Book reviewing for beginners

Four reasons why you should do it – and six tips on how to do it well.

Books

Many of my earliest writing credits were book reviews – not little snippets like what you find on Goodreads or Amazon, but in-depth, full-length reviews that appeared in print, blogs, magazines, newspapers, etc. Why did I spend so many hours reading, thinking through, and writing about the work of others? Four simple reasons:

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Reason #1: Literary karma

My grandma once told me, “You gotta give to get,” and while that advice holds true in many areas of life (like farming, which she knew), it’s especially valid for writers. If you ever expect people to read and review YOUR books, then you better return the favor in advance. The universe – and the reading audience – will likely pay you back in full.

Reason #2: Books are teaching tools

I learned a TON about how stories work by spending serious time reading and re-reading these titles and then thinking critically about them. I’m convinced that I sped up my own writing development by a year or two thanks to these efforts.

Reason #3: Free books

Back in my grad student days, the Barnes & Noble and Borders charges on my credit card bill each month proved shockingly high. Once I started reviewing books regularly, that number became merely semi-shocking.

C’mon: Who doesn’t want free books, right?

Reason #4: Money, money, money

I started at $10 per review. These days, I have my own monthly review column in a regional magazine that averages 100k readers per month. I earn far more than $10 a review now, and even better, I’m able to choose what books I want (and don’t want) to review. I’d never have that opportunity had I not started small and earned my way up the ladder.