How to Become a Book Reviewer
If you love reading, it might be time to take the next step and become a book reviewer. Then you can share your favorite books with the masses. Before you dive in, you need to know how to become a book reviewer. Follow these tips, so you can eventually become a professional book reviewer.
1. Read As Much As Possible
If you want to become a book reviewer, begin by reading tons of books. Eventually, you’ll need to read books for a living, and you’ll be working against a deadline. Start now, so you’ll be ready when the clock is ticking, and you need to finish a book and write your review before the deadline hits.
Reading books does more than give you practice. When you read lots of books, you’ll be more equipped to review them. You’ll get an understanding of what to look for in a book, which will help you craft your reviews.
2. Choose a Specialty
If you want to become a professional book reviewer, you need to specialize in a genre. That’s the only way to be taken seriously by professionals. Think of your favorite genre and then focus on it. You’ll want to create lots of well-crafted reviews in that genre.
3. Build a Following on Goodreads
If you want to become a reviewer of books, create a profile on Goodreads and start submitting reviews. Many people have built quite the following by posting reviews on Goodreads. Take Emily May, for example. She has more than 150,000 Goodreads followers and has written more than 1,500 reviews on the site. She’s turned that following into her own review blog, and you can do the same. Add the books you’ve read and write reviews on the website.
You can also apply to write reviews on Reedsy Discovery, Online Book Club, Kirkus Reviews, and other review sites. The more places you review for, the bigger your following will become. That will bring you closer to becoming a professional book reviewer.
4. Learn (and Follow) the Guidelines
Some review sites have strict guidelines that you must follow. For instance, if you write reviews for Kirkus, you will have to use a specific format. If you fail to do so, your review will get rejected. That means you’ll put all that work in for nothing. Other sites, such as Goodreads and Reedsy Discovery, let you follow your own format for the most part. Make sure you know if there are any guidelines before you start writing.
5. Create Reviews With the Reader in Mind
It’s normal to want to punish a writer for creating a bad book. You’ve had to suffer through the book, and now, you want the writer to pay for taking up your time. That’s not beneficial as a reviewer of books, though. Instead, think of what the reader needs to know. What will the reader find interesting about the book? Is there anything that will draw the reader in? Include that information in your review.
When you are first starting, stick with reviewing books that you like. When you promote books that your readers will like, you’re more likely to get a following, along with some love from up-and-coming authors. This can help you as you become a professional book reviewer.
6. Publish Your Reviews in One Spot
You can review books on Goodreads, Kirkus Reviews, and other sites, but make sure that all of your reviews have a central location. While sites like Reedsy Discovery include a homepage where you can place all your reviews, it’s really better to start your own website. This will help you build your brand as a reviewer. Then use plugins to import your reviews from other websites.
7. Create a Portfolio
Now, it’s time to take the next step, so you can become a professional book reviewer. Create a portfolio that contains your best reviews. If possible, the portfolio should contain a mixture of indie books and traditional titles with big followings.
8. Join an Association
You should also join an association, such as the National Book Critics Circle. As a freelance critic, it costs $50 a year to join, or you can get a lifetime membership for $500. You’ll have access to amazing resources and can use your membership to network.
9. Pitch Your Ideas to Publications
You’re finally ready to start pitching your reviews to the editors of newspapers and magazines. Create a pitch that goes over the story you’ll tell with the review. Your pitch should also explain why you’re the right person to write the review. Then submit your pitch to the editors of small publications. After you land a job with some small publications, you can try to write reviews for medium-sized publications. Keep moving up until you are finally reviewing books for the publication of your dreams.
Start Writing Today
Now that you know how to become a book reviewer, it’s time to get started. Create your first unpaid review today, build on it, and create a following. Then you can begin working toward landing paying gigs.