A call to readers

Many of us look at reviews when we consider buying a book. I often find reviews useful in a number of ways, they can give a better understanding of the plot, the quality of the writing, and that essential ingredient that makes a truly engaging book impossible to put down. Whether from other authors, or from readers, reviews are an excellent tool to help the consumer decide what to buy.

But reviews also benefit the authors, a good review can increase sales and sometimes aid in media coverage, while bad reviews can do the opposite. This of course has little effect on bestselling authors; they usually have a loyal following who automatically buy their latest offering, while the media also tends to give plenty of publicity to the stars of the literary firmament.

But what about new authors who are trying to make their way in the marketplace?

For a new author, or simply one which is not yet well known; reviews can make the difference between success or abject failure. A writer can produce a masterpiece, but if few people ever find out about it, the sales will not reflect the quality of the work, and in some cases the author will become so discouraged that they simply give up.

Most readers recognize truly great writing when they see it, but very few will post a review, it simply doesn’t occur to them. But if you enjoyed a book, or even better were transported by it, it’s in your own best interests to review it. Because if you don’t, that author may never write again and we the readers will miss out on the massive enjoyment that they could have given us.

So if you liked a book, do yourself and everyone else a favour, leave a review and help to make the literary world a better place.

Jim Campbell

Don't play misty for me

I was pleased to hear Neil Gaiman talking recently on the difficulties of being creative. He likened finding a narrative to walking through mist. This is very similar to my own experience. I am ever envious of writers, who claim to love a ‘blank page’ or the chance to find out what their characters are going to do next. In my own personal experience I bumble around in fog that would have struck fear into the stout heart of Rupert the Bear. Words come to me through the fog. I hear them, catch sight of their shadows, listen to their echoes. Often I have no inkling how they fit in the narrative or if I’m being led astray by a kind of creative willow the wisp.

It is possible for me to wander days in this mist searching for the story-line. I think three weeks was my all time low, and when I finally emerged, damp and very frustrated, it was with the single word, ‘sunrise’ in my mind.

It isn’t a comfortable or pleasant place to wander, this mist. So why do I do it you ask? Because the words I find are beautiful and perfect, and tantalizing and addictive. And each one fits like an infinitesimal piece of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle until finally I have it in front of me, the story that no-one else saw because very few of us like to spend time lost in the mist. Hey ho, time to get my scarf and check trousers on.

L. M. Affrossman