The creative writing class at Eastbrook High School were a nosy bunch! (Perfect for writers!) They asked such excellent questions that I had to share them on my blog.
How long does it take to review a book?
First, you have to read the entire book—I usually have a deadline—then I break the book down by the synopsis, characters, setting, plot, strong points and weak points. I can do a review in 2-3 days if I need to do it. But it is important to read the entire book in order to be fair and back up your judgment of the book.
Most often I have more time than a few days. Sometimes I have up to a month to read and write the review. Depending on the length of the book and how much I need to report on will determine how long it takes.
I do both published books reviewing (for magazines) and reviews of unpublished books (manuscripts.) If you mean to do book reviews on published books, that again takes as long as it does to read a book, but I usually only write 150 words for those. For the unpublished books, it depends on for whom and why I'm reviewing the manuscript, but if it is for an editor/publisher, I can write anywhere from 4-12 pages of notes on various aspects. Some books will only take 3 hours, while others I can spend 24 hours (in a succession of 8 days, spending 3 hours a day on it.) It depends on how much I need to comment on, and how much actually needs commentary.
For the 150 word book reviews I got so fast at doing them that I could nail my word count in about 3 passes of writing the review. I'd get down the initial thoughts, sweep through correcting, cutting words to hit the count, then sweep through again to make sure I brought out the main points. Loved doing those! My column included 4-5of those and Church Libraries magazine would send me anywhere from 4-6 books to review per shipment of books.
I was slower when I first started but by now I've done both types of reviews for so long, that I can work much faster and more efficiently with an expert eye to the details I need to focus on.