A Review of Reviews

A Review of Reviews?

An Amazon Author Page
My Amazon UK Author Page

For creative writers the review is a necessary evil. We want feedback so that we can see if weeks and months of effort stand up to the challenge of entertaining our readers.

We must be prepared to take the rough with the smooth, which for some writers is easier said than done. Personally, although I feel annoyed when I see a negative point within a review, I don’t feel annoyed with the reviewer, as long as they have justified their comments.

I am most annoyed at myself if I can see that a negative comment is justified.Ten Days in Panama - the cover 2904

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What is my average review across all of my titles?

I have so far published: four novels, two short story anthologies and five anthologies of poetry, and my average review: 4.7 stars. Over the full spectrum of my titles, I’m happy with that result, but I aim to improve on it.

Yes, it’s great to read a five-star review that praises one of my books. Irrespective of the rating, when I see comments that are less than complimentary I still tend to question my work, even if the reviewer has not qualified their reasoning.

Up until now, when I’ve read a comment that suggested that any part of one of my stories could be improved, I’ve made a mental note for the future. This is something I intend to amend in the coming months.

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What is my new strategy?
Beyond The Law - the cover 2904

I am planning to start with the reviews of my most popular book, Beyond The Law. I will read each of the reviews in detail, including the five-star rated, and then I will make a list of both the good and bad points.

A well-written piece of feedback will give both positives and negatives, but where there are negatives, the review author will suggest why they’ve raised those particular issues.

My intention is to locate, analyse and amend any offending dialogue, narrative or plot issues.

Yes, it will be time-consuming, but if it means the reading experience will be improved for my future customers, then it will be worth any time I invest.

If I find that there is a point made that nobody else has highlighted, and I believe it’s simply a personal dislike of that particular reviewer, then I’ll leave the issue unchanged.

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Why have I not done this already?

I have made several minor adjustments in the past, if I thought an issue warranted it, but this time I will revise whole sections of a story, not simply content to change a word here and there.Amsterdam Calling - the cover 260714

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Do I have a sequence for how to prioritise my titles?

My plan is to start with my most popular book, and then deal with the next most popular and so on. At time of writing, I have four novels to work through.

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How soon do I intend to get underway with my plan?

A Taste of HoneyI am working on two novels simultaneously at the present time, and for the first time I’m using more than one beta reader prior to publication.

My aim is to have both of my current stories published by October 2015. My review of reviews plan will begin a week after the second of my latest stories is published.

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Do I have a target date for my first in-depth revision?

Yes, my target date for the revised edition of Beyond The Law is December 2015.Smoke & Mirrors - 030714 2

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What are the reasons for performing such an overhaul?

First of all an improvement to any book must be a good thing for readers.

Secondly, if my undertaking to improve my previous titles then produces predominately good reviews, then it will strengthen the case for multiple beta readers instead of paying an editor. Although my books are selling, I don’t earn enough to pay the rates of an editor.

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912FmvSHzYL._SL1500_As always, I will follow up this article with any tangible results when the time comes.
Thank you for reading, and if you have anything you’d like to add, or comment on about the topic, please do.

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F … is for feedback

F[1]  is for feedback.

When I use the word feedback, I don’t mean a spontaneous comment. Look at the construction of the word; it is a response.

A review is a good example of feedback, and I have my own set of rules when writing a review. Yes, I know there will now be some of you that will not be surprised by that admission.

I believe that in life, if you don’t have something constructive to say, then don’t say anything. When still in the retail management role I held by the maxim: ‘Praise in public, reprimand in private’. A combination of those two trains of thought takes us some way to understanding my attitude to writing, or not writing reviews

1.  Even if I don’t like  book or story, I make a point of not demeaning the author, or their efforts.

2.  If a piece of writing is particularly bad, whether it be a story or book, I do not write a public review.

3.  If I find; typos, incorrect syntax, or a glaring error, I make an effort to give the author a private ‘heads-up’ by email.

4.  When I write a public review, it normally takes the form of a ‘praise sandwich’. My intro will be a positive statement, followed by the body of the comment which may have some constructive criticism (if appropriate), followed by a summary which will be another positive statement, even if it’s only a couple of words of encouragement.

All of us that call ourselves writers enjoy what we do, otherwise we wouldn’t do it. Nothing damages confidence and self-esteem more than a completely negative review. If we write a mainly critical review, we should try to find something positive to say.

As writers, we shouldn’t be competing with each other; we should be supportive. I believe that those of us who have learned lessons should be prepared to help others. I came to writing seriously in my mid-50’s and I continue to take heed of other writers of all ages.

Let’s go forward by using feedback as a positive tool, to enhance our community and improve the relationships in our chosen profession, (or hobby in some cases). Together we can take the joy and success to new heights. This is a call to arms my literary friends.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see some of you tomorrow for G, let me think …

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