Why is there such hype around book reviews? What are they exactly? What good do they do to readers? Why is it so important for authors to get honest reviews for their books? In fact, where should one look if they are looking for legitimate reviews for their tomes? How does one know what a good book review looks like?
In the ever-evolving world of publishing, these questions have crossed the minds of authors and readers at one time or another. This article aims to do its best to put a rest to all these queries.
How book reviews came to be
Let us begin from the beginning. It is almost an impossible feat to cite one particular person who started the tradition of reviewing books. However, in most circles, Photios I of Constantinople has been credited as “the inventor of the book-review.” This is because of his astounding work, ‘Bibliotheca,’ a 9th century treatise consisting of 279 book reviews.
So, what are book reviews? As per the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a book review is “a descriptive and critical or evaluative account of a book.” In simple words, a book review is the analysis of a book on the basis of parameters such as content, writing style, characterization, and appeal. It is a form of literary criticism.
Book review structure
As simple as it may seem, writing a proper book review is not an easy task. Reviewing books is an art. A perfect book review must cater to the needs of both readers and authors. It should be an unbiased analysis of the book that would aid readers to make the all-important decision to pick up the book. Reviewers should ensure that the message that the author intends to convey is properly presented. At the same time, the reviewer must make sure that no spoiler is revealed.
A perfect book review is always engaging. It is best to start off with a hook statement or a particularly intriguing quote from the book. Having said that, a proliferation of quotes might make the review tedious. Hence, a fine balance has to be maintained.
The review must give readers a sneak peek into the book to give them a fair idea about the book. A short spoiler-free summary would do this job. The write-up should shed light on all the aspects that would play a significant role in a prospective reader’s decision. From structure to writing style, from characterization to plot, from themes to triggers, everything should be discussed in detail. Editing plays an important role. A book riddled with errors can detract from the reading experience and spoil the flow of the plot. Authors and publishers go through a lot of trouble to make sure that their books are professionally edited. Hence, reviewers should talk about editing as well. Having said that, it is of utmost importance that a professional book review is well-edited. Only then would it be credible.
A book review is an opinion piece first and foremost. It varies from crisp book reports. So, a reviewer must ensure that their reviews have a personal touch. They should present their own thoughts and opinions about every aspect of the book. Any good book review discusses both the pros and cons of the book in question. It goes without saying that the cons should be presented in a constructive manner.
When reviewers talk about their favorite and least favorite aspects of the book, the review becomes more relatable to readers. It works wonders in convincing readers to give the book a shot. An honest review benefits book readers and authors alike.
A book review is incomplete if it does not specifies a target audience. By recommending the book to readers who they think would enjoy the book, the reviewer enhances the viability of the book itself.
In order to write a review that covers all the aforementioned aspects, it is evident that an ideal review should consist of at least five hundred words. For clarity and ease of reading, the review should be delineated into at least five paragraphs.
Hence, professional reviewers have their work cut out for them. They should truly understand the book and its message to be able to pen a review fit for it.
Significance of book reviews
Now, you may be wondering why you should get reviews for your books? What is in it for you as the author? With the advent of technology, we now have access to a plethora of books, be it hardcovers or eBooks. Gone are the days when authors had to wait for eons to get their manuscripts approved by traditional publishing houses. The ease of self-publishing has made it possible for many brilliant books to hit the bookshelves. As it is with everything, this has a con as well. With the availability of so many varied books, it becomes very easy for a worthy read to be lost in the throng. Authors dedicate a lot of hard work and time to giving shape to their books. Hence, it is indeed a shame for a book to not reach the target audience.
In today’s world, promotion has become almost as important as writing the book itself. Reviews play a significant role in book promotion. There are millions of readers who decide on their next read based on book reviews. After all, word of mouth is the best promotion tool of all time.
Now, you may ask how? Let me explain. What would you do if you hear raving reviews about a movie from a number of your friends and family members? In addition to that, you also keep finding articles about it online or in various magazines. Even if you are not too keen on it, you might feel the urge to give it a try. That’s human nature. The same thing is applicable to books.
Reviews bring books to readers’ notice. When readers come across well-written reviews about your book, more often than not, they will want to read it. Professional book reviews and accolades add more credence to books.
Now, you may be wondering how to get reviews for your books. Worry not. We are going to talk about some amazing free as well as paid options.
Top 10 places to get free book reviews
Getting a well-written review for your book is not so easy. Let us look at some websites where you can get your books reviewed for free.
- Publishers Weekly: A Publishers Weekly Review or PW review is usually around 200 words. Reviewers are published anonymously in the Publishers Weekly magazine or publishersweekly.com. Authors can submit their books at no cost. However, a review is not guaranteed.
- Compulsive Reader: Edited by Magdalena Ball, Compulsive Reader has been publishing reviews since 2001. Along with traditionally published books, the website also accepts review offers from self-published authors. On top of that, the eclectic group of reviewers also reviews music and film.
- Readers’ Favorite: The website publishes reviews for books, both published and unpublished, in over a hundred genres. Although a review is not guaranteed for all uploaded books, the authors may choose their expedited review option for a fee. The unique aspect of this site is that it does not publish reviews that have a rating below 4. Instead, constructive feedback is shared with the concerned author.
- The Los Angeles Review of Books: It is a non-profit organization that welcomes review requests from authors and publishers. In addition to this, they are also open to various story pitches.
- The Rumpus: The Rumpus is a diverse platform that publishes reviews of books and other art forms from varied genres. It believes in giving opportunities to unknown authors.
- American Book Review: The American Book Review has been a stalwart in the publishing world for over thirty years. Apart from self-help and how-to books, it critiques books of almost all genres. The bimonthly publication focuses on literary and cultural pieces.
- Rain Taxi Review of Books: The Rain Taxi Review of Books offers a platform for books that are overlooked by mainstream media. This includes books authored by BIOPIC authors, LGBTQIA+ authors, and other marginalized authors. The quarterly publication is available both online and in print.
- The New York Review of Books: Beginning its journey in 1963, The New York Review of Books continues to remain an independent editorial voice. It publishes reviews for books from multiple genres.
- Love Books Group: The blog focuses on lifting up authors. At absolutely no cost at all, they offer honest reviews. They do not publish reviews with 1 or 2 star ratings.
- Book Smugglers: Ana Grilo and Thea James headline the blog. They accept Advance Reading Copies and Review Copies of books. Although speculative fiction, young adult novels, and romance are preferred, they are open to considering books of other genres as well.
Top 10 places to get paid book reviews
Free reviews are not always readily available and may not always meet reader or author expectations. In fact, there is no guarantee to get sure-shot reviews at no cost. Here are some sites that offer value for money reviews:
- Feathered Quill: They offer a variety of book promotion options. Their spotlight placement makes the book highly visible. At a minimum cost of $50, they promise to publish reviews of children’s books within two to four weeks. $125 is the one-time fee for books of other genres.
- IndieReader: With a team of journalists, editors, librarians, and published authors, IndieReader delivers on its promise to provide quality reviews. They take 5-9 weeks to provide reviews at a minimum fee of $275.
- Kirkus Reviews: Kirkus is a highly acclaimed review publication that charges at least $425. The reviews are made available in 7-9 weeks. Some select reviews are published in the monthly print magazine.
- Online Book Club: Led by webmaster, Scott Hughes, the website has been a hotspot for book lovers since 2006. They offer reviews to authors for a minimum cost of $97. The turn-around time for reviews to be made live is 4 months.
- Foreword Reviews: Since 1998, Foreword Reviews has been on a mission to help readers discover amazing books published by indie publishers. Clarion, their fee-for-review service, made waves when it was introduced in 2001. They offer credible reviews for Indie books at a cost of at least $499. They aim to deliver reviews in 4-6 weeks.
- BlueInk Reviews: With a team of experienced and pro reviewers, BlueInk Reviews aims to provide quality reviews. They have the option to have book reviews featured in the Booklist magazine. They have also partnered with Foreword Clarion to provide a 2-review package. They charge a minimum of $395.
- Self-Publishing Review: Self-Publishing Review or SPR has been publishing reviews since 2008. They provide options for starred reviews. They have four plans. The starting price is $89. They have a minimum turnaround time of 7 days.
- The Independent Review of Books: The Independent Review of books accepts fictional books and trade non-fiction books. Their reviews contain at least 300 words and are published in 4-5 weeks. They charge $250.
- Literary Titan: Literary Titan provides guaranteed reviews in 45 days on their own website and on various other sites like GoodReads and BookBub. Their services start at $59.
- Pacific Book Review: The Pacific Book Review aims to help authors promote their books. They provide a number of review plans for authors and publishers. Their standard plan costs $300.
Free and paid ways to get book reviews through BREW
Based in Australia, The Chrysalis BREW Project is an award-winning platform for book lovers and content creators from all over the world. The Chrysalis BREW Project understands the importance of book promotion and the significance of making books viable to readers. Hence, we offer some spectacular options for authors.
- Authors can claim their free BREW Author’s Profile, Interview, and Book Post at absolutely no cost. Once authors claim their profile and share their book’s details, a post is created for them on the website and shared with a plethora of audiences. The current waiting time to get a book review through this pathway is 1 year or less.
- BREW also offers a unique review exchange program. Authors can review other books in exchange for a review of their own. This program is free as well.
- The Chrysalis BREW Project provides some amazing review packages that guarantee a number of unbiased and uplifting reviews. Authors can get 2 reviews in 3 to 6 months. If they decide to upgrade, the reviews would be made available in as little as 1 month. This highly in-demand service costs starting from 70 AUD (approximately 48 USD only) and price varies according to word count, turnaround time, and reviewer experience. The unique aspect of this service is that authors can reserve the right to unpublish a review for any reason.
- When authors take advantage of the opportunity of nominating their book for the BREW Book Awards, they become entitled to have their book reviewed for free. For every paid nomination, one or two reviews are guaranteed to be made available in 3 to 6 months. Paid nominations start at 80 AUD (approximately 55 USD only) per book per category.
Getting your book reviewed by The Chrysalis BREW Project is a sure-fire way to ensure that your book reaches the masses. With its huge diverse readership, press release options, and commitment to your book, The Chrysalis BREW Project is an amazing pathway to your goal of success.
In today’s cut-throat publishing world, marketing plays an invaluable part in the success of a book. Reviews have become an essential tool for book promotion. Invariably, they shed the limelight on books and bring them on the readers’ radar. Reviews add credibility to books and make them viable. Hence, garnering genuine and professional reviews for one’s book is very significant.