I'm not an expert. It's a good bet that most book bloggers are not professional reviewers. We just love to read. With some recent discussion within the book blogosphere, I started thinking about how a new blogger might feel intimidated by book reviewing. Here are some tips that have helped me:
*Make sure you mention the title and author's name in the title and body of the post. Don't rely on a book cover picture. This is important not only to readers but for Google spiderbots that look for content. You want your review to be found.
*Describe the book briefly. Some bloggers cut and paste from the book jacket. You might choose this route too but I think it's a good writing exercise to do it yourself. I also think it helps me focus before I give my opinion. Avoid spoilers.
*Opinion: Find your voice. Blogs are personal and your readers want a sense of the person behind the blog. When you give your opinion, give it in your own style. Is this hard for you? Here's a trick: pretend your BFF, Mom, spouse, etc has asked, "Why did you like this book?" What would you say? How would you say it? Think of this question and start writing stream-of-conscious style. Don't think too hard and don't worry about grammar. Read what you wrote. Pick your best comments and expand on those ideas.
*Opinion: What's the story, Morning Glory? How did you feel about the plot? The characters? Were they relatable? Believable? How was the pacing? Did the story drag? Or could you not put it down? Is the writer a great storyteller? Or was it so-so?
*The technical details. This is optional but I like it. Tell us about the writing itself. Whose point of view was the told from? What is the writing style? Did it work? Were there a lot of grammatical errors? A lack of punctuation? Did this work as a writing device or was it distracting? How about the atmosphere- dark, funny, etc?
*Balance. Try to balance your reviews with both the good and bad. Most books have something good about them. Someone else might like what you didn't. However, if it just wasn't for you, say so.
*Watch your grammar. I've made many mistakes, believe me, and will continue to but I do try to catch as many grammatical errors as I can. If you have spell check, use it. Mistakes distract the reader. Try to avoid it.
*To thine own self be true. This is kind of like finding you voice but encompasses your whole blog. Be honest in your opinions. Your readers will appreciate it. No one will die if you didn't like Twilight. Be yourself. You have to be able to stand behind what you write. You might like to make an About Me page to clarify your review policies.
*Ratings? I gave up on rating books because I gave everything a 4 star rating. If you choose to have one, give an explanation of your system somewhere on your blog.
*Just write! Not everything you write will be gold. When you look back on your blog there will be some reviews you're really proud of and maybe some you'll wonder if you wrote at all! That's okay. Just do it!
That's all I can think of at the moment. I would love to hear advice from others. What would you tell a beginner book blogger?