Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tips for Novice Writers – and Reviewers! 

     Here's something you can take to the bank.
     If you’re a writer, you write. Doesn’t matter if no one but you reads it. Stories and characters waltz about in your brain and you simply have to allow them to blossom into text. However, once we do allow our works to be seen by people other than those who personally know us, then we have to learn to accept criticism and we must understand when to take advice to heart and when to dismiss it. These are difficult lessons to master.
     Here are the top three things I’ve learned from reviewers:
1. Get as many reviews as possible from people you don’t know. Look for similar praise and beefs. If several reviewers praised your snappy dialogue, rejoice and strive to make your dialogue sparkle even more. Conversely, if several reviewers note that your pace is slow or that it was difficult to understand her heroine’s motivation, take a close look at those hiccups. Fix them before you write your next book.
2. When reviewers find typos or bad grammar and punctuation, hire a professional editor and proofreader for your next project. Be aware that editors and proofreaders aren’t the same thing. Editors discuss plotting, characterization, pacing, word choices, and sentence structure. Proofreaders catch typos, incorrect punctuation, misspellings, and continuity mistakes.
3. Be sure that the people who review your books actually like the type of book you’ve written. I’ve had yucky reviews from people who admitted that “I don’t usually read this kind of thing” or “romances aren’t my cup of tea.” I dismiss those. Same goes for the editor you choose. Ask the editor who she/he has read in your genre and what her/his favorite books are in your genre. If she/he hasn’t read any books that have been published in the past two years, then she/he probably isn’t savvy about what’s hot and what’s not in your field.
     Let me also caution you not to reply to a reviewer or editor until you’ve given yourself a day to think about it. Temper whatever you say or write, understanding that your work was published and people have a right to their opinion. With reviewers, it’s best to thank them, taking them  to task only when they get “personal” in their critiques. With editors, it’s best to discuss why and how you can improve what you’ve put on paper. Great editors can make you a great writer, so when you find one, don’t ruin the relationship by being too cantankerous and stubborn.