You don’t have to keep cranking out new books to provide engaging content for your readers. Instead, you could write a book review on someone else’s work on your author website. Not only will this help you communicate your opinion with your fans, but you can also make use of Amazon Affiliate links to help your website generate extra income.
But when it comes to writing book reviews, many authors suffer from the same curse. They give too much information on the story or they use convoluted layouts that make the review difficult to read.
Fortunately, there are some specific formats and layouts that will help you to clearly convey your message.
In this article, I want to help you learn how to write the perfect book review for your author website. We’ll talk about design aspects and writing structures you can. I’ll also give you some quality examples from other industries that have got these techniques nailed down and how we authors can use them.
The Best Writing Structure for Your Book Review
A book review shouldn’t be a full-blown detailed synopsis of the book – that’s a book report. Instead it’s about the story, your opinion and whether or not your recommend the book. To best do this, there is a layout that one should consider when writing their review:
- Engaging Introduction
- Brief Summary
- Likes and Dislikes
- Final Opinion
With this structure, you’ll be able to craft a professional book review that both informative and entertaining. And without further ado, let’s talk about your intro.
Grab Attention with an Engaging Introduction
Just like the blurb for your book jacket or Amazon listing, you’ll need to create an excellent introduction—or hook—for your book review in order to quickly grab your reader’s attention. To do this, there are a couple of angles you can use to start your book review hook.
The first angle to take is to talk about how you came across the book reviewed in the first place. Was it recommended to you by a trusted friend, family member, or colleague? Did you see it listed as a top book in a genre? What ever it is, what is the story behind why you chose to read this book.
If there isn’t a story, then another technique you can use is to talk about what about the book intrigued you. Perhaps there were some really neat design elements to the book’s cover that drew you in. Or maybe’s it’s just due to a stellar marketing campaign? That’s a personal favorite of mine.
But if all else fails, there’s another way to set the stage. Borrow the first sentence or two from the Amazon Book Description. If they’re a good author, they’ve probably already written a great hook you can use.
Provide a Brief Summary
After you have your hook, next let’s work on this brief summary.
This section is the biggest pitfall of many authors writing book reviews. Because instead of spending their time giving their analysis of the book, they go into excruciating details about what the book was about. This is the exact opposite what you should do.
You should only give away as much information about the book in order to get your reader to look further into it on their own. And this includes not giving away spoilers, plot twists, or endings. What’s the point of reading a new book if you already know the story?
When I write a book review, I like to only provide 3-4 sentences max about the actual events that take place in the book. Essentially, you’re writing a quick blurb. The most important part of the book review isn’t what happens in the book but how it made you feel. So, give your readers a bit of understanding on what it is about, and then jump to the good stuff…your actual thoughts on the book.
Listing Your Likes and Dislikes
After writing your brief book summary, it’s time for you to give your opinion about the book. However, you don’t want to just rattle off random things. You should list out what you liked about the book and what you didn’t in a methodical manner.
There’s nothing wrong with being overly positive about a great book, but I’m sure there’s bound to be something you didn’t quite like. By providing both sides of the coin, you gain credibility as the book’s reviewer. Therefore, it is imperative that you strive to have specific likes and specific dislikes about all books you review.
One particular trick I’ve seen in other industries, that authors should adopt, is creating visual recap of the pros and cons lists that help the reader make sense of what you’ve said. It’s easy to see in this example through their use of large pros and cons images and checkmark system how they feel about the product. For another look, this example uses a stacked version which adds much needed height to their article and makes it look more aesthetically pleasing.
Creating a pros and cons list like this on your author website isn’t too difficult. Most WordPress Themes have some kind of charting element you can use to design this. And if you’re using a front-end builder such as Thrive, Beaver Builder, or Divi, these can be easily built through their templates or custom design. But if you don’t have too much skill in these matters, you can always find someone to design you a quick image on Fiverr.
Deliver Your Final Opinion
Okay, so you’ve got your hook, you quick synopsis, and you likes and dislikes. It’s time to give your final opinion. This is where you tell your readers whether or not they should or shouldn’t read the book.
For many authors out there, this can be extremely difficult. Some fear the effects of giving a strong negative review. Others become immobile due to indecision.
But here’s the thing: If you don’t have a strong final opinion or can’t give clearity to your readers on whether a book should or shouldn’t be read, then why did you decide to write the review?
So, roll up your sleeves, take a good swig of your coffee, and give your readers a clear final opinion.
Say something along the lines of:
“This book was amazing, and I recommend it to any fans who enjoy books like…”
“I’m not a fan of this book, and here’s why…”
Now, you don’t have to be as polarizing as that. You can take things in a more diplomatic approach by saying something like:
“While I personally didn’t find the book pleasing for the following reasons…It’s easy to see why fans of “book example” or “other book example” would. It’s just not my style.”
This ensures that your opinion is still delivered in a solid manner but doesn’t burn too many bridges.
One method I’ve seen used that more authors should start doing is to give actual grades to the book. Product reviews like this one break down the product into different aspects each with an individual grade that contributes to a final overall grade. Another prime example of using grades would be to use a numbered system like this that adds up to one final score.
If you write multiple book reviews, this helps your readers to establish a baseline of how you review books on your website by comparing final grades and criteria. When writing a book review, you could focus on categories such as character development, setting, pace, tone, or even entertainment value.
How to Make Your Review Look Even Better
Even if you follow the above structure for your book review, there’s no guarantee that your website visitor will actually read the whole thing. The truth is that most online readers are skimmers. And if your book review isn’t too friendly for them, they’ll just pass right through it.
However, there are a few tricks that you can use to get skimmers to slow down and read your content.
Spacing and Formatting is Key
Aside from your content itself, there’s another element of your review that you really need to keep in mind as you write it and that’s how it looks on screen. Are your paragraphs big and blocky with large swaths of text?
If so, you might want to reconsider your layout. Online readers aren’t too fond of digging through big paragraphs and closely spaced text. Furthermore, as studies show, shorter paragraphs in your posts, will lead to better engagement.
Check out this book review on Dune. While it’s full of great information, it presents as a wall of unending text that’s not so friendly for readers. However, you can change this up by adding tons of applicable pictures, graphics, buttons, and tables. In this book writing software review, you can see how the article contains plenty of extras to break through the monotony and helps the reader compartmentalize the information as the flow through the article.
Using Personal Proof to Build Credibility
For every great book review, there’s just as many not-so-good ones. You’ll run across tons of book reviews that look like they were written people who’ve never read the book. This can make the community very leery of bad review sites and reviewers.
That’s why it’s crucial that you actually have read the book and formed an honest opinion. Don’t steal from others’ ideas to piecemeal together your review.
One way to build credibility is to post pictures of you with the book—either in hand or at some of the quirky places you may have got some reading done. This shows your readers that you have indeed read the book you’re reviewing.
Bonus Idea: Creating a List of Recommended Reading
OK. So, this deviates from the traditional notion of a book review—but hear me out.
Instead of reviewing one book, why not create a list of your favorites for your particular genre and post it on your author website?
This is an awesome way to communicate to your fans what you like reading. If you like it, there’s a great chance that they will too. And this is an excellent chance to start monetizing your author website through the use of Amazon Affiliate links.
I really like the way Top Sci Fi Books handles this. For example, in their list of Best LitRPG Books, they include a clean picture of the book’s cover, a brief explanation, and an easy-to-find affiliate buy button.
So, if you’re not currently reading a book for review, consider creating a list of your favorites you’ve already fallen in love with.
Crafting a perfect book review doesn’t have to be difficult. You just need a little know-how. Just remember to break it down into our 4 structured pieces, and you’ll write a review much better than ever before. And by taking advantage of good formatting and personal proof, you can bet your readers will visit your author website for your next review.
I’m 34 years old and an 11 year veteran of the US Navy. I was also a military kid and so have lived in all corners of the globe. But that’s not what defines me. After my family, my real passion is books, but more specifically the new world of Kindle e-books. I’ve made a pretty decent side income out of them.
You could say ‘I have a certain set of skills’?
If I had to describe myself, I would start by saying I’m a husband and a father first and foremost. But when I am not playing dress up or chasing the Bogey Man out of the closet, I am an online entrepreneur specializing in Kindle e-book marketing.