Book review Challenge Series – How I write a book review

Day 1

Welcome one and all to our Book review challenge, I just want to thank everyone who is supporting this series it means so much to me. So what have we got for you?

I truly believe that books and book sales are changing as people browse virtual book stores to buy their books. This is where the book review really will help sell a book in a market place full of millions and millions of books. If I had a £1 for every-time someone said to me in the last week “Since I starting writing my book I’ve come to realise how important book reviews are” well, we’d be well on the way down to the nearest bookstore to stock up on books!

So today I’m in the spotlight talking about book reviews and giving you some simple easy tips to start you off book reviewing. I’ll get you thinking about reading a different genre and we have a guest piece from Melissa Newman at Martin Sisters Publishing.

We’ve been busy signing readers up who want to read and review one book from the line up we have to offer. There are still copies available of many of the books.

 

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Book Review Challenge

Thursday 26th June – Book reviewing by Bodicia from A Woman’s Wisdom + How to download a PDF file of a book to your kindle+ non-fiction reviews.

Friday 27th June – The Importance of book reviews by author Terry Tyler + a look at Goodreads + A bad or negative review, should you write it?

Saturday 28th June – Book Reviewing by Diane Coto from Fictionzeal + Shelfari + Going in deep, talking more about reviews.

Sunday 29th June – Book reviewing by Ionia Martin from Readfulthings + Reviewing to Amazon + Gearing up to write that review.

Monday 30th June – The Importance of book reviews by Lizzie Lamb + Authors should walk to the book reviewers side of the fence.

Let’s find out more about Rosie Amber’s book reviews.

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1) Where do I post my book reviews as well as this blog?
I choose to regularly post my book reviews to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. I write for 2 local magazines and post 5 selected book reviews to each magazine per month. The magazines go out to 7000 readers in my local area and both have on-line versions. (Featured authors tell me they love this because they can visit my book review pages from all over the world)
2) What type of books will I consider for review?
I enjoy romance, paranormal, humour, murder mystery, mild thrillers, spiritual and YA/NA books. I will read both non-fiction and fiction.
3) What format do I like books to be in for review?
I really like paperback books best, but I also enjoy using my Kindle as an alternative.  I do understand the cost of sending books to reviewers, so I accept books in Mobi or PDF. Authors can also gift me books or send me a voucher to cover the cost of buying their book.
4) What’s the first thing I do when beginning a book review?
I have a note book with me when I read books and I write down the title and author, the day I begin the book and I start noting character names and places, jobs, relationships etc as I go through the book.
5) How do I proceed after that?
Then I’ll note down specific events from the book, or small phrases or even things I don’t understand which may become clearer later in the book. I usually fill an A5 sized sheet with notes per book. Occasionally I’ll write more.
6) Is there an average time I spend reading a book?
I would say 2 days per book.
7) When I’ve finished a book do I write the review immediately? Or wait a while?
I always try to write the book review straight away while it is fresh in my mind.
8) Do I start a new book before writing up a review? Or do I ever read more than one book at a time?
The only time I might start a new book before writing a review is if I’m away from home. Occasionally I have more than one book on the go at a time, but the second book would usually be a non-fiction book which I could pick up and put down and is possibly one I’m reading for pleasure rather than review.
9) What points do I try to write in a review?
I like to tell the readers who the characters are, perhaps outline where and when the book takes place. I might hint at some of the plot developments and drop in a clue or two as to what happens. I try to entice the reader to go and buy the book. Sometimes I’m specific about the genre of the book, but not always because people can make their own choice about what they might like to read.  Often at the end I say what I liked about the book.
10) What do I try to avoid putting in any review?
I try to avoid spoilers and telling the reader too much. If I read a review that is full of all the book plot I find there is nothing left for me to discover myself, so I would not buy and read the book. I won’t say I don’t like a book in the review, but I may say if I found parts difficult or challenging to read. There are ways to use words so that hopefully they don’t offend the author.
11) If I find I really dislike a book, would I write a negative review?
No! People have spent a lot of time and effort writing their books. I may let them know that the book didn’t suit me and I feel I’m unable to write a review for them.
12) Do I work with any publishers or groups who regularly ask you to review books?
No, I have reviewed a couple of e-books for Sainsbury’s and a book for booktrope.com. Otherwise it’s just my 2 local magazines.
13) Tell you about any book which I’ve recently read and reviewed which really impressed me.
Roy Dimond writes some fantastic books which make you think about yourself deeply and the world around you.
Book Review Challenge
Guest Piece from Melissa Newman at Martin Sisters Publishing
I asked Melissa about the importance of book reviews from a Publisher’s point of view. Here’s what she had to say;
1)     When an author approaches you with their work, do you ever research them to see if they have written and published any other books?

Yes. We do research authors. We like to see what they’ve written and how or if they market themselves. If they do it’s a big plus for us. Some writers believe that once the book is published then the heavy lifting is done – not so. The heavy lifting is just beginning. Your work is not truly complete until someone reads it; and for that you need to market your work.

2)     If you saw an author had previously self-published a book and had several book reviews, how many reviews and what ratings would impress you?

We are not turned off by self-publishing but if an author has self-published we like to see that he/she has implemented a good plan for reaching potential readers.

3)     When reading a book review, what types of comments would make you feel it was from a genuine reader and not just a friend of the author?

Genuine readers don’t usually use cliché’s, hyperbole and what I like to call “sales speak.” They are honest about their feelings toward the author and his/her work and it shows.

4)     How important are book reviews to the book industry?

Book reviews are extremely important to the book industry but just like everything else in marketing, when the message is obviously controlled then it spoils the book review industry as a whole. Word of mouth is still the best marketing tool and if you give readers a platform to speak opinions then book reviews work – when those reviews are paid for and the message is controlled, they don’t.

5)     Would you ever consider representing a book that had previously been self-published?

Martin Sisters Publishing may consider a book that has been previously self-published but it’s not likely. The initial launch of a book is crucial – that’s when you get the most “oomph.” If it has already been released the “oomph” is gone and it’s much harder to build an audience.

Thank you so much Melissa for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. Find more about them here http://www.martinsisterspublishing.com/

Easy tips for writing a book review – I’ll look at it again in a deeper article later in the week.
1) Have a note book and pen handy.
2) Make a note of the Book Title, author, publisher and date you start the book. You might want to state the genre/ category the book falls into.
3) The first paragraph – what did it tell you? Note down names, places, time frame, any first impressions you get.
4) The first couple of chapters may well introduce lots of characters, note them all down they may be significant later.
5) As you go through make small notes or just use 1 or 2 words about the main events, such as a tournament, a party, a wedding, new job, a journey, etc to jog your memory when writing the review later.
6) At the half way stage of the book you should now have a good feel for the book. Is it fast paced? or Slow? Are there several characters narrating? Are there a couple of places or time frames being used? Can you guess where the book is leading? If its a thriller or mystery, are you being lead down dead end routes just when you think you’ve guessed the plot?
7) Has the feel of the book changed since the start? For instance a thriller may turn very sinister.
8) For the second half of the book, there may be less notes to make, you know the characters, the know where the book is set. Note any twists and turns in the storyline. After half-way the book will be well into the story I probably won’t use much of this material now for my book review because I’m in danger of adding spoilers and giving too much away.
9) The end. So after you’ve read the last page, how do you feel? Sad? Elated? Enlightened? Frustrated? Some books have cliff hangers leading on to the next in the series. If this is part of a series does it have you wanting to grab the next book? Did the ending surprise you?
10) Now think about a review. Think about what you would personally look for when choosing a book? What do you like to read on the back cover of a book? Or in the general description when you buy on-line?
11) Try writing no more than 10 lines to start with about the book in a way which would entice yourself to pick it up. Some reviewers start a review using the published book description and then go on to talk about how they liked the book.
Or perhaps you didn’t like the book, try writing a bit about the plot and the characters, but say how they didn’t work for you. Think about your choice of words, someone has spent hours writing and producing this book. If you really have strong reasons for disliking a book, no review may be kinder than leaving a rude one.
Book Review Challenge
Genres; Moving out of your comfort Zone.
Be aware that many, many books these days cross genres; YA thrillers, romantic mysteries, historical adventure. There are so many sub-genres within the book world that you shouldn’t be blinkered and limit the type of books you try. There is just so much choice out there now with the explosions of e-books and self publishing.
Be adventurous and come out of your comfort zone every once in a while. Challenge yourself to read something new or an old classic. I even read a “New Classic” recently. Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada is marketed as a New Classic by Penguin. Throw in a non-fiction book every now and again, mix it up and if you’ve been in a rut lately you might just be inspired by some of the new up and coming authors. I think we’ve a great selection for you here on this series.
Tomorrow you’ll hear from Bodicia a book reviewer who blogs at A Woman’s Wisdom, downloading a PDF file of a book to your kindle and non-fiction reviews.

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31 thoughts on “Book review Challenge Series – How I write a book review

  1. Terrific piece on reviewing! I’ve been writing reviews for The Romance Review, and I can honestly say that reading a book with the idea that I’ll comment on it makes me a better reader, and I get SO much more out of a book. It also gives me a much bigger appreciation for the incredible spectrum of creative talent out there! Two things that get debated, both by other reviewers and by readers are spoilers and summaries. So I completely agree with your point #10. My personal take is that spoilers are a total No-No, whenever possible. (ie I once reviewed a book about the Titanic, and it’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen there). But whenever I’m reading a review, I do appreciate a general summary of the premise.

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  2. Reblogged this on A Woman's Wisdom and commented:
    Today is the day! Book reviewer and Author Rosie Amber invites you to take up the book review challenge…there are great books up for grabs so join up now as it is first come first served and there are only a few days left to sign up!

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  3. This is an incredible post and one that I plan to save. I’m so happy you decided to do this – it will be so useful to both writers and readers. I am used to reviewing scientific papers, where you discuss everything in the paper. This is a whole different ball of wax! Thank you, Rosie.

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  4. Hi Rosie – Fascinating! I think there is great advice for both authors and bloggers in your post. Thanks! 🙂

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  5. Pingback: Book review Challenge Series – How I write a book review | 1WriteWay

  6. Reblogged this on S.K. Nicholls and commented:
    An awesome guide for book reviewing by Rosie Amber. Great tips for those who might like to support authors in this way. Also some good reasons for doing so by Martin Sisters Publishing.

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  7. Could I mention a few more tips? That there is no right way to write a review (there are wrong ways though, I’ll get to that), the important thing for someone wanting to leave a review is figure out for them how to they want to write it.

    Do they want to give a highly detailed over view or a more simple like or dislike?

    Be honest. Giving a more generous review than you think something deserves for whatever reason does a disservice to other readers and to the writer of the work.

    Remember that your audience for a review is not the author, but other readers who might be interested in reading the book.

    Things I think reviewers shouldn’t do: Leaving a negative review is okay, in my opinion, because that was my experience with the work and that could be helpful to other readers. However, as a reviewer, you should never have anything that attacks the writer directly. All the points should be about the work, never about the author.

    If you dislike something, be specific as to what. It does not help other readers if all a reviewer says is, “I didn’t like this book.”

    Also find other reviewers you like and try to figure how they write. In my case, I recently rediscovered Roger Ebert and reading his reviews are great examples of good writing, in my opinion. So in the future I am going to be reading a lot more of his reviews as an example of ‘how to write.’

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  8. Pingback: Living Musically, Or The Son of Paleface Returns | The D/A Dialogues

  9. Hi Rosie, just dropped by & wanted to wish you & your reviewers happy reading. I’m a random reviewer myself, and post reviews as the mood strikes – sometimes for books I read years ago – suddenly spring to the laptop with an urge to tell everyone how wonderful an almost forgotten favourite is! It’s always fun to read through other reviewers comments and compare reading experiences, this on-line book lovers community is one of the brighter sides of the internet and again, best wishes to you and your fellow book lovers – happy reading and reviewing.

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