Writers, feedback, and what you should do with it.

“You don’t want them to edit your grammar; you want their first impression!”

Hello fellow bloggers, I have been busy and remiss from my blogging activities through NaNoWriMo.

I was successful with my endeavors for those of you who follow me on Twitter, or who have e-mailed me regarding my project.

I finished my 32cnd complete novel, all during November. That includes editing, creating the cover art all while learning a new OS (MAC) and a new software (Vellum). I still take the time to market my novels.

Over the years I have not put much effort into obtaining an agent as the time to do it is too costly.  Four hours for each query letter is a huge commitment for the ROI.

As a writer, I started throwing things at the wall to see what stuck.  Yes, that is a metaphor for testing the waters, while learning my craft.

Critique groups are helpful if you can find them.  Failing that, feedback from your readers will have to do.

E-mails to my website, are invaluable as most will not take the time.

Giving stories away on Kindle Unlimited, or BookBub, is a gamble; and here is why.

If you value your work so little as to give it away, why should I take the time to read it?  Further, if you give it away, and I read it, why should I spend my time to tell you why I liked or did not like it?

I market to other authors and writers like many of you, who are reading this right now.  You understand how valuable feedback is, and maybe you will take the time to offer comment, at the very least on this blog posting.

Failing that, we write a “spiffy” novel, we design the cover art, and we do all of the things one must do to sell a book.  We are learning our craft.

Finding someone to read your novel, and offer sincere feedback is imperative to shortcut the path that I have chosen.

My path has been this:

  • Discover what is selling.
  • Who is the author?
  • What is the genre?
  • Are they known or indie?
  • Buy their book and read it carefully.
  • Disassemble their work as if it were a clock, which you have to put back together. (cannot lose the pieces.)
  • Apply your style, and construct a novel that is in the genre that is selling most.
  • Market your novel through social media, word of mouth and so forth.
  • Ask for feedback and hope that you get some.

The saga of the Starduster has been my best seller to date.

“Why?”

With 32 novels out there, spanning the spectrum of naughty to nice, what is it about that book which garners the most sales.

My first feedback on that novel “on Amazon” was one star, with a horrible poison pen review.

Having written the novel and reading the review, it was apparent that the person never read it.  Someone who is most certainly an author in this genre took it upon himself or herself to flame the novel as a way to knock it out of the running.

If you read the novel, and then his or her review, anyone with any sense can see this is a crap review.

Investigating the pseudonym person who did this, looking at the other critiques, it is obvious they were on a mission to destroy the competition.  That is sad and unnecessary.

Authors, we are not competing with one another.  Your voice is different from mine.  The stories have all been told before; your unique voice is the difference between what you write and what I write.

Resisting the urge to confront said anonymous flamethrower, I pressed on, figuring even a bad review is better than no reviews.

The next person who reviewed it gave it five stars. They gave an abbreviated synopsis of what they liked about the story.  It was easy to see that this person read it.

It might appear that I had someone do that last review.  I promise you I did not.  I do not know either of those people.  My moral compass is such that I would never cheat, period, end of story.  I would also never post a poison pen review like the one this person did.

Bribing friends to read your work, always works, however, friends and family may not be objective as they like you, and do not want to hurt your feelings.

Recently I was assisting a fellow writer in this capacity and OMG!  I had nightmares about telling her how badly she needed to re-think the concept of what she was writing.

“I get it.”

Our novels are our babies.

I have three, which are my babies, which I am going to have to kill.

  • Is the concept off?
  • Is the writing terrible?
  • Have I not marketed them properly?
  • Why are they not selling?

Resist the urge to take on negative nellies.

When you are asking for critiques from people, make sure that they are the correct audience for your novel.

Do not ask a technical nerd to read your romance, and expect anything but “yuck!”

Do not ask a purveyor of Hallmark or Harlequin literature, to read your sci-fi and expect anything but a cure for insomnia for them.

When analyzing their “baby,” look for what they did well, before you pull out the red pen.  Human nature is to be brutal with another person’s writing, as we have this whole pride thing going on.

Objective critiquing skills are developed over time, and not just innate to anyone.  Those that read the most are probably best suited for giving you their gut first impression on your work.

“You don’t want them to edit your grammar; you want their first impression!”

I truly do look for ways to pay it forward when I am writing and working with other authors both locally and through social media, and email.

Time is valuable to me, writing this blog is one way that I am giving of myself to those of you who take the time to consider what I have to say on the matter.

When you are critiquing for someone, make notes as you go. When you are talking to them about it, start with a positive.

“What did you like first?”

If you start with a positive, they will be receptive to what you have to say to them.  Once you start with “Holy shit, what were you on when you wrote this!”  You have just wasted their time, as they stopped listening to you, and you squandered your time, and you might even damage a friendship in the process.

If they are doing so for you, and they start with WTF!  Take a deep breath, and practice being humble.

Humility is my personal foible. There are many reasons why, and I know this about me. When this occurs, I must swallow the negative, and try to take what they are saying with self-effacement. I can choose to ignore them, which is human nature, or I can use this as a growing experience for me as a person.

In my Nudists novels, I write about Enlightenment as a subplot.  Yes, they are tawdry novels but there is meat in them for those of you who like steamy stories, but also want to think and maybe improve yourself.

It is my genuine desire that you derive something of value from my tweets, and blog postings, as they do take time, and are not just tossed together for clicks.

The same is true of my novels.  Even the naughtiest story has a purpose.  My latest book “Tiffany Discovers Reform School” Conjures up all kinds of wicked thoughts about girls in reform school.  That is by design and is indeed a subplot in the book.

Those of you who read it will discover that the novel is much more than that.  This novel will be the beginning of the Tiffany series as I plan to create a female sleuth, who ends up working mysteries with the FBI.

Yes, there is steamy stuff in them as I am working to capture an audience that likes to think while they read.  Arcing the story and the characters while practicing my craft is what I enjoy doing.

If you have ever pondered the meaning of life and not the Monty Python version, you will undoubtedly glean something from this blog post.

It is my genuine belief that we are here for more than procreating and pooping. While that conversation is well out of the scope of this blog post, you can glean some of my philosophy from my “Hole in Time Series.” I will be taking them off the market shortly.  I want to concatenate them all into one novel after I polish them a little.

“Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Make smelling the roses one of your tasks.”

Much Love -TW