Last time, I talked a bit about how knowing your platform can help you write a more informative book review. That covers all three my questions to ask before writing a review. So, now, I’m going to suggest what infomation should be provided in a review, and why each part of it is useful for writing reviews in general. I’ll give the list, and then look at each piece of it below that. I won’t add formatting right now. I’ll save that for later.
Body of Review
Comp Titles/If You Liked this Recs
Didn’t Like This Recs
Authors Other Works
The order of these can bet switched up if you want, but this is generally the most common and most useful order.
The metadata kind of goes together, so let’s look at it all at once.
Almost always, for obvious reasons, the title of the book goes in the title of your post. Often, and I personally advocate this, the author’s name goes there, too. For example Review: The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. Obviously, most pre-built blog software won’t let you use formatting in the title, but if you have your own website, or a pro-version that lets you create your own template, you can do something like the above.
Genre is useful, especially as a tag, for helping people find books they know they’re interested in. Of course, if you have a genre review blog, you might be able to leave it out. Unless you like naming sub-genres, or of you think the genre of the book is arguable.
As far as page count, it can be good to include, although it’s specific to certain editions. But some people like short books, and others like long books, so it can’t really hurt.
Publisher and publication date are less relevant. Date can tell you how old the book is, which can say something about writing style or subject, although only if the reader already knows the genre fairly well. Publisher is more just a detail. It might encourage a reader to look at similar books in a genre, but that’s about it.
The source is where you got the book from: publisher, author, agency, contest, store, library. Books received as part of publisher/agency/author promotion require a disclosure. Store, contest, library are just useful information.
Covers are also not necessarily relevant to a review. However, especially in a store or library, knowing what the cover looks like makes it easier for the reader to find. It can also suggest if they are the target audience for a book, as most covers are targeted at specific demographics. Especially in YA/NA and many commercial genres.
The last part I’ll go over for today is the summary. You can write your own summary, use a Goodreads or Amazon summary, use the back-cover or cover-flap copy, or use what the provider of the copy suggests, if they suggest anything. Summaries should not contain major spoilers, ie, major twists in the second half of the book, obvious answers to mysteries not noted on the cover copy, and they should obviously avoid specifics of the conclusion of the story. A summary/blurb’s purpose is to entice a reader, or give them an idea of what the book is about, not to spoil it for them.
Many reviewers like to put their metadata in a little box or visually separate part of the review. It makes it easier to locate on the page, and highlights it for the reader. It might also be useful to include links to author/publisher/store websites to help readers learn more about the book or purchase it straight from your review.
That’s all for today. Probably by tomorrow, I’ll publish the second half, going over what to actually write in the body of a review.