A reader of my first novel, Viking Blood and Blade, kindly took the time to leave a review of the book on Amazon. The book has thankfully garnered over one thousand reviews since it launched in September 2021. The vast majority, luckily, are good. Reviews are essential for authors to help provide an indication to other readers what they can expect if they are gracious enough to impart with their hard earned cash to purchase a book. This particular review was not positive, but the comment raised an interesting topic which got me thinking.
My current series of books are set in the Historical Fiction genre, and more particularly, Viking Historical Fiction. If one searches through the various different book categories available on Amazon, and there are many, it can be like a labyrinth in which to lose oneself searching for the right story to feed your book hunger. Its a bit like a Friday night spent searching through the myriad catalogues of Netflix, Disney Plus, or Amazon Prime looking for a show to watch, and the searching takes up the time allocated to actually watching the elusive movie or series.
The interesting point about the readers comment however, was that even if one finds a suitable sub genre; such as Viking Historical Fiction, or Cyborg Romantic Fiction for that matter, there is actually a layer below even that – which is where reader reviews become essential. For my taste, I am generally looking for Historical Fiction containing battles, sword play, great characters and a significant amount of adventure. For example, anything by Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden, or Simon Scarrow is going to do the trick. It is only really possible to find those books that we can be sure will tickle our fancy by checking reader reviews and ensuring that certain words like, thrilling, battles, exciting appear prominently. I can also be tempted to read less violent views of historical fiction, such as Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantell, or the Shardlake series by C.J Sansom, and when searching for those books I am looking for something completely different in the reader reviews. Words like descriptive, immersive, detailed, then become more important to the search.
I do hope that people who read my books are getting what they expect for their £1 or $3, which is a Historical Fiction adventure, with plenty of exciting characters, and lots of action.
On a separate note, the new Viking Movie “The Northman” is released in cinema’s today. The trailer looks amazing, with Alexander Skarsgaard looking every inch the Viking berserker. I hope to be able to see it this week at some stage, and if so I will post a review here. I love that the director has used the story of Amleth, which was in fact the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Hamlet, to bring the Viking Age to life on the big screen. Robert Eggers directed the Lighthouse, which is insane, so lets hope The Northman lives up to expectations.
Finally, I just want to share a video explaining a tragedy which has befallen Jericho Writers. £300k was stolen from them recently, which is awful. The video is here. I used the services of Jericho Writers for a structural edit of my first book. It was the best money I have spent as a writer, and their inputs surely in turning that naïve first draft into what has become a best selling book. So, please take a look at the video for their benefit.