Writing your first review is a humbling experience. I’m sure that writing your first book feels similar. In part because you have concepts, ideas, and maybe a general way to lay it out but when you start putting fingers to the keyboard you can seize up just as you are trying to get that first paragraph, sentence or word out of your head.
So I am going to share 5 tips that work for me:
1. Once you have finished a review book, let yourself process your feelings — whether they are good, bad or indifferent by going and doing something else before you write your review. I will typically finish a book before I go to bed and then the next evening after getting home from my 9-5 job and having dinner, I will then write my review. I have found that my thought processes are clearer. This can even include having an insight into characters or storyline that I hadn’t grasped until I had let the story revolve around in my head.
2. Sometimes the hardest part is getting started with a review so take care of the items that don’t require maximum brain power. What do I mean by that, well fill out stuff about the book that you can copy and paste. This can include anything from author’s name, publisher’s information, page count, plus any websites you must link to your review, etc. The reason I have found is that this allows me to start typing and returns me to a mind set and gets me over the initial “Oh I don’t know what I want to say” because sometimes I’ve been typing for 15 minutes and I’m in “my review mode”.
3. Ensure that your reviews are the length you need them to be and this can be difficult with some books. So use word count on what ever text program you use. I am a Mac girl so I have Pages and keep the word count on the screen so I know how far I have come and how far I have to go. The same is true with Microsoft Word. I know at one stage my reviews were getting a smidge short because I had forgotten to turn the word count on. And don’t cheat with your word count. This doesn’t include excerpts, or book information. The only words that should be included are words that are part of your review.
4. Star rating a book sometimes is the most difficult portion of this job and often I will have an entire review written and ready to go but I’m fluctuating between a 3 and 4 star rating. So what do I do in this situation, I go with my gut. I use Goodreads to track my books and after I complete a book I mark it as complete and rate it immediately. But when I write my review I take the opportunity to come back to the review with a clean slate. I sit down and write my review and then rate it at that moment. I do take into consideration my previous rating if I am struggling but inevitably I land on the same rating. However, there have been a time or two this past year where I rated a book on Goodreads and then after writing my review I went from a 2 to a 3 or vice versa.
5. Finally, if you put in excerpts from the book reviewed don’t always go for the first kiss. I try and choose moments that made me feel something whether that is a smile, giggle or melt in the mouth hot encounter between your lead characters. Part of your responsibility is to give a glimpse into the book’s world like trailers for movies such as the Man of Steel or The Boxtrolls trailers did so successfully. You want to encourage and excite a reader so much that all they can do is go to their favorite store and buy that book right NOW.
Come back monthly for new posts from me about being a book reviewer during 2014. I will be delving into life of a Romance Reviewer including attending book conventions, contests and more — so make sure you check back every month or subscribe to our RSS feed with your favorite RSS client or follow us on Twitter or Goodreads.