You have just finished reading a book. Now what? Why not write a book review on your own blog or other sites, so that the author and the other readers might benefit from it? Here is a quick guide on how to write book reviews to help other readers decide whether they should read the book or not.
Also if you are already a book blogger, you might have heard that the book review posts do not get much engagement from other bloggers, and that might be putting you off from writing more book reviews. If it is so, this guide can help you on creating a format so that you wont have to spend too much time on writing book reviews.
How to write book reviews
So here is how you can write book reviews in a way that it will be useful for your readers and yet you can write them fast.
Again, writing them quickly doesn’t mean you can do a half baked job. Having a template ensures that you will not miss out on any important detail from your review post.
Write a short introduction to the book
You might start with all the relevant details like
Author name and link to their website
Their other books
the name of the publisher
the year of publication
ISBN or ASIN of the book
Genre of the book
Target age group
Do not forget to include the book cover and link to the purchase page.
Keep the plot short and spoiler free
Instead of copying the plot summary from the blurb or Goodreads, summarize the plot in your words. And keep it short and to the point.
Most importantly keep it spoiler free, because you are trying to get the reader pick the book (or not, depending on the review) and giving away the plot is not the right way to do it.
Add the relevant disclosure
If you have added any affiliate links like Amazon, B&N in the post, please mention that to avoid the legal issues.
This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.
Mention if you received the book received the copy from author or publisher for reviewing.
Any books, products, or compensation received in exchange for review or promotion will be clearly stated in individual posts. This does not affect my opinion; opinions expressed are honest and entirely my own.
Also mark as spoiler if your review has anything that might be considered spoiler to the book you are reviewing. We do not want to spoil others
Add your rating and explain your scale
After the disclosure and before starting your detailed review, add your rating for the book. It can either be a number scale (say, 3/5) or a pictorial representation showing the rating, like many other bloggers do.
Either way ensure it is visible distinctly as soon as the readers open the page. Insert a sidebar text box explaining what your rating scale means, say
5/5 – Wow, favorite book
4/5 – great, would recommend!
3/5 – good but can be better
2/5 – It was ok, wouldn’t miss it if I had not read
1/5 – it was so bad that want my time back
Also, rating a book on your blog is not absolutely important. Here is my stand on why I do not rate books on my blog.
Pen down your personal thoughts
Here comes the main part of your review – writing down your thoughts on the book.
Make the review personal and tell your readers about how did the book make you feel. Or be objective and talk only about the positives and negatives of the book. Your choice.
Here are somethings that you can talk about in your review
Character development of the protagonists
Character development of the side characters
Main plot and the sub plots
Did you see the twists coming?
Author’s writing in terms of the style, pace etc
Representation, if any
Triggers, if any
Conclude with a strong summary of whether you recommend the book or not. You can mention the specific set of people who may enjoy the book or should avoid the book.
Other sections that you can include in your review
Pointers on what you liked or disliked in the book
Quotes from the book
Relevant GIFs and images to convey your emotions
You can mention other books that might be similar to the book you are reviewing.
Add links to Goodreads book page, if you are not adding purchase links.
I hope this guide helped you in knowing how to write book reviews. If you are looking for some inspirations, take a look at some of my newer reviews.
Do you like writing book reviews? Or do you feel it is not worth the time spend on writing the book reviews? Do you prefer emotional or analytical book reviews when it comes to deciding whether to read a book or not? Let us talk.
One of the main reason I switched over to WordPress years was the nifty follow button that shows your follower count and more importantly the ease of new posts showing up on your WP feed Reader. So imagine my surprise when I found that the self hosted WordPress sites do not have the follow button natively?
Of course there is a way to get it added, and it is not too difficult. And I did the WordPress follow button on to my sidebar here and my home page here.
With almost 25% of the countries in the world have imposed a lock down due to the Corona virus pandemic, staying in seems the only way to go. And that might be a bit too convenient for us bookworms, right? If you were one of those introverts, you would have preferred to stay in with a cuppa.
For others staying in might be hard and can quickly become too much. But when there is literally no other safe way to get away from it, why not make the best use of the downtime?
Things to do without leaving the house
So, let us talk about the things to do inside the house during the lock down time aka “don’t leave your house if you value it” time, shall we?
Let’s have some fun, first!
1. Bring out those DIY supplies that you have been hoarding all these years now. Knit, draw, color. Whatever is your do, take time to do them.
7. Do a virtual book club meeting. Maybe with some chai. Or wine!
8. Join readathons and read with others to keep your mind distracted from everything else.
9. Finally, dust your book shelf, and those on your night stand, the coffee table, and pretty much everywhere else.
Tidy up your blog
1. Ensure your posts are all on brand. Do they follow the same color scheme and format?
2. Begin by cleaning up your tags and categories on your blog.
3. Next, add Alt text tag information to all the images in your posts.
4. Add a Pinterest sized image to all your posts, or at least the most visited ones.
5. In addition, once you have done adding one Pinterest image to the important posts, add one more Pinterest sized image to them and maybe hide them inside your post. Thank me when the traffic improves!
As someone who has been a book blogger for a while and silently lurking in the blogging world for even longer, believe me when I say that book blogging is not like the other niches of blogging out there. True that blogging is blogging and you are anyway talking to the void filled with imaginary (or not) readers but it does go deeper than that, even if you do not want to accept it.
Every time someone (not a book blogger) talks to me about new blogging tips and shortcuts they follow (read as: read on other blogs) and then lectures suggests me to apply them on my blog, I can’t stop myself from rolling my eyes. It is a good thing that most of my discussions are not face to face.
Listen I am not trying to say I know it all or the other person doesn’t, but how many times do I have to explain that most of those tips and techniques do not work for us, as a book blogger.
Why book blogging is different from other blogging niches?
Our problems are different.
The problems that the book bloggers face are so different from the other bloggers. So unless someone specifically addresses the problems of book bloggers in their posts (discussions and guides) we will not be able to use the generic blogging guides. Let me tell you why.We mostly blog for ourselves
I started my blog because I didn’t have many friends who read in real life. They didn’t understand my angst when a character died or the pain of waiting out for a sequel. It was not their thing. There began my journey of writing whatever I felt (even dared to call them reviews- forgive my young and stupid self) and later found my kindred spirits who understood me so well.
That has not changed for me, and most of us. But that makes a huge difference from the other niches which predominantly work aiming at making money or coaching/training people. MOST OF US DO NOT HAVE SUCH A GOAL OR COURSE.
That being said, if you have a successful business idea/plan based on your book blog, you, my friend, are a rock star! Kudos!
We do not get paid or even expect to get paid
Speaking of making money, about 95% of the book bloggers I know do not make money out of their blog. Or even expect to. In fact we spend on the blog much more than we get out of it, financially speaking.
Many bloggers (non book bloggers) earn money to run their blog and more. They charge a good sum of money to review new products or just to talk about them on their channels. They have more avenues to earn, which book bloggers fail to utilize or maybe they don’t simply work for us.
To be honest, we are more than happy to consider receiving free books to review as a fair remuneration. Many of the internationals (a term we use to refer to book bloggers who live outside the USA and the UK) do not even have access to them.
But most of us are happy doing what we love, ie, talking about books for free. Even accepting remuneration for book reviews is kinda looked down upon in the current scenario.
Far fewer number of page hits
Deciding who the audience are makes a huge difference in the blogging world. That is where the niche comes up. A lifestyle blogger might cater to a different set of audience from a fitness blogger. And most of the generic blogging tips will work for a lifestyle or a tech blogger will not work for other niche bloggers.
For example, a mid range ‘successful’ blog in any other niche gets about 1000 to 5,000 visitors each day, which seems too very far fetched for most book blogs. But trying to improve SEO and pinning on Pinterest can only get us to a point, it will not take us to the million hits in the near future. ( I seriously hope I am wrong though.)
What holds good for others, mostly doesn’t work for us.
Many affiliates are not successful
I have seen many many bloggers who stand by affiliate marketing and they even earn a sizable amount as income. By affiliates I mean linking to other sites like Amazon, Barnes and Nobles etc. And it does sound easy money, in paper, even for a book blogger. But in reality not so easy.
As it in my case, 70% of my visitors are other book bloggers, not a random person who is looking to buy a book, who already has or sometimes, even read the book already. Combine this with the already fewer number of page visits and be prepared to be dejected with the even lesser income through your affiliate links.
More genuine reviews
Not everything is bad, to be honest. I feel the book reviewers are far more honest when it comes to talking about the products, ie, books. Maybe it has something to do with ‘not getting paid’ that I spoke about earlier.
They do not particularly have a need to boost up the sales of a book or the author, even though we do all that anyway.
Amazing and strong community support
I know the blogging world as such is really friendly. But the book blogging community is even more welcoming to newbies and others alike. They are more understanding because most of us are inner nerds and introverts and we understand what it is to be a bookworm who disappears into a book.
The community has so much love and warmth to share, mostly, and you always get a helping hand if you ask for it. I think the book bloggers are more powerful collectively. Look at how we campaign for diverse representation in books! I am not so sure if other niche bloggers feel so loved and non competitive among each other.
Despite all these, do not lose hope. There are some amazing book bloggers who have been sharing guides and how to’s specifically for us. Let me know if you need any help!
Starting a blog is not a simple task. If you add the yearly goals and plans to it, it can easily become overwhelming. At least it does for me. But it all changes the minute I get a new follower or a comment on my blog. I am sure many of you will agree. Isn’t that what we are all striving for?
One of the major issues that new bloggers face is lower engagement (ie, comments, shares and likes) and that can be huge discouragement, especially when they just start out. We all need those approvals. I was in that position not a long time ago.
New bloggers Checklist
I used spend hours scouring the Internet trying to learn everything and read everything. I still do that, but not for the basic things. So I thought I will share with you those little things that made a huge difference in my blogging statistics and engagement rate.
Here is a new bloggers checklist to ensure you have everything you need to increase your blog engagement and follower count. They are not going to be general advices nor highly technical. These are stuff that you and I can work on. So let us get on with it, shall we?
1) Is your Home button easy accessible?
This may sounds really silly but I have had a few long conversations about the home tab on the menu bar, or the lack of, in some of the blogs with other bloggers who regularly blog hop. If you do not have one, you are losing out on the valuable readers who want to read another post but are not able to.
I know it seems like a small thing but having the ability to go back to your main page matters to blog hoppers and new visitors. While you are at it, just ensure a click on your blog header leads to your home page as well.
2) Are your graphics easily shareable?
It comes as a no brainer that every post of yours should have some image attached, a feature image or a book cover at the least. While how you use these images is up to you, just make sure these blog graphics are easily shareable across the social media.
Some of the places that I recommend for downloading such high quality, copyright-free images are: Freepik and Pixabay. And I use Canva to edit them into blog graphics. Canva even has templates with recommended sizes for each social account.
If you are a GIF lover like me, before you unload a tonne of them on to your post, make sure they are of good quality and will fit to a common size. Having different sized animations or just too many of them for that matter easily annoys the reader. We do not want that, do we?
3) Do you have a follow button?
Be it a blogger or WordPress blog, you definitely need a FOLLOW button. It is indispensable and you cannot skip it.
Be it a blogger or WordPress blog, you definitely need a FOLLOW button. Do you have these essentials on your blog? Check the post!Click to Tweet
Many readers like me will be reluctant to share their email addresses and we are all drowning in the unread mails (okay, it might be just me) and might be unsubscribing after a few weeks. So no, subscription by email is not the same. ADD A FOLLOW BUTTON RIGHT AWAY.
4) Do you include short paragraphs?
As you would have seen in my posts, I love to write or talk to my readers. And my posts are usually long winded and I like it that way. But the Internet is full of studies that tell us what is the perfect post length and I am sure writing 1500+ worded posts are not that.
My suggestion: Long or not, write what you want to write but make it easy for the reader to enjoy them by breaking it up into lot of short paragraphs. I mean paragraphs with 2- 3 sentences. Let us face it, our attention spans are not getting any better.
While you are at it, consider including headings and subheadings to the post. Make them simple. Make them witty. Make them catchy. They can be however you want, but just add them!
5) Do you interlink your posts?
Another simple thing that you can do to make your blog sticky (making readers hanging on for a long time) is to hyperlink to relevant older posts. All you have to do is to add the link to your text and point them to go to yet another of post in your blog, just to keep the traffic juice flowing.
You can also consider including a ‘Related post / You may also like’ section at the end of each post! I do both. Bonus points if you set these link to ‘open in a new page’.
6) Is your blog comment friendly?
A trouble that many new bloggers have is increasing the blog engagement and comments. The blogging community is really welcoming and me love meeting new bloggers. But it goes without saying that you should make it easier for your readers to leave comments on your blog.
I might be biased but I know there are many bloggers like me, who dislike using the Google+ commenting form. It gives very few options to sign in and links back to only Google profiles. Sigh it is quite cumbersome.
I strongly suggests going back to Blogger’s comment forms if you are using Blogger. Disqus is a great alternative if you are self hosted on Blogger.
Since we are talking about things that I hate about comment forms, I do not understand why some themes do not show comment form directly below the post and ask us to open another window to comment. I will add an image just to make what I am saying clearer.
Please do not your readers jump seven hills and seven seas to comment on your blog.
I am definitely not the most qualified person to tell you about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) but I am going to tell you the simplest things that can help you to improve your SEO, that even a #newbie can do easily.
If you are self hosted install the Yoast plugin right away and you can follow the wizard to set everything up. And you are good to go!
If you are not using Yoast, it is still alright. There are smaller things that you can do anyway.
Try to include the keyword (or the word that you want Google to associate with your post, in the simplest terms) in your title and headings of your post. For instance, I can add “new bloggers checklist” as the keyword for this post.
Also mention the keyword in the first paragraph of the post. But the key here is not overusing the keyword. 2-4 times in a 500 post is good enough.
Bonus points if you add in the keyword in the ‘Alt text’ of the blog images. It generally helps the search engine to understand what the image is about.
Okay, I am currently obsessed with Pinterest and have been reading a lot about, and this is applicable only if you are focusing on Pinterest for your blog. If you are thinking if you should sign up for Pinterest for your blog, you definitely should.
Try to images that are well proportioned to fit the Pinterest vertical scheme. Add at least two pinnable vertical images to your post so that you have more pins to be re-pinned.
Do you have all the things on my new bloggers checklist? New bloggers, what are the problems that you need help with? And the experienced bloggers tell me what are your essentials and if I missed out anything. Let us chat.