It’s taken me a long time, but I finally got up to 44 reviews on one of my novels. When I offered Fallen Angels for free for 4 days on amazon, I got over 18,000 downloads (big for me, not so impressive for best selling authors).
I’m not sure, but it might be possible it takes 18,000 downloads to get 33 reviews–I had 11 to start with. That, in itself, was an eye opener. I’ve read that a lot of people download free books and then never get around to reading them. *Sigh. I’m guilty of that myself. Out of the ones who actually read it, only some write reviews. But thank you, thank you, thank you to the ones who do! Because readers didn’t react to my book the way writers do.
I have three friends who I trade manuscripts with. They mark up my stuff. I mark up theirs. We look for everything–word choice, pacing, conflict, tension, plot holes, characterization…you name it. If we find anything that we think could be better, stronger–we mark it. Not to be critical. But because each one of us wants to write the best book we possibly can.
Before I offered Fallen Angels for free on amazon, I offered free copies for read-to-review on Goodreads. I love Goodreads. It’s becoming sort of saturated with writers right now, but the readers and bloggers on the sites I joined are some of the most supportive people a writer could have the joy to meet. These are serious readers. They’re voracious and they know their stuff. Their reviews are honest and insightful, and they’re almost always harder to impress than most people who walk into a bookstore or open a book on their e-readers. They compare you to other big name authors and know the markets, every major series in the genres they like, and what’s current. But they’re generous. When they see potential, they say so.
The reviews I got from the free days on Kindle were different. Every bit as intelligent and insightful, but in a different way. These people read for fun. They download a book and want to be entertained for a few hours. If you accomplish that, they’re happy with you, and they give interesting feedback. Their reactions weren’t always what I expected. More than a few had trouble with Voronika. I love Voronika. I know why she’s built a wall around herself and is aloof and prickly. Enoch loves and understands her, too. But I still haven’t made her into as sympathetic a character as I’d like her to be. Maybe I’ll get her right in book 3…let’s hope:)
Even most of the negative feedback was interesting, if for no other reason than to remind me that I’m never going to please everyone. But these people read for fun. They didn’t analyze plot or structure. They just asked if the book WORKED for them. Did they like it or not? Were they glad they’d spent a few hours with my characters? What made them keep turning pages, and what made them get up to trim their toenails? Yes, a book CAN be that boring. And when it gets right down to it, that’s what we need to think about. We want people to pick up our book, turn a page, and get hooked in our story. And we do all that we know how to do to keep them engaged from the first page to the last.
So…happy writing to you. And may you hook readers from the beginning, through the middle, and to the end of your latest novel/novella/or short story.