Wednesday, 10 August 2022


How do you feel about book reviews? Do you take any notice of them? Do you write them for any of the books you read?

Rosemary J Kind
and I have had a lovely review for the 2nd edition of From Story Idea to Writer.

"An excellent book on how to write commercial short stories. It is especially informative for beginners – if only it had been around when we started to write! But this book is equally helpful for those already writing seriously. It has two other big pluses - 1: It is very clearly written and 2: It skilfully encourages would-be writers to persevere and not give up.

The advice is given in an entertaining, encouraging way; some creative writing books can get a bit too intellectual, putting the would-be writer off completely, but this one has the opposite effect.

We liked the way the two authors (pictured at time of writing the 1st edition) gel with their advice – their styles complement each other all the way through. Rarely do their opinions differ and, if they do, each individual shows how her particular way could work as an alternative. 

How you approach the book is up to you – you might prefer to read it straight through, picking up points as you go, but it also works well as a ‘dip in’ source, where you just look up the particular writing problem that is bothering you at the time. Either way, you will find this book a great help; all writing aspects are covered. 

The marketing guide section is exceptional – rarely have we seen it explored so thoroughly. On the very important issue of discipline – getting down to writing - the advice cannot be faulted. There are so many writers of real talent who, alas, fail miserably because they lack the necessary discipline. Don’t be one of those writers - read this excellent book, learn from it and get writing!"

By Robin Dynes and Barbara Dynes who edit and contribute to Wessex Voice.

Obviously I feel very positively about this particular review! In general I do take notice before buying a book. I tend to look at the worst ones. Weirdly they don't always put me off, as what annoys one reader might not be a problem for another. If the above review tempts you to take a closer look at our book, you can do so here or ask you local bookshop or library to order it for you.

I try to leave reviews when I think they'll make a difference. 
Very occasionally that's when I've felt a book was a big let down – huge numbers of errors perhaps, or not being complete. Far more often I review books written by indie authors which I've loved. Us indies need the support more than the bestsellers who already have thousands of reviews!


Sheelagh said...

Great Patsy I have just purchased a kindle copy of your book, at first glance it looks very promising just what I need and I need all the help I can get mainly to prompt me to sit down, stay sitting and stop looking at my phone,emails etc etc!!! In relation to reviews sometimes I read them & sometimes I don't. I wouldn't let a bad review come between me & a book however I suppose if they were all bad I probably wouldn't go there. That said I have bought books which had glowing reviews only to be very disappointed. Now I have a circle of trusted friends who often recommend books to me & there I have never been disappointed.

Marguerite said...

If I write a review, I need it to be carefully considered and prepared. I have asked myself why I only give 5 star reviews - that would be because I feel strongly about them being a good read for their different reasons - I also don't like to do spoilers! If I feel very negative, well, I suppose I feel I can't say anything about it - so I don't - by omission etc...,. I perhaps should do some of those but then I don't want to blast someone to bits!
Do I read them for books I get? Yes - but as Sheelagh said, I would make up my own mind.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a great review!
I only review books I finish. Which means they will get three stars or better, as I won't finish if I don't enjoy it. And I won't review it if I didn't finish, as that's just wrong.

Marian said...

I do read reviews. I don't let them influence me that much, but sometimes a reviewer makes comments (good or bad) that make me sense I might feel the same way! I haven't written any reviews myself, but I feel perhaps I should - I've heard lots of authors say how much it means to them.

Eirin said...

I've bought two of your books so far, Patsy - one fiction, one non-fiction - and I've posted glowing reviews for both. I'm very glad to do this where it might make a difference, and where I have something positive to say, but I tend not to bother for books that already have thousands of ratings. I keep my reviews short in the hope that this makes them readily readable by others. I am incredibly grateful for absolutely every rating or review of three stars and above for anything I publish (writing as Eirin Thompson and E.D. Thompson). I suppose there's not much to be done about those who award me just one or two stars, who are, of course, entitled to their opinions (but it hurts!). I will read a book review before buying, sometimes, although am more likely to be influenced by a personal recommendation.

Patsy said...

@ Sheelagh – I hope you find the book useful.

I agree that if a book (or any product) only had bad reviews I'd be wary. I'm also wary of books with only good reviews especially if they're all very vague eg 'loved it' or 'couldn't put it down' and no indication they've actually read it. It's not always the case, but sometimes these are the author's friends trying to be supportive, not genuine readers.

@ Marguerite – I feel reviews should either avoid spoilers, or at least start with SPOILER.

I'd never blast an author. If I was critical of a book I'd say why I was giving a poor rating, not just put 'terrible'. What I find unacceptable might not worry somebody else.

@ Alex – We're very much the same. If I could get through the whole thing then it was either OK or better than OK.

I also agree it's not fair to review a book I didn't finish – maybe it gets better after I gave up. The exception is where I couldn't finish because it's truly unreadable, or where I feel cheated. Eg it's not in the language stated, or in no way matches the blurb and description. It'd need to be blatant for that - graphic violence on page one of a cosy romance for example.

@ Marian – Reviews do make a huge difference to authors, especially less well known ones, who haven't yet got many for that book. They don't need to be long, and they don't need to be more generous than you feel the book deserves to be a big help. Just mentioning one aspect you liked and giving 3,4 or 5 stars will be much appreciated by most authors.

@ Eirin – Thank you so much for reading and for leaving reviews. I really do appreciate it. (I also appreciate people taking the time to leave less glowing ones, but I think it's understandable that I prefer those which are positive.)

Sometimes negative reviews are a good thing. If they explain what they don't like then readers can make an informed choice, and authors can take the points raised under consideration. Also the odd lower ranking somehow looks more convincing than nothing but 5 stars - or is that just me?