The Do's and Don'ts of Writing A Book Review

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I’ve seen a lot of articles and posts on how to write a book review. I did a lot of research (ok…a little research) when I first started my blog but honestly, I kind of just learned as I went.

When I started my book blogging a year ago, I was not the best at writing reviews. I sucked at it but as time progressed I became better. Hopefully, I will just keep getting better and better.

In the mean time, here are some of the Do’s and Don’ts of writing books reviews that I learned over the past year or so (in no particular order).

The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing A Book Review

DO – Make Notes

While reading the book, make a few notes. The notes will help you repaint the picture of how you felt when reading the book. There are cute little reading journals available (Check out my Amazon list – What Every Book Worm Needs to see the one I’m using) but a notebook will do just fine. Heck, I’ve even used Post-It notes and the back of a junk mail envelope. I just recommend writing notes some way, some how.

DO – Add Your Own Flavor

A book review is YOUR opinion so you might as well have fun with it, right? I like to make side comments in mine. On my blog, I give a bookish tip. In 2020 on Instagram, I started to give either a one word book review or a bookish tip for each review I post (you can see them in my highlights) in my stories. I also try to be funny – although I do have a dry sense or humor and I am a bit sarcastic…who knows how that really goes over. The point is: BE YOURSELF.

DON’T – Give Spoilers BUT If You Do……

Most people do not want to be spoiled. You can write a review without them. True story, I gave spoilers in the first couple of reviews I ever wrote (I’ve been meaning to fix them). However, I did have the courtesy to warn my very few readers at the time.

If you want to discuss the book with spoilers, PLEASE WARN your readers in BOLD WRITING WITH BRIGHT COLORS OR EMOJIS.

Goodreads has a button to where you can hide your review if it contains spoilers. Be courteous. Use that button.

Do – Develop Your Own Rating System

Before you write a book review, think about how you want to rate books AND think about what a rating would mean to you.

If you are using stars (like me), think about why one book may be a 1 star and another will be a 5 star. Ask yourself what makes a book a 5 star. Ask yourself how you should rate – if at all – a book you did not finish (DNF). You can see my rating policy HERE.

There are other options besides using stars, too. You can rate a book on whether or not you would recommend it to a friend. You can rate a book on whether or not you would re-read it. You can rate a book entirely on how it makes you feel using a rating system all on your own.

Rating is entirely up to you.

Do – Include a Synopsis

This is a tricky one to explain. Most readers do want a synopsis even if you just copy and paste from Goodreads or the back of the book on your blog posts.

However, if you are reviewing on Goodreads or Amazon or Barnes and Noble, it is best to leave it off of your review. It is already displayed.

As for social media, some do and some don’t. Here is post I did last October called – Book synopsis: Yay or Nay? – if you care to read.

Do – Be Honest

Let’s say you received an advance copy of a book and you just did not like it or you did not finish it. That’s OK. Be honest, and yet respectful.

Also, reach out whenever possible to the publisher or PR firm that provided the copy. Ask them how to proceed. They may ask you to hold off the review for a few days. They may just tell you that they understand and post how you feel.

Don’t – Rip The Author A New One

So you didn’t like the book you just read? THAT’S OK. Some books are not for everyone. However, you cannot like a book but still be respectful in your review. There is no need to attack the writer.

Don’t – Tag Authors In Negative Reviews

Personally, I think 3 stars and up is a good review. But even I hesitate to tag any author on a rating that is less than 4.5 or a 5. I even hesitate to tag them on reviews that are not 5 star reviews.

I’ve see a lot of writers get really upset if you rate low. Their books are pieces of them. They are their babies. I have seen seen quite a few Twitter rants from writers who were clearly upset when they were tagged in a bad review. Just don’t do it.

Exception: If you are collaborating with a PR firm, they may ask you to tag the author in social media no matter what. Therefore, it is OK.

Do – Post Your Review on Retailer Sites

When you finish your review, post it on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Bub or whatever your retailer of choice will be. Ratings help the authors with promotion, with publishing and it can even help with the next book.

DO – Have Fun

Have fun! Don’t make writing a review a chore. If it is one, it won’t be fun. And if you are having a hard time, walk a way for a bit. I’ve waited days – even weeks – to write a book review (hence, why I take notes). My reviews are better for it, too!

What are some of your book review writing tips? Leave them in the comments below!

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