This month I’m supporting write a book review on Amazon and I’m helping encourage more reading to post reviews. So this week I’m writing a series of book review themed posts.
With Amazon being a very important online book seller, it is probably the top author hang out and often the first go to place for book buyers. The number of book reviews a book gets are often more important than their star rating in improving a book’s visibility.
So could you write a review for a non-fiction book? Answer yes you can. Ok, Hands up who’s ever read a non-fiction book cover to cover? Hmm not so many of you.
I feel non-fiction needs a slightly different approach.
1) You still need to be armed with a paper and pen to jot down the book title, author, notes, characters and observations.
2) What’s really important is that you get the gist or the substance of the book. Many non-fiction books start out by telling you that you might want to dip in and out of chapters. Good News for a reviewer they give you permission to skip bits that are of no interest.
3) To help me explain, I’ve just grabbed a copy of “Farm Office Handbook” from my shelves it’s written by The Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators. (I’m a part-time farm secretary here in the UK in case you’re wondering) So I’d jot down book title and who created/ wrote the book.
4 Next look for a forward or dedication and read it, it often gives you good clues about the book and may sum the whole book up in a few good words which you might be able to use to guide you when you write your own review. But never just copy passages from the forward, write your review and never open the book again, that would be plain rude and disrespectful.
5) Next check out the contents page. Here you’ll find out more about the book. The one I’m using today has a list of 15 chapters ranging from The Farm office, accounting, balance sheets, statutory farm record keeping, staffing and payroll and the Professional Farm administrator (That’s a posh name for my job) At the end of the book are a list of appendix with more details. Many non-fiction books have appendix covering books they’ve quoted from, relevant scientific data, studies, further reading etc. It’s always good to add to your book review that these appendix exist saying a bit about what they are.
6) So back to the non-fiction review. If the subject of the book really interests you, you will most likely read a good 80/100%. make notes on each chapter about what they contain and perhaps write no more than a sentence or two on 5-6 chapters from the book. If you get bogged down in academic details or the subject is written about very deeply and you get lost don’t panic. If you can read at least 50% of a non-fiction book, I believe you can still write a review. Most chapters will either start with an overview of the subject to be discussed or end with a summary. Use these to find positive points to write about. You can also say; “This book dealt with “X” really deeply” or “There was a great in-depth discussion about….”
7) For a non-fiction review the challenge is to learn something new, discover new people, places and information. You might find a useful website that was mentioned, or a holiday destination, or a museum that would interest you. For instance you might be able to say in your review, “I didn’t know that…” It’s those moments of discovery that you are looking for and can add to your review. Or did the book inspire you do something? When I read In Praise Of Lilith, Eve And The Serpent In The Garden Of Eden And Other Stories by Susan Scott, after the first essay I was inspired to go and clean my house and tidy up my garden. I shall say that in my review. I felt so proud of my house after I’d given it some loving attention and it lifted my spirits. It’s little personal details like this that will make a review really genuine.
8) So don’t be frightened of writing a non-fiction review. Approach it slightly differently, with a very open mind. Don’t panic about having to read every single word. Authors of non-fiction may well have an even harder time selling their books that fiction authors. Often their potential customers may come from a very narrow niche, so your review will be valued just as much as a review for a fiction book.
Tomorrow I’m looking at more of an in-depth book review. Missed Day 1? There were some great comments and discussions catch up here http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-9iV