If you are interested in writing a formal review of a published book but have not been asked to do so, it is best to contact the editor or team in charge of coordinating the specific journal, magazine or high-profile blog before writing your review to gauge their interest in publishing your review and to ask about any guidelines, such as word limit.
If you have been contacted by an editor or another person and asked to write a review of a specific book, we recommend the keeping in mind the following tips as you write:
- Know your word limit and deadline. Check with the editors or the team in charge of coordinating publication of your written review to confirm both of these pieces of information if you don’t know for sure.
- Include the book title and the name of all authors of the book or books which you are reviewing in the title of your book review. Make sure that the full book title as well as the form and spelling of author names is exactly the same as they appear on the published book.
- If the book is targeted toward a specific audience by subject area, include a reference to that audience in the first paragraph of your review. Comment on the appropriateness of the book for that audience.
- Especially if the book is a scholarly or scientific work, comment on the credentials of the author or authors.
- Comment on the quality, clarity, accuracy, helpfulness and accessibility of the content in the first few paragraphs of the review.
- State what is unique about the book.
- Explain your perceptions of the book’s strengths and weaknesses. Comment on any topic that the author or authors do a good job writing about and include quotes from the book where applicable. Comment on any topics that the author or authors omit but which you believe are relevant.
- Toward the end of the review, mention any available competing or similar books and comment on how the book you are reviewing compares to these titles.