6 Tips for Writing Good Book Reviews

At Apex, we love good book reviews. Now, lots of folks are interested in reading our titles; and even better, reviewing them. Especially our very dear Minions (who get any free Apex ebook in exchange for honest reviews—you can join here).

However, we recognize that not everyone has experience with writing good book reviews. So, we've put together a few tips to help.

Generally, all book reviews follow a format:

  • Short summary (usually as short as possible, 1-3 lines);
  • Critical assessment (your reactions to the work, what strikes you as noteworthy, whether or not it was effective or persuasive, how you felt about the book, etc); and
  • Your suggestion/assessment/projection of audience reactions.

That said, here are 6 tips to help you write better reviews:

1. Make it balanced. Remember to say BOTH what you liked and didn't. Be honest (honesty =/= acerbity or saccharinity). While this book might work/not work for you, this could be the opposite for someone else. Remember to state that this is your opinion (because it is).

2. Be specific. "I loved it!" is not a review. Neither is "I hated this crap!" What did you like or dislike about the story or writing? What do you think worked or didn't?

3. Stay with the book. Leave the author out of it. The author's face or beliefs aren't important here. You're here to talk about the book, not their social media posts. (If you have strong reservations about an author, it might be best not to review their book at all).

4. Review the writing and story alone. The book's jacket, author photo, dedication, blurbs and typeface are all nice things, yes, but unless there's something especially despicable about them, why talk mention any at all? Speak about the writing, the characters, the story, the research, the facts, etc. That's the job.

5. Don't just summarize. Offer clear thoughts. I could easily get a summary on Goodreads. If I wanted a terse review, I'd go to Amazon and filter to 1-stars. Offer clear and concise thoughts, stating why you think the book works or not.

6. Don't give away the ending/twist/secret plot point. Seriously, don't be THAT person.

If you want to receive a free ebook, simply fill out the form on our Read and Review page and Lesley Conner will be in touch to send you a free digital copy (in exchange for a wee little review).