Outline for a Book Review

Woman reading a book before writing a review

Even if you're an avid reader, having a general outline for a book review can help make it easier to prepare this type of article for publication.

Book Review vs. Book Report

One of the most common mistakes novice freelance writers make when attempting to write a book review for the first time is submitting a piece that reads more like a book report. Undoubtedly, you've written many book reports throughout junior high and high school. It's natural to want to fall back on this format, but it's not what your editor is looking for.

While a book report basically states what happens in a book, a book review incorporates your personal opinions regarding the title. This may include elements such as:

  • How you feel about the writer's choice of language
  • Whether or not you found the characters to be believable
  • If you have a favorite character from the book, what you liked about him or her
  • If you found the plot to be original and entertaining, or dull and predictable
  • Your thoughts on the theme of the book
  • For nonfiction books, your opinion on whether or not the writer is a qualified expert in the topic
  • For nonfiction books, if you see any problems with the facts presented
  • A comparison of this book to other titles by the same author
  • A comparison of this book to other titles by authors who write in the same genre
  • Whether or not you'd be willing to recommend this book to another reader

Writing an Outline for a Book Review

The general outline for a book review is as follows:

  • A brief introduction to your review, telling the reader what the book is about and whether or not you would recommend it
  • What you liked about the book, using quotations to illustrate your point, if necessary
  • What you disliked about the book, using quotations to illustrate your point, if necessary
  • Additional thoughts or insights
  • A brief conclusion, summarizing your opinion of the book

Tips for Writing Book Reviews

As you're preparing your book review, you may find it useful to keep in mind these tips:

  • Standards for the length of a book review can vary widely among different publications. Some publications run book reviews of 100 to 200 words, while others publish reviews that are nearly 1,000 words in length. Some publications use a starred rating system to critique different elements of a book, while others write a general review. Spend some time reviewing your publication's preferred book review format to make sure you are on the right track.
  • Keep a small notebook near your reading area so you can jot down important points you want to include in your book review. If you're using your own personal copy of the book, consider highlighting key passages in the text.
  • When preparing an outline for a book review, keep in mind that some people who read your review may not agree with your opinion. This doesn't mean your thoughts aren't valid, however. Write your review to express your honest opinion, regardless of whether or not it is the popular consensus.
  • Remember that an effective book review should never give away the ending of a book. You want to allow people who choose to read the book to find out what happens on their own timetable.

Additional Information

For more information on how to write a book review, LoveToKnow Freelance Writing suggests visiting the following helpful Web sites:

The LoveToKnow Freelance Writing articles on How to Write a Book Review and Writing a Critical Review of a Nonfiction Book or Article may also be useful as you're writing.

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Outline for a Book Review