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Reflecting on Reviews

Every month when I talk to my husband about my writing 'To Do' list I include my monthly round up of my reading for this blog. Sometimes, when I'm feeling the pressure of deadlines, he questions why I bother doing it - it's not as though I have a massive following who can't possibly choose their own books without help from me. Plus, my reviews at the end of the month tend to be limited to a few sentences, largely about whether or not I've enjoyed the book. Of course I'd love to go into more detail, but with the amount I read, it's simply not practical. However, people I know often say to me that they've added a book I've recommended to their own TBR pile, so maybe it's enough!

However, when it comes to the individual reviews I write, I take it far more seriously than a 'throwaway' line or two about the book. If someone is giving me a book (for free) in exchange for a review, then I firmly believe I have a responsibility to write something much more meaningful in return. So often when I read reviews I wonder how long it has taken the person to write it. My longer ones take upwards of half an hour to actually write and frequently I take a few days to think about the approach I want to take to the review and to mentally construct the jist of what I want to say. I'm much more selective now about which books I accept for review, simply because I want to give them my full attention and ensure that I write a review that is worthy of the author. I know how long it takes to write a book and how much reviews mean to the authors, so the effort I put into my reviews should reflect that. 'It was good' isn't good enough!

Over the years I've had several of the authors I've reviewed get in touch to thank me for what I've written and they frequently mention the obvious care and thought that have gone into the review. This means almost as much as when people tell me they like my own books - it may be a different format, but it's always nice to be told someone appreciates what you've written! The first time this happened was when I was on a writing retreat and one of the authors running it pulled me aside to show me some bookmarks she'd had made for her series and it was a quote from my review that she had put on the back of it - that bookmark is kept safely for posterity along with a postcard someone wrote me to tell me how much they'd enjoyed 'Unforgettable', my first novel for adults.

When I mentioned this in passing to another author friend, she told me that one of my reviews of her books was on the NetGalley page. I was pleased, but didn't really understand what she meant. I had a quick look, but couldn't see what she was referring to. However, when I went on NetGalley today to see what books I had coming up next for review, I noticed that there was a badge on my profile that I hadn't noticed before. It informed me that it was 'awarded' to reviewers when three or more reviews had been added to a NetGalley title page. I remembered the earlier conversation and out of curiosity decided to go back through my reviews and have a nosy to see which ones had been used. I was delighted to find that nine of my reviews had been used in some way! That's just under 1 in 5 of the ones I've written.

Whilst I recognise that this isn't a massive achievement in itself, I do feel just a little bit proud that my reviews are deemed good enough by the publishers and it reminds me that even though my blog readers may not number in the thousands, many more people than perhaps I realised might be reading something I've written and thinking 'Maybe I'll give that book a go' and anyone who knows me will recognise how much pleasure that thought gives me.

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