Friday, 13 March 2015


Alfie Dog Fiction is running a new READER COMPETITION where all you have to do is download a paid story during March and send a short review of the story (approx 30 – 50 words). The winner will receive £100 and two runners up will each win one of their short story collection books as either a paperback or ebook as they prefer. The competition seems to be a good way to promote the importance of reviews even for individual short stories. I'd love it if you chose to review one of my stories. You'll find them HERE.

The importance of reader feedback cannot be ignored and could be said to serve a number of purposes:

  1. Reviews help other readers choose what they want to read. Your opinion can help persuade or dissuade a reader from purchasing or borrowing a book. 
  2. They can boost readership for an author. Review sites can be an excellent way of marketing a new book.
  3. Reviews help you analyse a book in a way that you don't tend to do when you are actually reading it. It's the reflection afterwards that helps form your review.
  4. They help writers know which parts of their writing are working and what needs to be improved.
Author, Luisa Plaja, gives her top tips for writing a good book review on the Book Trust site. (Please click on the link for the full interview.) In summary, she recommends:
  1. Starting with a few sentences about what the book is about but obviously no spoilers.
  2. Thoughts and feelings about what you liked about the book and the way it was told.
  3. What you didn't like, what didn't work for you.
  4. Summary of the review, the type of reader the book may suit
  5. Any marks or star rating
A writer friend of mine, Kath Eastman, regularly writes reviews on her blog on Nut Press. This week she reviewed James Hannah's debut novel, The A-Z of You and Me. It's a very positive review that explains why she thinks the novel is successful. She talks about the way that Hannah has written the story and the review is analytical as opposed to being descriptive. 

What about poor reviews? Can a bad review still be helpful?
What do you think about the importance of reviews?

Thank you for reading my blog. It would be great if you left a comment about your review experiences. :-) 

You may follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.


  1. First of all, very best of luck, Jan - I hope you get lots of fab reviews. Reviews are so important. I do like Luisa's list of tips. Some reviews say far too much about the plot when what you really want to know is what the reader thought in terms of their reading experience.

    1. Thanks, Sue. Yes, sometimes the reviews you read are almost summaries of whole books and don't serve the purpose of a review. Thank you for commenting.

  2. I got a lovely review on Amazon today for one of my books and it really cheered me up, despite a short story rejection so I can't claim they're of no importance at all, can I? I'm not sure how much they help sales though. If I've got as far as reading them on the Amazon page I'm probably already fairly sure I want to get the book and although I've sometimes lloked at a few reviews I don't believe they've ever presuaded me for or against buying.

    Reviews on blogs and websites, in newspapers etc are a different matter. They can make me aware of a book I'd not otherwise have considered and might suggest it's the kind of thing I'd like.

    I agree too that they encourage the reader to think more deeply about what they did or didn't like and that information might be of use to the author too.

    This competition seems like a good idea. There are loads of great stories on the Alfie Dog site and it might make potential readers more aware of the range available.

    1. I agree. Anything that's going to promote the range of good short stories on Alfie Dog has to be a good thing. I noticed that on your blog a few weeks ago, you asked Rosemary, the editor, what constituted a good review. For those of you reading this who haven't read the blog post here's the link.
      Congratulations on your Amazon review.

    2. Oh, and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment, Patsy.

  3. I keep a list of books I've read but I only add one or two words such as 'brilliant' or 'boring' for my own reference. Not much use to anyone else. I've written a few longer reviews to share since I joined Goodreads, but it is on my to-do list to write more (promise!).
    If I've enjoyed a book, I see a review as a little thank-you note to the author, and if it helps to boost their sales so much the better. But I can't see the point of writing reviews for books I haven't liked, partly because I believe if you can't say something positive about something it's best to keep quiet, but I also wouldn't want to deter anyone from reading anything and making up their own mind. A book I think is badly written nonsense might be a life-changing gem of literature to someone else.
    The only feedback I get for my stories - apart from acceptances and rejections from editors - is from my family, and I suspect they're a bit biased. I'd love to know what other readers think, even if it is just 'must try harder'.

    1. I have been a member of Goodreads for a number of years and have used the starring system to remind me of what I thought about the books, a bit like your list. Since I've gone further with my writing and been in contact with writers, I can see how reviews are important to them and shall make a point of leaving longer reviews now. I have left some on Amazon, however, and always try to be positive. Thanks for commenting, Linda.