What I’ve learned from writing book reviews.
July 15, 2015
OVER THE PAST SEVERAL MONTHS, I have been approached by some local authors asking if I would write a book review about their recent publications. I found this a little bit scary, because I wasn’t sure what a book review entailed. Was it like the book reports we used to do in school? Heaven, forbid! I hoped not. But I took the proverbial bull by the horns, and said, “I’d be happy to review your book.”
Of course, the book must be read first. That part I really enjoyed. It exposed that particular author’s writing style. I found that I learned tricks I could incorporate into my own writing. Especially in the use of sensory images. Since reviewing several books, I have come to love this aspect of a writing career, and I hope to be able to continue to help others in this way.
Some people will tell you to write a very detailed review; others say to keep it simple. I think anyone taking the time to review a book has to write in a way that is comfortable for him/her. I like details and I tend to write reviews trying to incorporate important details without elaborating. Just enough to relate the content.
I’ve read one-sentence reviews, and I’ve read reviews compiling several lines. In fact, there was one book I read that, before reaching the ending, I had already decided to comment—“very interesting plot.” That was it. By the time I completed the book, my review was rather lengthy. I was happy about that, because as the story progressed, it became very exciting—the “stay glued to the book until you finish” type of reaction I’m sure the author hoped for from the reader.
A book review should consist of a positive response from the reviewer. The purpose is to help the author get the book into the hands of other readers. When posting a review online, keep it understandable, include one or two highlights of the story to boost the desire for others to obtain the book, and don’t give away the ending. If you have negative things to say about the story, please don’t put them in your review. It is better to contact the author, and in a private session, explain your thoughts with the intent of helping the author improve his/her skills.
So are book reviews necessary? I would say they are. It’s another promotional tool which can spark someone’s interest to purchase the book. It promotes the popularity and skills of the author in a very competitive business. It helps the readers decide if this is a book they would like to own. It builds a virtual bridge of friendship between author and reader. It also keeps the name of the reviewer in the public eye.
If others ask you to write a review of their work, you might consider accepting the challenge. Both of you will benefit from the experience.
Patricia La Vigne is the author of Wind-Free.