Book Marketing – 3 Tips For an Online Book Review

Book marketing used to require live book tours, where authors visited bookstores all over the country, making speeches and reading from their books. These tours were supplemented by book reviews in newspapers and magazines. Reviewers in those print media would receive complimentary review copies, often in pre-publication form as Advance Reading Copies (ARCs).

Today fewer publishers are willing to pay for live book tours and few authors enjoy the hassles of 21st century air travel followed by impersonal hotel rooms. These days more and more authors and publishers are turning to online reviews, especially reviews published in the Amazon online community.

Amazon has become so critical to book sales that publishers now send ARCs to ordinary people who are the most prolific and effective online reviewers. Authors allocate a hefty portion of their publishing budget to getting online book reviews.

Yet many authors hold inaccurate beliefs about what they need to get an online book review. The steps are actually quite simple and easy to follow.

First, there is no need to pay anyone to write a review for your book. You will be wasting money and you will most likely not get a quality review.

A better idea: Use your book review budget to buy extra review copies and send them to the reviewers who seem most suited to review books in your field. If your book is a how-to manual for training an adopted dog, look for reviewers who seem to like books about dogs. Some will even mention the breed of their dog in their reviews and/or online bios.

Second, offer reviewers a complete hard copy of your book. A hard copy doesn’t mean a hard back book; most reviewers will work with paperbacks. However, reviewers often resist reading pdf copies online and they most likely will balk at the idea of printing their own copy of a 250-page book at their expense.

With the increasing popularity of readers, these preferences may change. Always ask before sending a pdf file and be prepared to offer a print copy.

Third, after someone agrees to review your book, simply send the book. You do not need to send promotional material. Editors of print book review sections and managers of book stores will be concerned with the book’s publicity plans. Most online reviewers are ordinary people who just want a good book.

Do not write to the reviewer asking, “Where is my review?” Reviewers tend to have stacks of books on their coffee tables, all awaiting review. They may choose not to review a book if they realize they would have to write a negative review, especially if the book appears self-published or from a very small press.

While it’s nice to get a thank you note after a review, this step is not at all necessary. Even more important, do not complain about your review. A few negative or neutral reviews might actually help your book. Readers realize you didn’t get all your friends to write puff pieces.

Some authors actually write reviews of their own books to respond to reviewers. They write comments on reviews to defend themselves. These efforts nearly always backfire. If the reviewer was wrong, others will jump in to make corrections. As an author, you would not make a favorable impression by attacking the reviewer (although it can be tempting to do so).

10 Tips to Writing a Book Review

Writing a book review sounds like a relatively easy task. Surely all you need to do is read the book in question, and then write a paragraph or two on what the book was about and whether or not you thought the book was any good. Humm, if only life were that simply! In reality it is really quite difficult to write a successful book review. Yes of course you can simply précis the book and add a final comment about whether you found it to be an enjoyable read or not, but this is unlikely to leave you with a book review that readers are keen to read… and so in turn unfortunately the book you are reviewing is unlikely to gain all that much interest off of the back of your review either. No, if you want to write a successful book review then you need to keep a few top tips in mind at all times.

1. Choose the book you are going to review carefully. For a book review to appeal, the book that you are reviewing needs to lend itself to the creation of a book review that is informative, entertaining and readable. The book itself also needs to appeal to a wide audience.

2. Ensure that you have read one or two books or pieces of writing by the author of the book that you have chosen to review. You need to understand where the author has come from, a little of their writing history, before you can comment on a new release.

3. Comparison is important in book reviews. Read other, similar books by contemporaries so that you can offer some form of comparison in your own analysis of the book’s worth in today’s literary field.

4. Consider how far the author has succeeded in avoiding the pitfalls of the genre that they have written in. Are there clichés? Have they introduced a new form of language or use of language when dealing with a specific genre? Is the plot line all too obvious?

5. Look at the recognised successes of the author in light of this particular book that you are reviewing. Has the author won any awards? Have they been nominated for any? Have they received published praise anywhere?

6. If you are reviewing a non-fiction book, be sure to check that any facts or figures quoted within the book are accurate. Whilst an author’s reputation will be damaged by the inclusion of inaccurate information, so too with the reputation of a reviewer who fails to spot these mistakes.

7. Be sure to cover the main elements of the plot line in your review of fictional pieces, but don’t give away the ending – the reader of your review needs a reason to go on and read the book after all!

8. Find a way to extract the theme or message from the storyline, and inform your readers of this theme. It is important that reviewers look at both the obvious story and the underlying message when reviewing fictional works.

9. Think about the style of the book – is there anything unusual or revolutionary about the way the book has been written? If so, this needs to be highlighted in your review.

10. Finally, as with all types of writing, don’t forget how important it is to check through your book review. Ensure that it flows well, that it is logical, clear and concise in message, and that it is squeaky clean in terms of spelling, punctuation and grammar.

10 Tips for Writing a Book Review

When writing a book review, you are evaluating the text. You are making a judgment about it. Here are 10 tips for writing an effective and compelling book review.

1. Don’t be afraid to give your opinion.

Reviewing a book requires you to make a value judgment. Is this book good, bad, or somewhere in between? Think about why a person would want to read a book review. They want to know if it is worth their time and money.

This doesn’t mean your review should be as simple as giving it thumbs up or thumbs down. As described in How to Write Anything, “Even movie critics…don’t offer those verdicts until after they first talk about their subjects in detail.”

It is also important to note that even a positive review can acknowledge weaknesses and still be positive. The reader will likely find it helpful if you point out any weaknesses in the book you’re reviewing. Try to sandwich these weaknesses in between praise so that you don’t begin or end on a bad note.

2. Develop criteria for judgment

Criteria means the rules or standards by which you judge that object. A good pizza, for example, might be measured by how greasy it is, the kind of toppings it has, the quality of the crust, etc. That’s your criteria.

If you were reviewing a restaurant, your standards to judge that restaurant would likely include the service, taste of the food, and the atmosphere. If you were reviewing a movie, you might look at the costumes, the acting, the special effects, and so on.

It all depends on what is important to you as a reviewer.

As you read books, think about what makes a book stand out for you. Do you like books with action packed plot lines? Or maybe the writer’s use of language is important to you. Whatever it is, decide on your criteria to help develop your review. It will give you specific points to make within the body of the review.
And it will help readers understand why you rated the book as “good” or “bad.”

3. Back up your opinion

Having an opinion is great. Having an opinion with nothing to back it up, however, is not very convincing. Readers want evidence and reasons for why you are evaluating a certain book as “fabulous” or “boring.” Even if readers don’t realize they want this, support for your ideas certainly couldn’t hurt.

For example, if you decide to review a Dr. Seuss book and you say it is an amazing book for children (opinion) because of his expert use of language and rhyme (criteria), you’d want to point out a particular example as support for that opinion. Let’s see that rhyme in action.

Quote the book directly. Refer to specific chapters or sections. Supporting your ideas will ultimately help to convince your reader.

4. Consider your audience

Who are you writing for? What do they already know about the subject matter? What do they need to know? How you write depends so much on who you are writing for. You speak differently to children than you speak to adults. You interact with your boss in a different way than you interact with your best friend from childhood who knew you when you had braces and bangs.

Your choice of language changes depending on who you are speaking to or writing for. Your tone of voice changes, too.

As you write your book review, consider what your audience wants to know and what will interest them. Choose words that they familiar with rather than jargon that requires a glossary.

This is really a case of thinking about how you want to deliver your message so that the audience can appreciate it. It takes work, but it can pay off in major ways once you’ve mastered it.

5. Write with authority

Whenever possible, avoid the following words: probably and maybe. Avoid the following phrases: It seems, I think, In my opinion.

These words and phrases make your review sound less authoritative and less confident than you’re aiming for. Even if you aren’t feeling confident, fake it.

Look at the following example:

In my opinion, Dr. Seuss is probably one of the most interesting writers out there, though, maybe others might not agree.

Instead, say this:

Dr. Seuss is one of the most interesting writers out there.

We know it is your opinion; that is implied. No need to qualify your opinions with words like probably. Do not be afraid that others might disagree or get offended by your opinion on a book. Disagreement actually creates some of the most interesting discussion.

6. Avoid writing too much summary

A little bit of summary in a book review is helpful. The reader had not already read the book (most likely) and since you are trying to consider your audience, you want to make them feel like they understand the rest of your review. Summary is a great place to start by making your reader feel at home.

Too much summary, however, is not what the reader needs.

Here’s what you need to know about writing summary:

· When summarizing a book, stick to just the main points. Answer the question: What is this book about?
· Try it limit your summary to no more than one paragraph or two unless it is essential or required to include more.
· Avoid writing about every single thing that happens in the book (And then this happened, and then…, and then…).
· Use summary early in your review to get the reader acquainted. It wouldn’t make sense to suddenly give a summary at the end, after you’ve made your point.
· Use your own words. If the reader wanted to know what the publisher has to say, they’ll visit the publisher’s website or read the back of the book. Give us your unique interpretation.

7. Compare and contrast

Another way to help back up your ideas, as stated above, is to use a very familiar tool: compare and contrast. It may have been a while since you were in school, but you know how to do this. You do this every day.

For example, you compare your hamburger to every other hamburger you’ve ever had (even if only in your head, even if it happens so fast you barely register it). When someone asks you how Robert Downey Jr. preformed in Due Date, you might compare his acting to other films like Iron Man.

Comparing and contrasting helps the reader to understand. It gives you and the reader a common ground. Look at the book you are currently reviewing. Can you compare it to other books by that author? Or maybe you could compare it other books in that genre.

Or maybe this new book is incomparable. That would be worth telling your readers, too.

8. Organize your review

Organizing your review in even the slightest way can help your reader make sense of your ideas by giving them a structure. Even the best written story will be less remarkable if the chapters are out of order.
The basics of organization include a beginning, middle, and end. It’s that simple.

Start with an intro that gets the reader warmed up and maybe even summarizes the book. Then, use the middle of your review to give your opinion and support it with quotes and examples. Use this chance to elaborate on your ideas. Then, wrap up your review with a brief conclusion rather than ending abruptly in the middle of your ideas.

It might not come naturally to you, but that is what revision is for. As you revise, consider moving information around and making it sound as effective and clear as possible.

9. Provide helpful information

This one doesn’t apply to everyone, but is worth mentioning. If I read a book review, I want to know where I can buy the book. Where can I find it? Who is the publisher?

A link could be even more helpful. In fact, Amazon can work as an affiliate program for many blogs by linking directly to the texts you mention so that the reader can buy them. And you get a commission. Learn more about making money with Amazon here.

And this should go without saying, but don’t forget to mention the author and title early in your review. Never give the reader a chance to feel confused about what you are talking about. The title of your review isn’t enough. Mention the title and author in the review, as well.

10. Set yourself apart

Depending on the amount of freedom you are allowed in writing your review, consider trying something new to set yourself apart from others.

So many book reviews follow a similar format, which seems to work well, but why not try a different approach? To inspire you, here are a few ideas for reviews:

· The Top 10 Reasons You Must Read __________
· 5 Ways ______ Will Blow Your Mind (In a Good Way)
· The Similarities Between ______ and Harry Potter (or some other well-known piece of literature)
· Why ______(author) is the Next Stephen King (or another famous author)

In all of these examples, it is the title that is attention grabbing. Also, the title implies a certain organization (such as a top ten list). Mostly, though, the above examples don’t look exactly like every other book review.

If you can find a new angle, explore it and see how it works.

Overall, writing a book review doesn’t have to be complicated. And it can be fun! If you are willing to put in the time to make it compelling and convincing and helpful to your readers, the results could be worth it.