Who Are Book Reviews For?

If you’re a book blogger (odds point to yes, since you’re reading this) you’ve written one of those crazy things called a book review. You’ve probably also ripped out a few hairs while doing it, too.

Who do we write these reviews for, though? Do we hold a specific audience in our minds as we write out our thoughts? Is it a cathartic practice, simply to share all our emotions after a captivating read? Knowing who we pen these reviews for can change how we format them, and how we phrase ourselves.

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WHAT IS A “BOOK REVIEW”

A book review is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. […] They offer a brief description of the text’s key points and often provide a short appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of the work. The review conveys an opinion, supporting it with evidence from the book. A book review addresses the question: “Does the book deliver on its promise?”
https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Writing_a_Book_Review

In short, a book review ought to contain

✏️ a brief summary,
✏️ the strengths and weaknesses of the book,
✏️ an answer to the question “does the book deliver on its promise,”
✏️ and *evidence* (paraphrased or direct quotes)

and a book review is based on an opinion, not fact.

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WAIT! I DISAGREE!

even tho most reviews follow that format, others use them in different order or incorporate other stuff. Even on Book Princess Reviews, Sha and Mandy have different opinions on what reviews should contain. You will see Sha following more of the traditional format with quotes and summarized facts, where Mandy’s take on a lot more of how she reacted emotionally (and not so much logically because is logic even really a thing?).

But why do we choose to include or not include certain elements in our reviews? Is it because it’s what we want? Are we catering to the publishers? Or trying to appeal to the masses/our followers? We’re taking on a few different people who reviews might be written for.

👸 Ourselves! 👸

Most of us got into the book review and blog world not to get all the free books or the fame and glory – we’re natural writers that just want to share our thoughts with a bookish community who supports and celebrates us.

Writing reviews can also help us figure out how we feel about a novel. There have been a few times that I have walked into a review, and it wasn’t until I had finished writing it that I realized exactly how I felt about it. Sometimes a book that I knew that I enjoyed turned into a favorite when I realized there were truly no flaws I could think of or books I thought were okay turned into rants once I got going. They certainly help us sort out thoughts and correctly categorize our books.

👸 Publishers! 👸

While most reviews we do are books that we bloggers aren’t getting from free, sometimes we are lucky to score an ARC. Since we do receive this book for free – either physical or digital – sometimes it might change how we react to a novel. Perhaps we feel like we can’t DNF it since it seems like we might have made a promise to the author or publisher. Perhaps we feel like we shouldn’t judge too harshly or really need to focus on the positives because you’re afraid you’ll never get another ARC again (Mandy has definitely had this fear before, since I mean, you’ve seen a few of her reviews). You might even feel like you need to change your voice to sound more “professional” or need to check all the boxes you think the publishers might want/need/expect from a review.

On the flip side, sometimes we write a review hoping to appeal to publishers as well. If I write a quirky or funny or fancy enough, perhaps they will spot me and see how epic of a reviewer I am and shower me with all the free books???? Maybe??? this is what dreams are made of??

👸 Followers! 👸

SHA here! Maybe book reviews aren’t for followers, because this post was accidentally published without an answer in this section. Hmm.

Every time I put a content warning or a representation list with a review, that’s directed at no one more importantly than the people who read our reviews! These markers help readers pick books that represent them, and/or create a safe space.

A review is a way to say HEY. HEY YOU. REAAD THISSS. And what better way than listing all your best reasons? Be they logical, emotional, or quotes straight from the book.

Maybe THAT’S why reviews differ so much. We all have our different marketing techniques, our preferred way to say that this book, this book right here, is the one you need to read.

What do you think? Who do you write reviews for? One, all, or none of the above? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

23 thoughts on “Who Are Book Reviews For?

  1. Honestly, I started reviewing books because I just liked to hear (watch?) myself talk! And I wanted to be able to look back on my reviews later and revisit those thoughts and opinions. That said, I hate going back and reading my reviews from 2010, because CRINGE. But I mostly still write reviews for myself. I guess I also want to promote the books that I loved, so partly for friends/followers as well? I want them to enjoy the books as much as I do!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The oldest reviews are the cringiest, aren’t they? I need to fortify myself before going back and even spending more than a minute on them. 😂 You have great reasons for writing reviews, Amber. Who doesn’t like to hear/see themselves talk (about books especially)?

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  2. I don’t receive ARCs, so I can say with certainty that my reviews aren’t for publishers 😂.

    I think first and foremost, my reviews are for me. That’s basically the whole reason why I started my blog—to make myself actually think about the book I read instead of mindlessly consuming. (There was actually a quote I saw that went, “If you’re not writing, then you’re not thinking,” which I don’t think is completely true but is some food for thought lol.) Secondly, my reviews are for my followers and anyone else reading because I want to talk about the books I read! And reviews ARE a great way to highlight a book and get people to read it 😁.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think I started recording my thoughts about each book I read on GR for myself, but then I started writing more involved reviews for those books that I really, really loved. I wanted other people to really understand why that book was amazing, and it was sort of my “thank you” to the author for producing such an amazing book. Now, maybe it’s a combination of both?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I would say that my reviews are mainly for me, and my followers!
    I do receive ARC’s but to me, my review is always for the benefit of readers, not the benefit for the publisher, otherwise my opinion would be tarnished?
    Excellent post!
    – Emma 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is very true, Emma. I see my ARC reviews the same way: for readers, not publishers. I do tend to use a bit less informal speech when writing them though… I get nervous that pubs won’t take me as seriously if I do? Otherwise I might not use proper capitalisation at times, or draw out words (ex: but boyyyyyyy was that good), stuff like that.

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  5. It is an interesting topic!!! I have seen people doing a summary of the book which I find annoying cause the 2 pages of the review 1 is just about the story and events…

    Others are just either bashing the book or loving in because of its facts. Which is fine at the end is more of a reaction haha

    I like when they are like a few lines of a “synopsis” and then a reaction. I find I testing that for example Kirkus tells what the book is about and at the end there are a few lines of reaction and the famous “line review” Haha

    Also an either told me that I should be giving away much of the plot on the review which I agree but I guess everybody does it different…

    Also criticism is more of a literary kind of text… I see those more in the New York Times than other places xD

    Sorry for the long comment Haha I got excited

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t even worry about the long comment. I love long comments!

      I do like the short synopsis and then reaction format a lot as well. Sometimes I haven’t read the book myself, or I have and forgot the plot, so knowing what the synopsis is helps get me up to date. But I don’t want to know too MUCH of the plot, because that spoils the book for me.

      The reaction from the reader is the most important though. I want to know what the reviewer liked, disliked, what was the best, etc.

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  6. I love reading and before I decided to have my own blog, I was following many blogs and their reviews gave me really good recommendations so that’s gave me the idea to have my own blog 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sorry mistakenly pressed send so here is the rest 🙂
    I totally do not follow the format and I write the review for myself and other people who follow my blog. So for me my reviews are for the books I really enjoyed and want to share that with others. I do receive ARCs and lately I am not fan of them. I decided to stop requesting them because I used to write reviews for fun of it and lately it started feeling like a job.
    So long story short I think reviews should be for yourself 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If ARCs aren’t working for you, then stop requesting– that is such a smart thing to do, good for you!! I’ve slowed down myself because I felt the same recently. I was giving more negative reviews to ARCs and no one wins in that situation.

      I 100% agree, reviews should be for you at the end of the day!

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  8. I don’t really know who I write reviews for. I started reviewing to work on my writing and now I guess a lot of my reviews are of ARCs (so for publishers and readers) and for other readers who might have similar opinions to mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is such an interesting post!! Book reviews are so subjective – not just the content/opinions expressed in them, but the WAY they’re written – so it’s always interesting to see how different people approach them.

    I have to admit that most of the reviews I write are largely for myself! As you said, it’s a way for me to sort out how I felt about a book, since I sometimes don’t realize until I’ve written it out. You’re so right, though, that things like content warnings and representation are for followers/readers of my reviews! Also, when I REALLY want to convince people to read a book that I love, I try my best to make it sound as appealing as possible to anyone who reads the review 😉 I don’t think I’ve ever written a review with a publisher in mind, though…not sure if that’s a bad thing??

    Such a interesting topic, thanks for giving your thoughts on this! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think it’s a bad thing AT ALL that you don’t write reviews with publishers in mind. The worst thing I’ve seen in reviews is when a blogger only releases incredibly positive reviews of ARCs to get favour with publishers. Never any criticism of the books, never any cons, just five stars and tons of praise. Like, why would you even be reading at that point?

      Book reviews are so, so subjective! You can read twenty reviews of the same book and find twenty different opinions and twenty different writing styles.

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  10. I write reviews for readers. For my followers obviously who look at my posts and whoever stumbles upon this site. I write for them and for myself cuz its always fun to look back and see what I thought about a book.
    But Imma be honest, when you wrote “perhaps [publishers] will spot me and see how epic of a reviewer I am and shower me with all the free books????” That line that resonated with me soooooooooooooooo much XD

    Liked by 1 person

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