ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Friday, 11 October 2013

Writing #BookReviews -- 10 Tips.

Hello friends!

I've been on blogger a long time now and during this time I've written many book reviews. Many were short and sweet, some a bit long and convoluted. Now that I've joined the excellent Cephalopod Coffeehouse Book Review Club, ably hosted by Armchair Squid, I've been aiming to write better book reviews.

My first book review shouted loud and long about my favourite read of the month, The Bookseller, by Mark Pryor, an excellent thriller set in Paris, the first in a series. I took my time writing this, and it paid off. Mark saw it and emailed me. The upshot is both he and his publicist were thrilled, and a result of this is I'm being sent the second book in the series and an ARC of the third, yet unpublished. As if this wasn't enough of a thrill, Mark has also agreed to be interviewed on my blog, in between crafting his next Hugo Marston novel which entails a trip to Barcelona. Tough life.

I read recently that the best reviewers are often practising writers, so most of us fit the bill. If you love reading as much as I do (I aim for 100+books a year - I don't need much sleep), it's nice to write about the best.
Source: frenchlarkspur.blogspot.com/

HOW TO REVIEW - my 10 tips

  1. Make notes as you read. 
  2. Be on the lookout for quotable quotes. These give readers an idea of the writer's style.
  3. Get your introduction right; be worthy of the book you're reviewing. Hook the reader.
  4. If you have any criticism, give a concrete example; don't generalise.
  5. Write about the book, not yourself. Don't show off at someone else's party by trying to prove your own writing prowess.
  6. Try to avoid: 'I think/In my opinion'. Readers know the whole review is your opinion.
  7. Compare when appropriate -- perhaps make connections between the book and current issues. Or measure against similar stories in the genre. 
  8. Don't retell the story blow by blow.
  9. Never give away the ending.
  10. Reviewing requires respect.
  • It's Halloween month. Please sign up in my right hand sidebar to join those submitting creepy stories, photos or artwork etc for the Write...Edit...Publish bloghop.
  • Do you have some book review tips to add to my list?







19 comments:

  1. This is just perfect. I'm going to do a review soon and I really want to do it right. Great post :)

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    1. Thanks J.E. I want to give the author respect by writing a decent review. These tips work for me. I'm glad you find them helpful. :D

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  2. J E is right. You did a fine job on how to do a book review well. You want to do it in a professional manner, but I do not think anyone has ever spelled it out so wisely before.

    Considering how much we want reviews to help prospective readers, we have needed to spell out the procedure to help those who wish to write one.

    I may quote from you this Saturday (giving you full credit and a link to this post) if you do not mind. If you do, I understand. Alice blows you a kiss. :-) Roland

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    1. Quote away all you like Roland. I don't mind. I've read so many sad stories of authors being really upset by casual, uncaring, judgmental reviews that I feel there should be some guidelines.

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  3. Good tips, as always, Denise. There was once a lady who reviewed my collection of short stories and discussed the plot of each story and why it didn't work for her. I wondered if it was a review or a retelling.

    This is one of those posts I wish I'd written. Number 10 would be my number 1 based on some reviews I've had the misfortune to read on Amazon.

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    1. I've read a lot of strange reviews and feel sorry for the authors. There must be some motivation to hurt at times. Never get personal should be a given.

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  4. These are awesome tips. I posted my first book review for the coffeehouse last month and agonized over it before I just decided to go for it and write it how I would like my own writing to be reviewed. These tips will definitely come in handy.

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    1. It's not easy writing a book review, really.

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  5. Never really felt qualified to review a book. I generally just say I enjoyed it.

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  6. Great post, Denise .... and this says it all: Reviewing requires respect.

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  7. Being respectful is so important. One may not like a book but a thoughtful review that respects the writer is still helpful. A professionally written book blog review is worth a lot these days, glad you'll be doing more!

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  8. I love these tips. Thank you. I will put them in practice.

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  9. Excellent tips. Some reviews are basically a rehash of the synopsis, and that's not really a review.

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  10. Love the tips, and you are a great reviewer, some folks have the knack, but sadly some folks don't. I think for the reader just posting 'I enjoyed it' is sufficient, as Jo says, but as writers more is expected. I'm in the middle, I know what I like and say so, but not with the style of your reviews.

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  11. I try to do all those things, Denise. I like #1, it helps me put the events in perspective after I've finished reading. Excellent list.

    Congrats on impressing the authors. I've emailed authors as a courtesy when I've reviewed their books on my blog. Some are appreciative, and most reply.

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  12. Some very good tips here, Denise! I hate reviews that regurgitate the story and don't give a constructive critique. Thanks!

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  13. Great tips Denise! I hate overly long reviews and when it gives everything away.

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  14. These are solid tips. I do think there's wiggle room on some of it if what you're writing is more a reflection than a review. For instance, I'd say Romeo and Juliet is well past the point where it can be reviewed anymore. In a reflection, discussion of the ending is fair game. 400 years is beyond the statute of limitations for a spoiler alert.

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