Other Cool Blogs: Literary Hub July 6, 2017

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Do better.

Reading book reviews about your babies is hard. Real hard. Not just because some of the bad reviews  are spiteful, but because some of them are right. They shine a light on an error which got through your work and ask you to “Do Better”.

The  first review I received for Honestly was entitled “missing an ending”. I hadn’t intended the book to be a happily ever after (HEA), just a happily for now. I got the couple to setting up their first date, showing the slow path they would follow because one had a child and the other romantic lead was still physically recovering from an injury. Everything following, I figured, would be boring and predictable. But the abrupt cut off didn’t tie things together for an emotional ending.

The reviewer correctly one-starred me.

Two additional chapters later, with a jump in time, I uploaded the emotional payoff to the couple getting together for future readers. I received no further one-star reviews. The plus side of self-published work is you can do tweaks like that.

Daniel Price similarly faced reviews for his book The Flight of Silvers. The few negative reviews had the vague ” I didn’t like” but focused on two of the point of view (POV) characters. Frustrated but not knowing how to fix whatever might be wrong, Mr. Price continued pounding out the second book of the series until one reader contacted him directly. Erin (not me) indicated her vague feelings and he asked her for details. She provided it in detail; boiling down the barely noticeable issues (at least overtly) of lack of agency and excessive trope replication without a twist on two of the female POVs. Publishing through a house, Penguin in this case, prevented a direct fix but he applied her words to his final edits on his work-in-progress and sent it to her to beta read. After a 2000-word commentary about her problems with Flight, her second letter to the book he had fixed had only four words. Interested in knowing what those words were?  Read “How a Reader’s Feminist Critique Changed My Sci-Fi Novel.”

Writers do read their reviews. Going with the ambiguous “It stunk.” doesn’t help much. You want better things to read, better reviews can help.

Writers, want better feedback, have someone read your reviews and let you know which one you need to see. Be sure to show them this post to let them know bad reviews are okay when useful. (Unless you got real thick skin, then you can try it direct. Mine is in development and that one-star review still stings.)