I’m writing directly to you in this open post. And I do mean YOU, new author. Don’t think this doesn't apply because your name or novel's title isn’t mentioned.
This is about Why I Might Not Have Reviewed Your New Self-Published Novel Yet
No matter your genre, a hard thing is realizing that your first self-published book could’ve been written better. The hardest thing is having someone review your book and say that very thing to you for all the world to see.
I’m not going to do that on your Amazon or Goodreads page. But, this is an honest post from a writing coach, story editor, and author; I’m all those things when I read the online sample of your book. And all three of us want your work to be stronger.
Dear First time, Self-published, New Author,
I won't say this on your Goodreads or Amazon page, that your book could’ve been written better. That would be unpleasant and uncalled-for. I want you to be turning out great things for me to read soon. Hopefully, one day you will.
So I'm doing this here, and not in a review of your first ever effort. I'm putting all this out here for you to think on these things about your writing. Not for you to be hurt or get mad. For you to do more to make me want to leave a review.
Perhaps, you could’ve done better research, so we wouldn’t complain about how maddening your book's logic is. Your characters really wouldn't be doing things that way if you'd researched and found a bit more about that profession, or that time, historically. Or that part of town, or other country you've never been to. Or that age, you may not still be at, your teens, your fifties.
Here’s a tip, if the only thing that kept you from doing so is you didn't realize you needed to, here it is: You did need to. And I hope you will next time.
Or when it comes to tightening your dialogue and re-thinking your 'what if...?'s. Could you have given these people you're writing about more character driven things to be feeling? Could we have seen them reacting to, or planning against each other, in more visceral ways? Over the way you did by only giving us those standard Societal Clichéd reactions you've listed here in your first book?
And could you have written more deeply than just showing us who moved or walked? How often someone turned, saw, or looked at things? That isn't really 'storytelling'. That's reporting and explaining stage directions. We’d rather you gave us motivations in your word choices on your pages. Not what you tell us in narrative, reporting those actions. Doing it that way left out the characters emotions, senses, desires. We really wanted more of that stuff. Really, we did.
We wanted reactions, realizations, and reveals told in storytelling prose. You gave us who said what, and how it was said. Especially where there were only two characters interacting on the page. Who saw what, and not the subtext of why that matters to any of the characters there. Sigh. We were looking for actions if they furthered the story. Not actions because you wanted some break between long hunks of speaking.
We readers bought this looking for some storytelling. You haven't gotten us there yet. Where were the subtext and emotions in-scene? All I saw was narration about things.
‘She was happy now’ is an abstract, showing her being happy for us to see in concrete ways—that’s storytelling. It's a shame you haven’t realize that yet, because your ideas for your story work just fine.
All right, now you know. I won’t belabor these points.
Now you can see these are the types of things that might help your work, Yes?
You’re not getting reviews you thought should, ones from strangers, and not from your friends who support you. Friends and family will write a 5-star review in spite of knowing, 'meh, this could have been better'. You’d be crushed seeing that under your title.
So, next time, before you even work up some Cover Art, or finalize some blurb or tagline, how about asking for feedback on your work from strong writers? It may be that you've skipped the steps above entirely. Simply because you never knew you needed to consider them. A strong writer will tell you that, cousin Jamie might not know to.
You need to engage with good writers. Find them. It may be you only showed early drafts to fellow readers who might be hungry for your genre but they couldn’t help with upping your level of writing if they wanted to.
Be more of a writer you can be proud being. Accept that your work needs more time there, in that phase of bettering your writing. It needs going through a few rounds of deep edits.
Your ideas and passion for writing are great. You do have the passion for wanting a good story told.
But, sadly, first-time self-published author, your execution for storytelling is not equal to that yet.
How do you do it?
Don’t be the dilettante. No book needs to be rushed to publication. You’re going to be in for the work, but it’s worth it. And I really want it to be, if I’m going to leave a review I’ll be happy to give.
About The AuthorE.J. Runyon Author, Writing Coach at Bridge to Story at Bridge to Story http://www.bridgetostory.com/
I am a writer, coach, and the creator of BridgetoStory.com, a writing service providing instruction to novices and other writers online and off. I've coached writers as individuals and in small groups since 1997.