As a reviewer, you’re in a great position: you’re introducing a reader to something they don’t have in front of them but might want to have. You’re sharing your experience of a book with them. You can’t know what their tastes are like, but you can give them as full a picture as possible, even in just 100 words, so they can make up their own mind.
- Give us some context for the book
Tell us a bit about the author, the type of book it is, the kind of writing it reminds you of. Little contextual details can set the scene and help situate the reader.
- Begin with description: What makes this book particularly itself?
A review isn’t a space to like/dislike but to allow the reader to make up their own mind…even when you have criticisms. Succinctly, but in detail, explain the book’s key ideas/plot points (avoid spoilers!) and its stylistic/formal features.
- Provide some quotations from the book so we can get a feel for it.
If you’re trying to share the book, the book’s own words are a great starting place. React to and explain them: show us what you see in them.
- Explain why we should spend time with the book ourselves
You care enough about his book to spend time reviewing it. What makes you care? Why might it matter to a reader? What does it allow us to think, feel, or see?
- End with an overall argument
Think about what the reader might learn from your review even if they don’t read the book. Perhaps you can tell us something that sums up the book’s place in our world, or even tell us something important about books and writing.
If you want some more guidance, we love the top tips from Janice Harayda, novelist and editor-in-chief of One-Minute Book Reviews, over at http://bit.ly/1J6L1yg
Once you’ve written your review, share it. There are many, many places to do so:
- Send to a literary journal. Fine one at Poets and Writers: http://www.pw.org/literary_magazines
- During National Review of Books Month (or beyond it!), post to NaRMo: http://narmo.milne-library.org/
- Tweet a key sentence to @getreviewing with the hastag #narmo
- Post to online booksellers like Powells.com and Amazon.com
- Create a YouTube video or other multimedia review
- Think about places where this book might find readers, and get the review to them there: if it’s a book about classical music, pitch it to venues like Opera News.