March 1, 2012

The Makings of a Book Review

by Donna McBroom-Theriot

One afternoon after I had spent several hours putting together book reviews for my blog, I began thinking that the process might make a great story – well an okay story at least.

Most writers – published and non-published - have blogs, and we all know that writing is a process that takes time – lots of time. I admire those who have managed to string together enough words to make a book and then to go through the publishing process. But, that is only the beginning. Once the books are published, book reviews are needed, and that is where I (and others) come in.

When I receive a book for review, before I even sit down to read the book, I spend at least an hour on the computer researching the author and previous books they have written. It is at this point that I begin putting together my book review material and setting up my document sections so that when I complete the book, I can sit down and concentrate on writing my review. When the author (or publisher) does not include the information I need for my book review, I’m off to do a little deeper investigative work. I search for a picture of the book (not always provided), the date published (not always provided), author information and picture (again, not always provided), where the book is being sold, and the book blurb.

Once I have gathered my information, I begin reading the book. Reading a book can take anywhere from 6-8, and sometimes more, hours to read. Add to that, the time needed for writing notes for the review. Using my Kindle comes in handy for this part as it is easy to mark passages that I want to quote in my review as I read, as opposed to having a gazillion pieces of paper sticking out of a book.

When I finish reading the book, I begin the writing process. I search the highlights on my Kindle that I marked during the course of reading and decide which quotes I think will draw the reader in or make them laugh, etc. I like to find just the right quote that will make a potential reader think, “I really need to read this book.”

At this point, if the author and I have not already agreed on a Q@A or guest post, I will contact the author and request one or the other. I will also set up a giveaway of their book to go along with the review. I find out the sites where the book will be for sale (not always provided) so I can post my completed review on those websites. I also encourage the author to tweet the review and stop by for a visit and to comment. The readers like the personal attention that authors give to the review and to their comments. In my opinion, it is important for the author to interact with those commenting. It definitely has the potential to make or break the sale of a book.

Waiting for information from the author sometimes takes a while, depending on how busy they are. While waiting, I begin the process of posting my reviews on the different sites (sometimes 4 or more sites). This process can take upwards of two hours. As I post, I also add the book to my blog’s sidebar to be permanently displayed – example: Shelfari, Goodreads.

Once the author returns the guest post, and I add it to my review, the post goes live on my blog. I take the time each day to tweet and post the review to facebook and other sites for exposure. I am a member of a website that thousands of other book reviewers belong to, which means I have access to thousands of other bloggers. I am also a member of twenty groups on this site and I promote the books I review on each group’s page. What this means to an author, is I promote their book to thousands of potential buyers on this one site. I have memberships on several different websites, and I spend quiet a large amount of time promoting books.

I think most authors appreciate the work that book reviewers such as myself do, and the exposure that book review blogs can offer. I am not sure, however, how many realize the time and effort some of us put into the review process. I find book reviewing quite enjoyable, and I am always looking forward to the next great book. Will it be yours?

Donna is a writer, book reviewer, baker, and a Southern Lady as you will see on her blog: My Life. One Story at a Time. She's been writing for four years. As luck would have it, the very first short story she wrote was published within months of writing it. Grab a glass of sweet iced tea and sit for a while. Southerners love company. 

Connect with Donna on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+!

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