Wednesday, November 5th, 2008
My Take on Reviews

Writerly Wednesday

In light of a few posts on reviews and how authors deal with reviews, I decided to outline my own process for reviews of my books. It might be of some interest to newer authors.

I keep a Google Alert for my name and for the title of each book I release and when I get alerts, I go to check them out. I also find out about reviews when I’m emailed them by my publisher or the reviewer.

I read all reviews of my books. I know some authors do not but I really want to know what my readers think. I read each one carefully and look for what the reviewer liked, what they did not like, and useful comments. I also look to see how that review ranks compared to others of the same book so I can see patterns and things more than one reviewer mentions.

I try to figure out what I can improve for future stories. Is there something I can do differently or add/remove to have made this reviewer happier and can I apply that to what I’m working on now?

The next thing I do is to send an email to the reviewer to thank them for the review. I do this for every review, no matter whether it was a positive or negative review. Even if the reviewer didn’t like my book, they still took the time to read it and write up a review. Most reviewers only receive a copy of the book in return for their review. My personal feeling is that this is polite and professional and I know, when I used to be a reviewer, these thank you notes were rare and appreciated.

If I have questions about the review or want to get more information on something the reviewer said, I’ll ask them in an email. Most reviewers are happy to give more information and elaborate on something that may not have fit in the formal review.

Then I’ll mention the review on my blog and that book’s page on my website. Now in this, I admit, I typically use the postitive reviews or ones that have positive blurbs in them. And I provide a link back to wherever the review is located if it’s online.

If I get a recommended read or similar, I’ll post the graphic for it prominently as it is a thing to celebrate. No good reviews should be taken for granted.

But I never, ever, complain or gripe about reviews except maybe to my husband. You can’t change someone’s opinion of your book by complaining about their opinion. It’s a completely losing proposition and only makes you look bad. It’s far better to read it, get whatever you can from it, thank the reviewer for their time and move on.

I think each author has to decide what they can deal with and how when it comes to reviews. It does hurt when you get a bad review and it affects some people more than others. I eat a few pieces of chocolate and get over it but that’s just me.

I think all authors should remember that these are our customers….

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008
Series vs. Serial

Writerly Wednesday

I was speaking to someone at Epicon and, in the course of conversation, we touched on the difference between writing a series and writing a serial. Note that these are the definitions that I tend to use and may vary slightly from the definitions of others.

A series is a set of two or more full stories that share one or more commonalities. That commonality may be a world, one or more characters, a key concept, specific plot devices, etc.

Del Fantasma books (from Aspen Mountain Press) are a series – they share the following:

  • a basic world, a continuity character (Cody)
  • a location (the Del Fantasma Bar)
  • a plot device (they all have drinks that relate somehow to the story)
  • a genre (they are all paranormals)

A serial, on the other hand, is a story that is told in discrete sections over a period of time, often without a pre-determined ending. Think “soap opera” – those are serials. Some authors publish serials on their websites or mailing lists as well as in magazines or other venues.

Sunday, February 24th, 2008
Epicon – Portland, OR
March 6, 2008toMarch 9, 2008

I’ll be attending Epicon in Porland, OR from March 6-9. Hopefully I’ll have the Friday Flash done ahead of time but I may be slow to respond to emails, etc.

If you’re going to be at Epicon, too, I’d love to meet you!

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008
Writerly Wednesday – Presentation IS Important

Writerly Wednesday

I keep hearing a statement from mostly aspiring authors that absolutely makes me shudder. There seems to be a belief that spelling and grammar issues are solely the job of editors and don’t need to be worried about by the authors.

It’s true that, when the rubber hits the road, we editors are responsible for correcting spelling and grammar issues. But failure to make your work the cleanest and best it can be possible before you submit it may mean you never reach that point. The editor (or agent) may never even request a full because their appreciation of your story may not be enough to balance the costs and resources neede to get it through the publication process.

The first thing aspiring authors have to understand is that your submission – be it synopsis, partial or full – is your interview for a contract. It’s what you will be judged on. Why would you choose to make less than the best impression you possibly could? Would you show up to interview for a modeling shot with grimy hair and say that’s the hairdresser’s job? Shooting yourself in the foot is not a great start to any venture.

Now, keep in mind that almost every submission contains some errors, that’s normal and expected. But a plethora of easy to find and fix ones tells me (accurately or not) that the author doesn’t care enough to do the very best job possible. That it’s not important to the author. Are they lazy? Are they going to be difficult to work with?

Another thing it tells me is that if I contract this work, it will cost my house more money to get it in shape for publishing than it would an equivalent story that is cleaned up and corrected. The longer I have to spend on it, the longer my line editors or proofers have to spend on it, the more it costs. Publishing is still a business and it’s part of my job to make the best use of my house’s resources as I can.

It also directly affects my ability to appreciate and enjoy the story. Like it or not, each time I see an error, it drags me out of the story and breaks my immersion. Too many times and I can’t follow the story very well and end up not liking it as much as I possibly could have. You don’t want to let mechanical errors get in the way of the story.

I want to strongly encourage anyone who submits a work for publication to utilize the marvels of spellcheck and the eagle eyes of a test reader or critique partner. Make your submission as clean and correct as you possibly can before you submit it and you will increase your chances of acceptance.