From reviewer to author – Isabelle Broom

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By Isabelle Broom

Without a smidgeon of a doubt, putting my first novel out into the world for people to read and review is one of the most terrifying – albeit exciting – things I’ve ever had to do. Being a book reviewer myself, I understand how important they are, how much they mean to the authors, and what a difference a nice write-up can make. ♥

I’ve always tried to approach review writing with a completely fresh mind. I try not to compare the book I’m reading to others, but read it as a singular piece of work. Opinion is just that – a personal viewpoint, and I’m always very careful to ensure that my reviews are both helpful to readers and fair to the authors.

Having now written a novel myself and being close to completing a second, I know only too well the amount of time, love, care, attention and hair-tearing that goes into the finished product, and of course I keep that in mind when I’m approaching the work of other writers. Every story has a message, a unique style, a journey – and it’s my job to tease those elements out in a way that will help the reader decide whether or not a book is right for them.

When it comes to choosing which books to review in heat magazine, there are a variety of factors at play. Sometimes I will have had coffee with a publicist who raved about a book so much that I simply had to take a look. When it came to A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale, I wasn’t sure from the premise if it would be right for heat, and I only read it because Georgina Moore at Headline was SO passionate about it. Needless to say, it quickly became one of my favourite titles of that year, and graced the pages of heat with pride.

Obviously, I have my own selection of favourite authors, whose books I will always shortlist for the mag, but I also pay particular attention to debut authors, as a mention in heat can often mean more to them than it would for a more established author. For example, much as I adore and worship JK Rowling, I very much doubt she needs a review in heat to make the bestseller list. I would rather give the space to someone less well known, whose book I also think is wonderful.

A standout cover is never a bad thing, either, and when you’re getting between 10 and 15 books a day in the post, it can make all the difference. I would also encourage debut or self-published authors to get in touch via Twitter, too. If I think the book warrants a slot, I will happily include it.

I’ll tell you a secret, though – being a reviewer doesn’t make reading reviews of your own work any easier. There’s literally no better feeling than the one you get when you hear that someone enjoyed your book – it’s why we all do what we do, to entertain readers and share what we’ve experienced – so of course it’s a small punch in the guts when a reader doesn’t have a great reaction. Despite this, I would urge all readers to leave reviews – both good and bad. Feedback is invaluable, and I know I speak for all authors when I say that we’re all constantly trying to up our game and write books that will be loved by as many people as possible.

That’s what my plan is anyway. Wish me luck!

Isabelle Broom was born in Cambridge nine days before the 1980s began. She travelled through Europe during her gap year and went to live on the Greek island of Zakynthos for an unforgettable and life-shaping six months after completing her degree. Her wanderlust was reined in when she met Max, a fluffy little Bolognese puppy desperate for a home. When she’s not writing novels set in far-flung locations, Isabelle spends her time being the Book Reviews Editor at heat magazine and walking her beloved dog round the parks of north London.


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