Book Reviews

Writing a Quality Book Review

Have you read some great….and maybe some not so great books recently on your eReader or Tablet device? Congratulations, you are part of a group of people known as “bibliophiles” who are reading more books each month using a variety of electronic devices. In the past, you relied on a friend, librarian, book club, or the book bestseller list in a newspaper to help you choose books. Today, you might be influenced to select a book for reading because of a good online review or a catchy book cover.

No doubt you have noticed that about two weeks after you purchased a book electronically, a request for a review appears in your email. Do some reviews help you make a choice to read that book? Do you wish you could write a fabulous review? Do you avoid doing a review because you do not know where to start? Well, you are in luck because this blog shares the key elements of a great review that will help you be a person of influence in the book-reading world.

Writer and editor duties

What is a book review?

A review is a description of the book and your experience with reading this particular treasure. It can be as basic as a few impressions to as detailed and critical as a scholarly analysis. Reviewers provide a sense of the quality, meaning, and impact of a book. Book reviews are very personal creations because they share your opinion.

A review is not a retelling of the story. If you retell the story then you will spoil it for others. The review should instead focus on the purpose of the book, what the book is about, how you enjoyed the book, and in the case of non-fiction — does the book and author provide information that has merit. The review is a record of your emotional and intellectual response, an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses, and how the book made you feel or think. A review may be as short as 50 words or longer – just remember that your review needs to get to the point quickly because the goal of a reader is not to spend hours reading reviews…his or her goal is to find that next book to read.

As readers, we are experts on how we want the story to develop and end or how much information a book should give to us… when it works or does not work, we can certainly share our opinion with others. You do not have to be an excellent writer to craft a good book review. Your goal is to assist customers in deciding whether to buy or borrow a book to read.

Are all reviews the same?

The answer is – NO – all reviews are not the same. The content and how you approach a review will depend on your intention and the requirements of your target audience.

The Descriptive Review

This type of book review gives the essential information about a book (style, subject, audience, plot, and character). This is usually done by sharing your interpretation of the work and by sometimes quoting particular passages from the text that you felt were especially strong or weak.

The Critical review

This type of review describes and compares the book to others of a similar genre. You do not always need to cite a specific book in the comparison but you most certainly can refer to similar works so that the reader of your review might be able to use this as a comparison.

The Parts of a Review

Both types of reviews, descriptive and critical, benefit from including the following pieces in your review.


This is where you capture the reader’s attention, hopefully with your opening sentence. The introduction should state your main conclusion and set the tone of the review. This can be 10 to 15 words.


This should be sufficient so that the reader of your review will have some understanding of the author’s thoughts. This is not a story summary of the story; instead, it describes the elements or pieces that the author uses to bring the story to life. This has an overall appraisal of the book. Describe and evaluate what you think was the intent of the author and explain how well you think the author did in giving you a good book to read. You can provide quotations supporting your analysis. Your review is considered an opinion based on your reading. Share how you think the author succeeded (or failed) in his/her goal. Use examples to support your thoughts. This can have 50 to 250 words in this section.


Wrap up your review with some final thoughts and remind the reader of why you did or did not like the book. This can be 10 to 50 words.

Writing a review to thank an author

How to Write that Perfect Book Review

Sit down and write all out thoughts out about the book. If the book was good and you feel positive about this work and want others to know about your great find — simply write that out with the Introduction, then write the Body, and end with a Conclusion as described above.

What about those times when you did not like the book? Certainly you want to “warn” others not to spend good money on this book. This is the most difficult review to write because it is negative. Many authors actually appreciate these reviews when they are well written because a negative review will help the author learn where he/she can improve. Other readers really appreciate knowing why you did not like the book because it helps them make an informed decision about whether or not the book might be good for him/her.

We can all admit it is more difficult to write a negative review. Simply writing “I hated this book” does not tell the next potential reader why. For a book that you consider to be of lower quality, it is a good idea to use the “sandwich” review approach. With this method, you write something positive about the book, then give the details of how this book failed (the negative part) and then find something nice to say in your conclusion. This will help the next potential reader understand why you gave the book a low rating. It also helps you “ease the pain to the author for receiving a negative review” by putting the bad parts inside of two good parts.

The Final Parts to your Excellent Book Review

Carefully read what you have written and make sure it is easy to understand. Check for grammar and spelling errors. Make sure your review is honest and avoids any personal attacks.

When you are ready, submit your review, and know that you have possibly helped 100’s or 1000’s of other bibliophiles find the next treasure or avoid spending money on a bad book.

Edit911 Endorsed in APE: How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki & Shawn Welch

Edit911 is pleased to announce that Guy Kawasaki & Shawn Welch have endorsed our services in their definitive book about self-publishing: APE: How to Publish a Book—Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. On page 87, they say, “Edit911 helps you hire PhDs—surely they are subject-matter experts.”  On page 351, they also describe Edit911 as “A website where authors can hire editors and proofreaders who are experts in book editing, dissertation editing, and other document, copy, and text editing.”

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It’s important to note that Guy Kawasaki is one of the world’s leading authorities of not just self-publishing, but Apple, Google, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He’s written several other bestsellers, also definitive works in their subjects. We encourage you to get to know him and his excellent books, blogs, and website:

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The Art of Life: A Review of Seth Godin’s The Icarus Deception

Seth Godin's new book The Icarus Deception

The Icarus Deception is yet another inspirational, informative, and dazzling Seth Godin manifesto and self-help book. As in many of his previous books, Godin delights with insights on how to succeed in business (“…our success turns not on being the low-price leader but on being the high-trust leader.”), while self-actualizing and maximizing your potential and happiness in all areas of life.

The essence of Godin’s multi-layered thesis is that life is an art form and everyone is an artist. “Art is not a gene or a specific talent,” says Godin. “Art is an attitude.” We’re not all painters or musicians or graphic designers, but we should all use our tools and skills to be artists. By that, Godin means we should strive to be the best we can be at what we do and who we are: “Your work is your art (and vice versa).”

Whether we tend bar, fix cars, build houses, or run a day care center—no matter what we do—we should do it better and care more about it, and others, than anyone else. When we do, we benefit both ourselves and those who experience our artistic work, because people crave connections with people who care. “We embrace the humanity in those around us, particularly as the rest of the world appears to become less human and more cold. Who will you miss? That is who you are listening to.”

These aren’t new ideas, necessarily. Godin’s influences and references run far and wide—from Zen, sociology, psychology, and philosophy; from Plato (the implied Platonic ideal) to Jobs (the meshing of art and technology), and Emerson (self-reliance and Transcendentalism) to Pirsig (the motorcycle we maintain is ourselves).

Yet, Godin’s metonymic intellect strides from one synthetic adage and observation to another with the grace and fluidity of a racehorse. His style is both muscular and light, alternating from an almost pugnacious tone that challenges and dares the reader to a sweet and encouraging grandfatherly voice that loves his family—his tribe—and wants only the best for them. I always feel like I’m on a rollercoaster reading his books: they’re a fun, crazy, fast, exhilarating, and not a little bit daunting ride.

As we know, Icarus flew too high and died, but what many don’t know about the story—because of the deception forwarded and publicized by the industrial, corporate, conformity machine that repressed the rest of the story—is that if he had flown too low, he’d have crashed into the ocean and drowned. So the allegorical moral to the story is that we should, indeed, fly as high as we possibly can, just short of flaming out.

So how does one achieve greatness while minimizing the risks of utter failure? By creating art. Always be creating. And always be creating relationships through your art. “Art is the unique work of a human being, work that touches another.” True quality is customer/client/friend/acquaintance aware, driven, and accomplished because “people want your humanity, not your discounts.” If you make cabinets, make cabinets people will be amazed by. If you treat patients, treat every patient as you would your own child. If you clean carpets, clean them as if your own baby will be crawling on them. “When we treat the people around us with dignity, we create an entirely different platform for the words we utter and the plans we make.”

Clearly at the heart of Godin’s books is his enormous heart. One of today’s greatest shining lights, he inspires, he instructs, he pats you on the back—saying, “You can do it!”—and kicks you in the ass—saying, “What are you waiting for?”

Ultimately, Godin professes tough love for all and antipathy for those grounded in apathy. “We embrace the humanity in those around us, particularly as the rest of the world appears to become less human and more cold. Who will you miss? That is who you are listening to.”


Launch: The Elevation Principle For Business Life

*If you’re visiting from Social Media Examiner, welcome! We are Edit 911, the finest online editing service in the world. Our PhD editors can make your writing shine! Our services include Book Editing, Dissertation Editing, Document Editing, Copy Editing, Essay Editing, Article Editing and more!

“Launch” Review:

In his innovative new book Launch, Michael Stelzner offers business owners and marketers some counterintuitive advice: forego traditional marketing messages in favor of valuable—and free—content. In fact, if you’re looking for marketing how-to’s, you’re going to have to wait until the final chapter of the book. Stelzner, the founder of—the number-one small business blog according to Technorati—calls this concept the “elevation principle,” and he argues it’s the best way to reach people who have grown deaf to the overabundance of marketing messages bombarding them on a daily basis. Stelzner offers step-by-step instructions based on his real-world experiences, as well as examples and analogies from daily life.

As a mom and a marketing professional, one analogy that resonated with me was when Stelzner compared marketing to busy customers to trying to brush a child’s hair: “There are two ways to get their hair brushed. Yelling, ‘Get your behind over here, right now!’ is one option. The other is to walk alongside them, brushing as they go on their merry way.” This brought back memories of working in direct mail years ago, dealing with low response rates as ads with hard sells were disposed of as “junk mail.” Stelzner reveals there is a better way. By offering real information that people actually want, you build trust and bring people to you—instead of ending up in the wastebasket.

Insights like these fill the book, making the message easy to apply to any business venture. Today I’m working with authors, and I encourage them to create blogs, share content, and contribute useful information in online communities, without pushing their books. Because, as Stelzner says, “by giving genuine gifts to your base and experts—without expecting anything in return—you’ll draw people to you in droves… and some will become loyal customers for life.”

–by Meredith Hale, Marketing Manager for Edit 911 & Baldwin Book Publishing