Five star reviews and the lazy author

Published August 29, 2013 by G.L.

I’ve been lucky enough to be apart of strong communities of both traditionally published, and self published authors.

I recently read, liked, and re blogged a post from fellow blogger ABookWyrmWrites.

In this post, it stated that authors, specifically indie ones, are often targets of online harassment, trolling, and other ways of putting that perhaps they were unhappy with the way a review was given. My question is, as long as given constructively, why are authors allowing “perfect” reviews to validate their writing, while questioning the intelligence of reviewers whom are(or at least should be) giving them the tools they require to improve their skills as a writer.Recently I read Tiger’s Quest. It is a sequel to a book with the same theme, a teenager whom must help two brothers break a curse that turned them into tigers. I loved both the first in the series, and it’s sequel. However, there were quite a few inconsistencies in the first book, especially in regardless to culture(It is set mainly in India, and both the brothers are Indian). I will not say the sequel was perfect. But it did however, fix a few of the potholes I had problems with in the original. Obviously the author took any criticism and improved some of the aspects I would have otherwise found inconsistent. As a traditionally published author, she has both the tools and means to be a bestselling author. And even she has to work on her mistakes.

I wholly support Independent authors. Especially because I plan to become one of the thousands whom have rushed to become “published” authors. But a trend I am noticing, is that many indie authors do not put the time or money into properly editing a book. And I’m not just talking about grammar. I’m referring  to the structure of a storyline, proper development of characters, development, development, DEVELOPMENT. Editors can be a writer’s greatest ally. A book not properly edited could be the one thing standing in your way of gaining notoriety. And there are several kinds of things an editor can do.

Developmental Editing- Guides an author in planning the overall structure and developing an outline to a manuscript. It can mean helping an author chapter by chapter. This can improve pacing, dialogue AND marketability.

Copy Editing- Basically just proofreading. Typically checks for typos, spelling, minor grammatical errors.

Line Editing- Line by line evaluation of your work.

And these are just to name a few.

I know one may say “I don’t have the money or the resources” , or “I’m self publishing, I cant afford this.” This what I think you should ask yourself. “Is your book worth it?” “Would you buy something you knew a person didn’t put the time to perfect, or is lacking sufficient knowledge or ability?” My guess is probably not. What makes matters worse is, as an author, the more five and four star reviews one might receive, the less concerned one finds themselves about 1 and 2 star reviews. I get it. No one wants 1 and 2 star reviews. But it’s going to happen. It happens to the traditionally published and it’s probably going to happen to you. More than once. Probably more than a dozen times. I know that 1 and 2 star reviews seem vicious (and can be) especially without explanation, but they happen. And individuals give them for several reasons.

1. Your storyline is inconsistent.

2. Your manuscript is not edited well enough.

3. They didn’t enjoy the genre it was in.

4. They’re A-holes.

The fourth statement is a tempting thought, but not all people leave bad reviews because they hate you. They probably just don’t like your way of storytelling. All things an editor can help with. I know when I get my first bad review, I will be disappointed. Writing fiction is no simple task. Writing multicultural fiction however seems even more difficult, as our default in strongly identifiable characters tend to be white. But I hope I can find the maturity to take what is said and make the next piece of work stronger. Indie publishing takes such a big hit for being the easy way out for publishing a book. I think if authors want to be taken seriously as writers, they need to hold themselves and their work to the same standard as the publishing industry. If money is an issue, if your manuscript is completed, consider taking a temporary part time job to pay an editor. Consider gaining profits from things that you might otherwise overlook. If you can create buzz on your work, consider creating an etsy store, and promote things related to your book. If you are genuinely apart of online book communities, consider creating a crowd funding account. I’m sure people you genuinely connect with would be happy to help donate the money to improve your project. But I find editing necessary. You are welcome to disagree, but self editing I am weary of. We as writers do not posses the ability to judge our own work objectively. Any thoughts?

12 comments on “Five star reviews and the lazy author

  • Hate to appear to be nitpicking, but I did spot one problem…

    1. You’re storyline is inconsistent.

    I think you meant “your,” not “you’re” there.

    Other than that, great post! I reblogged it. 😀

  • It’s kind of ridiculous how much I love your posts. I have been reading Abbi Glines’ (the goddess of self-pub) books, and they drive me crazy because her “editors” aren’t being hard enough on her. Even if I ignore the absurd parallels between each of her books (they’re getting to the point where they are nearly indistinguishable) and the lack of true development of characters and plot, the laziness of the editing shocks me! In her latest, there are several chapters that mention hay “bails” and I just wanted to throw my kindle. Spell check doesn’t check everything. Editing takes time and real work. I wish more people would realize this.

  • I’m so pleased I came across your post on LinkedIn, I’m a fellow self-publisher and have so much empathy with what you’ve said in this post. I look forward to mooching more of your blog : )

    • Thank you 🙂

      Quite a few people on LinkedIn disagreed, but perhaps that could be why indie authors get such a bad rep?

      I review books, and five times out of ten I will give a less than favorable review for lack of decent editing.

      I’m assuming indie authors have a thick skin , but if not, getting an editor might help with the things you’re not familiar with. Will definitely post a blog about what to look for in an editor. 🙂 Because indie authors should research them and get references like any line of work.

  • There is a situation on one site in particular where review space is used for trolls to attack people for being on a list, often just for being friends with someone else on the list. They have never read the book in most cases and it really has nothing to do with readers or reviews.

    One of them targeted my book not so long ago, presumably because I have a publishing connection with someone from their blacklist. It disappeared recently. Ignoring them appears to be the best policy.

    • I don’t support trolling at all! There’s a way to write a not so good review for a book that isn’t disrespectful to the author. A professional author should always do as you do, ignore the trolls. Because when you feed into it, it always makes you as an author look bad.

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