March 15, 2014
I read a lot of book reviews from a variety of sources – New York Times, Washington Post, library journals, Goodreads, – as well as soliciting my friend’s and colleague’s opinions. It has been my job to select fiction in public libraries for the last 15 years. A few years ago I was asked to write reviews for the Portsmouth Herald (seacoastonline.com). No professional experience, so I just started writing. Over the years, I’ve refined the process to the steps below and because I was asked by a colleague to describe the process, I wrote them down. Not inclusive, not intellectually derived, not intended as a treatise or the last word on the topic, but merely guidelines. Would love to hear from other reviewers……
- Make notes while you read of poignant passages that stand out. (sticky notes are lovely for this purpose)
- Begin to write – anything that comes into your head – as if you were telling a friend about the book.
- Write until you run out of things to say.
- Let it sit.
- Revisit and edit.
- Make sure you have included an outline of the basic plot.
- Name names (characters).
- Name places.
- Setting – time.
- Intersperse quotes from the book (2-4).
- Add author bio at the end and mention other books written by this author. Provide a link to the author’s web site or blog.
- Most importantly let people know what *you* thought about the book– what other books does it remind you of. Why did you love it? Why did it come up short?
- Be honest but don’t be over-negative.
- Although I wouldn’t read reviews before you write yours (because you want original thoughts) I would add a link to the NYTimes or insert a quote from Booklist, Kirkus, etc.
- Mine are usually between 750 and 900+ words.
- Again set aside the draft.
- Read through for continuity, readability and finalize.
- I don’t usually do this – but have a friend read it.
- Hit SEND or SUBMIT before you change your mind!
- You can always revise on a blog.
HAPPY BOOK REVIEW WRITING!
Sherry Evans, Head of Public Services, 3.15.14