Welcome back to The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging! If you’ve never been here before you can catch up on previous posts in the series here.
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My book reviews have changed quite a lot since I first started blogging. For one thing, Parchment Girl was primarily a book review blog in the beginning and has evolved into something more eclectic. I used to write pretty standard book reviews, but nowadays I tend to write either mini-reviews, which I publish in The Inkwell, or very long detailed standalone reviews.
For the sake of keeping the word count in check, I don’t usually include a full synopsis in my mini-reviews (Often I read nonfiction, so the book’s subject matter is fairly obvious anyway.), but generally speaking there are three parts to a well-written book review.
Part 1: Synopsis
Every good review should begin with a synopsis of the book in question. There are two ways to go about this. First, you can do what The New York Times and most other major publications do and write your own synopsis. This takes more work, but it makes the review wholly your own. The second option is to grab the back cover blurb and use that instead. If you choose the latter, just make sure you place it in block quotes so people know you didn’t write it.
Part 2: Review
Short of egregious grammatical errors or completely unformed thoughts, there’s no wrong way to write a book review. There are as many ways to write a book review as there are book bloggers. A few weeks ago I talked about finding your own unique voice and that applies to writing book reviews as much as other blog content. For example, I’m an analytical person by nature and so I tend to review books in a fairly analytical style. You may be an emotionally expressive person and judge books more on how they make you feel. Whatever it is that makes your approach to books and reading unique, express it in your reviews.
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Writing a positive review is easy, but what if you don’t like the book? Much has been said on this topic already, but I’m going to briefly add my two cents. I’ve been told in the past that some in the publishing industry have referred to me as a tough critic. I was actually quite surprised to hear that, but I suppose it’s true to some extent. I have high standards and I’m not afraid to express my disappointment if a book doesn’t live up to them. I’m firmly in favor of the negative review, as long as it’s honest, has substance, and doesn’t venture into bullying territory. I’m more of an “honesty is the best policy” sort of person than a “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” gal. That’s just my two cents.
Part 3: Conclusion
It’s always a good idea to sum up your review (especially if it’s a long review) with one or two sentences that highlight your core point and overall opinion.
Formatting Your Book Review
Since I rarely write standard book reviews anymore, on the rare occasion that I do, I format them just as I would any other blog post. If you post reviews on a regular basis, you may want to format your reviews in a uniform way and include relevant information and links such as the publisher, genre, and number of pages. You might also want to use a star or letter grade rating system to make it easier for readers to get a quick snapshot of your overall opinion.
Formatting book reviews is a pain in the butt, so I highly recommend using the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin. The Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin allows you to quickly and easily input all of the book’s information into a form, and then automatically formats it to look amazing when you hit “publish.” If book reviews are a staple of your blog, it will make your life so much easier.
Questions? Leave them in the comments below!
Check out The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging for more tips and tricks on how to become a book blogging wiz!