Writing Good Book Reviews: Author-Reviewer Relationship – II

Writing Good Book Reviews: Author-Reviewer Relationship - II

Continuing from my previous post on author-reviewer relationship, here is a post on how to be a good book reviewer. Everyone who reads cannot be a good reviewer, let’s be very upfront about this. You need a keen eye for detail, to spot the soul of the story and then write a review. While the present trend is to get your books reviewed by as many bloggers as possible, an author needs to remember that not everyone does justice to the reviews. So, if you are an author, choose the reviewers wisely. And if you are planning to be a reviewer, make sure you follow the following steps:

Include a synopsis

Either write a synopsis yourself, right in the beginning of the review, or mention the blurb that is given at the back of the story. Whoever is reading your review would enjoy it more if they know the gist of the plot. Do not give away too much of the plot or talk about the climax.

What did you like in the book?

Yes, write the good bits first – for the sake of the author as well as the readers. You will agree that writing a book is no mean feat. Whether the book was a good read or not, never disrespect the hard work and emotions that have gone behind it. While you will of course list down the things that didn’t work for you, first let’s talk about the factors which did. You can begin with talking about:

  • How were the characters? Could you identify with them? Talk about the one you liked the most.
  • Which part of the story did you like the most?
  • Keep the grammar aside for a while, think of the author as a story teller – now tell what you think. Is the author a good story teller?
  • How was the plot? Racy, elaborate, relatable? Praise it.
  • What about the language used? Some like it simple; some like it classy. If it is how you like it, do mention so.

What did you not like in the book?

Yes, now it’s time to critique the book. But remember, it is someone’s hard work. While you shouldn’t be too lenient and omit some flaws, do remember to be kind. (eg) If you think the book needs editing, mention that. A poorly edited story doesn’t make the author a bad story-teller. The author will take that as constructive feedback and ensure that a professional editor runs a comb through the draft before it is published. This is especially important in India because other than a handful of big names, most publishers don’t spend much on getting the books edited.

Summarize and Rate

Finally, summarize your review. Does it get thumbs up or thumbs down? Do you recommend the book? Don’t forget to rate the book. Make sure that your review is honest and rational.


  • This is a tame post with lame ideas… reviewers need to call a spade a spade and not a bloody shovel. And bad writing isn’t always about bad editing and shoddy grammar.

    if ‘writing a book is no mean feat’, reading and reviewing one isn’t either. Reviewers are not people who do not understand what responsible writing is but must know when not to praise. If this is taken as a reviewer being ‘too harsh’ and irresponsible, then the author is probably looking for undeserving pats, which is rather undignified in any creative pursuit.

    There are too many people advising reviewers. I think it is authors who need to hold back manuscripts that anyway did not deserve to get published.

    Arvind Passey
    www (dot) passey (dot) info

  • I totally agree with your point that not everyone is a good reviewer. Every review, good or bad, should be justified by the reviewer so, that the author gets to know why the specific blogger disliked it. Very well written article.