How to Write a Top Book Review

top book review

Writing a Top Book Review Takes Practice

After five years of writing reviews, I’ve learned about what it takes to write a top book review. I get compliments, but my ratings on Amazon still underwhelm me. Nobody is grading you, so look at what other readers wrote. You are not going to plagiarize just by looking! However, it is not cheating to let Amazon help you write a great review. Other reviewers often offer insights you miss.

Start with a Top Book Review on Amazon

In my first years of reviewing, I thought the little Amazon box that says title meant to write in the title of the book. Every time I saw that box, I thought, “What a dumb box, the title is obvious, but oh well,” and I’d type in the book title. I looked at other people’s reviews. I never noticed that their titles read “Five Stars,” “Loved It” “Author’s Best Book Ever.” One day when I looked at other reviews critically, it hit me. The title should be mine. It reflects what I thought about the book, author, characters, or how the book affected me.

Review of Lights Out

How to Write Top Reviews on Amazon

  1. Begin by studying most helpful reviews on Amazon. I took the advice of C. S. Lakin about writing book descriptions. To create your book review, cut and paste reviews for similar books into a Google Doc. To write a review for someone else’s book, cut and paste three or four reviews you like for the book you are reviewing. I paste them right into my draft on WordPress.
  2. Highlight phrases and words that resonate.
  3. Compose your review. You might agree or disagree with one or more of the reviewers. Of course, if you quote them you can include their link in the Amazon review as a reference. Sometimes I weave in few of their words or a phrase because I like the way it sounds. You usually do not have to use quote marks for borrowing a phrase or word unless it is a famous quote.
  4. Usually, I react to quotes from the book or use them to illustrate one of my “teaching” points.

Is Your Blog Review Different Than Your Amazon Review?

top book review
I have different colors that represent different types of reviews. These are my new colors for a YA or children’s review.

I keep my Amazon review shorter. After I finish the brief review, I add information to my blog review.

  • First, a top book review on my blog needs graphics. I create three illustrations: a branded picture of the book, a ranking infographic and a featured image that will appear at the top of my post and on the home page. An example of the main branded graphic is above. I started out making this 900 x 1200 pixels, the recommended size by Canva. Then my blog started slowing down, so now I make them 400 x 600 pixels. I link this picture to the book on Amazon.
  • Keeping Amazon, Canva and my blog tabs open, I save the book picture from Amazon, and add it to my finder or photos file so I can upload it to Canva.
  • I copy the statistics then create a Canva graphic to show them. Notice the date. Ranks change I realized after I started publicizing the book’s status. Now I date them on the graphic. When I first started including this information I cut and pasted it into the review. On other blogs, I like infographics much better, so I created this. What do you think?
top book review
Amazon rank page
  • The final picture is the featured image. This is a 400 x 250 pixels. The author and the book or books appear in this photo. The background color of turquoise indicates that I wrote the review. It is not a guest post. Without including this image, nothing shows on my home page. Your theme may not need a featured image.
  • Looking at the featured picture brings up another difference in the blog review. Amazon includes a short biography and a photo of the author. Do you like to include this information in your post? Often as I write the review, I check out the author’s website and link it to his or her name in my post. Then I press follow on the Amazon page. Why not give the author a little boost while you are there?
  • Sometimes, I roam around Twitter looking for the author. They do not always have an account, but if I noticed a hashtag with their name on it, I add that to the end of my post or when I repost on social media. You may find more than one hashtag to use because they have a fan base.
  • Since I used to consult with teachers about Common Core, I sometimes include an analysis of how I thought the book would apply to Common Core teaching. I might add a little about how the book taught social studies skills since teaching is my area of expertise. At other times I include what I learned as a writer.
  • Even in my longer reviews, I do not summarize the story. A review is not a book report. Ingrid Parker wrote on Facebook,  “…I agree that poor reviews are suffering from the rules of the “book report” taught in public schools. The emphasis there is on proof that the kid has read the whole book and nobody expects deep insights beyond “I liked it.” I’m a writer. I want minimal plot summary and instead comments about the type of novel it is, the characters, and the quality of the narrative. I also want something that will make people buy the book (or not). That is the purpose of the professional review.
  • Ingrid includes other facts that I have not included in most of my reviews because I had not thought about it. She writes, “Depending on the purpose of the review; I included facts such as the number of pages, pictures, and other details about the organization or pedigree of the book.

Conclusion

This process made the review writing comfortable and gave me confidence that people would find the reviews helpful. Writing the review was a writing exercise in itself. If you haven’t written a review, it’s fun. It would be a great activity for students to do. (Marsha the teacher again). Students could all write their reviews, then compile the best words and phrases into a composite post that they publish on Amazon. Hmmm…

People get paid to write reviews.  Unfortunately, for readers of this blog, I’m not an expert in that area. I receive no payments for my reviews. If you do, please feel free to comment.  If you don’t, feel free to comment as well. #amwriting #amreading #bookreview.

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Author: Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, author, blogger and retired teacher/consultant - Promoting Hobby Blogging

50 thoughts on “How to Write a Top Book Review”

  1. As a individual who writes book reviews and posts them on Amazon [I’ve got 513 currently posted there with an Amazon Reviewer Ranking of 2,118 with quite a few being deem the most helpful], GoodReads, LibraryThing and occasionally on my two blogs there are several things I do.

    I’m never afraid to state that I’ve received the book [stating the format] through a giveaway, etc – which in the US is required by federal regulations. If in reading a particular book my mind should recall something such as a song from my younger days I make sure to include that fact in my reviews; in hopes that some potential reader might recall the same song and begin to relate their memories related to the same as well and it would tweak an increase in possibly considering buying a copy. On a few occasions the author after reading my review has told me that what she had in mind when she wrote the book; in fact, on one occasion I had recalled three songs. each one had been what she wanted her readers to get, with one of them having been the inspiration for the book’s storyline. Doing this allowed me, and it will allow other authors to better connect with authors as well as potential readers, readers who might even become a follower for the reviews a reviewer writes in the future.

    And if I should get any sort of other feelings, emotions, as I read a particular book, or I’m able to connect the book to something else which I can relate it to I include it as well as the same reasoning; someone else might be able to do the same.

    Have a GREAT WEEK with whatever you do !!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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    1. Wow, Robin! Thanks for such an in depth response. You have done so much in the way of promoting books. I haven’t posted nearly as many in Amazon as I’ve written. I feel that my reviews are just now getting better. I love this, “y mind should recall something such as a song from my younger days I make sure to include that fact in my reviews; in hopes that some potential reader might recall the same song and begin to relate their memories related to the same as well.” Great idea! Thanks again for stopping by. It’s been a while since we connected, and it’s so good to hear from you. 🙂

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  2. Very helpful information, Marsha! I’ve been writing monthly book reviews (maybe not as professional as yours) but I did steal a couple of your ideas (yes, I read YOUR reviews and followed a similar process). Good point that it should not be a book report. I think an Amazon review should be succinct and I include the actual review into my blog post review, again, taking good ideas from you, Debby and Colleen!

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    1. I need to publish one of your reviews, Terri. Why don’t you send me one of your favs? I still put my spin on it with the infographics. I did a post of Tina’s like that. I love posting other people’s reviews, and honestly, they usually draw more traffic than my own. 🙂 or maybe I should say 😦 hehehe

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  3. Just another fantastic post and most helpful for people who want some instruction on book reviewing. Lol, I have to laugh, I was thoroughly engrossed in reading your post and how you put together the infographs (thank you by the way for those tips), when I took a double take on my own book! Lol, would you believe I was looking at the infograph for a few seconds before it dawned on me, IT WAS MY BOOK you used for it. Have I been on vacation too long???? LOL Thanks as always Marsha. ❤ 🙂

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    1. hahaha! I just booked our vacation to Sedona for April 13-20. You inspired me. Vince and I love it. we found one of our timeshare resorts that will take animals. Normally we have to leave our baby home with his sister. Wish we could have been there the same week. That would have been so fun! 🙂 My life here doesn’t slow down until the end of this week. 🙂

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  4. Thank you for this helpful post. I must admit that I do look at other people’s reviews for insights into what works. No with regards to the particular book I am reviewing but with regards to the style and format of the book review.

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    1. Yes, I look at both, the style as well as what they thought. It’s almost like a quick book club meeting, but I get the last say because they have no reason to read my post. That would be an interesting concept, wouldn’t it?

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  5. The more reviews I write the shorter they become. Unless my review were being published in an academic periodical, I doubt it would exceed 300-400 words. Yes, I do include graphics with blog reviews. And yes, I did figure out the “title” cue on Amazon – amazing since I strain with techno stuff. (I publish on Rifflebooks, Goodreads, and Amazon.

    Great tips on logistics here. Thank you!

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    1. Wow, that’s awesome, Marian! Send me a link next time you write a review, and I’ll include it on one of my posts. I’m not that ambitious to get them published elsewhere very often. I’m lucky to get them published on my blog. 🙂 I’m lucky to get them written! 🙂

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  6. Wonderful and well put together article. I especially love the idea of using Canva to make a graphic highlighting the book’s best attributes.

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    1. I love it too. Last week I upgraded to a paid Canva, very reasonable because I need to resize all my pictures to make my blog run more quickly. At any rate it give a few more options, but I love what it can do. 🙂

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    1. OMGosh, do you know the author? Jennifer Janzen used to share the office next to mine. I read her first book and a few of her poems. Jennifer talked about her often. I love her writing.

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  7. Aww…thank you too Marsha! 🙂 I disappear from blogging lately because of working on my memoir revisions, but I will do my best to visit you and share as much as possible while I chase that finish line! Hugs to you my lovely new friend 🙂

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  8. That’s for sure…thank you so much for understanding Marsha…and you know, I can’t stop thinking about our conversation and imagining taking that road trip in a convertible along the Pacific Coast Highway down to Morro Bay to meet you for lunch…where we’ll both be wearing headscarves, naturally 😀 Have a great weekend and I’ll see you very soon! 🙂 xo

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    1. I’ll be looking forward to it. I’ll get my seat warmers going too. Oh, and I’d better find me a convertible. We had leased ours. Our son was devastated when we turned it in. He borrowed it for about a year.

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  9. Ooooh seat warmers….yes, need those! Oh I bet, your son must have had a blast driving it. At least he – and you – have those wonderful memories 🙂 The closest I came to driving a sporty car was my ex-brother-in-law’s Camero which leaked power steering fluid everytime I turned a corner but oh I did love the sound of that V8 rumbling down the street. No convertible of course, but my hair blew in the wind due to having the windows down thanks to no air con…it was fun picking the kids up from school in it though…got a few looks, ha! When it broke down on the highway leaving us stranded in over 100 degree temps one such afternoon though, I’d had enough. Shortly after we got, at last, a proper family car – a Ford Windstar mini van, which my ex hated but I loved 🙂

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    1. As much as we loved the convertible, when it was time for a change, we were both ready to change. A little 100+ degrees goes a long way, doesn’t it? Nothing so bad as breaking down in that heat! 😦

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