The power of reviews

Submitting your book to the not-always tender mercies of a reviewer is quite a scarey thing. The very second you hit the button to send your baby in its pdf/mobi/epub or whatever form off into the ether to land in the reviewer’s in-tray, you start to have doubts. Maybe even downright second thoughts. What will they say about it? Will they hate it? Will they at least try to be constructive even if they think it’s a pile of poo?

The writer has no control over the reviewer’s words – and frankly, nor should they. It’s a risk you take –  and if someone’s prepared to spend their precious time not just reading your book but also commenting on it afterwards, then frankly the writer just needs to put up and shut up if they’re not happy with the outcome.

Okay – if the reviewer writes something completely and factually inaccurate or just plain wrong – then the writer has a right of comeback, if only for the sake of correcting the error. However – if the writer simply dislikes or disagrees with the reviewer’s opinion – well that’s tough tamales baby. I’m not suggesting it’s a nice thing to happen – I’m quite sure a bad review would make me crawl under the duvet with a large glass of whisky to sulk for at least a fortnight. But I’d still defend that reviewer’s right to criticise.

I have heard real horror stories of writers who’ve been incensed by bad reviews – it’s as if they somehow don’t believe the reviewer has any right to hold or express their own views. I’ve been very lucky so far – the reviews for Forbidden Love and Other Stories have all been positive and even complimentary. The latest one – by Katie Thompson – made me caper round the room with delight. It was like an unexpected – but very warmly received Christmas present. You can find it on Katie’s blog – katielthompson.blogspot.co.uk

So – this is a little thank you to all those who take the time and make the effort to review books. And a plea to writers – don’t be so damn precious – and definitely don’t be so damn rude!