- Include some description of the book as well as your opinion. Put the book in context.
- Be specific. Say why you liked or disliked the book. Throwing around adjectives like "terrific" or "disappointing" doesn't really tell the reader anything about the book. What exactly was terrific? What was disappointing?
- Consider the projected audience for the book. Was it written for a specialist audience? A general reader? What kind of reader would get the most from this book?
- Take a stand. The ultimate point of a book review is to make a recommendation. Your verdict doesn't have to be an absolute yes or an absolute no. Offering a nuanced opinion of a book often makes a more interesting review.
- Give your review a title that reflects the content of the review. Don't just use the book's title as the title of your review.
- Don't go on too long. Unless you're writing for the New York Review of Books or the Times Literary Supplement, your readers are probably not looking for an article-length review. Online book reviews should be brief and concise.
- Don't fall into the trap of summarizing the book. Provide just enough summary so that your points are clear to your readers.
- Don't trash the book because it wasn't what you expected. Unless the book was misrepresented, it's your responsibility to understand what you're buying before you buy it. Trout Fishing in America isn't really about trout fishing, and Fear of Flying is not for nervous travelers.
- Don't spoil it. If you're reviewing a work of fiction, don't give away key plot points or the ending of the story.
- Don't be nasty. If you didn't enjoy the book, don't be insulting or snide. Let your reader know calmly and unemotionally why you were disappointed.
- Don't give the book a bad review if you're really mad about something else. If you bought the book online and experienced bad customer service, don't take it out on the poor author with a one-star review and a rant about shipping delays.