Book Reviewer

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Book Reviewer


Books are historically an important part of our cultural society. People constantly read books growing up, in school and for pleasure. Accordingly, book reviewing is an exercise we learn at a young age. Do you remember writing book reports in the third grade? Book reviewers write about and give opinions on recently published books. They often make or break authors; either bringing their books to best-seller lists or consigning them to the bargain bins of the literary world. Their reviews have serious and consequential influence on the book publishing and reading world. Book reviews are generally published in special arts and review sections of newspapers, literary or any other general magazines, on the Internet and in other published sources.

Book reviewers attempt to help readers decide whether or not they should read a particular book. They also try to advocate reading and literacy for the uninterested or indifferent. Since they are authorities on books, readers are usually influenced by the reviewer's words and opinions and often use a review as a starting point of analysis.

Book reviews generally consist of two key elements: a brief synopsis, without giving the story away, and an intelligent critique of the work. Reviewers question whether the book invokes new thoughts and ideas, how it compares to other books the author has written, if it compares to other similar books in the same genre and who the intended audience is. They must remember to stay objective when writing reviews and give the book a fair review, citing both its merits and faults. Also, reviewers must create interesting takes on reading particular books.

Book reviewers play an important cultural role in our media-savvy society, reading books and writing reviews that inform us about authors and literature of our present day culture. The ultimate goal after reading and synthesizing a book is to figure out how to present a review logically so that people can understand, enjoy and use it in their daily lives and possibly go out and read the book.
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  Interests and Skills  
Book reviewers are true literature lovers. They enjoy reading a book, digesting the information and then producing a thoughtful and interesting review of the subject. They obviously have excellent writing and communications skills and can find deeper meaning in a text, often at first read. Book reviewers must also be open-minded, because they have to read a plethora of literature (like it or not) and try and understand the author's intentions. Due to the deadline nature of the career, book reviewers must possess extensive stamina to help them cope with the pressures of the industry.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Read the latest published books, including those assigned by an editor
  • Write critical book reviews for newspapers, magazines and related publications based on knowledge, judgment and experience
  • Cover all the reviews for specific subjects such as health, sports or dance
  • Conduct interviews with authors and other important figures as part of research for the review
  • Discuss work with editors
  • Book reviewers generally work indoors in a variety of conditions. Their work is usually hectic and stressful. Since they are under great pressure to meet deadlines, book reviews are written after a work has been completed; often with little time for preparation. Successful book reviewers may work in comfortable, private offices while others work in large rooms filled with the sound of keyboards and computer printers, as well as the voices of other reporters. Actual working hours can be irregular. Book reviewer's hours tend to fluctuate when a deadline must be meet. Sometimes book reviewers must read into the night in order to finish a book for review.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Book reviewers typically work for newspapers, magazines, journals, governments, radio and television stations and other publishers. Freelance reviewers are self-employed and work only on contracts. Book reviewers are constantly reading new literature, books, poetry, cookbooks, to name a few, and sometimes travel to meet authors for interviewing. A book reviewer's career may include specializing in anything from self-help book reviews to biographies of world leaders and celebrities. Most tend to specialize in a particular area, once they are established.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Many entry-level book reviewers that work on small publications in rural areas can easily move up into larger urban influential publications with experience. Starting on a smaller publication is considered valuable by editors and publishers and a move to a larger station or publication is often a deserved promotion. Experienced reviewers may advance to editorial, production and publishing positions.

Since book reviewing is such a highly competitive industry, competition for even entry-level reporter jobs is tough. Experienced reviewers often write columns in newspapers, magazines and on television or move into related occupations such as technical writing, advertising copywriting, public relations and media consulting, organizing large events, educational writing, fiction writing, screenwriting, editing or teaching. Many book reviewers become independent freelance writers. Although the Internet is taking over our traditional book reviewing in the print media, there are still book reviewers needed for writing positions in these media.

  Educational Paths  
Most book reviewers have a university degree or college diploma in journalism or a related field, such as communications or English, however it is not one hundred percent crucial in certain areas of book reviewing. Newspaper reviewers, however, usually require some form of formal training at a minimum and a few years reporting experience just to get one's foot into the door. Some people get liberal arts degrees in English literature and then attend a one or two year postsecondary college program in journalism.

Book reviewers must be extremely well read, possessing a detailed knowledge of the literary canon, history, politics, media and current events. When writing reviews, the pieces must be in the context of broader issues. Critical reviewers also need specialized knowledge in a particular area they usually review, such as biography or fiction. Newspaper and magazine reviewers can gain practical experience by working on high school and university publications or small rural weekly publications.

Most reviewers start as reporters at small publications or broadcast stations as general assignment reporters or copy editors. Large publications and stations hire few recent graduates; as a standard industry rule, they require all reporters to have at least several years of experience. Some book reviewers are also university English professors or well know writers. Experience book reviewers suggest constantly reading, writing and practising reviewing skills as a tool for success. Lately, there are so many places to get book reviews published on the Internet. The more practice one gets, the better chance one has of landing a job.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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