Even though I’m heading out on a business trip this week, it’s close enough to the office that I can bring all of my gear to write and study as needed. I plan to hopefully knock out another chapter in the next few days.
After releasing a book each author then faces the next step, which is the proverbial reviews that will be coming in. For any writer reviews are necessary. Not just because it helps to broaden the audience to your book and help with sales, but they also can help an author get the necessary constructive criticism that each and every one of us need to become a better writer. While you’ll get those true reviews from readers who truly read your story because it peaked their interest and they are into the genre that you’re writing about, you will also get those reviews from people who either hated your writing style, storyline, choice of genre or are fellow writers who have decided to critique the hell out of your writing style. For both types of reviews it’s important to take into consideration the feedback that you are being given.
It’s important to know what your audience likes to help improve your overall writing style and storytelling ability. I’ve heard some writers scoff at this idea, believing that their writing is an art that is only for them and if people happen to like their work then that’s just a plus. While that’s fine and dandy for some people, for the rest of us who are trying to be successful and make a living at writing, I think it’s important to know what your audience likes. It’s always important to keep an open mind and look for the general flow of what people are interested in and see how that fits with your overall story that you have planned out. Sometimes there are small tweaks that you can do to really improve the interest and detail of your book, while other times it’s important to keep to the story that you have planned out in your head. No matter how you do it, there is a delicate balance to knowing when to tweak your style and when not to.
Another very important aspect of reviews is getting the criticism that will make your story and writing style better. Writing is a constant learning process and one that is very difficult to get negative feedback on until we release it to the public. Try as we might, it is a rare friend that can care enough to read your story, who are into your genre and will honestly tell you what they like and don’t like. When a writer does find a friend who can do those very difficult things, it’s also the rare writer who can take the criticism with an open ear and not argue their case for why they did what they did and not turn that one helpful friend off from ever telling them again what they don’t like about their story. Unfortunately that means for most of us we will not get that very important negative criticism until our book is released to the public. It’s important to know when and when not to listen to what is being said. Sometimes the negative feedback is simply that the reader was not into the story you were writing. They might have thought you were writing something like The Twilight Series when you were writing a story like the Underworld Series. Those negative reviews are fine to get and new readers who are looking at your book will not take that as a negative unless they are not into the style of story you’re writing about. Some of the normal negative reviews that you get might be simply pointing out some of the flaws to your story line or improvements that you might need to make to your writing style.
Reviews like these are good to listen to and you can even go back to your current story and make those changes relatively quickly if they are minor or learn from those mistakes for the next book in your series. Sometimes you can even make sure you close some of the questionable plotlines that were addressed in book one by how you enhance your storyline in the next book, which is something that I’ve been doing with Destiny. I was hit by some people who didn’t like Startüm’s harem of women in book one, even though I pointed out that most of his students had been men and this was one of his first classes of mostly women. Also I had some people question how this new made-up religion could be so popular when he wasn’t rich from the inflow of money like most churches in the real world. Both of these things were already in my story and explainable, I just hadn’t developed them within the storyline. In Destiny, I make sure I address some of these issues to make my story more solid and fill in the gaps that some reviewers tagged as not making complete sense.
Lastly you will have fellow writers who see that you are doing well and will try to bash your book as much as possible to hurt your ability to get knew readers. Some of these writers will give you nothing to work with, but just simply say something like “Meh… Could have been better” and rate you one or two stars, while others will pick apart everything about your story that they didn’t like. While much of this is probably nothing that you should worry about, there are some points of truth that you can do something to fix. Usually you can make these changes on the fly for your ebook and have those corrections in place two hours later or at least by that night. If someone points out that you overused a work in one location or that you said an engine block for a car was the wrong size in the real world. This feedback, although it was said to hurt your story, can be used to make your story that much stronger with a quick edit. In some ways having these writers pick at your story is helpful to the overall quality of your writing and is something you can use to critique your next book before it’s released. Also, you can always make a comment to the review and point out that this review’s self-interest might be in question due to their book being in competition with your own. So you get free editing help and a way to discredit their review at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong. It still sucks when you have fellow writers bashing on your book to tear you back down, but in a way (at least for the ones who critique your storyline to death) they are helping you improve your style and product by giving you the information you need to fix your current book and to help close the plotlines in your next book.