Ready for your close up, readers? Booktube offers reviewers a unique platform for discussing the books they are reading. From vlogs to themed roundups to tags and challenges, there are seemingly endless video opportunities for sharing book reviews. If you’re unsure of how to start reviewing books or want some tips on how to structure those videos, we’re here to help! Check out the tips below for making your booktube reviews stand out.
If you’re completely new to booktube, check out this post first for tips on starting your account, equipment recommendations, basic filming advice, and more!
Familiarize yourself with review videos
There are three main types of book review videos on booktube: weekly or monthly recaps, reactionary vlogs that chronicle your thoughts as you read, and review videos about a single book or a group of books.
Videos about a single book often aren’t as popular for a few reasons: Viewers may be reluctant to watch a video for a book they aren’t familiar with or they may avoid it for fear of spoilers. This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t film these videos. Instead, consider which books would be best for this format. Backlist titles that more readers are familiar with make for great single book review videos, or incredibly buzzy new releases that readers want to hear more about.
Think outside of the box for review roundups
A review video about a single book can be amazing content, especially if you’re passionate about the book. But it isn’t the only way to share book reviews on booktube. You could do a series of videos that roundup books with the same star rating, such as “Five Star Read Reviews.” Take a look at your NetGalley shelf for a video like “The Last Three Books I Reviewed.” Share your thoughts on your most-hyped books of the year with a video like “Reviewing My Most-Anticipated Reads of 2021.” Compare two books with similar themes for videos such as “Battle of the Space Operas.”
Finding clever ways to tie the books you’re reviewing together is a great way to feature multiple reviews in a single video and draw in a larger group of viewers.
Find your inner vlogger
Vlogs are fairly popular because they not only offer your viewers deeper insight into your chapter-by-chapter thoughts on a book, they also tend to include small (but personal) looks into your life—even if it’s just what you’re having for lunch or the kind of tea you like to drink while you read. Vlogs bring viewers along on your reading journey and offer lots of room for creativity because you can theme them around a single book, multiple books, a reading challenge, or other themes.
Describe the plot
Once you’ve decided on the type of video you’ll be doing, it’s time to actually film your review! Many booktubers find it helpful to take notes as they read, especially to remember certain plot details or character names. When describing the plot, you can always choose to share the official synopsis with your viewers, but it’s often easier to simply share your own shortened version. For example if you were reviewing Pride and Prejudice you might say, “This book is set in Regency-era England and follows Elizabeth Bennet, whose family is destitute so her matchmaking mama is trying to marry off her daughters. Enter the wealthy, but standoffish, Mr. Darcy.”
Use your NetGalley review
If you’ve written your NetGalley review before filming your video, use it! This review likely already has a short summary of the book, your clearly worded opinions, and perhaps mentions of your favorite scenes or characters. Think of it less as a script and more as a guideline for what you’ll talk about in your video.
Alternatively, you may find it easier to film a video to get your thoughts together and then use that as inspiration for your written review. The tips we shared here in our feature on how to write a book review are easy to apply to Booktube!
Be conscious about spoilers
The kind of video you’re filming will influence how likely it is that you’ll be sharing major spoilers. If you’re discussing five books in a single video, it’s easy to talk about the general plot, share thoughts on whether you liked it or not and why, and to give a rating without revealing too much. However, if you’re only discussing one or two books, it’s more likely you’ll venture into spoiler territory. Give your viewers a heads up so they’re aware that spoilers are coming. Some Booktubers even place the word SPOILERS on the screen in post-production—this gives viewers the option to mute the video until they see the word disappear, indicating the spoiler section of the video is over.
Share content warnings
Content warnings can help readers be aware of elements of a book that might trigger traumatic memories, cause anxiety, or are generally upsetting. Providing them in a review is a helpful way of giving readers a heads up about what they’re in for so they can make a healthy and informed choice about whether or not they want to engage with that book.
Show off the book
If you’re discussing multiple books in a video, it’s helpful for viewers if you hold up the book you’re speaking about or use post-production effects to add in the book cover. This way if they want to watch your video, but want to skip over a specific book (for reasons such as not wanting the plot to be spoiled), it’ll be clear when you’re done discussing because they’ll see the book disappear.
Ratings help to give readers an immediate sense of how you felt about a book. NetGalley provides readers with a pre-set rating system that pairs stars with a likelihood of recommending the book to fellow readers. But you may choose to use a system of your own design for your Booktube channel. A video where you explain what different starred ratings mean to you (paired with a short review of a book to match each rating) is a great way to both share book reviews and give your viewers insight into your rating system.
Get creative with your titles
All bookworms know that a good title can hook a reader instantly! Rather than a straightforward title like “Review of Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen” for your video, try an approach that might intrigue someone as they scroll through YouTube, such as “Six Reasons to Read Pride & Prejudice, ” “Why Fitzwilliam Darcy Deserves Five Stars,” or “Confessions of an English Lit Dropout: Reading Pride & Prejudice For the First Time.”
In your video’s description, include links to places like Bookshop where viewers can buy the books you’re discussing. You can also link out to your Bookstagram or Goodreads if you’ve reviewed the book on those platforms.