Writing Book Reviews in the Age of Short

Special Agent Cover

WE ARE LIVING in the age of short.

The digital revolution has made it so.

As writers and novelists, this is the dilemma or the opportunity we face.

It all depends on your point of view.

As you know, I love short.

Short sentences.

Short paragraphs.

Short chapters in a novel.

Short novels.

Readers no longer demand epics.

For the most part, readers no longer want or expect epics.

Give them a good story with characters they like.

Give them a good story with a memorable ending.

Write The End.

And let them move on to the next novel of their choice.

We can all sell a lot more novels that way.

The digital revolution has made it so.

The term short brings me to book reviews.

There are many, especially among those who write novels, that book reviews on Amazon should rival those found in The New York Times and Paris Review.

Forget it.

Readers don’t want to read that much.

Not now.

Not in the age of short.

In my opinion, an Amazon review needs to answer these five questions:

  1. What the genre of the novel?

2. What is the gist of the story?

3. Can the author write?

4. Can the author tell a good story?

5. What is the strength of the story?

If you like the novel, give it four or five stars, depending on your standard of excellence.

If you don’t like the novel, forget the review.

It wasn’t worth writing anyway.

So what am I talking about? How do I put those thoughts into words?

Here is a review I wrote this afternoon for Mimi Barbour’s Special Agent Francesca.

Mimi Barbour has carved her own place in the world of espionage and thrillers. She walks a high wire without a net and is as good as any writer in the marketplace today balancing romance and humor and hardcore suspense. If you are searching for pure, unadulterated entertainment, read Special Agent Francesca.

Francesca is determined to prove that she has the talent, the skills, the dauntless determination, and the courage to become a first class undercover agent. She knows the risks. She is not afraid to take them. However, she never realized that one of those risks might be falling in love with a man she can’t afford to love. She has more than one battle on her hands, and readers get to ride along to discover how she solves her personal dilemma, as well as the crime confronting her. It is definitely a ride worth taking.


AND WHILE I’M AT IT, since the last review only took five minutes, I think I’ll write a one for Murder A Cappella by James R. Callan and his daughter, Diane Bailey. After all, what’s another five minutes on a Friday afternoon?

Alfred Hitchcock was right. Murder and mayhem works best when they occur in nice, pleasant, and cozy little surroundings where you would never suspect evil might be lurking in the minds of either men or women. In Murder A Cappella, author James R. Callan and his talented daughter, Diane Bailey, have crafted a wonderful mystery woven between the musical notes of a singing competition where all is not nearly as light and airy as it might seem. The glitz is there. So is the glamour. But in the dark shadows and away from the glare of the spotlight, bitter rivalries simmering beneath the surface can erupt at any moment into murder, and it does.

All Tina wants to do is sing in her a cappella quartet. For the moment, she wants to leave the mean streets of her profession behind her. But, alas, Tina is a police officer, the newest member of the Sweet Adalines, and she finds herself drawn into a battle of wits with a killer who may turn the stage of an innocent little singing competition into a rage of bullets. Some people will stop at nothing, even murder, to get what they want. Jealousy and greed are powerful motivators. And Tina knows she must stop the killer, even if she becomes the target herself.

Murder A Cappella is a cozy mystery all right. But it carries a hard edge of suspense that not even the gentle writing talents of James R. Callan can contain.

There they are.

My reviews.

Short and to the point.

The digital revolution has made it so.

I have only one regret.

The reviews could have been shorter.

There’s nothing left to do now but post them on Amazon.

How many reviews have you written this week to help other authors? Every one counts.

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