Friday Question #61: Do you have any book review writing tips?

Happy Friday, BookishFirst Readers!

Do you have any book review writing tips that would be helpful for other readers?

As a consumer and a reader who uses reviews to make purchase decisions, I like to find out about the reading experience. I’m not looking for a summary of the book because presumably, I’ve already read the publisher’s summary. I want to know the feelings it evoked, the issues explored, and whether the execution matched the author’s ambition. The more concisely written, the better.


I love to add humor to my reviews. I do this so that they are not bland. I don’t want the reviews I write/read to be a synopsis, but instead, I want them to make me and others smile. Those humorous reviews really pull me and many other readers to books.


I do have some review-writing tips.

I write my reviews as I read…I type them in an e-mail, and when I add or change something I add a number after the subject line so I know what version it is.

Writing as I read works well for me because the review is almost finished when I am finished with the book, and I just have to polish it up.

I give a bit of the story line, but mostly comment on the characters and the writing. I try to not give a “book report.”

Hope that helps.


I try to write my reviews explaining the emotions the story evoked in me. If it’s an emotional book I’ll say what I was feeling, such as how hard I laughed, how much I cried, if it was a giggle-fest, or how angry (rarely) I was with the characters.


Thinking about who the book would be well suited for and positioning it to those readers is always very helpful when ending a review.


I actually wrote about this about 18 months ago, and I decided to do another blog about it since this issue came up twice last week. Once with a review place and also with a publisher. I agree with @bookish_dana. Who it is suited for is a KEY component. There are others, but as I have so many tips … here is a link to the blog I wrote:


Always be honest. When I started reviewing books. I worried about hurting the author’s feelings. They need honest feedback - whether that’s good or bad.
I did have one author reach out to me on Goodreads and be extremely rude after I reviewed his book. I wasn’t harsh - and many agreed with me. I simply blocked him, let Goodreads know and I don’t apply for his books.


The main thing is DO NOT summarize or recap the plot. One-two sentences about what the book is generally about is adequate. Anyone reading your review can simply look at the top of the page to read the official publisher’s summary. If I’m reading a review, I want to know specific things you did or didn’t like about the book. Don’t write a book report giving a play-by-play of the story. And absolutely avoid giving spoilers. There have been books I decided NOT to read because too much of the plot had been revealed in the “review”.


I always try to answer any questions I had about the book before I started that I wish I had been able to find in a review. For some, this could be content warnings, or simply clarification about what to expect from the story and characters. I focus primarily on emotions I felt when reading, because that is always the prime way to judge a book for me: if I cry, it’s definitely a good one. Any strong emotions are a winner!

I almost always also have a line for who I recommend it for. Even if I didn’t like the book, there’s usually people who will, and I try to identify them right from the start. That way if someone is interested but then sees that it’s unexpectedly violent or explicit or full of puns, they might know they won’t enjoy it and will make an informed decision.

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