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How do I Become a Book Reviewer?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Many people with a combined love of reading and writing decide they want to become a book reviewer. Though there are no specific educational requirements for becoming a book reviewer, most have at least a high school diploma, and often a college degree in literature or a related field. English degrees or writing degrees are also popular choices for professional book reviewers.

It generally takes a lot of patience to become a book reviewer. Editors of newspapers, magazines, and websites have no shortage of freelance writers who want to review books. For this reason, it is important to learn as much as possible about book reviewing, as well as the individual publication, beforehand. Read as many book reviews as possible to get a sense for the tone and content found in the reviews. Remember, book reviews are traditionally somewhat less formal than book critiques written by critics; reviews tend to focus more on the reviewer,s opinion, as well as the perceived merits of the book, rather than more technical literary information.

When you want to become a book reviewer it is important to determine the genre in which you wish to write. Most book reviewers focus on one specific genre, such as mystery novels, literature, popular fiction, or historical fiction, just to name a few. It should be a genre in which you enjoy reading, and are relatively knowledgeable about common themes and plot devices. Keep in mind that a book review should discuss the plot and the themes without giving away the ending; in addition, most book reviewers try to find something positive to say about the book, even if they did not enjoy the book overall.

Next, it is impossible to become a book reviewer without sitting down and writing some reviews. Even if they are never published, it is important to have samples to show editors, because most will not hire a reviewer without some sample pieces. It may be easier to get started writing for a university newspaper while still in college, or by writing for a local newspaper or bookstore. Another option is to write reviews for free, and post them in a blog. Once you have a few published pieces, it will be easier to get more assignments.

Most book reviewers are freelance writers who are paid per piece, if they are paid at all. Some simply write book reviews on a volunteer basis, and in exchange, will receive free books to review, sometimes ahead of their publication dates. The most important advice for someone who wants to become a book reviewer is simply to keep writing, and always meet assigned deadlines. Like any other freelance writing career, it can be difficult to get started, but for someone who enjoys reading books and writing about them, it is a great choice.

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Discussion Comments
By clintflint — On Mar 03, 2014

@irontoenail - Another option is to become a reviewer for a book-selling website. There are different companies that will pay for honest reviews, whether it's in cash or in other perks. Generally you have to start off doing it for free though.

By irontoenail — On Mar 02, 2014

@Mor - I think if someone has persistence and talent, they can start without using the blog method. There are lots of little student papers that want reviews and lots of websites for that matter.

Writers need to make sure they read a lot of reviews to get a sense of what they should be writing though. I mean, you might think it's simply a matter of writing about whether you thought that book was enjoyable or not, but the best reviewers will be able to help people see a book in a different way. You should be able to point out things about it that they never thought of. If you can do that, then you will be able to find work.

By Mor — On Mar 02, 2014

I would suggest that you just start writing about books on a blog of some kind. Pick a genre and go for it.

If you've got eclectic taste, I will still stick to one genre, just because you are probably hoping to attract an audience and they are more likely to find you if you become known to a particular group of fans.

This is the kind of thing where you have to just keep going even if you don't get much feedback at first. Unless you have some kind of advanced degree in literature it's difficult to walk into a paid gig for book reviews without examples of how you can attract an audience.

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