Saturday, 9 September 2017

Ready, Steady, Review!

If you  follow me on Twitter, you will be familiar with tweets like this:

Read it?
Loved it?

#Writers make the world go round

I tweet it quite regularly to encourage readers to think about putting their thoughts, (hopefully positive) onto a review site after finishing a book.

So what are reviews for? I think they fulfill various functions. Firstly, they help other readers decide whether a book is for them. A slew of interesting and varied reviews (by this I mean at least 2 cogent paragraphs of analysis, not just: 'Ooh, I sooo love this book'/'I didn't get further than page 5' help one to decide whether to download/buy. Or conversely, whether not to waste your time. We are all time-poor. Reviews are therefore an aid to connecting the reader to the right book.

As a writer, I find reviews of my own books useful as a gauge to measure whether or not I am hitting the reader satisfaction button. Are they enjoying the story? Do they get it? Can they follow the plot? If not, how can I improve the reading experience for them in the next book. Reviews are also a personal encouragement - the writer's lot is an isolated lot most of the time. It is good to receive a little praise for one's efforts, especially when the serendipitous happens: a reader finds a whole new layer of meaning that had never occurred to me. Reviews can be a writer's best learning tool, if you let them.

Reviews are also very important in boosting sales. That is why I welcome the way sites like Amazon and Goodreads allow ''ordinary'' people to post reviews, and I get annoyed when some writers are sniffy about ''non-professional'' people expressing their thoughts and ideas, because believe me, the chances of most of us small/self published authors getting our work reviewed in mainstream papers or magazines, which is what we'd all like, is about as likely as Christmas in July.

For me, a special and unexpected reviewing source has come from all those followers on Twitter who tweet a few lines saying how much they have enjoyed one of my books. Or, as someone did recently, treat me (and all my and their followers), to an excellently succinct chunk by chunk commentary on Diamonds & Dust as they read it on a long train journey. Interactive reviewing 2017 style. I never experienced this when I wrote teenage fiction and it has been a revelation.

So in the run-up to Christmas ... and beyond, may I encourage you to read widely and review  ~  it need only be a short paragraph or two. Long essays are not required. But it will make a HUGE difference to us writers.

Thank you.


  1. Totally agree with all of this ~ but don't diss the one liner!! It's easy for us to forget, because we do this all the time, that some people find it really hard to express what they feel in words. I must have mentioned to you my friend Helen who has read all my books (and is the type of person who would say so if she thought they weren't much cop) but never reviewed until I asked her to. She sat there and struggled through one line. I had to ask her questions to get her to write two. Yet she is an articulate, much travelled and worldly-wise woman with a good job.

    I think just the fact that a 4 or 5* has been given and an indication that the book has been enjoyed is enough to add to the readers' decision to buy. And ANY review adds to Amazon visibility!

    Early days with Wonders & Wickedness ~ when they come, I am sure they will be as 'we are not worthy' as mine!

    1. Agreed...although I tend to find the 'one-liners' go with the 'one stars'.

  2. Lovely post on the importance of reviewing, Carol. Maybe we should call it something else, as I swear the word puts some people off. But one line or one word even, I'm grateful for the feedback! (don't really like that word either)

    1. yes...maybe we could call it 'appreciation' ...which could deter the trolly reviews.

  3. Agree! We as writers sometimes forget that reviews are useful for other readers too. I nearly always read the reviews before buying a book. However, one liners are not much use to readers, but if they are accompanied by a good star rating, they are nice for the author, and they add to the numbers so are good for sales. Great post, CarolStar!


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