Tag Archive | critique

How to Help an Author

For those of you who read, be kind. Authors work hard for little to no pay compared to the amount of time they invest in the story you hold in your hands. If you have an author you love, do them a favor:

  1. Friend them or like their fan page on facebook. Subscribe to their blog.  Let them know you appreciate their hard work. They struggle with real life challenges just like you do. Follow them on twitter.  Help them get the word out when you know they have a book coming out and let people know you like them!
  2. Write a review on amazon, B&N, Goodreads, CBD. Be kind but also be honest. If you didn’t like something, it’s okay to say so. Just don’t be mean. And don’t pan them just because you didn’t like the book at all. If that’s the case, chalk it up to personal preference and walk away and do nothing. If they do a book signing, go meet them! They love to hear how you’ve enjoyed their books.
  3. Buy their books. Join their “book release parties” and be part of the fun and get to know them as people. (They really are flesh and blood humans!)
  4. If you see an unkind review that is just nasty – click the “unhelpful” button on that reviewer. The more we do that, the sooner some of them won’t be able to post things like that.
  5. I’m not saying every book deserves a five-star review, but unless I have to, I will rarely review if I have to rate low. Unless i have an excellent reason to do so. For instance I had to give a 1 star to a Regency that violated all the well-known facts of inheritance in the aristocracy. Not a hard thing to research but it ended up a key plot point. If the author had billed it a fantasy I would have let it slide , but come on! Basics should be right. Authors are human and errors happen so be kind when you can. Philippians 4:8 rings true here: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (NASB). Another way to put it: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
  6. If you find an error in an ebook- instead of panning it – privately contact the author and let them know so they can correct it! You’ll be doing them a favor. They will most likely be horrified, but grateful.
  7. Pray for your favorite authors. There is an enemy that is trying to keep God-glorifying excellence in fiction from being written much less published. The fact is, if you like an author, their future ability to write and sell books lies more with you, the audience, than it does with their ability to write a book. Poor sales and reviews can keep a publisher from being willing to invest the time and energy in printing their books. If you really connect with an author, offer to be a beta-reader or to be a prayer warrior for them. It’s not about hero-worship, but about supporting and encouraging a fellow brother or sister in Christ as they pursue their calling.  When that book comes out you can smile and know that in some way, you got to be part of that. Hearts will be touched and doors to the gospel could be opened and you can be a part of that.

If we as a body of believers universal support each other, whether a reader or a writer, we can can help change the world, one heart at a time. One great story at a time (remember, Jesus used stories too!).  Thanks in advance for helping us all reach the world with hope.

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Mixed Bag of Dreams

The writing life is a path littered with dreams mixed in  with gravel and uneven pavement.  It’s an uphill hike with mosquitoes and muscle cramps. It’s filled with momentary joys and lots of harsh reality.

I wrote my first book and was so proud of my accomplishment. I mean, I wrote a book! A whole book! A novel that surely was amazing! But then I found out that no one writes a good first draft (duh, even college should have debunked that thought!).  I revised and modified and cut and entered a contest.

I didn’t win. I found out I had been guilty of a sin I didn’t even know existed. I was a dreaded “head-hopper.” Yup. My point-of-view moved around with great alacrity leaving nothing to be hidden. Don’t even get into show vs. tell issues. And nasty little words like “Oh!” and “then” and “a bit” that would pop up with regularity.

I still found it fun to edit my work and make changes. I still do because I know I’m getting closer to a book someone would possibly be willing to spend money on.

Then I went to my first writer’s conference. So fun!

I got my first short story published! How exciting!

Not a whole lot of money for the amount of work you put into it, but hey, they are publishing credits.

And then there were rejections.  Contests with feedback that contradicted. One judge would love my writing and score it high and another (same manuscript) would get panned and scored low.

Or agents with various criticisms, again contradictory.

Then I found out that leading with my contemporary romance was not good because they don’t sell right now. Funny because I’ve been reviewing quite a few wonderful ones (Beck Wade’s was just last Friday and I just read her latest one and loved it!). Sigh.

Well, I did finally snag an agent but the joy was tempered with the reality that my work was still flawed and I’m going to have to work hard before she can sell my story to a publisher.

Shrug.

I’m still learning and I take comfort that no one is an expert in this. We are all learning and three different editors will give me three different opinions. I’ll trust this agent because she’s not afraid to make me work hard and I know she loves me for who I am too.

And even if I get a great book out there, someone is going to pan it at some point. The more an author sells, the more there are haters that will not hesitate to slam them.

I read a lot. There are some books littered with errors in formatting, puncutation, grammar and sometimes even just horrible research.  I had read a recent book and a friend and I talked about it – because it was bad. For its genre it should have never been published. It was one of the rare ones that I couldn’t even finish. Yes, it was THAT bad.

But I’m not going to review it. I know writing is hard and at this point, what good would it do? Unless I’m willing to read the entire book (and I’m not) then I’m not going to bother writing a negative review (it would be very negative).  When I mentioned that my novel is being returned for me to do some major edits, my friend reminded me of this aweful one and said that even with the work I need to do, my novel is better than this one that got published. Bad day for that publisher? There’s a lot of great fiction out there and writers willing to work and do what it takes to get published.

I don’t want to be like that author and not have a book that someone would be afraid to review because it was so bad.

Someone once said to me: “Watch out for pride as you take this journey.”

Pride? Oh, yeah, it rears is ugly head in moments only to be crushed by the reality that my writing is never going to be as wonderful as I think it is. Someone will always have a problem with it.  Hey, I even read a Nicholas Sparks novel and got so frustrated because he kept telling me the same thing over and over and over! Get on with the story! I’m not an idiot!  Yeah, I didn’t review it. He’s a great writer, but even he isn’t going to appeal to everyone either. As much as he sells I”m sure he’s been whacked a time or two (or million) with critics.

So I’m rejoicing that I’ve taken the next step in my publishing journey even if I’ve stubbed my toe on my own inadequacies as a writer. I’ll keep writing, editing, learning and growing as much as my wee brain can handle.