3/31/2011

Reviewing books--a helpful guide

HOW TO WRITE A REVIEW

Title

When I am posting a book review on a blog or website, I always use a title similar to this:

A Place to Belong
By Linda Goodnight

Reviewed by Lacy Williams

This lets readers know you aren’t taking credit for the book, just posting a review. If you are on a website like Amazon.com or Goodreads, where you will already be on the “product” or “book” page to leave a review, don’t put a title on the review.

The Blurb

The blurb portion of the review should be similar to back-cover copy. Not too long, maybe around 100-300 words. You want to let the reader know what happens in the beginning of the book and get them interested in the characters (especially anything unique about the characters), but DON’T give away the ending. Try to make it a question so that the reader really wants to know the answer.

Widow Kitty Wainwright is happy being single. She’s not interested in dating, only preserving her late husband’s memory and running her motel in the small town of Redemption, Oklahoma. Jace Carter has been in love with Kitty for awhile now, but he’ll never tell her. Why? Because of his dark past. He knows that even though he and Kitty have a shared faith now, what he’s done and who he’s been would ruin any chance of them being together. So why is he so drawn to the lovely widow? When someone from Jace’s past shows up in Redemption, Jace faces the choice of revealing his past or keeping quiet. Can God help Kitty get over her past love? And if He does, will He clear a way for Jace and Kitty to be together?

The same way you do in any of your writing, try to pick strong nouns and verbs and go easy on the adjectives and adverbs—pick and choose the very best of those when you need them. Also a little note: writing the blurb is great practice for preparing onesheets and verbal pitches like you would use at conference.

The Content

This is where you get to be subjective. What did you or didn’t you like about this book? What did the author do really well? What would have made the book better?

Personally, I want to support Christian fiction as a genre. Because of that, the unwritten rule that I follow is that if I liked the book and it was pretty good, good, awesome or fantastic I will write a review honest to what the book deserves. If I didn’t like the book, if it wasn’t well-written, if there were major problems with it, I will choose not to review the book. I don’t give it a bad review, I just don’t review it at all. A lot of reviewers feel that they should write a review even if the book is bad, but this is the choice I have made.

Linda has a way of creating strong emotions in her characters that really make the reader feel connected to them. It’s no wonder she is a past RITA winner and the first two books in this series have been nominated for the 2011 RITAs.


Linda also has a gentle hand with setting. She creates a beautiful town filled with quirky characters in Redemption, Oklahoma, and uses such deft touches to bring the setting to life that the reader feels they are there without long, clunky paragraphs of description.

The Conclusion

Finally, I always tell the reader whether I recommend the book or not. Keep it short and sweet.

This is an excellent read and I highly recommend it.

That’s it. Writing a review is just that easy.

To see how my review of A PLACE TO BELONG looks all put together, click here. To see examples of other reviews, visit my Amazon reviews page.


WHERE SHOULD I POST MY REVIEW?

It’s okay to put the same review out there on the web in several places. Here’s some choices:

Your personal blog
Your Facebook page
Amazon.com
Goodreads.com
Barnesandnoble.com
Christianbook.com

Also, don’t forget to email Lacy a copy of your review so it will get posted to the OCFW blog. We also feature reviews of our members’ books in the OCFW quarterly newsletter, and often use those highlighted on our blog, so this is like double exposure.

You can also do a short review on:

Your Twitter page
Fictionfinder.com

What else can I do?

Ask your local library to carry the book
Recommend the book to a friend who you know likes to read
Recommend the book to your church’s library


Thanks for helping us spread the word about our awesome authors and their books. Every little bit helps.

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