Most authors love getting reviews. Especially good ones. And if you’re planning on writing more than one book, and especially if you’re writing a series, you want to make sure you keep them happy. You can always dwell on the bad reviews, but hey, there will always be some who don’t like what you write. And even if you change the way you write, those people probably aren’t going to read you again, so, in the words of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, why not ‘turn towards the light’?

See what your 4* and 5* reviews are saying. An easy way to do this is using a Word Cloud. I went through around 60 reviews for my two thrillers (66 metres & 37 hours), based on and reviews. I ignored the one or two 3* reviews, and picked out the adjectives and sought to see what the reviewers most liked. I counted each time they appeared, and then entered them into a word cloud.

The results are as shown, and although I’d read every review more than once, there were some surprises. Scuba-diving was top of the list – a lot of non-divers appreciated this unusual context for a thriller. Characterisation was second though, which was nice to know as a writer, but I hadn’t predicted it. Page-turner came a nice third place, closely followed by cinematic and fast-paced. The latter I would have thought first. ‘Clever plot’, which I put tons of effort into, came around 10th, and ‘realism’ – because I do a lot of research – barely featured, lol. Exotic settings was nice to see, as it’s something I’m continuing into the third novel in the series.

Doing this isn’t the be-all-and-end-all, and some things which don’t feature much (like good plotting) might be deal-breakers if they’re not good enough, but still, it’s an interesting exercise, and has given me pause for thought about the book I’m writing now.

There are plenty of Word Cloud tools for free on the web, just google them, dissect your reviews, and enjoy 🙂