Internet is flooded with various publishing houses, authors and third-party dealers offering review copies of books to those who have a knack of reading, in exchange for honest views. The situation is a win-win for both parties; authors benefit by making their work reach out to masses and book reviewers get to feast on different genres, not to mention getting some of the earliest copies coming out in the market and if lucky enough, exclusive merchandises. Even if a third party is involved, it makes sure they too get their fair share of shout out. Now a days if a reviewer is good at his job, big publishing houses do not hesitate to send them review copies directly.
The rise of social media and blogging community has made this whole thing very lucrative. However, a book reviewer must not forget writing a book carries a tremendous amount of time and energy by the author and hence must use his words judiciously. Book reviewing carries a degree of power and to quote Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility“. Though reviewing promotes creativity and originality, there are some ways by which you can do well, conditions applied.
- Be Original: First and foremost, you should not copy-paste the blurb given at the back. Blurb is the summary of the whole story. Authors generally give an idea of what is inside and reviewers generally tend to pick and place the whole thing. What is important is to give an idea to the audience but at the same time, not giving anything away, plot-wise. Then your reviews should be a mirror of what you felt while reading. It is very possible that the same book has been received by many others apart from you, so it becomes more important to write what YOU felt while going through the book. Originality- Always!
- Be Creative: As I already mentioned, there are lots of review copies available online. There are more reviewers waiting to lay their hands on the book you want to read. Then the question, why will someone read your review and buy the book? Or more importantly, why will you get a review copy? Creativity can be in various forms, be it humour and/or trendy lines in the review(your own style), taking pictures of book with catchy background or different angles, a V-log or anything else. In fact, how you present the whole thing is also an art, few can decipher. Remember amigos, sky is the limit!
- Use that Social Media Jinn: It is a jinn, right? The power of social media has endless possibilities, of course if used judiciously[ 😉 ]. There are ‘n’ number of platforms to showcase your reviews; facebook, twitter, blogs, goodreads, medium, amazon and what not. Content sharing and the main purpose of book reviewing: giving the author’s work a shoutout and putting you apart from the crowd can take a leap if you maximize the potential of internet sharing to the fullest. Ready? Get, set, sign up!
- Focus on quality: It is becoming a known fact that people like to go through any post quickly or should I say just skim through if they do not find anything that catches their attention. So it becomes imperative that you should keep the review crsip and interesting enough to hold your reader’s attention. If you are an active blogger, where like minds meet, you can lengthen the review as people over there will be more patient than say a facebook or twitter. But that does not mean you should go on a loop and just for the sake of it, write a 1000 word review. Bottom line- understand your audience.
- Say NO to bashing: It is very much possible that you don’t like the content once you are done reading. One way to avoid it, as I usually do, is to understand what I will like and what I won’t and picking accordingly(conditions applied- if I get to pick and choose). Assuming this will not work and all you want is to vent out all the frustration with beautiful adjectives, you should restrain yourself. In the beginning of this blog piece, I mentioned how any book takes a hell lot of effort from the author’s part. Believe me, I write small pieces here and there and even though it is less than 500 words, it saps me. So just think what would have gone through a 300 odd page novel. You should take a neutral stand and list the positives and negatives accordingly.
- Include extra information: Once you are done writing your review, you can add relevant information like number of pages(yes, people still look at that :P), genre of book, a small note about the author, different versions of the book, if available(nothing better than the smell of old paperback, but kindle is the new cool, sigh) or anything you might find useful. Remember, it is the small details that count. Say a major publisher or an upcoming publishing house with an award will completely change the view of your reader, just like that!
- Review Style: This probably summarizes the whole blog. How you want to put up the review- paragraph, point-wise, plot-development wise, major headings including introduction to plot to your view to the end-points, is completely upto you. As I said, creativity and your audience- these two things together should make up the major chunk of how you are about to present the review. Put together relevant images, edit them accordingly(fancy-editing-applications people rejoice), do whatever you want to. Remember, the author is the king, but it is your review.