What's in a Review? How a book review rejuvenated this author…

Today, I have to admit. I was scanning my titles to see if the review numbers changed. LO and behold, they did. There is a reader out there, her name on Amazon is “Nana Loves to Read.” I love Nana today. Today, she is my audience of one. I’m writing you, Nana, because I was having one of those days. An editing day, where everything I come up with is trite and trivial. My characters are doing all of the “no-nos.” They’re smirking and eye rolling, and uttering cliches, and falling in love in the most predictable of fashions.

But then I read your review of my re-release “His and Hers.”

Jaw, meet floor. You liked it. Here I am. Sally Field. You like me! you really like me!


Talented. Visual. Olives & ¬†grapes. You read this little book that I loved, but I doubted anyone else on the planet had actually picked up. Likable characters. Deep roots in faith. <3 I’m in love with your review. I suddenly am back in Long Valley, with you. Thank you.

Then, I find that you stumbled across “All or Nothing as well… my first novel, written with my baby in the crook of my arm…


And here is what got me, Nana. You stated this is your second book by me… “I can’t wait to enjoy many more…” Suspenseful, clean romance. Strong characters… more about the plot without spoiling.

That makes you check the other reviews… and you find gems which plant and water your seeds…


What’s in a review?

For authors, those little blurbs, comments, feelings are validation that we are on the right track. That our readers get what we are trying to convey. It is the lifeblood of the creative flow.

A review can lift or dash hopes and spirits. It can make or break a great day with hands on the keyboards, ideas flowing, plots thickening, and be the difference between dipping your toe in the ether–as my college professor Dr. David Soren used to say–or drowning all together.

So why review a book?

Consider your motives. Are they to lift up? Unbridled praise is just that. It sets off a frenzy, and often is ignored. If every book you review is 5-star, then you are not truly helping anyone get the story, and if it would ring true to them. If you genuinely only review books you love, that you consider 5-star, then say so. Tag the bottom of your reviews with “I only review books I can shout out about!” or something to that effect.

Also, if you dislike a book, try and find SOME kernel in the story that you liked along with the negative. So, if you disliked the plot twist, but loved the imagery and character depth, say so. On all counts. Make a mention that “This book would have been 5-stars for ME if the author would have …”


Now, not every author lives and breathes praise. Seasoned authors–those with over 50 books in their satchel, who are too busy writing to read reviews, let’s say–don’t even glance at the reviews themselves, but probably the number of them. A small press author like myself is hopeful if she gets over 10 reviews a book! (Still working on ¬†that one!) Some authors LOVE to leave readers in a lurch! to take a gamble (*ahem* Jodi Picout for example *ahem*) and leave their readers screaming “NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” at The end.

It becomes some sort of a game for fans of authors like that. HOW are they going to break my heart, make me crazy, have me on the phone with my mother ranting, “Are you kidding me?!”

Reviews for authors like this are actually a hoot to read.


Nana’s reviews tell me:

* She is my target audience.

She loves clean, romantic suspense. I will never disappoint her in that, as that is what I long to write.

* She enjoys layered characters, beautiful imagery, and getting swept away in story.

Here’s to hoping I will never disappoint you in that regard.

* She likes elements of faith in her fiction. Finding God as a nugget, rather than a diatribe or a mechanism of salvation.

Again, this is how I strive to weave my stories. With elements of faith.

* She wants to read more.

Therefore, I’m continuing to edit. I have a stack full of completed manuscripts that need my editor hat squarely on my forehead. It’s time to get the book engine back in gear. And now, thanks to Nana, and reviewers like her, I still have some “gas in the tank.”

My friends, not just because Nana reviewed my book, but she reviewed many. Not all 5-Stars, but all valid, beautifully thoughtful reviews. I’m honored you chose mine to read, mine to review.

And today, you are my audience of one.