Book Reviews

Read any good books lately? As writers we should all be bookworms too and what better way to practise concise writing than with a book review?

A book review requires the ability to:

  • Summarise a plot (without giving away the ending!)
  • Pass an opinion on various aspects of the book – it’s construction, characterisation, use of language etc.
  • Share any emotional impact that it had on you – did it make you laugh, cry etc.

Writing book reviews won’t make you rich but it might earn you a free copy of a book and get your name out there.

Book reviewing opportunities:

  • Waterstones – if you’ve got a Waterstones card (i.e. a free loyalty card – no need to buy anything) then you can enter regular draws for pre-publication copies of new books to review. There are usually 25 copies of each title to give away and I’ve been successful in the draws several times. If you receive a book then you just post a short review on the Waterstones website (and it doesn’t have to be good). Details of the books currently on offer are here.
  • Take A Break’s Fiction Feast – each issue carries a 70 word ‘My Favourite Book’ from a reader. £20 is paid for each one used.
  • The Saturday Guardian are asking ‘What have you enjoyed reading in the past 12 months?’ Email them no more than 150 words to to arrive no later than Sunday 11 December and preferably write about a recent title. A selection of the reviews received will be published – no payment but the kudos of appearing in a broadsheet newspaper.
  • Your own blog/Facebook/Twitter etc. – in these days of zero publicity budgets, authors need all the help they can get so if you’ve enjoyed a book, pass the word on! (and someone might do the same for you one day)

  1. #1 by blogaboutwriting on December 5, 2011 - 12:35 pm

    Sally – by coincidence, I’ve just been thinking over the last few days how I need to READ MORE! I am always ‘torn’ between reading and writing (I feel guilty if I’m doing one and not the other!) but how can we understand what’s being published today if we don’t read?! So, I’m on a reading splurge and your post was very timely. I’ve just read ‘Snowdrops’ (the Booker-shortlisted novel set in Moscow) and I’ve got the latest Monica Ali lined up next. And now, thanks to this, I’ve just entered all of those Waterstones offers for free books to review – thanks for the tip-off!

  2. #3 by susanjanejones on December 5, 2011 - 6:38 pm

    Lots of good information here Sally. I send out quite a few book reviews. I’m sure Woman’s Weekly do a slot as well, though they suggest the book. I’m reading a good one at the moment, Georgette Heyer’s biography. She wrote her first novel at the age of 14??? Then I read fun fiction, like ‘All I want for Christmas’ light hearted romance. Usually when I’ve read a book, I do a short review, then when I’m in the mood, I’ll send a few out. I think up to date ones are more likely to get published though as you say.

    • #4 by Sally Jenkins on December 5, 2011 - 7:22 pm

      Susan – I haven’t seen the Woman’s Weekly slot but will look out for it. I don’t read many biographies but I do read a mix of genres – thrillers, chicklit, detective stories etc. At the moment I’m reading Body Surfing by Anita Shreve.

  3. #5 by Julia on December 6, 2011 - 5:55 pm

    I remember my old English teacher telling me, ‘You’ll never be a writer if you’re not first a reader.’ I love the Waterstones ‘3 for 2’ deal because it means I can buy something I’ve never heard of without worrying (too much) about the cost. Definitely having a shot at the Guardian thing, just for fun. My favourite book this year has been The Whisperer by Donato Carrisi. What a debut!

    • #6 by Sally Jenkins on December 6, 2011 - 7:58 pm

      Julia – it is nice to go ‘off the beaten track’ & read something you’ve never heard of. I find that often happens when someone lends me a book they’ve really enjoyed – I might not have chosen it in a shop but I read it because it’s recommended and usually, I enjoy it!

  4. #7 by blogaboutwriting on December 13, 2011 - 12:14 am

    Sally – just to let you know, I won 2 books (so far…!) from entering the Waterstones giveaway for pre-publication books: ‘Pantheon’ by Sam Bourne (a thriller which will be a little ‘extra’ Christmas present for him indoors!) and ‘This Beautiful Life’ by Helen Schulman, which looks like my kind of book. So thanks again for the tip-off! It was certainly worth my while entering.

    • #8 by Sally Jenkins on December 13, 2011 - 1:05 pm

      Good news, Helen. Must enter some more of those draws myself…

  5. #9 by Julia on December 23, 2011 - 1:05 pm

    Sally, I’ve just had an email to say my book review will appear in the April issue of Fiction Feast. Thanks for the tip.

    • #10 by Sally Jenkins on December 23, 2011 - 1:50 pm

      Brilliant news, Julia! Thanks for letting me know.

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