Friday, July 18, 2014

My Reviewing Process ~ It Takes Five Steps

Have you ever wondered how I write my reviews? Well, here's my usual reviewing process split into five steps. I've included a lot of details, so it may be a little long (but hey, there's a lot that goes into reviewing a book). 

Step #1
Take notes of book during and/or after reading the book.

This step is different for every book. Sometimes I write a lot while reading. Sometimes I don't write any notes until after I'm done reading. (There are some books that I just skip this step altogether.) What I take notes on varies with my mood and whatever is closest to me at the time. Comp books, small or large spiral bound notebooks, sticky notes inside the book, Kindle notes, iPod or phone memos, the first piece of blank paper I can find. I take my notes in so many different places that I'm losing track of where I wrote my thoughts for a book down.

Some of my handwritten notes:

Sinner (yellow) - I wrote on both sides of the yellow paper both as I read and after I finished the book.

Crown of Midnight (small spiral notebook) - I took a sudden break while reading to write down my thoughts. I decided to make them the bulk of my review (so, I had my review all figured out before I even read the entire book).☺

The Murder Complex (comp book) - I think I wrote mot notes as I was reading and added a few after I finished. I wrote with my favorite color of ink (purple). 

Want a fun fact? My handwriting is at its absolute worst when I write book notes and reviews. 

A couple of my digital notes:

The Ring and the Crown - I wrote a lot of notes. I'm only showing one screenshot out of four. I think I wrote them as I read, but I can't remember for sure.

Reboot - I took a random note about Callum and Wren's relationship. I actually think I have different notes in a notebook or on a piece of paper somewhere. 

Here's another fun fact: I haven't written a review for either book. Sometimes, I just don't get to writing a review for books that I bought (Reboot) or won (The Ring and the Crown). 

. . . and another: I love writing notes on my iPod! Maybe it's because it's a smaller device than my phone or because it doesn't lag, but I can type out my thoughts really quick on it. I rarely use it for notes, though, because I forget about them.

You may be curious about whether I ever take notes in the margins of my books . . . I don't. Unless I'm writing an essay or taking a test on it, I won't text-mark my books. I use sticky notes instead.

Step #2
Write full length draft in notebook (character names, settings, etc. may be left blank if I can't remember).

This step, too, is sometimes skipped. I've been doing that a lot lately because I just haven't been in the reviewing mood. However, I do like writing my reviews by hand first. My thoughts just flow easier when I have a pen in my hand and I'm able to just let the sentences pour out. It takes a lot longer to put my thoughts into words when I'm typing them straight out. This doesn't just apply to reviews. In my senior year, I drafted almost all of my essays and writing assignments on paper before I typed them up. I've outlined or even written drafts for discussion posts. For example: I wrote my guilt letter to Splintered in a notebook a week before I typed it up.

Reviews from my notebook:

Torn Away (left) - One of the reasons why I prefer hand writing my reviews first is that I can cross my words out instead of deleting them. I was having a tough time with the wording in this review, so I crossed a lot of stuff out. I skipped taking notes for Torn Away, which is 

The Murder Complex (right) - I showed you the notes, so I'm showing you the review. I crossed out less words in this one because I referred to notes. When I wrote my Torn Away review, I skipped the notes and went straight to pouring out my thoughts in paragraphs.

Step #3
Type up review on my computer Notepad and fix errors/weird sounding sentences.

I've never been a big fan of reading over my own writing and proofreading, so this step is helpful. It forces me to read my review and make corrections. I think it helps me write better reviews because I have to write them not just once, but twice.

Step #4
Copy and paste to Goodreads. Fix typos.

Thank you, red squiggly line. You've saved me from so, so many typos. (Notepad doesn't have the line, so I make quite a few mistakes as I type and I don't even notice until I add it to Goodreads.)

Step #5
Copy and paste the preview of the review to draft on Blogger.

For most reviews, I already have a draft set up before I even read the book. I add the cover, description, "Review" picture, "My Rating" picture, source, and sometimes, the book details (oh, and the post title). Then I just copy and paste the review in when it's ready, change the font of the whole page to Verdana and the size to normal (this is why I copy and paste the preview--it keeps the italics and the formatting so I don't have to redo any of that in Blogger). I then add labels, schedule it for a certain date/time (or not), and hit publish!

I haven't read Of Monsters and Madness yet, but I've had the rest of the post set up since March.

Here are some questions for you:
Do you ever take notes as you read? Do you also hand write your reviews? Do you set up a draft for your review before you even read the book?


  1. I use post it notes on pages as I go. I use a lot of them so I have lots of options even if I don't use them all. If I'm not near a computer I'll hand write it out, but usually I'll just type it in and then walk away from it for a little while and come back and re-read it to see if anything sounds awkward!

  2. This is so interesting!!! I think the thing that surprised me most was that you put your review on Goodreads before your blog. I guess I did know that some bloggers post GR reviews before their blog posts are scheduled, though, so idk why I was so shocked by that, but I was! :P I also loved seeing all your notes in all your different note-taking places! :D

    To answer your Q's - I don't take notes when I read. I do not hand-write my reviews because, while I used to be a fast note-taker in high school, I have not hand-written anything of any length since then, and my typing is SO much faster than my hand-writing. And nope, I create my drafts of my reviews when I'm going to begin writing the review!

  3. Ooo, interesting! It's so cool to read about other people's review process, everyone does it so differently. I'm kind of a lazy reviewer: I read the book, let it go through my mind for a day, write the review in Goodreads and cross post on my blog. My memory is usually good enough to do without notes, and I've found that taking notes decreases my enjoyment of the book. I'm sure your reviews have way less mistakes than mine! I should really proofread them.

  4. I love it when bloggers post their "behind the scenes" like how they write their reviews and the process of it. I'm surprised too that you post your reviews on Goodreads first and THEN post it on your blog. I'm the opposite. I create my draft directly on Wordpress then re-read it for like 2-4 times and fix some errors or add something I've forgotten and then I post it/schedule it. When my review goes live, that's when I'll copy and paste my review and put it on Goodreads. For my side comments about the book, I don't write it down on paper. Instead, I use the Goodreads status thingy and put my thoughts there.

  5. I think it's interesting to see how people differ in writing their reviews. Me? I'm not consistent at all, except I take notes (I have notebooks filled with quotes, weird words, and info I think I'll need to remember). I actually always took notes, even before I became a book blogger and started writing reviews. And I always write my reviews in Blogger (and publish them) before putting them on Goodreads. I might switch to writing them in Word because one time I lost a review (somehow never got saved). Luckily, I hadn't gone that far in it and was able to rewrite what I lost.

    I also differ in how long it takes to write a review. Sometimes I'll do it right after I finish the book; other times, I wait a few days or even a week. And maybe I'll write half of it one day and half the next. Just depends on how long it takes me to find the right words. :)

  6. Wow---I applaud the effort you put into your reviews!!!!

  7. I have to tell you, this is so weird, because I had started basically this EXACT post (which I am obviously scrapping now lol) for next week! Great minds, no? Well, I might as well tell you what I was going to say ;) I have NO process. None. At all. I admire bloggers like you who are so organized, I am just one big old mess. Your process is amazing. This is how mine works: I read the book, forget half of what I wanted to say, then panic. No, seriously. I have started to jot down a few things if I think they're super important, but that's the extent of it- I go in cold (with one exception- If I read an ARC, and the review isn't to be written for awhile, I WILL write out at least a few thoughts.) That's it. Then I pop up Blogger, and type away. For some reason, I type thoughts far better than I write them. So I just roll with it. But I have a feeling things would go much, much smoother if I had oh, half a percentage of your organization!

  8. Wow, this is an excellent writing process for reviews and you definitely put a lot of effort into it, with the taking notes, writing several drafts handwritten and all and then transcribing it onto Goodreads! I'm more comfortable and quicker with typing than handwriting I think, so I prefer to type everything into my Wordpress and then come back and fix up errors and stuff later.

  9. Wow, what a fantastic and what a complex process!
    I don't usually take notes at all, unless mental ones count. And like you I first do the Goodreads bit and then copy that to my blog as a draft to schedule!

  10. WOW I really need to get my hands on a blogging notebook! I knew that was essential, but I never knew you also went through the steps of writing your review on paper, than on Notepad, and then editing it. I don't think I would have enough patience to do all of that!

  11. I always find seeing how different bloggers do their reviews fascinating. I'm quite different in my process because I don't write notes, nor do I handwrite anything (I hate writing by hand!). My reviews are usually done on my phone and kept on Google Keep until I get to a computer and post it on blogger, and then edit it. Then my co-blogger edits/revises it.

    I used to write my reviews on my iPod so I know what you mean by how easy it is to type there.

    Anyway, cool post!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  12. I always take notes while reading, so that's already a basic for my review. I type it down in Windows Live Writer and save it as concept over there. Then I add things like quotes and I look for typos and if I want to add something else. After that, I send it to my blog and when it's posted there, I crosslink it with Goodreads.

    Most of the times I already wrote down all the details, like page numbers etc. and it's easy with the template I use in Windows Live Writer.

  13. I take notes on my phone sometimes, especially if some of the book's moments or concepts stood out to me. I don't really do hand-drafted notes or reviews because I'm hella lazy. :P But I love how you have a whole system for this! Kudos!

  14. I tend to only take notes when I've finished the book and I'm not at home. When i'm reading, I just tend to flag bits that I liked or bits that I want to talk about later and then the moment I finish reading the book, I write the review directly into the blogger post, and then save it to look at it later.

    Since my blog post area doesn't have a white background, I just thought that typing it directly into the blogger area was more efficient, since I don't have to re-adjust all the formatting.

    It's really interesting, I find to see how other bloggers write their reviews. I wonder, as I learn about others's styles of reviewing, if mine will change too.

    Great post!

    Ri @ Hiver et Cafe


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