The Art of Writing a Book Review-Know Your Audience
I love reading so when asked to do the reviews it seemed a no-brainer. Well….it wasn’t all that easy. Particularly when you’re reviewing a book that isn’t one you would have chosen for your reading pile! If I can’t relate to the story or the information being shared, then I have to work that much harder to find the gems I think will appeal to the reader. And that’s the challenge, as the PR firms or authors want you to help them connect with the target audience.
On the positive side, when you review a book, you receive a free copy of the book! With that comes a responsibility to do the author justice–fairly and honestly. Yet as a blogger you want to stay true to your voice or brand and maintain your integrity. There’s a delicate balance to maintain. We’ve all seen examples of blatant promotion that make us shudder. That’s pandering and it’s unfair to you readers.
One of the books I reviewed was You Are a Writer. It was fairly easy to write for a couple of reasons. I like Jeff Goins; I follow his blog and find him to be sincere, honest and a good writer. The book is about writing. I’m a writer. But it was more than that. I identified with his message–I needed to hear what he had to say. I’ll benefit from his content; the admonition to get on with our writing and his suggestions on how to build a platform for one’s work. I know other people will connect with his message in a similar way. I wrote the review for Beyond Words where my readers are interested in the craft of writing.
The other book? It’s a topic I write about, but it was written for women who aren’t likely to read my other blog. Women who want to “be his wife.” Younger women. Women who like self-help books. That’s not the audience I write my content for–not to say that some of them aren’t reading the blog. And in all fairness to the book, there will be women who absolutely love it and who will buy it.
I worked hard to write a review that showed the book’s usefulness for potential readers. That’s what we’re all about as bloggers and as book reviewers. The goal is to write something that adds value to the conversation. Maybe I was thinking about that more clearly with the book review as I struggled to find the angle that would redeem my blog post.
Frankly, I’m not sure I do that with as fine and consistent a focus as I should on this blog. Beyond Words is a mix of professional writer website, journal of a frustrated writer and a jack-of-all-trades in the writing/marketing/social media world. Fine for some but not a blog that will ever join the ranks of a Jeff Goins or Jonathan Fields or Danielle LaPorte (my new girl crush).
The Blog Gurus will tell you to know who you’re writing for and offer your readers what they need. Answer their questions, share valuable information, etc.. I’m a storyteller by nature and that comes out in all of my blogs-4 at this moment. It’s what I do best. I believe in the power of a good story to help and support a reader. Stories can show us how to deal with a tricky issue, they give us hope and inspiration. And, sometimes a good story is simply a good read.
Today? I’m content with my content (ha, couldn’t resist). Tomorrow? Who knows.
What’s your ambition as a blogger? Are you on target or having fun? Do you ever do book reviews and if so, what kind of obligation do you feel in writing one?
Yeah, lots of questions. Pick one.