How to Write a Killer Book Review

Why Do Book Reviews Matter?

Book reviews are an important way to support the work of authors you love. They are a simple way to thank your favorite authors for the work they do. Readers select books based on recommendations. So leaving reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads are like telling your friends how much you enjoyed a book.

Did you know, after a book receives 20-25 reviews, Amazon includes the author’s book in “also bought” and “you might like” lists, increasing the books visibility on the site and potentially boosting sales? And after 50-70 reviews, Amazon highlights a book for spotlight positions in its newsletter?

Has an author asked you to read an advanced copy of their book for review? Early reviews, meaning reviews posted before a book’s release date, help create buzz about a new book and boosts pre-orders of the book.

This is why reviews matter so much!

How to Write a Review

Sites like Amazon and Goodreads do not have minimum word counts for book reviews. So your review can be as simple as: “I really liked it” or “Highly recommend”. Add a star rating and you’re done. But if you really want to do a job, here are four basic elements every great review should have:

What was the book about?

Imagine you’re chatting with a friend and you want to recommend your latest read. What would you tell them about the book? Don’t copy the author’s book blurb from the back cover. Put the plot into your own words. Keep it simple and no spoilers!

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What did you like about the book?

Include three to five things about the book you really enjoyed. Consider the author’s language usage, the pacing of the book. Did something about the story hold your attention? Was the ending emotional or maybe unexpected? Was there a character you particularly related to? There are lots of possibilities.

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What would make the book better?

This doesn’t necessarily have to be something bad about the book. But if something about the plot bothered you, include it in your review. Or, if you noticed several typos in the text, maybe the book could have used a final proofread before publish. Remember, writing a novel is no small feat. Keep your opinions about changes to the book objective and be polite.

Why should the person reading your review read this book?

This is where you should note your key takeaway. Something you learned. A new perspective you gained. Some benefit you feel another reader would gain by reading this book.

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How Many Stars Should You Give?

Book reviews are accompanied by a star rating. Deciding how many stars to give can be a little confusing. So here’s a guide to help:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

1 Star – I really didn’t like this book or I didn’t finish it. The plot and the editing had major flaws. There is no way I would ever recommend this book. I don’t remember that I’ve ever given a one star rating to a book. This is an extreme rating.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

2 Stars – I finished it but I didn’t enjoy it. The plot had major flaws or seemed implausible. There may also be major editing issues. I don’t give many two star ratings either. I might mention it to a friend if it specifically fit some topic they were looking for a book on but I generally recommend it. This is also an extreme rating.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

3 Stars – I liked it but there wasn’t much special about it. The plot was okay but predictable. The characters might have been developed more. It was just average.  I might recommend it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4 Stars – I enjoyed it. It was well executed with well developed characters. The story was well paced. There might be one or two minor issues but I would definitely recommend this book to others.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

5 Stars – I loved it and couldn’t put it down. The story was very well executed with brilliantly developed characters. The pacing was perfect and I would highly recommend this book to others.

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