As you all know (because you follow me) I’m an Author as well as an Avid reader and reviewer. Well since my last post things have changed One of the people I consider a writing mentor asked me to help run her network for Christian writers and authors. In that role I have met a ton of Independent writers, I do an internet show now where I interview those authors and in doing so I read a lot of books and a lot of posted Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble reviews. Which is what brings me to my current topic.
Why this topic? Because lately I’ve had to tell several people “Your book isn’t the quality we want to promote.” Their response “You don’t know what you’re talking about. My family and friends love it and I have (blank) numbers of great reviews.” How do you tell the fragile ego that is the new Author “Sorry but this is the reality of the situation”? They don’t believe me or the other professionals who speak the truth to them because their “friends” who would NEVER LIE TO ME did just that.
I get that we don’t want to tell people “yes that dress makes you look fat”, or “your baby looks like something the incredible Hulk and the Thing had together.” However the reader/reviewer does no one a favor by lying to the writer in the review. If you tell the writer it’s great when it sucks that creates problems. I want to list them so you will understand. From here on out I’m going to talk as a writer.
1. If my book is confusing don’t tell me it makes perfect sense. As an independent Author I count on my readers and friends to be honest with me. You see I want to put out the best product I can. If my book makes no sense and you don’t tell me how can I fix the problem? Or problems.
2. If you tell me my book is bad it will hurt my feelings but I’m a grown up. Yes I may be upset at first but if you don’t just say something harsh like “This is the worst crap I’ve ever read” without telling me why. What I mean is if you don’t like it and think it needs work. Then tell me so, but in a constructive way. Constructive criticism gives me specific things I focus on fixing, to make my manuscript better.
3. Please don’t leave me glowing reviews if the book isn’t great. You may think your doing me a favor but think again. If my book needs work and you give me a five star review because you’re my friend and don’t want to hurt my feelings what happens when an honest complete stranger destroys my manuscript with a one star review. Let me tell you as a writing mentor, and reviewer what I’ve seen happen. The writer doesn’t believe it. I have actually received emails like these. “I have this many 4&5 star reviews. I know my book is good, my friends told me it is. You must be jealous or vindictive or trying to destroy my career.” All because mom, dad, uncle Bob, Aunt Edna and my best friends Buffy, Brenda and CoChee all told me how great it was.
4. Friend or not if you think my book needs work don’t leave that one or two star review. Instead contact me and tell me what you think needs fixed. This gives me a chance to fix your issues and make my book better. Afterwards I and most professional Authors would be willing to send you the updated manuscript to reread and give you the opportunity to leave a better review. Low reviews do effect my sales. I don’t want to put out an inferior product but I don’t want to have to overcome terrible reviews with things I can easily fix. This last one actually happened to me. I still don’t know how but one of my books, an early draft, got published on a site. The reviewer contacted me and said “You have a lot of grammar and spelling issues.” I went to the site and realized what had happened. I had the chance to fix the problem and send the reviewer the updated version. What would have been a well deserved one star review, became a four star.
Final thoughts on this PLEASE DON”T LIE to the authors in your life. We deserve the truth so we can make the best product we can. You want to help your friends and family member be the best Author they can be then be honest with them. Because when you aren’t you leave it up to me to break their heart and maybe destroy their dream. Especially if they won’t listen to a stranger because their loved ones told them how great their tale is.