Book Blogging 101: 7 Tips to Improve Your Book Reviews

I had another post planned for today but had to change my mind at the last moment. I didn’t have enough material for it and wanted to do it full justice as it’s something close to my heart so I will be posting it next Saturday. As for today’s post, I have decided to bring back my series on tips for book bloggers in a bigger and better way to help out the community I’m a part of. Please note that I will be talking about what has worked for me based on my experience, so if you don’t agree with me or have something to add, please let me know in the comments so everyone, including myself, can learn something new. With that little disclaimer aside, here are my personal tips to write a good book review post.

Book Blogging 101 - 7 Tips to Improve Your Book Reviews | Nandini @ Unputdownable Books (post graphic image)

Tip #1: Provide information about the book

This is a very basic step in the reviewing process and I’ve seen a lot of top bloggers do this as well. Your audience isn’t going to be familiar with every book you read automatically, so talking a little bit about the book before discussing your thoughts is an absolute must, in my opinion. While I think a review on a blog should have a section about the book, I find it unnecessary to have the synopsis in a Goodreads or Amazon review as the site will already have it along with other book information. I personally like to include the genre, age range, publication date, content warnings, synopsis from Goodreads and links to the book (and the author) towards the end.

Book Blogging 101 - 7 Tips to Improve Your Book Reviews | Nandini @ Unputdownable Books (Tip 1 image)

Tip #2: Make notes while reading or just after finishing the book

One thing I’ve found that helps me out is writing down some key initial thoughts after I finish the book. I usually hate breaking the flow of the story to take down notes, but if you can do it, all the better. I jot down brief points on how I felt about the characters, whether I found the plot interesting and how I liked the writing style so I can expand on those later on when I write my review. You can also keep a small set of questions handy that you can answer at the end of the book and then base your published review on those, which can help lend structure to your reviews as well. You can write it down in a notebook, a Word document, a notes app or even the private notes section on Goodreads. The key here is not to get bogged down by details but write down overall general impressions that will serve as reference points to build your review on.

Book Blogging 101 - 7 Tips to Improve Your Book Reviews | Nandini @ Unputdownable Books (Tip 2 image)

Tip #3: Present your thoughts in an organised way

I really like it when a reviewer has their thoughts organised beforehand rather than rambling all over the place. I have an ‘expectations vs reality’ style of reviewing in which I talk about characters, plot, world-building and writing style in order. Of course, you can choose your own way to do this. One popular method is to list your likes and dislikes. Whatever you decide on, it’s a good practice to stick to that so your reviews look coherent and well thought-out. It can also become a way to distinguish yourself from other bloggers and reviewers, so choose a format that works well with your blogging/writing voice.

Book Blogging 101 - 7 Tips to Improve Your Book Reviews | Nandini @ Unputdownable Books (Tip 3 image)

Tip #4: Edit and revise

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone mention this but this is something I make sure to do for all my reviews. I first write out my thoughts on the book and then I like to see if any of my friends have reviewed it or check out some reviews on Goodreads to see what others have thought. I like to provide a balanced perspective, so taking a look at others’ point of view will often let me pick up on a few things that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise and then examine what I felt about them. Sometimes I end up adding those to my review as well. If I’m not #OwnVoices for a certain type of representation, I try to hunt for #OwnVoices reviews so I can highlight if there are any issues/problems that my bias/experience didn’t allow me to see. I give myself a day between my first draft and my revision so I can put some distance and analyse it objectively to cut out unnecessary details and provide a more balanced perspective.

Book Blogging 101 - 7 Tips to Improve Your Book Reviews | Nandini @ Unputdownable Books (Tip 4 image)

Tip #5: Be careful with spoilers

I prefer to keep my reviews spoiler-free because I firmly believe that expressing your views at the cost of another reader’s enjoyment is not a nice thing to do. I was spoiled for Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli and I couldn’t like the book as much as I wanted to because I knew the mystery all along. Sometimes it may be necessary to post spoilers to fully illustrate your views on a certain scene/aspect in the book and discuss it with other readers. If that is the case, make sure to include them as an expandable section upon clicking so readers can choose whether to see it or not. Goodreads automatically handles this, but you can use simple HTML and CSS to do it on your blog too.

Book Blogging 101 - 7 Tips to Improve Your Book Reviews | Nandini @ Unputdownable Books (Tip 5 image)

Tip #6: Include a rating and recommendations

A rating towards the start or the end will give a clear indication of your overall thoughts on the book. Many bookish sites use this metric to recommend books to readers, so people have grown accustomed to seeing a rating along with a review. You can get as creative with your rating scale as you want to stand out from the crowd. No review is complete without having a line or two to sum up what kind of readers would enjoy the book you are reviewing. Regardless of what you thought about the book, every reader has different tastes, so adding this helps people decide for themselves whether to pick the book up for themselves. A small paragraph summarizing your feelings and recommendations for other readers at the end will add more value to your review. I take it a bit further and add pairing notes for each book with some music and food recommendations, so if you’d like to add similar extras, those can go here as well.

Book Blogging 101 - 7 Tips to Improve Your Book Reviews | Nandini @ Unputdownable Books (Tip 6 image)

Tip #7: Be honest

This seems like a no-brainer but I think it’s worth repeating as integrity is a very important aspect of book blogging. Many people do paid reviews or receive a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Make a mention of that somewhere in the review so you cover your legal bases. If there’s any kind of compensation involved, make it clear from the start that you will be posting your sincere thoughts and that the other party, be it the publisher or the author, has no say in the content of your review.

Book Blogging 101 - 7 Tips to Improve Your Book Reviews | Nandini @ Unputdownable Books (Tip 7 image)


Let's discuss (blog graphic)

I hope this gave you a few pointers on how to make your book reviews better! Do you have any additional tips? Let me know in the comments section below your own reviewing process and style.

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Want to write more interesting book reviews for your blog? Follow these simple 7 tips to make them instantly better | Nandini @ Unputdownable Books

40 thoughts on “Book Blogging 101: 7 Tips to Improve Your Book Reviews

  1. Great post Dini… I think I’ve gotten slightly better after I decided to divide my review into sections.. it definitely helps in structuring properly…
    I still struggle with spoilers but I think I’m getting the hang of it now 😊😊😊
    Anyways, I’m gonna bookmark this so I can always have it handy for a refresher πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you so much !!! I obviously got the idea from you and a few others… 😊😊😊
        Ya I think I’m getting better at gushing slightly less… usually I go into spoiler mode when I love the book too much πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Haha I know that. You just can’t help yourself sometimes! πŸ™ˆ But it’s okay, you’ll get the hang of it and there are always friends you can DM to gush about the book you loved instead of putting it in your review. 😊

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Ohh thank god for friends who read but finding someone who’s read the same book is not always easy… that’s y I love reading the progress reactions on Goodreads.. lots of fun !!!
        And thanks for the book club, atleast I’ll have one book to discuss with you every month…

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Great list, I found that I actually do follow some of them even though my own review posts tend to be a lot less structured.

    As a blog reader I would add though that if someone uses the Goodreas synopsis I very much appreciate if there is a headline or other clearly visible indication of were the synopsis ends and the actual review starts (like you have). Especially if I’m reading several reviews of the same book I prefer it when it is easy to skip the synopsis which tend to be the same everywhere.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh, thank you so much—even after 4 years of blogging, this post gave me some great new ideas and inspiration! I love the idea of giving book/music/food/whatever pairings at the end of your review—I’m DEFINITELY gonna try that out! I agree about organization and editing, it’s super helpful to both you *and* your readers. Another thing I’d say is figure out when your best time period to review a book is—do you like to review things when your fresh out of a book or do your thoughts need to marinate and settle for a few days in order for you to draw any conclusions? Figuring this out helped me write about my feelings and thoughts with a lot more clarity than before. Thanks so much for the awesome tips!

    Liked by 2 people

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  5. Ooh I learned a lot from this post, Nandini! I haven’t been adding any ratings to my book reviews because they hadn’t seem so important then, but now I believe I might have to revamp my book reviews! I love the idea of adding in what kind of readers might enjoy the book is a good idea!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wouldn’t say ratings are absolutely necessary but a lot of people just look at the rating to help their decision and you need not stick to Goodreads’ 5 star rating. Marie from Drizzle and Hurricane Books gives little hurricane ratings which are so cute! 😍 I’ve seen so many creative ones and you can tweak them any way that suits you but still convey a numerical value to the readers. I’m so happy that you found these tips helpful, Cam! β™₯️ Let me know how they work out for you. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think organization is key! I know some bloggers have told me they feel they don’t really need any structure because they’re not writing for school, but I think a good review still guides the reader through the main ideas and the textual evidence. What is school for if not learning how to write effectively in real world scenarios?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, Krysta! I don’t like rambling reviews either. Yeah, there is a reason they teach you that stuff in school. Even if you don’t follow any classical structure strictly, it’s still a good idea to have whatever you’re comfortable with that doesn’t feel like it’s restricting you but at the same time helping the reader make sense out of your review. Thanks for your input! β™₯️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think people tend to equate structure with writing an academic essay when, in fact, as you point out, there are various types of structures. And informal writing doesn’t have to mean a lack of structure.

        Liked by 2 people

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  8. Gayathri Lakshminarayanan

    These are all great pointers Nandini! And I guess I follow most of them, except for the rating one. I get so frustrated when I have to score a book on five or ten. “Am I doing justice to it? Do I love this one as much as the other four star books here? Are they comparable?” And that overwhelmed me so much and that is why I stopped rating books on my blog.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah, completely understand that rating is very difficult. I struggle with it too, so I have my own scale and own rules that I’ve put in my review policy. My ratings are kind of intuitive, so to speak, and I usually do that right after I finish the book. I have actively stopped comparing with other books and never revisit my ratings. Maybe you’ll find this helpful? 😊
      The reason I think ratings are important is because many people take just that and don’t bother to read the full review, so it’s a very powerful summary of your entire review. But you do you, girl! β™₯️

      Liked by 1 person

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