Monday, 19 March 2012

My transition from being a Reviewer to being Reviewed

For two and a half years now I have been a book reviewer for the very well respected during this time I have made friends with a lot of authors both face to face and via the world of Facebook. I have also been very fortunate to meet and interview some of the biggest names in crime fiction.

There has been a constant stream of excellent books appearing in my mailbox and whenever I get talking with aspiring authors and they find out I’m a reviewer, it’s only a short time before their precious book is being pressed into my hands along with an impassioned request for a review.

As a reviewer the instructions from my editor are simple. If you like the book – write a review. If you don’t like the book – then don’t write a review. If you have nothing nice to say- then say nothing. is a place where crime fiction in all of its sub genres is championed. All the reviewers are fans of the genre and understand what makes for excellent crime fiction.

Suddenly I was on the other side of the fence. My own precious book – Eleven the Hardest Way – was up for review.  Not only was it being reviewed by but also a friend who reviews for our counterparts over at Shotsmag had also requested a copy.

Shine a light, this was serious now. The two biggest review websites for my chosen genre were reviewing my work. I had only been writing for three months and here was my first effort receiving the most intense scrutiny.

Was I nervous? You better believe I was. I know I said earlier that are not the kind of reviewers who put the boot in. but what if the reviewer didn’t enjoy it and said nothing. Oh the ignominy. And what about Shotsmag? I didn’t (and still don’t) know their editorial policy although the reviews I have read are all fair and balanced.

Is this what authors go through every time a book is submitted for review?

I was nervous, irritable and on more than one occasion an enquiring E-mail was written and then deleted when a rare strength of character appeared.

Then I got to thinking about the many E-mails and conversations I’d had with authors who knew I would soon be reviewing their work. Most of them would always say something along the lines of “please can you let me now how you get on with my book”. There have been one or two occasions when I’ve been lucky enough to be one of the first to read a book outside of the publishing houses and agents circle. I actually E-mailed the author of one of these and he was delighted to hear I’d enjoyed his book and admitted relief to hearing that it was as good as previous efforts.

Until my book was reviewed by these two very influential sites I never truly appreciated the power of reviews. Now I am fully aware of the influence and as a case in point I watched my own Ebook jump 42,000 places overnight when the two reviews came out.

I have learnt just how nerve wracking it is to have your book under review and I will always try to contact authors wherever possible, to say a couple of nice things about their book and chase away the butterflies I know they have. Of course I won’t share the review with them. I’ll just give them a taster of how I found the book.

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