Why Book Reviews Matter & How to Write Them
We’re always talking with our members and publishers to find out how they use NetGalley, and what is important to them when it comes to finding titles, reading them, providing Feedback. Recently some of you told us that you would like some tips on how to write a book review and what happens once you submit your review to the publisher via NetGalley.
First, I’d like to start with why your reviews are important to the success of the book and the author. Since most titles on NetGalley are pre-pub and not even yet on sale, publishers are making them available for a very specific purpose: to gain feedback and insight from you–professional readers and influencers. These reviews will later help inform consumers, too.
Publishers (and authors!) really love a thoughtful, insightful, meaningful review. They can be used in many ways: as a blurb on the printed galley or final book jacket, in marketing/advertising materials, to help build a blog tour or other online promotions, to spur excitement in-house and with sales reps, etc. Don’t take our word for it–here are a few anecdotes straight from our publishers (and scroll down for some tips for meaningful reviews, too!):
School & Library Marketing Director
at Disney Book Group
Former Associate Digital Marketing Manager at St. Martin’s Press:
“I love exchanging emails with readers at firstname.lastname@example.org, but I have to say we’re also very thankful for how conscientious NetGalley readers are about using the Start Feedback button. It is so useful for our publicists and marketers to be able to look back at a particular book and see all the reviews NetGalley readers have submitted in one convenient location.
And it makes it much easier for us to contact you directly in the future with books suited to your personal tastes. For example, many of you submitted reviews via NetGalley for Jay Kristoff’s fantasy debut Stormdancer. When it comes time to send out egalleys of the next book in the series, Kinslayer, I’ll use the NetGalley reviews to guide me as I start to build my contact list.”
Marketing Director at Mulholland Books:
Lili, Children’s Publicity Intern at Bloomsbury USA (read the full post here):
“Submitting reviews is always a good thing! It ups your review ratios which we do see and it shows you’re reliable, which makes people more inclined to send you things and if you keep working with them then, who knows, one day you may be auto-approved! …auto-approved members are mostly those people who have been diligently supporting a house for a while that their name just sticks out.”
Tips for Writing Book Reviews:
As important as it is to understand how a review can impact a book, it’s also important to know how to write a review. We’ve asked some of our members, including professional reviewers, bloggers, and publishers, what they think makes a good book review.
- Any review that you write should be constructive, whether it’s positive or critical of the book. Make sure to tell your readers why you liked or disliked certain aspects of the book vs. just stating your opinion with no evidence.
- Be authentic and share your unique voice with the reader through your reviews. Your followers and publishers want to hear what you think of the book, and in your own voice. Treat this as if you’re talking with a friend, or stating your case at your book club.
- Publishers appreciate critical reviews as well, as long as they are constructive and give thoughtful comments.
- Strive to be kind in your brutal honesty. Avoid being hurtful in your constructive criticism–authors are people too!
- Engage your reader(s) immediately in your review – use that first sentence to state your opinion.
- Do include comments on the plot, character development, setting, theme, the writing style, any artwork or graphics included, extra materials (like a reading guide, glossary, etc.), dialogue, are the facts reported correctly (for nonfiction), does the book fit in its designated genre and age group.
- Do include your full review and a link to where it is published online when pressing the Feedback button in NetGalley.
- Do let the publisher know if you’re also cross-posting your review on retailer websites.
- Check the publisher’s preferences either in your approval email or on the publisher’s page on NetGalley to find out when they’d like reviews to begin appearing online.
- Do not include spoilers in your review (no one enjoys spoilers).
- Keep in mind that galley copies have not gone through their final stages of copy-editing, so you may spot some grammar or spelling mistakes – but those will likely be corrected before the book goes on sale.
- Proofread your review for grammar, spelling mistakes, typos, etc. before publishing it.
- Most importantly, focus on your own goals for writing the review.
- Do you want people to read this book?
Tell them why they should seek this particular book out and read it. What would make you purchase a book you read a review about?
- Do you think this is a book your readers should skip?
Let them know why you disliked it – maybe the writing style wasn’t up your alley, or the plot didn’t quite work?
- Do you want your readers to become a loyal follower of a particular author or publisher?
Again, state your case and provide evidence for why they should do this and make sure to provide the book/author/publisher website and social media links so your readers can follow them – the author will thank you!
- Are you recommending the book as a group read?
Then let them know what makes this book conversational, why there is a lot to unpack about the characters, plot, etc.
- Do you want people to read this book?
Even if you don’t leave a full review, publishers still want to hear from you–see our tips for other types of Feedback that are helpful to the success of a book.
For more tips for writing book reviews visit:
Recipes for Success: 8 Tips for Writing Good Book Reviews
Guest post: Janice Harayda, novelist, award-winning journalist, and founder and editor-in-chief of One-Minute Book Reviews
Recipes for Success: How Publishers Use Your Reviews
Guest post: Cassie Galante at St. Martin’s Press
Recipes for Success: What Makes a Good Review
Guest post: Cindy Minnich, Nerdy Book Club
I hope you’ve found this information helpful & and if you have additional questions, feel free to add them to the comments section below! Best, Tarah Theoret