Wednesday, September 27, 2017

How to Write an On-line Book Review

By Ronda Simmons


Where does an author go when his or her latest book finally comes out? On-line reviews, of course, the same place we go to when we're looking for a good read.

Reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads are important, but don't be too intimidated to write them. This isn’t about writing your best prose. It’s about the book, not you, and unlike so many other things in life, size really doesn’t matter.

Here are some Dos and Don'ts to keep in mind:

  • Keep your review casual and conversational. Pretend you’re writing for friends.
  • Begin by writing a brief synopsis. A sentence or two is long enough. Write more if you need to, but this isn’t like that book report you wrote in high school when you pulled your first all-nighter.
  • Then, tell us your opinion. Did you like it? Dislike it? Was the book well written? Was it believable? Would you read another book by that author?
  • Think carefully about the star rating. Only give a book a 1 star review if it was truly terrible and poorly edited.


  • Review a book you haven’t actually read. Believe it or not, this does happen and IT MUST BE STOPPED.
  • Don’t give a book a low rating if you don’t like the genre. This should go without saying, but you'd be surprised how many reviewers break this cardinal rule.
  • Don’t be mean. Nobody likes a troll.
  • Don’t worry overmuch about how well you’ve written your review. You won’t be graded, I promise.

This is the review I wrote for Todd Mitchell’s The Last Panther.  

I read it, wrote the review in a few minutes and posted it.

My fangirl moment!
The Last Panther is an allegorical tale about Kiri, an 11-year old girl living on earth in the dystopian future. I found it to be well written and appealing not only for its intended age group (8 – 12 year olds) but for adults, as well. 

My 11-year-old son loved it. This book does go dark, but no more so than the Star Wars films, the Harry Potter series, most Disney films or even classics like Peter Pan, the Wizard of Oz, and Where the Wild Things Are.

This is an amazing book that will stay with you long after you have read the last page and will no doubt influence tomorrow’s leaders who will hopefully do a better job of caring for our world than we have. Todd Mitchell’s latest story will make the reader think about how we are treating our planet and what the ramifications will be if we don’t change.

Was it my best writing?  Perhaps not, but that wasn’t the point.  The point was to let others know what the book was about and whether I liked it, which I did. So don't be afraid to get on-line and support your fellow writers by reviewing their books.  

For more advice on writing book reviews, try these sites:

And now for this post’s tech tip: 

Ambient Mixer is a free website loaded with background sounds. What makes this site fun is that it has soundscapes from Hobbiton, or Hogwarts, or the Deathstar, to name a few. What’s even better, you can tweak the mix until it’s exactly what you need.  Voila, perfect ambiance!

All I need now is a pint of butterbeer!


April Moore said...

I have such a difficult time writing book reviews, so I appreciate the tips, Ronda. I also LOVE the Ambient Mixer--thanks for sharing (I'm obsessed with it now)! My favorite so far is the Warm Summer Forest.

David Sharp said...

The ambient mixer is amazing! I've already got fifty ways I'm going to use it. Awesome!

Ronda Simmons said...

Thanks, April and David, for your comments. Writing reviews is an important way for us to support other writers in NCW and beyond. AND ambient mixer rocks, doesn't it? Today I listened to a rainy night at the Leaky Cauldron, perfect for a stormy day like today!

JC Lynne said...

I'm just going to say this, I totally read it as Ambien mixer and I was thinking Oh man, that could be a party. But it's Ambient, t, mixer. Ah, I get it.

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