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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Resources – holiday

 

A loch within a forest near Glencoe.

A loch within a forest near Glencoe.

It’s not a book and it’s not a website, or even a single location. I’ve been on holiday for the past week and as I usually do, I tour the area extensively.

Being on holiday is a good source of resource for readers and writers as I aim to highlight in this post.

What specific resources are there?

1.  As a reader you might carry a notebook and pen. If you’re a writer you should carry a notebook and pen.

2.  Keep your camera handy. Seeing wonderful sights is all part of being on holiday, but to remember them clearly, and the ideas they provoked – take some pictures.

3.  Tourist Information. The classic holiday source for information whether at home or away. Maps, pamphlets, locations of places of interest, books and of course the staff. Talk to people who know the area.

4.  Museums of whatever size or type usually have a selection of books and leaflets. In those locations there are usually maps and guides to the local area.

5.  Accommodation can be a great source. I tend these days to hire self-catering accommodation and once again I’m living in an old stone cottage. A local village, a forest, mountains and a loch all within a few minutes walk make this an exceptional location, but you can find inspiration in any area if you look.

6.  Open eyes, open mind and active imagination are all at our disposal. It doesn’t matter if we are continuing with our regular life or if we are on holiday – we will find inspiration if we are open to it and look for it.

Time to go now, because I can sense a day of inspiration calling to me.

I’ll be on blog patrol as soon as I’m back in my usual writing location. Thank you for dropping by.

Resources – the Atlas

Europe - featuring Sweden (green section at top centre)

Europe – featuring Sweden (green section at top centre)

I feel that this is an area that might be interesting to readers and writers.

Prior to the April A to Z Challenge 2014, I set up a menu to build a list of resource materials.

In my menu I listed several books that I use myself as handy resource tools. Online resources are a separate idea in my opinion, so I’ll leave them until after I’ve written a few posts on that wonderful idea; the book.

What do I use?

I use the Philips Navigator Britain, which is excellent whether being used for journeys or as a writing resource. I have a good map of Northern Ireland and a separate map of Eire aka; the Irish Republic, or Southern Ireland. To handle international issues, I also have the AA Road Atlas Europe and The Times World Atlas, which is much more than a book full of maps.

What do I get from my ‘Navigator Britain’ atlas?

1. Route planners, which enable me to decide which way characters might choose to get from A to B.

2. Town and city names which apart from anything else sometimes provide ideas for character names.

3. Motorways, major roads, minor roads, bridle paths, rivers, lakes and railways are clear.

4. Densely populated areas and remote areas which can help with a plot.

5. Places of interest like: castles, golf courses, museums, historical sites and much more.

Why not use Google or another search engine?

My atlas is physically there with no searching, opening various windows, setting parameters.

If I find something that has an appeal, I then follow up with a search engine for up to date details.

What do I get from the World Atlas?

1. My geographical knowledge is reasonable, but it provides so much confidence to double-check things like borders, flags, populations, average temperature, the currency, languages spoken and more.

2. I’ve been to many cities in Europe but it’s nice to relate to a route by road number and see how a city can be approached from a variety of directions, including from other cities.

3. Distances between places and the terrain are all there by taking a closer look, not be going screen to screen, zooming in and out and so on.

4. If I find something that appeals, I can as said before, use a search engine for up to date information.

5. Time zones, latitude and longitude are all inter-related and help when characters are travelling or communicating with somebody across the world.

I have a good selection of city maps and individual country maps to supplement these two main books, so for me, these things are so much more than mere books full of maps.

Are you a map person, or a search engine person, whether a reader or a writer?

My next blog patrol starts today so if you’re on my list – see you soon.

In my next post I’ll look at the Zodiac Signs book, but for now, thank you for stopping by.