I used to struggle through book reports trying to come up with all the “requirements” and then would ask my sister to help me. She would end up helping me more than my mom would. Funny thing about that – she has just written her first book and I can’t wait to be her first beta reader on it. I am sure I won’t be able to give her the development/editorial type comments but I can tell her how it makes me feel.

  4. Don’t sell yourself short, Amy, you are a great writer!

    Your reviews are the perfect blend of your personal opinion while giving readers an idea of the type of story it is, so they can gauge whether it will appeal to them.

    As an author, I appreciate anyone taking the time to review my work.
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …Cover Reveal: A Dangerous Madness

    • Amy R says:

      Thanks, Michelle! Regarding your last comment – I used to (and still do at times) get so worked up about not being able to get a book read and reviewed in time for a release date. Several authors I have gotten to know have assured me that any review is helpful, regardless of the time. So, while I do strive to get books reviewed the first week of release, I can’t always and realize it’s okay. I just have so many fave authors that are pumping out books. It’s a good problem to have. :)
      Amy R`s last blog was …Reviewing Books

  5. I always enjoy your reviews – even when they’re about OTHER people’s books. ;-) The reviews I enjoy most are those that talk about what personally affected the reader. I know this isn’t always easy, when a review is “expected” rather than bursting spontaneously out of book-love. Still those are my favorites – the “this part got to me because…” bits.
    Jeffe Kennedy`s last blog was …Cover Reveal for GOING UNDER!

    • Amy R says:

      Thanks, Jeffe. Regarding your comment about the expected reviews – I guess I hadn’t thought about it like that. I probably go into a book more excited if it is one I would have normally purchased and read regardless of whether the author requested a review. That’s probably just human nature, even though I try my best to be honest and fair about all books. There have been times that I am not “feeling” a certain type of book/genre and I figure instead of rushing through it for time purposes, it is better to move on to another and come back to it when I have a more open mind about it. Does that make sense?
      Amy R`s last blog was …Reviewing Books

  6. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Amy,

    I have always felt that writing reviews was a complex and difficult process. You do it very well!

  7. blodeuedd says:

    Words of wisdom, oh I am so bad at that! Right, ok as long as it makes you happy continue, do not make it a chore, it should be fun :)
    That is why I do light and fun, it’s my style. So yes find your own style
    blodeuedd`s last blog was …Author Post and Giveaway: Tawna Fenske

    • Amy R says:

      I like that, blodeued – it shouldn’t be a chore. I always go back to “why am I doing this” when I get frustrated. When I take the pressure off myself it helps!

  8. I think you write beautifully, Amy. You’ve had many, many great blog posts that I’ve really enjoyed reading. And I love your reviews!
    Robin Bielman`s last blog was …Dean & McCall Sitting in a Tree

  9. I must have been in la-la land to have missed this post. As you point out, reviews are very important to writers. Not just as learning tools (learning what not to do from the negative reviews or what to keep doing from the positive ones) but also as an extra layer of critique past the beta readers and critique partners. When a reviewer writes about how a story made her/him feel, it gives us bearings on whether or not we are hitting the right note with the story, if indeed, the readers are *getting* the story as you wanted it. A book without reviews is like a boat floating adrift without a compass. You know it’s sound to navigate, it made through rough waters, but you still can’t define its course until you get the needle to point North. Those reviews are the needle we need to define our course.
    Thank you for the great post and please do keep writing your great reviews. I am sure that all those authors you’ve reviewed appreciated the guidance of your honest opinion in the carefully worded reviews.

    Sláinte!
    Chris Almeida`s last blog was …Operation Sheba by Misty Evans – Re-release

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