Everyone wants to give advice to everyone else. If you want advice, you can find it, you can ask for it, it is abundant and grows on every topical tree in the jungle. Of course, the worst advice is the advice you don’t ask for. My advice to those who would give it is wait until it is asked for. And if it is, never advise anyone to do anything you haven’t already done successfully. Just because it sounds good, doesn’t mean it is good.
For example, I see lists and lists of things for authors who want to be successful not to do. What NOT to do. Don’t do this, don’t do that. Never do the other (just like my advice in paragraph 1 above.) The best advice I ever got in my life was this: Never say never.
But that is not want I want to talk about. I want to talk about reviews. If you are a young or first time writer, it may be difficult to read or even squint at the reviews you get on your first release. Your baby. Your love child. Your beloved book full of your characters in which you have poured every ounce of your being, then put out there for the world to see. Wolfgang Mozart wrote something very profound about his music once. It was a series of six violin quartets he had written for one of his personal idols and mentors: Joseph Haydn. You can read how even Amadeus felt about his work.
Dedication to Haydn
So way back in 2008, I was so excited to get my book out there. To self-publish it on Amazon’s brand new Kindle publishing site for eReader books by Indie Authors. I was also a brand new author, having never had anything other than one small short story published in a local newsletter. So I gave it my best editing check. Had it read by three so-called Beta Readers who called it amazing ( I didn’t know then that amazing was not always a good thing). These readers as you may guess were not professional editors, nor were they English majors, nor even college graduates. I absolutely could not afford a professional editor for my work. I was also unable to look in a magic crystal ball and see just how big Indie Self-Publishing would become in the next decade and into the future.
I received some reviews, good and bad, and sold a bucket load of books simply because there just weren’t too many eBooks out there on the market. As the years passed and I learned more and more about editing, composition, grammar, spelling, and all those other things writers need to know to write a good book.
In 2015, my life changed and I had to give up writing, promoting or even reading other books for a period of six years. When my life settled back down and I came back to the love of my life, writing, I had a completely new viewpoint. I read over my series with a more critical eye. I wanted to make them better. Correct as many mistakes as possible, cut them down into easier-to-read size with more paragraph control and a less wordy excitement than I had originally written them.
Finally, I went back to my Amazon pages and began updating not only the Amazon pages, but the books themselves. I wanted to take them from the raw form in which they were first presented. I wanted to basically rewrite the books and employ all the new stuff I had learned without losing my love for the characters I had created and the crazy story line I invented strictly for entertainment.
Below I include one of the most informative criticisms I received on Amazon. I didn’t include any one-star reviews because the reviewers seemed almost angry they had spent their time reading my book. (I do realize now I would have never finished reading a book I hated from the get-go.) I also included a two-star review on one of Stephen King’s popular books that was made into a movie.
I believe after thirteen years I have become thick-skinned to bad reviews. I think every book out there probably has a few bad reviews if it has more than five. Let me remind you, this review was written years ago when my first release was barely off the typewriter (yes, that’s right. I wrote it on a small electric typewriter in my spare time.) So have mercy with your judgements.
So back now to unsolicited advice from one Indie writer to another. Editing is the supreme act of love an author can do for their literary babies. And cutting down the content is like cutting off your own fingers one at a time. I have attempted to do this with my latest editions of the Assassin Chronicles series. If ever it garners more reviews, I hope they are all good and if they are not, I hope I can finally come to grips with the fact some people go up the stairs and some people go down the stairs while some people stand on the landing and never have the courage to move.
Final note: at least my reviewer spelled all his words correctly. Don’t I feel superior?