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When it comes to writing book reviews, there are a few standard elements that always need to be in place. Knowing and having a basic understanding of these elements is the best way to get your book review off to a good start. The first element that is necessary and that should open your review is a short summary of the plot. This can include any ideas or lessons you learned, any main characters, any plot twists that won’t ruin the story, and any other plot elements that may help the reader understand what you are talking about. You can also include a brief biography of the author to help establish credibility and expertise. Next you need to have a basic argument, was the book good or bad, did it meet the goals that were set by the author, did the book make sense, and so on. After you have determined your argument, you need at least three pieces of supporting data to back up your claim. Say for instance you read a book and you said that the main character was too scared and that it hindered the reading of the story, finding three instances in which the main character was scared or unable to do something because of fear would be a great way to support your central argument. Having ample information to help support your argument is very nearly the only way that you can convince your readers that your interpretation is correct or at least well supported. The last thing that you need is a conclusion that wraps up your argument and brings the reader back to the central focus which should always be the book that you are reviewing. This conclusion will tie up your argument, bring readers back to the book, and offer a bit of food for thought for readers to take away from your review.
Anyone who loves to read and write needs to look at book reviewing. Few publishers pay for book reviews, though there are magazines and newspapers that may offer payment. In lieu of payment you receive free books. Many of these books are in ARC (advanced reader copy) format and arrive months before they're sold in stores.
Finding Reviewer Openings
A simple online query using “book reviewer wanted” is all it takes. There are dozens of sites actively seeking book reviewers. Just make sure that you follow through and complete the review as promised.
Goodreads.com is a great source for reviewers looking to get started. Authors regularly post review requests there. Create an account and respond to author requests. It doesn't take long before books arrive in your mailbox.
Create reviews of products you buy from Amazon.com. If your reviews get enough votes, Amazon may invite you to become a Vine reviewer. With the Vine program, you receive books, food, electronics, and other household items free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
Always be Honest
The key to book reviewing is honesty. If you read a book that is lousy and create a glowing review to make an author or publisher happy, you're not helping anyone. If a book is horrible, be honest while remaining a positive spin. Don't simply state the book was a waste of money, explain what about the book bothered you – weak characters, too slowly paced, lack of cohesion, poor grammar, etc.
As you gain a following, more publishers and authors send you books. Eventually, you receive so many that you can't fit them all in and end up choosing which books do make it to your reading pile.
Book reviewing doesn't often pay, but the free books more than make up for it. If you're an avid reader, you'll save hundreds when you're no longer buying books from stores and websites.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|