One Great Way To Write A Book Review

Keeping Track of What You Read

Over twenty-five years ago I read Louis L’Amour’s book, “Education of a Wandering Man.” L’Amour kept a journal recording the books he read year by year.

About the same time, I attended a writer’s conference in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Christian author Dr. Calvin Miller was the featured speaker. He also mentioned keeping track of what you read. He suggested writing a one-page summary and your thoughts about the book. I thought L’Amour and Miller’s ideas were good. I added a twist of my own. Instead of just a summary, I wrote a brief book review.

An Editor Approached Me About Writing Book Reviews

In the late 1980s, a magazine editor approached me about writing book reviews. At the time, I was an associate pastor and Christian school principal at First Baptist Church in Jasper, Texas. I edited our church newsletter. In addition to writing a weekly column, I wrote and included reviews of Christian books from time to time. The book review became a popular feature. It significantly increased sales of the reviewed book at our local Christian bookstore. The magazine editor received my church newsletter and read my reviews. He asked me to write reviews for his publication. I started receiving review copies of books in the mail. Free books! For a reader like me, it was wonderful.

Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews

In 2003, I started Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews. Since then I have read and reviewed hundreds of military history or military historical fiction books, about 22 per year. The website was named a “100 Best Book Blogs for History Buffs” by OnlineSchool.org in 2009. I receive over 25 requests a month to read and review books. I accept very few of the requests.

What Do I Get Out of It?

First, I get the satisfaction of reading the book. I love reading and history. This is a great way to read new material and get review copies of the books.

Second, I share my love for history in general and military history specifically.

Third, I try to be a good finder in what I read. I will read the entire book. Sometimes it is a struggle, but I look for the good.  I do not say it is wonderful if it is tough to read, but I do not read looking for the bad.  I am blessed getting to review the books. A few times, I will not post a review, instead of giving a one-star review. Most authors prefer no review for a bad review.

In recent days, the newspapers and the Internet have had negative articles about some book reviews. Regarding any review, I have written on Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews; I received no payment. The only compensation was the book that I read. The publisher, author, publicists, or media groups sent it to me or I purchased it.

One Great Way to Write a Book Review 

Read the book.

I know; it seems obvious, but read the book! You might find out the author did a very good job. He or she probably invested one to four years of their lives in the book project, so read the book.  Do not even think about writing a review of something you only skimmed or only partially read. Reading the book is critical to a good review.

Know what you are reading.

If you don’t understand the book or subject area you are going to write about, you cannot write a good review. If you are reading a nonfiction book on a topic you know little about, make some effort to learn something about the topic. I write military history book reviews.  I have a formal background in history with a bachelor’s degree in the subject. My emphasis was in military history. I am widely read in history with a general background in all areas of English History and United States history. I am a serious student of US Military History.

Make notes about what you read.

You may want to make note of key phrase or sentences as you meet them. You can quote them in the review. As you read, ask yourself:

Who is telling the story? Is it in first person or third person?

What is the book’s genre? Narrative history, historical fiction, memoir?

What about the style of writing? Is the author a good storyteller? Is it serious scholarship with footnote after footnote? Is the style conversational or is it full of big words that need a dictionary at your side? Does it paint a word picture in your mind? When was it written? Was there a ghostwriter or co-author?

Does the book touch your heart and mind? Does it move you to an emotional or volitional climax about the topic?

Keep track of the story-line or chronology of the book. It will help you when reading long, complicated works.

Know the author and his or her works.

When you finished gathering the information, and you have enough notes, then you are ready to write the article.

Start with an introduction. The way you start will depend on your target audience. Consider beginning with a paragraph that describes your first impression of the work, or an interesting story that you had experienced through the book, or a more technical introduction where you briefly state the author, title, publisher, and any other information about the book you see pertinently.  I like to ask a thought-provoking question. An example is “Have you ever wondered what it would be like being a marine in Iraq?” It gets the reader thinking. Give a brief history of the author with some relevant information such as earlier works and awards.

Cover the structure of the book without giving away the plot or ending.

Explain your opinion of the book and give a summary of the review.

Finish by recommending the book. State who would benefit and enjoy the book, using general terms (students, veterans, seniors).

I like to tell the reader where and how they can get the book.

Include your full name in the end with the date of the review. On my book review site, I allow feedback. I have had a few authors contact and challenge me. I have had some authors point out grammar or spelling errors I have made in the review.

An example of the most frequent comment is in the words of David Laskin of the University of Washington. He wrote, “The Long Way Home: An American Journey from Ellis Island to the Great War.” He thanked me for reading the book. He said concerning my review that he had no doubt I had read the book. By the way, the book was amazing.


Originally Publication: Author Culture
Publication URL: http://authorculture.blogspot.com/2014/10/one-great-way-to-write-book-review.html
Date Retrieved: July 31, 2018
Original Publication Date: Monday, October 6, 2014
Photo Source: Pixabay

The Rebuilder

RebuilderA power resurrected after a 200 years absence. A man called to save humankind on Mars.

Earth’s moon. A staff colonel receives a diplomatic pouch. Its message demands he come to Mars. He is the last hope to save human colonization on the red planet.

Eradication of religion occurred in the twenty-second century. Now in the twenty-fourth century, Christianity has been miraculously reborn. All are not pleased with its revival. The opponents begin a crusade to destroy religion. The attacks occur where the rebirth started, The Rain Dome on Mars. These enemies threaten humankind’s colonization and presence on Mars.

Dr. Elizabeth Ashworth believes God will use her former husband, Colonel Harry Ashworth, to save the red planet’s colonization and The Rain Dome. Harry must face his most visceral fears: public speaking, commanding troops, and his ex-wife.

Can Harry overcome his self-doubt and constant quarreling with his ex-wife to rebuilt The Rain Dome? Can Christian worship be reestablished or will religion finally be wiped out? Will he be the Rebuilder?

Inspired by the Holy Bible’s book of Nehemiah, “Rebuilder” is book one of the space opera “Liberator Series” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler. It is a science fiction adventure where belief in God collides with those determined to wipe out all religious systems.

Rebuilder: Book 1 Liberator Series (Book 1 in the LIBERATOR space opera series) by Jimmie Aaron Kepler is available on Amazon. Order or Preview REBUILDER.


Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a novelist, poet, book reviewer, and award-winning short story writer. His work has appeared in over twenty venues, including Bewildering Stories and Beyond Imagination. When not writing each morning at his favorite coffeehouse, he supports his writing, reading, and book reviewing habit working as an IT application support analyst. He is a former Captain in the US Army. His blog Kepler’s Book Reviews was named a 100 best blogs for history buffs. You can visit him at http://www.jimmiekepler.com.

Update On My Writing

My Writing Life:

From time to time I get asked what I am working on in my writing life.

I have a few projects. First, I’ll share the new projects. On-going projects will follow. I’ll close with the old projects.

New projects:

  1. I am excited about joining the Author Culture Blog. It is at http://authorculture.blogspot.com. In the days ahead I’ll be doing some book reviews for them. I owe them my biographical information, getting the bio information up on the site as well as scheduling the first review.
  2. I am a writing a science fiction book. Here’s my book pitch. I’m 15% through writing the first draft of the book (about 15,000 of 100,000 words written) … What if all religion had been eradicated from the solar system in the twenty-second century? What if a time capsule is opened two centuries later containing a copy of the Holy Bible? Its reading causes a revival of the “dead” religion Christianity to spread across the solar system. What if a coalition of the descendants of the atheist, freethinkers, and humanist that had eradicated religion centuries earlier comes together to again free the solar system from the scourge of religion? What if the place where the time capsule was found and read becomes a holy shire? What if this city is attacked with resulting severe damage? The Bradbury-Burroughs Rain Dome tells the story of the rebuilding of the Great Wall and Rain Dome in a retelling of the Holy Bible’s Book of Nehemiah set on the planet Mars in the twenty-fourth century.

On-going Projects:

  1. I have a dozen scheduled book reviews on my blog Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews. You can find it at: http://keplersreviews.blogspot.com
  2. I continue writing flash fiction, short stories and poetry. I submit the fiction monthly.

Old Projects:

  1. I continue seeking a traditional publisher for my book, “Honor and Jealousy in Texas”. Traditional publishing moves as slow as a glacier. When will I sell it? When I get the correct offer. Will I Indie publish it. I don’t think so, but no not to ever say never. It may be a book written to show I can write on from start to completion. I learned so much in the process.
  2. I am finishing the edits on a book of poetry titled, “Lonely and Feeling Blue.”

 

One Great Way to Promote Your Book: A Blog Tour

Once upon a time

Once upon a time in a century long past when an author wrote a book his or her publisher might send the writer on a book tour.  The author would visit media outlets in various cities promoting their book and conduct book signings.

Oh, this still sometimes happens if the author is enough of a celebrity to merit so large a capital investment on the part of the publisher.  Other authors with outgoing personalities traveled the country promoting their work, sometimes at their own expense.  While this method worked, it was difficult for new authors.   Newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations were not anxious to use their copy space or airtime on an unknown writer.

As the age of the Internet developed, many new authors would promote their book through on-line forums, message boards, groups and chat rooms.  These formats encouraged potential reader and book buyers to consider the book.  Many times the author marketed their book through these sites by simply making a short sales pitch as they signed their name to their comments.  While this method is useful and generated grassroots support for a book it was extremely time-consuming and could be disheartening for author and publish because it requires a large amount of work for minimal return.

Today’s realities

Today with the economic recession and minimal dollars available for publishers or even self-published work and for those with family situations which include children or the need to keep their day job other options for promoting their work need to be considered.  A new opportunity emerged with the dedicated book or author website and blogs.

The most exciting of these new opportunities is the blog.  The name blog comes from the word weblog.  This is an online journal.  The purpose of a blog is three-fold.  It educates and entertains the public while allowing the readers the opportunity to provide immediate feedback.  Today professionals also run blogs seeking a targeted audience.  The professional’s goals include building standing and name recognition while making money.  Blogs have the added benefit of being inexpensive, easy to set up and support, and simple to find through search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo!

An author promotes their book to get people talking about their book and its message, to make some money, and to sell enough copies of the book for the publisher to keep it in print. A blog tour can be used as a great way to promote your book.

What is a blog tour?

While you ultimately want to increase your book sales, the purpose of a blog tour is to generate interest about your book. A blog tour allows cross-promotion of your book with the blogger’s site. It’s a great way for them to get free content for their blog while promoting your book.  It allows the author the opportunity to target the correct audience.

How do you set one up?

You begin by contacting suitable blogs.  You ask if they would be interested in being part of the tour. If so, a book can be sent to them to give away in a lottery type drawing, and review.  They can invite you to write a guest post or even interview you.   A schedule is created and the book is featured from two times a week to every day of the month. Determine your target blogs.  Make up a list of potential blogs. This will take a little research.  You can search for book blogs with emphasis given to those that focus on the genre you write. I write for three blogs that include regular book reviews.  They are Kepler’s Military History Book ReviewsWriting After Fifty, and Kepler’s Book Reviews.  I have contact information on my blogs for requesting book reviews.   Almost all blogs have a listed a way for contacting the blog.  My blogs are shared as examples.

Next you approach the bloggers via email.  If they have interest preparations are made for a date and an agreement of exactly will be done.  Books need to be sent to them well in advance.  Your publisher may take care of this.  Almost all authors or publisher I deal with do this.

I urge reviews.  When I review a book I always include reviewing it on my site, on Amazon.com, bn.com, Twitter, goodreads.com as well as all my personal sites like Multiply and Facebook.    On my personal site I always include a link where the reader has the opportunity to buy the book.  I like to include the publisher website when possible where the publisher can make largest profit on the sale.

Interviews require less writing than guest posts.  The author and blogger can agree on a set number of questions.  When I ask an author for an interview I send them no more than ten questions.  I draw the questions from the book and the author’s life and interests as I know the author.

Put it on the calendar

Schedule your book blog tour calendar.  You not only promote it on your site, but promote it on the sites of the participating bloggers.  Almost all blogs have calendars of upcoming events.  Make sure you book blog is included on their calendar. Bloggers work hard for free.  They promote what interests them.  They are a key element of the new media.

Don’t stop with one book blog tour.  After your first blog tour is completed make sure you host a second one a few weeks to a few months later with a new group of blogs.  The second time around you can try something different.  Instead of doing a second interview maybe you would want to share excerpts from reviews of your book, maybe post 2 to 3 question interviews conducted by you of the persons who a few of the persons who positively reviewed your book. It could be a fun way to get the reader to see how other readers enjoyed and benefited from  your efforts.  Your personal creativity can come up with other ideas.

Have fun!

Once upon a time in a century long past when an author wrote a book his or her publisher might send the writer on a book tour.  The past is behind us.  Welcome to the future called today. I think Book Blog Tours can be a fun to promote your work.  In the twenty-first century you as the author are going to have to take a more active role in marketing your book.  Why not try a Book Blog Tour? It allows you to talk about yourself, your book and who knows you just might meet some interesting bloggers, develop an audience and following, and sell a few books along the way. That will make you and your publisher happy.

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One Great Way to Promote Your Book: A Blog Tour by by Jimmie A. Kepler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.