How To Write A Book Review

Being a book reviewer for a newspaper or magazine is a fun and rewarding task.  Not only do you get the opportunity to share great pieces of literature with the world, you also get acquainted with some of the biggest publishing houses this nation has to offer.

Although this may be a dream come true for a bookworm like you, there is a right way to write a book review.  First of all, you must be objective.  You need to take a stance as to whether or not the book in question is worth reading.  Second of all, you need to be able to communicate the key points of the story in a succinct fashion so the reader understands why you feel the way you do.  Last but not least, you need to let the audience know where they can find the book.  This typically includes identifying information about the publisher or the retailer that carries it.  With that being said, there are some steps you have to take to become a book reviewer in the first place.

How to Get Hired as a Book Reviewer

Respond to advertisements that seek reviewers.  You can find these in a number of locations.  One great place to look is Craigslist.  Also, pick up a copy of the Writer’s Marketplace. It is a tomb but has the contact information for every publishing house and magazine company in the nation.  This valuable resource will put you in touch with Editors and Publicists looking for reviewers.

Contact Publishing Houses for Review Copies of Books

Visit the website of the publishing house of your choice and look for a link on the page that reads “Media”.  Click on the link to find the email address of the individual that you want to make contact with.  Follow the guidelines for requesting a Review Copy of the book.  A short and straightforward email often does the trick.  Here is an example:

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am a writer for XYZ.  I was hoping to do a book review on one of your upcoming titles and was wondering if I could request a copy of The Idiot’s Guide To….My address is:

Reviewer Name

Street Address

City, State, and Zip Code

I will send you a PDF file containing the review once it goes live.  Thank you in advance for your time!  I look forward to working with you in the future.


Reviewer Name

Magazine or Ezine Name

Email Address

Writing a Compelling Review

Like all other forms of great writing, there is a formula to follow when you write a book review.  Keep in mind that you should draw your readers in by pointing out why or why they should not read the book.  You should give them a synopsis of events without giving the whole storyline away.  You should also give specific examples that back up your statement or claims.  Some publishers will even allow you to directly quote passages or share information with your readers if they know you are doing a review.  That information will be provided in the front of the book along with the date that it was published, the author’s name, and the title.

Notifying Publishers When the Review Goes Live

Once your article has been published or goes live, it is up to you to maintain a good relationship with the publishing house that you are working with.  That means that it is good etiquette to send them a hard copy of your review for their files.  Smaller publishing houses will often post the review directly on their website for publicity purposes.  Larger publishing houses may opt to use an excerpt of your review if it is favorable for the author.  In either case, create a PDF copy and send it to them via email.  This will give them a good impression of you as a writer and also provide you with the opportunity to review additional titles for them in the future.

Writing book reviews can open up the door for you by giving you the opportunity to get to know different authors, editors, and publicists.  If you are planning on writing your own book someday, this can be very beneficial in terms of your career.

Whether you want to become a reviewer for personal or professional reasons, one thing must remain clear.  Without a solid relationship with a publishing house and its employees, you may not find yourself getting very far.  Learn how to properly request Review Copies of books and follow up each inquiry with a PDF of the review.  Not only will reviewing be a quick way to bulk up your portfolio, it can earn you a few shelves worth of free books as well.

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