Writing Book Reviews

Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Do you have a desire to break into print, but don’t know how? Are you an avid reader? Do you enjoy sharing what you read with others? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then writing book reviews may appeal to you!

Simply put, a book review is a short summary of a book – don’t give away too much of the plot, readers hate that – that includes several important elements. A good review discusses the strengths and weakness of the book, if any. It may also compare and contrast the book. If it is work of fiction, the reviewer may draw comparisons with other books written by the author or with books of the same genre. For nonfiction, a reviewer may draw comparisons and contrasts based on the topic.

Good reviews gives readers an idea of which audiences will find the book most appealing. In my experience – I read a lot of book reviews – reviewers often do this using some variation of, “if you enjoyed _______________, then you’re sure to love ________________________,” or “ If you’re a fan of _____________________, then you should try ________________.” Of course, there are many other ways to wet the palate of readers. Be creative.

Book reviews should be short and to the point. Most vary in length from 150-500 words. Feature length book reviews may average 1000 words. To be a good book reviewer, i.e. one who is paid to write reviews and is asked to write again, knowing how to write short is a must. Before entering this market, I suggest reading reviews written by well-respected reviewers such as Anita Silvey, Roger Sutton, and Kathleen Horning. I also suggest checking out a book on writing book reviews from you local library – you’ll be amazed at what you learn.

The market for book reviews is smaller than it was around twenty years ago. Many national publications have cut their book review sections in half or eliminated them. But the book review is making a comeback. Most local publications have book review sections. You can find them at you local library or at public newsstands. Magazines for children and adults also publish reviews, though the competition may be more intense because these markets usually pay well for them. And don’t forget the online market! Many websites and e-zines are in need of great reviews.

So again, if you enjoy reading and love to write, why not get paid for it! The book review may be your vehicle into print.


Anonymous said...

I really wish I had more time to read than I do now. I'd love to write book reviews. And I love reading what qualified readers have to say about a book...reading a well-thought out review has made me either pick up a book or not. Thanks for this post.

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