How to Write Book Reviews by Rayne Hall

Writing book reviews is a great way to share your opinions – and as a bonus, you can get free books.


Structuring Your Review

1. Start with a sentence about what kind of book this is, for example:

Doomed Affair is a love story between a poor student and a wealthy socialite”

Dark Seed is a horror novel about vampire children.”

“This is a book on how to grow pumpkins.”


2. Next, list everything you liked. You may want to mention who was your favourite character (and why), which was your favourite chapter (and why), what you liked about the writing style, what you liked about the plot, what made you laugh or cry or sit on the edge of your seat. If you liked nothing about the book, you can skip this step.


3. List everything you hated. Say what you found boring, confusing, annoying, or daft. If you liked everything about the book, you can skip this step.


4. Add a summary of your impressions, for example:

“This is one of the scariest books I’ve ever read.”

“This book is useful only for people with previous pumpkin-growing experience.”

“I found it funny and exciting.”

“The book is so scary, I couldn’t sleep all night.”

“I found it practical but confusing.”


6. Say how you got this book, for example:

“I bought this book at”

“I purchased this book in a local bookshop.”

“I received this book as a Christmas present.”

If the publisher has given you a free book for reviewing, say so honestly, for example:

“I received a complimentary review copy.”


Where to Publish Your Reviews

Newspapers and magazines used to publish many book reviews, but nowadays, hardly any do. However, many websites need book reviews, especially,, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, and LibraryThing.

Sometimes you need to be a customer, sometimes you need to have bought that particular book there, but most sites require merely that you sign up as a member. You can also publish book reviews on your own blog or as a guest post on someone else’s blog.

Reviewers don’t normally get paid.


How to Get Free Books

Book reviewers get free books from publishers.

Many publishers are grateful if their books get reviewed online. Once you’re an established reviewer, you can contact publishers and ask for review copies on your favourite genre. But first, you need to get reviews published to show that you can do it.

Don’t be shy to ask for free books to review. Some publishers may ignore your request, some may decline, but most will agree.

Before asking for a review copy, check the book’s free sample pages to make sure it’s something you want to read.

Small publishers are more willing than big publishers to give free books to new reviewers. Indie publishers are more willing than legacy publishers. E-books are more readily available than print books. You may want to start by reviewing many indie-published e-books, and work your way up from there.

There’s nothing ethically wrong with accepting free books – just don’t promise to praise them. Even if you’ve been given a book for free, your review must be your honest opinion. By giving you a free book, the publisher is not purchasing a positive review. If you’ve received a book to review and you don’t want to read it, you’re not obliged to.


What Not To Do

* Don’t let anyone cajole you into praising a book you don’t like – not even if they’re your best buddies. If you like the person but not the book, simply don’t review it.

* Don’t let anyone bribe you into praising a book you don’t like. Accepting money or gifts for fake reviews is dishonest.

* Don’t predict how other people will like the book. Don’t write “This story will keep you awake” or “Trust me, you won’t regret buying this.”

* Don’t talk about the author’s character. Don’t write “Joe’s really a lovely guy who deserves success” “The author is clearly a virgin, because her sex scenes are unrealistic” or “Only a psychopath would write such a book.”

* Don’t review a book you haven’t read.

* Don’t review a book you wouldn’t normally read. If it’s not your kind of book, you can’t give a fair opinion.

* Don’t tell other people what they must do. Don’t write “You absolutely must buy this book” or “Avoid this book at all costs.” Instead, describe the book so that they can make up their own minds. The best reviews are the ones which help other people make their own decisions.


Do You Want to Review One of Rayne Hall’s Books?

If you want to review one of these books, I’ll send you a free copy – yes, even if you’re a novice at review writing. Storm Dancer (dark heroic fantasy novel), Six Scary Tales Vol 1, 2 and 3 (mild horror stories), Writing Scary Scenes (for authors), Writing Fight Scenes (for authors), Bites: Ten Tales of Vampires, Haunted: Ten Tales of Ghosts, Scared: Ten Tales of Horror, Cutlass: Ten Tales of Pirates (multi-author anthologies), Six Historical Tales, Scylla and the Pepper Pirates (short fantasy adventure story).


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