It’s easy to post a book review on Goodreads; anyone can do it! But for creative writers who are hoping to establish a career in the publishing industry, there are important elements of a book review that shouldn’t be overlooked. Don’t write whatever you please in a book review—step back and take a look at the big picture.
If You Are An Author Writing Book Reviews On Goodreads, Ask Yourself These Three Questions:
1. What Is My Goal In Publishing Book Reviews?
Perhaps you simply want to share your opinion and have a little fun. But remember: Anything you post may be read by the author you are critiquing—as well as by that author’s literary agent, editor, publicist, etc. And the writer you insult today might be the writer who can help you tomorrow. To avoid sticky situations without sacrificing the integrity and honesty of your opinion, consider only posting reviews about books you truly enjoy. Learn more about why it pays to be a nice writer.
2. What Do I Want To Tell People About My Author Brand?
Just because you write in a certain genre doesn’t mean that’s all you read. But if you are a mystery writer whose fans follow your Goodreads profile to learn more about which books you like in the mystery genre, those fans might be disappointed if more than half of your book reviews have nothing to do with mysteries. Remember that every book you review, as well as everything you write in a review, is representative of your writer platform as a whole.
3. What Type Of Reviewer Do I Want To Be?
Amateur book reviews sometimes read like transcripts of conversations held at local coffee shops. Writers can exclaim, emote, give away spoilers, ignore sentence structure, and ramble on. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking a casual approach in your book reviews. But if you are hoping to demonstrate your professionalism within the publishing industry, you might want to spend some time learning how professional book reviews are written.
The Long And The Short Of Professional Book Reviews:
To keep things simple, we’ve divided book reviews into two basic types: long and short.
The Book section of The New York Times, which often offers long, multi-paragraph book reviews, approaches these reviews as special features or commentaries. Along with examining the book in question, the reviewer might also discuss social context, the author’s background, and how the book compares to the author’s other titles.
But these long, featured book reviews tend to be exceptions. Most books are reviewed with short, one-paragraph descriptions that offer a little opinion to give readers some direction. Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly, for example, tend to favor short reviews.
Whether you’re writing a long, feature-style review or a short, one-paragraph review, remember this mantra: A professional reviewer’s first and most important job is simply to say what the book is about.
It’s only in the final two or three sentences of a short review that most professional reviewers offer opinions. This way, the reader has enough background to understand where the reviewer’s opinion is coming from.
Do You Have To Write A Professional-Style Book Review If You Are Posting Your Thoughts On Goodreads?
Nope. Absolutely not. As a creative writer, you might value voice, perspective, and personality more than sticking to trends in professional book reviews. You can say whatever you want, and your readers might love you for doing so. Just be sure that you consider the larger consequences of your opinions before you decide what to say or how to present your review.
QUESTION: Do you post book reviews? Tell us what kinds of books you review and leave a link in our comments section.
I don’t post Goodreads reviews for books in the genre I write in–but if it’s a sub-genre with a completely different target audience, I’ll go ahead and review as a fan, not as a writer. And yes, I keep my reviews positive. I’m there to share *Good Reads* not show off my snark. Let’s face it, snark is too easy and too frequently the refuge of spiteful underachievers. See–I can do snark. Anyone can.
Like your answer, Noelle. I review books – but only the ones I like. As an author, it would reflect badly on me to give a book a bad review. So I only post those that I like. Plus there are so many wonderful books out there to read, I’d rather concentrate on reviewing those!