Every reader who reviews books must do it for the love of reading books. Read books from your best/preferred favourite genre for the best experience.
Reading is food for the mind. Regardless of your career or profession, if you read on a regular basis you already have an advantage over many who think reading a waste of time. And above all, since you have finally gained the courage to read and share your reading journey, here are 10 things every book reviewer must know.
1. For Love of Reading
The main goal of starting a bookstagram or a blog is to READ great books while sharing your reading journey. Never start a page or endorse yourself as a reviewer to earn money, to flex that you read books when you don’t like reading or to get famous. It will make you hate the platform if you can’t keep up or when folks who follow you realize that you genuinely don’t read or don’t like talking about books.
The more you read the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you’ll go.Dr. Seuss
2. Know Your Preferred/Favorite Genre
We start somewhere; it’s great that you finally started this amazing journey. It’s very important to know what genre is best for you to read. We are humans with likes and dislikes so knowing which books best resonate with you make for an elite reading experience.
Diversify and read books from various genres and pick your favourite genre to read and review. Once you know the genre you enjoy, prefer accepting review copies of that genre. This will not only help you review books better but will also help you to draw a comparison to the best books from that genre.
3. Blog/Site Is A Must
Now that you have built your social media platform and receiving many requests from authors, I highly recommend or urge you to start a blog/site. Since you are just getting started you can start a free blog on WordPress.com and pump as much content possible. Eventually, you can buy a hosting, export to WordPress.org and monetize your site. The earlier you start and work efficiently on your blog, the more you will learn. Also, you’ll improve your writing skills immensely.
I can’t stress enough, Start Your Blog Today. There are various free resources available to improve your knowledge of blogging. My favourite is ‘Income School’. They have tremendous tips on their site as well as on their YouTube channel.
4. Take Notes
Taking notes is the most important when it comes to reviewing a book. When I started, I would read a book from the start to the end and then sit and write how I felt about the book. It worked for fiction because they have a plot and characters, they follow which is easier to recollect, but I did miss many aspects of the book.
When it comes to Non-fiction, especially self-help -reading without taking notes is as equal to not reading at all. Note making of how you felt or writing a summary of the lessons after a few 2-3 chapters will help you cover every aspect of the book.
5. Best Book Review Policy
New reviewers or bookstagrammers are easy targets when it comes to getting work done for free. There’ll be a lot of agencies who will expect a free review in exchange for a paperback. I recommend, say ‘No’. Instead of paperback, ask for the e-book version, and quote a small price for your review. If they do not agree, do not be bummed and do not settle for less.
You are providing a service and there’s nothing wrong to ask for payment. We love reading, we can choose to read any book, but since these authors/PR reach out for a service, we invest our time to read their book.
6. Review Honestly
Submit your review only if you have read the book. Do not copy-paste from others. You can’t run away; you’ll only tarnish the trust of the community you have built. Also never settle for books from authors who demand only 4+ rating, stay away from such toxic folks.
Another warning is don’t ever expect from authors who promise they will reimburse the book cost, once you review the book, some do this because they intend to use this as a loophole to compel the reviewer to change their rating or to forget the book cost. I can tell you from my experience that these are recipe for disaster. Be aware of whom you connect with.
7. Don’t Compare
Don’t compare yourself, your page, your reading pace, the bookish things you own or the number of followers, like and comments. If you just be yourself, hard and grow, you’ll see progress on your page and improvement in yourself too. You are just getting started and I am assuming you’re still at school or college.
Some users with huge following have been on this platform for years, some are out of college, some have job and you are just joining. So don’t be worried or overwhelmed with everything you see around.
8. Be Transparent
Do not fake anything or indulge yourself in any malpractices, like reviewing without reading, taking several copies from various sources and reselling them. Do not ever return a review copy, you receive via Amazon. That’s unethical on another level because the author or publication paid you for the review and gifted you the book.
When I say transparent, it’s not necessary that you share everything about you. Take your time, to learn and understand how you feel about the community. Don’t be impulsive; be ethical and unapologetically yourself.
9. Content Is the Key
We get to hear consistency is the key very commonly when it comes to increasing the engagement of your page. I have been on the post regularly wagon and all I would think is what to post next, what hashtags should I use, whom should I tag, which ‘engagement group’ should I join and I couldn’t focus on my read at all.
If you want to grow as a reader, improve as a writer and learn, I say content is the key. Write a quality in-depth review, click ethereal pictures, reciprocate the love you receive on your page and celebrate all the genuine connection you make in this community.
10. Look for The Red Flags
Last but not the least, be aware, smart & alert!
The internet is a common ground for connections and crimes. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and trust every person who slides in your direct messages but be sure and safe. If you find anyone creepy check for mutual following and inquire about them. Make bookstagram besties who you can trust, raise queries, confide and learn from.
Be mindful of what you share and how you communicate. Set boundaries and voice out any concerns of bullying or harassment. Its 2020, don’t take crap from anyone.
We are readers, who are far more woke and intellectually rich than those who don’t read at all. The book community is great place to support and feel accepted, because everyone is super empathetic.
Own for any mishap you do. Learn from your mistakes, apologize & take risks. Be grateful & give back. Celebrate win at your endeavours and encourage others to realize their dreams. Ravish every book you read. There’s nothing wrong to completely dislike a much-hyped book or to not own 100s of physical books.
Voice out your love for books, promote fellow bookstagrammers, understand and learn to forgive. Make this community wonderful. Be creative.
At the end of the day, all we want is to sniff as many books as possible. Get cosy and read a good book.