Do you leave book reviews at online booksellers like Amazon or social cataloging sites such as Goodreads? Are there times when you just rate the book because anything else requires too much time or effort? Well, I have shortcut for you that takes the hassle out of writing book reviews.
When I’m searching for something to read, I always look at reviews. I notice that some readers put a lot of time and effort in sharing their thoughts. Highly structured, deep analysis, thousands of words reviews.
You don’t have to do that. Really.
Here’s why: A book review and a book report have different audiences. When you write a book report, you have to show the person who gave the assignment that you understood what you read.
The audience for a book review doesn’t need to know that. They’re only interested in one thing: Is the book worth their time?
In fact, most readers are scanning the reviews. They’re not getting into the nitty-gritty like overarching themes and character development. Did you like the book or not? That’s what they want to know. They’re also looking for a general consensus. Did most people enjoy the book? Are the readers pointing out the same problem in the story?
Sure, you can rate the book and be done with it. It helps other readers decide about the book, but the score is only part of the review. Your 4 stars might be my 5 stars and we don’t know why there’s a difference. A sentence or two supporting your score helps other readers determine if they want to read the book or not.
But how do you explain a full book in one sentence?
By following my book review formula.
Take this formula and plug in an adjective, what drew you to the book, what category the book falls in, and your overall reading experience.
Let’s break it down step-by-step:
Step one: who would consider reading this book? Not sure? Think about why you picked up the book and read it.
Let’s say you read Gone With the Wind because you like historical romance novels. Then whatever you have to say about the book is for fellow historical romance readers.
Step two: how would you categorize the book?
You read the book and, wow, this is not the historical romance that you were led to believe. Sure, there’s a romantic relationship, but it’s not the focus of the story and there’s no happy ending. That means it’s not a romance novel.
As you read all one-thousand plus pages, you realized that Gone With the Wind is more of a sweeping historical saga. The story is about pampered Southern women surviving the Civil War and its aftermath.
But you don’t have to explain all that. The person reading your review wants to know if it’s worth their time. But is the person reading your review also a historical romance reader?
That’s why you mention a specific reader up front. Because this book is not for everyone and your book review is not for everyone.
Yep, that’s the secret sauce to writing an effective book review.
Let me repeat it: Your book review is not for everyone. You are identifying the needs of a distinct audience.
In this case, you are talking to fellow historical romance readers looking for something to read.
So that’s how you start your book review:
Fans of Civil-War era romances will be disappointed in this sweeping historical saga.
Step 3: Support that statement by explaining your overall reading experience:
It was not a romance novel.
Step 4: Combine the two sentences and, bam, there’s your book review.
You have explained a one-thousand-plus page book in two sentences and in under a minute.
Use this formula when you don’t have a lot to say about a book. The structure works best for reviews about fiction. For example:
Fans of irreverent romantic comedies will love this romance novel. It was a joy to read!
Fans of isolated closed circle mysteries will get frustrated with this whodunit. It was a convoluted mess.
So, to recap:
A book review is not a book report. A book report shows that you understood the story. A book review is telling another reader if the book is worth their time and money.
And when you want to share how you feel about a book but you don’t want to spend too much time writing a review, use this formula:
I hope this time-saving hack encourages you to share your thoughts about books. Your opinion matters to authors, publishers and other readers.