How To Turbo-Charge Your Book Reviews (Six Fail-Proof Methods)

How to Turbo-Charge Your Book Reviews - Six Fail-Proof Methods!

Book reviews are the staple of a book blog’s audience’s diet, yet they’re easily the thing that most people overlook. They’re also probably the most difficult type of post to write – they require a large amount of thought, probably more so than discussion posts. There’s always that fear that nobody else will agree with you, or that you’re only making 50% sense and the review is confusing.

giphy3
My biggest fear is a reader having this reaction

I’ve found that in my time as a book blogger, reviews generate the least amount of views and engagement. Discussion posts – as the name tends to give away – encourage much more discussion within readers, whereas reviews tend to bring a spike in views for one day, but little interaction.

But as a book blogger, you simple have to know how to write a good review. If you find that nobody is reading your reviews, then here are some tips to help you turbo-charge your book reviews.


Write between 400 and 500 words

Often, it all comes down to length. When writing a book review, the best length is between 400 and 500 words – that’s about three to four minutes of reading time. Any less, and your review seems sparse and unhelpful and it’s unlikely that you’ve covered enough. Any more, and people start to leave.

1000 word posts are only good when you can guarantee that your audience is going to stay until the end – majority of the time, this will be “How-To” posts, or posts that are so insanely useful that your reader just has no choice but to read to the end. The purpose of a book review is not to be entertaining (it can be funny, but that’s not its purpose), and it’s not helpful enough to warrant any more than 400-500 words. KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

keepitsimplestupid-1440x900

Break up the wall of text

A wall of text is the worst thing you can write. Nobody – I repeat, nobody – wants to come across something like this while browsing a blog:

useparagraphs2521

The easiest way to get rid of this is to go overboard with paragraphs. Make your paragraphs as frequent as logically possible. If it’s even vaguely on a different topic – GIVE IT A NEW PARAGRAPH.

Another way you can do this – and this is a little bit more interesting, but takes significantly more effort – is to add visuals. This might be reaction gifs, fan art, or just relevant images. I sometimes try to find fan art, but if it’s a ‘small’ book, and reaction gifs don’t really work in that particular post, then I just add super frequent paragraph breaks.

Another way is to bold and italicize important text. If you think there’s an important morsel of information that warrants a bold, then bold it.

Make your text easy to read

One of the rules of design is to make sure that your theme does not let your text go for ages across the page. By this, I means something like this:

Capture

If your text goes all the way across the page, then it’s too difficult to read. If it can only include six words per line, then it’s too short. The optimal length for reading a blog post – or anything, really – is something like this:

Capture

At this length, it’s really easy for your eyes to skim the words and read as quickly as possible. A lot of themes take this into consideration, and do make sure that text boxes aren’t too wide, but some themes don’t – and if you’re running a theme like that, then it would be in your best interest to change it. Making sure that your text is easily readable should be the first and foremost concern when it comes to writing posts.

Record your thoughts while reading

A fool-proof way to make sure that you don’t forget what you thought of the book while reading is simply to record it all. Personally, I use a notebook and for each new book I read, I just flick to an empty page, write the book name up the top and then write down various thoughts as I read, with page numbers next to them.

If you’re reading an e-book, I know that on iPad, it’s really easy to just highlight text and add a comment. I’m not sure about Kindle, but I’m 97% sure that there has to be that same function. (Update: Daniela @bookstogetlostin has just informed me that Kindle indeed, does have the same feature! Thank you!)

Then, when you’re reviewing the book, you can just flick open to those notes and write your review. So convenient!

Wait a while before reviewing

When I first started blogging, I would review a book almost immediately after I wrote it, which lead to a few problems, because a lot of my reviews would be: “OMG THIS BOOK IT WAS SO INCREDIBLE THE FEEEEELS I LOVE IT SO MUCH”, and then I’d wake up the next morning and go, “It doesn’t seem that good anymore”

nervous-gif
Right after reading
giphy4
The next morning

To counter this, I’ve taken to leaving it at least one day after reading before reviewing it, so that my reviews aren’t overly emotional. It also helps put you in a better frame of mind, so you can write a clear, concise review.

If you’re scared that you’ll forget all of your thoughts about the book, then not to fear! The previous point helps out there 😉

Shake it up

From time to time, shake it up a little. If you always write reviews with gifs, maybe write one with fan art. If you always write well-structured essays with introductions, body paragraphs and conclusions, maybe just write a list of things you liked and didn’t like. If you really enjoyed a book and you’re good at graphics, offer wallpapers. If you can afford to, offer a giveaway. Changing it up will stop you from going insane, and stop your readers from getting bored.


Thanks for reading all of this. If you have any questions or thoughts, drop me a comment below. Let me know how it goes if you decide to implement any of these ideas!

Advertisements

40 thoughts on “How To Turbo-Charge Your Book Reviews (Six Fail-Proof Methods)

  1. Ah! Changing it up is some great advice and something I’ve actually been debating lately. I’ve noticed that my book reviews are A) long and b) structured. I use my reviews as a way of coming to my rating, but for the most part I keep them as objective as possible. Which seems silly since a book review is meant to be my opinion of the book, no? Well, I’m glad I read this because while I enjoy my style of book reviews, I fear it may not be the best option for my readers. I may have to look into doing something a little different for them to be as interested in my book reviews as I am, even if that means posting two different kinds of reviews for the same book. Hmm…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is all really good advice! (Why have I not found your blog before?)

    I think the length point is important. I don’t follow blogs with particularly short reviews because it seems as if nothing is being said. But people will also just skim very long reviews because in the end you’re really looking for a general idea of whether the book is good or not.

    I also do occasionally come across blogs with font that’s kind of hard to read. I know the default font on the them I chose from WordPress has fairly small text, so I made a point of changing the font to something more readable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s particularly annoying when somebody chooses a script font (like a super ornate, fancy curvy font) and then does all their titles in capital letters – it’s so incredibly hard to read script fonts when they’re in capital letters 0_o Thank you for dropping by! 🙂

      Like

  3. Pingback: Sunday Post | July 10, 2016

  4. Cait @ Paper Fury

    Omg I just failed SO MANY OF THESE.😂 My reviews are usually about 800-1,000 words and I alway review straight after reading. ALTHUOGH! I put that review on goodreads…and then when I go to review for my blog, I actually edit and try to make it a little more sensible. So sort of win?
    But the others I 100000% agree with FOR SURE. Big blocks of text are horrifying. Agh. I’m also a big fan of font changes and size variations! Keeps the eyes engaged. OH. And lists. Lists are easy to skim too. Basically try to make your review easy to skim.😂 hahaah. We internet people are super lazy.
    LOVED THIS LIST OF TIPS.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CAIT IT’S ALL FINE FOR YOU YOU’RE SO FUNNY YOU CAN DEFINITELY GUARANTEE THAT WE’RE GOING TO STAY UNTIL THE END OF YOUR GARGANTUOUS POSTS 😄 AND YES. We book bloggers sit down to read an 820 page book and we’re like GAH. Easy. And then when we have to read any more than 4 sentences on the internet, the brain cells just DIE 0_o

      Like

  5. Pingback: Books And Life And The World In General (AKA I’ve-Given-Up-Coz-It’s-So-Not-Weekly Recap) – The Galaxial Word

  6. I need to learn to record my thoughts while reading in ONE place. I jot down on newspapers, tissues and even TP (yes I have a pen on the bathroom) and then have to remember what I kitten down because I forgot to save it.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. GAH. True 😄 I would say do it on your computer but that’s a bit unwieldly 😦 (I’ve actually written WHOLE POSTS purely on a phone while I’ve been out and about. Then I just email to myself and make a graphic and voila! Done!)

          Like

  7. Ah, the irony of book reviews having the least views on book blogs! But it’s true. I try to change mine up regularly – sometimes a short view with bullet points, other times a longer essay, other times a literary mixtape. If I’m getting behind I do ‘Twitter reviews’ – a review in 140 words or less.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. These tips are AMAZING Paul, and I completely agree with all of them! Formatting your post (breaking paragraphs up, bolding, etc) is definitely important and can definitely be used to help keep your readers engaged. And taking notes while you’re reading is a great tip too! Thanks for sharing and, as always, fantastic post!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your tips are fabulous Paul, I love them! Until the last month, I never used to record my reactions to the book. I have no inner monologues in my brain or any violent reactions. Just me devouring a book shamelessly 😛 This tip does work for me as I’m a frequent e-reader (I hate being one though) but when it comes to manga, it doesn’t work as I don’t use notebooks and I read pretty late at night!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, that’s one huge benefit when it comes to being an e-reader – you can keep track of notes and quotes and thoughts sooper, dooper easily and quickly. It takes a significantly larger amount of time to actually get a notebook and write out the quote and whatnot. I’ve never reviewed manga, so I wouldn’t know, but I imagine it would be pretty hard to write out your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Kindle does have the same feature and it is incredible helpful. I’d be lost without it.

    I do tend to stay away from reviews using gifs, because it’s just too much for my eyes. Plain text will do. But I know a lot of people love using and seeing gifs.

    Anyway, great tips.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great! Thanks for telling me – I’ve updated that bit about Kindles 😀 Gifs do tend to get a little bit chaotic, plus they take a lot of effort to find (gah, slow internet). I particularly recommend static fan art for reviews of books that are large enough to gather fan art!

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed them 🙂

      Like

  11. Thank you – that was so very helpful (:
    weirdly enough, my book reviews are the most popular posts on my blog yet have almost non interaction with the readers.
    Well, as long as people read them and as long as maybe… just maybe… I managed to convince them to read this book – I’m happy (:
    I can’t tell you how much I agree with the fear of thinking your reviews will get you that “what?” respose.
    When I write a review, I’m constantly terrified I’m either boring\making no sense\overly enthusiastic or just plain weird.
    Up until now, I always posted my reviews immediately after reading the book. After reading this post, I think I’m going to try the ‘waiting at least one day’ method (:
    Thank you for all those great advices!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely recommend waiting a little bit! It always helps my reviews to be a little bit more coherent. It sounds a little bit like you’re overworrying! Don’t worry too much about what your reviews sound like – I’m sure your readers love you and your reviews! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Good ideas. I think the best one for me is to take notes or write down reflections as I read. I did it once, but I think I will try to make it a habit. I discipline myself to write at least a first draft of the review, even if I don’t finalize and post it right then, before I allow myself to start reading the next book. It is a great motivator to avoid procrastination and I remember the details better. Everyone is different, but probably the most important thing is to think about what works best for you and do it intentionally.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do it almost religiously now! It’s always super helpful to look back at your notes while you review a book and think: “Oh I thought that at that page and I haven’t added it in yet”, especially if you’re running low on things to say. I don’t tend to draft my posts unless they’re posts that I foresee will be more popular ones – such as tutorials and discussions and whatnot. 😀

      Like

  13. Haha, I love this post! Great tips all around, Paul. Nothing makes me skim faster than a huge wall of text waiting for me to read it… My attention span just isn’t that good and I honestly am just too lazy to devote that much concentration, which is why line breaks are so very important.

    Recording my thoughts has also been super helpful when writing reviews! I do question your word count tip, though, not because I disagree but mostly because there are some books that warrant a bit more discussion. That being said, I guess everyone writes reviews for different reasons. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think anyone’s attention span is really good enough to read a wall of text word for word! Which is why, of course, it’s so crucial to add line breaks and whatnot.

      I find that if you have a discussion about the book that spills well into 600/700 word territory, then it’s probably best left as a separate post – that way, you can actually kill three birds with one stone. The review (doesn’t take you as long because it’s shorter), the audience (more engaged because the review is shorter) and the discussion (and extra post idea!)

      Like

What do you think? Let me know!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s