Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Review of Bad Reviews by Clive West

Before we dive into Clive West's wonderful and spot on blog piece, I wanted to take a moment and let you know how excited we are that Clive and his friends from Any Subject Books are joining us. They have a talented staff of writers with wonderful observations on the writing life. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!--Mary Ann Loesch

Have you been the victim of a lousy review? In all probability you have because it's a simple fact of life – if you raise your head above the parapet you should expect to get shot at (why should you?) Not only that, there are plenty of people out there just dying to pull the trigger.

Once upon a time there were just two sorts of bad reviews. Top of the heap were those dished out by the official book critics employed by newspapers, magazines and other publications and organizations. Their profound opinions would be splashed all over the media and then judiciously quoted by the books’ authors. You know the sort of thing; there's a famous rejection letter sent to Charles Dickens' by the Saturday Review back in 1858:

"We do not believe in the permanence of his reputation... our children will wonder what their ancestors could have meant by putting Dickens at the head of the novelists of today."

I don't know what Dickens made of it but he could have quoted it as "The head of the novelists of today", Saturday Review in his own publicity material.

Now that's not exactly a true summary of what the Saturday Review was saying but the 'rose-tinted' quote reflects the game of shadow-boxing that has gone on since some hirsute individual first thought of making rough drawings in the sand with a stick: an author creates something and someone else tears it down (or tries to).

The other type of review used to get written by Joe Public. In the unlikely event that Joe was ever given any serious airtime in the media, it would be confined to the 'Readers Write' section where it was usually seen as the ranting of some eccentric. It was a fun bit of reading but only a few people would pay serious heed to it.

Now it's all changed. Joe Public, through the likes of Amazon, Smashwords et al can vent spleen to his heart’s content and, worse still in many cases, his opinions will adversely affect your sales. Unfortunately as has been well documented, getting into a sparring match with him, no matter how well-deserved, is always going to be a losing battle.

Should you pay any heed to his reviews, though?

There are essentially three types.

Firstly, there are those who have a perceived grievance with the distributor:

     "My book arrived late"

     "The parcel was damaged and the pages were creased"

     "They sent me the wrong book"

It ends up with the (entirely innocent) author getting 1 or 2 stars because of these alleged events. If you're the victim of this then, apart from getting rightfully hot under the collar, try hard to put it from your mind because the criticism has nothing to do with you.

This could easily be partially solved by expanding the 'star' system to offer stars for:



     Other service

Only the first would then be attributed to the author. I don’t suppose it’ll happen but it’s a nice thought.

The second sort of reviewer has read the book and not liked it but has lost sight of what their function is. For example:

"I didn't like the violence and I thought the settings were dark and dreary. I'm glad I was able to download it for free - I certainly would not have wanted to pay for it. I will not be reading this book again."

What does this tell you?

Precisely nothing. The reviewer has written subjective drivel. They're so keen to get their opinion heard that they don't bother to substantiate any of what they say. There is nothing of substance here and who is to say that the reviewer was even right to have purchased the book?

Too many reviewers lose sight of what they should be. If you can't be completely objective about any book, irrespective of whether you would normally read or even like its particular genre, then your opinion is going to reflect your taste and not the quality of the book. What you are supposed to be reviewing is the quality and appropriateness of the book for its target market, nothing else.

Sure, some pious people will say, "A book should be aimed at everyone" but that's blatant rubbish. A bodice-ripper historical romance is not a Western, a crime story is not a fantasy, and a teen romance is not a fairy story. Does that statement get me the prize for stating the obvious? Therefore I stand by my argument that any meaningful review needs to be written by someone who is able to see the book objectively from the point of view of its target readership. It also needs to substantiate itself with some details of where the book is perceived to fall short of reasonable expectations.

Much of this problem could be solved by proper guidance notes to reviewers telling them that unsubstantiated opinions risk removal and a blocking of their reviewer's account for repeat offenders.

Finally, there are the well-constructed opinions which go into detail about what is wrong - the anachronisms, continuity errors, spelling and grammar mistakes, plot holes etc. These opinions are vitally important to quality control and even if an author is on the wrong end of such a drubbing, they should recognize that reviewers like this are helping keep the bookseller from getting clogged with dross.

Not only that, if you get one of these, consider taking the book down and giving it a major overhaul paying careful attention to the points the reviewer made. If you think of them at all, do so in a spirit of gratitude.

Why can't the reviewers be reviewed? Amazon's 'x of y people found the following review helpful’ goes a little way towards this but nowhere near far enough nor will it until it is accepted that many of the bad reviews need deleting just as those that will remain should inspire some heavy duty revision.

Until then us authors will be dogged with damaging subjective, prejudiced, unsubstantiated and ill-considered opinions.

About the author

Clive West is marketing director for Any Subject Books Ltd, an indie publisher always looking for new and aspiring talent. Follow them on Facebook

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Independent Living with Nadja Notariani

Today's guest post is one I hold close to my heart! Enjoy! You can also learn more about the marvelous Nadja Notariani  and her newest novel, A Practical Arrangement, by following her Innovative Online Book Tour! Check out her tour schedule below!
]Independent Living         


September 01, 2012 marked one year since the publication of my first novel.  Twelve months passed in a flash, and I published two more novels.  Nearly a year to the day, I released my newest historical novel, A Practical Arrangement.  I'm still reeling at the idea that I did it – I'm doing it – I am a published author, and I often feel like pinching myself.

One integral puzzle piece in my success has been my infatuation with the idea of independent living.  The term Indie ( insert word here ) is prominent these days.  Indie music is giving artists such as Marcus Hopsin and labels like Psychopathic Records and Funk Volume a voice in the industry – and earning a rather sizable following.  Likewise, Indie Authors are engaging readers and finding success in impressive numbers.  I credit independent living.  Independence encourages an initial rush, flooding newly opened land (or markets as the case may be); but just as with settling the west, not every wagon found one hundred acres and paradise.  What independence does offer is the freedom to strike out and up.

For motivated writers, the world lay open and ripe before them.  It is up to me what I do with the golden opportunity before me.  With each and every novel, I've grown as a writer, learned as a reader, matured as an editor, and tackled marketing and promotion.  Progress shows in my work.  Some may be bothered by this method – my transparency of growth and on-the-job learning.  Others will be encouraged.  For me, it is a way of life, because I am constantly learning in every aspect of this thing we call independent living.  ~ Nadja Notariani
A Practical Arrangement Tour Schedule

9/24  Arianne Cruz  Guest Blog and Giveaway

9/25  My Devotional Thoughts  Guest Blog and Giveaway

9/25  Sultry Storyteller  Interview

9/26  All Things Writing   Guest Post

9/26   Reading Romances  Review and Giveaway

9/27   T B R    Review and Giveaway

9/27   Free Book Dude  Guest Post

10/1  Queen of the Night Reviews  Review, Guest Blog, and Giveaway

10/1  A Chick Who Read  Review, Guest Blog, and Giveaway

10/4  I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read!  Guest Blog and Giveaway

10/4  Harlie's Books   Review and Giveaway

10/8 Identiyy Discovery Guest post

10/9  The Insane Writings of a Crazed Writer  Guest Blog and Giveaway

10/9  The Bunny's Review  Review, Interview, and Giveaway

10/10  Just Another Rabid Reader  Review, Guest Blog, and Giveaway

10/10  My Cozie Corner   Review

10/10  Reviews By Molly  Review

10/11  Mademoiselle Le Sphinx  Review

10/12  Reading on the Wild Side  Guest Blog and Giveaway

10/12  Oopie Poopie The Bibliomaniac  Review and Giveaway


Want more now? Check out what the blurb for A Practical Arrangement:

Practical plans go awry when prim sensibilities unwittingly capture the heart of a scandalous seducer.


Miss Evangeline Grey, intelligent and sensible, has no desire to marry, her reluctance born from the dire warnings of her overly emotional mother.  Her father has other ideas, however, and decrees that unless she weds by the spring, he will choose a husband for her. 

Prim and proper Evangeline accepts her father's issue with little more than mild alarm.  Knowing herself plain of face and sharp of tongue, she believes herself capable of warding off any perspective suitor.  Her plan goes awry when the scandalous seducer, Mr. Thomas Masterson, visits her family's home, for Thomas has learned that he must procure a wife to receive his full inheritance. 

When he discovers Evangeline's predicament matches his own, Thomas determines to orchestrate a practical arrangement.  A war of wit and word results, and Thomas finds himself ever more beguiled by the soft heart he discovers under Miss Grey's stern, inhibited exterior.  Patiently, he endeavors to gain her respect and awaken her passions.  As tenuous trust blooms between the rake and the reluctant, unfortunate events – and Thomas' past reputation – threaten to destroy the peace and happiness he has found within the bonds of his Practical Arrangement.


Author BIO:

Nadja Notariani was born in Rochester, Pennsylvania.  Her upbringing included very diverse environments, affording wide and varied richness of ethnic and religious tradition.  Raised in both an Italian/Mediterranean American home and a traditional German household, Nadja gleaned the unique benefits of viewing the world through two widely different lenses.

Nadja resides in Northeastern Pennsylvania, ever embracing new adventures with her husband, three sons and faithful German Shepherd.  She also boasts two grown daughters, who have flown the nest to pursue their own adventures.

Within her titles, readers can find romance and adventure, from contemporary to paranormal to historical, always with a happily-ever-after.  Nadja enjoys hearing from readers and can be found at her website, on Facebook, Goodreads, and at Romance Novel Center.  Readers are welcome to contact her via email.



·         Website

·         Goodreads




Monday, September 24, 2012

It's Punctuation Day!

OK, I'll admit that some of the day and month celebrations I've been posting about haven't had much to do with writing, until I stretched them in that direction. But Punctuation Day? That's right on target! 

Rather than discuss punctuation, I'd like to give some resources here. Some of these overlap punctuation with other aspects of grammar, but it's all good.

I've consulted this site several times and am posting the section on punctuation, but you should check out the rest of it too if you're ever hesitant about your writing.

Dan Persinger runs this great blog, Last Editor Standing. I guarantee you'll find gems here if you poke around.

I haven't consulted this one, just found it googling around, but it looks fairly good. I can't say I agree with the ellipsis points section, though. I much prefer the four-dot method and it's not explained here.

 If you can ignore all the ads here, this article makes a good point, which it that grammar rules aren't really laws as much as they are customs.

The point should be made that writers generally adhere to either the Chicago Manual of Style of the Associated Press Stylebook and these two guides can disagree. Another point is that, if your publisher wants to violate a punctuation rule and ignore all the common usages, that is your publisher's right and you'll just have to grit your teeth and bear it--or self-publish.

Lastly, I'll post a link to the actual site for today:

All pix, interrobang, snowy owl, and Welsh grammar are public domain from wiki commons.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Getting the author bio right by Clive West

For many authors, getting fame is as least as important as getting fortune. A vitally important step on the way to achieving that goal is the feature blogspot. You know, the one where you get to 'virtually' stand in front of a 'virtual' camera while holding your 'virtual' book. You’re quietly content because the book’s your pride and joy and you're rightfully proud of it.
Unlike with a newspaper, TV or radio interview, when you do a blogspot review you're usually left very much to your own devices over how you describe your book and the person who wrote it - you. The book part is probably the easiest - you explain the plot, the principal characters, the location, how realistic it is - that sort of thing. However, the bio part is far harder because it’s not straightforward like the book which is self-contained because it tells a story beginning and ending within the book's covers.
Your story is much more complicated and a heck of a lot longer. I'm not suggesting you do it, but I’m sure you could easily produce a substantial autobiography that would fill at least one blockbuster-sized publication and here you are having to summarize your life in one or two paragraphs.
Not only is it difficult to précis your existence so drastically, these few paragraphs can easily make all the difference between selling and not selling, good reviews, no reviews and bad reviews, getting return free publicity and being dropped like a hot coal.
If you analyze the idea of a bio, what are you being asked for? What's the principal reason for sticking a mugshot and 50 to 100 words of seemingly irrelevant text in a novel or at the end of an interview?
The answer is that it’s to personalize the book. We may be on the internet interacting with people we're never likely to meet but we still like to think we're dealing with the friendly old shopkeeper on the corner. We need to feel that the book is 'for us', that there's a connection between us and the author and that we're both on the same wavelength.
That's basic human psychology.
The bio needs to be split into two halves: firstly saying who you are in such a way as to appeal to readers and secondly tying yourself to the book.
The part about yourself needs to be easy to read and interesting. Think of something idiosyncratic about yourself. How many times have you read something as dreary as '... worked in a variety of jobs before taking up writing'? It's dull as dishwater. If you really can't include something more exciting, use some inspirational verbs such as 'was so captivated by, was driven by,' etc. Something which says you've a little fire in your belly and that simply compelled you to put your fingers to the keyboard.
Obviously what exactly you should or shouldn't write is going to depend upon your particular background but it's important that you keep the general idea of what I'm saying in mind.
As to the second part, that needs to justify why you've written this novel. Is it a crime novel which draws on your experience in the police or forensics? Is it a romance in a setting which you grew up in? Is it a war story based on your period of active service? I know it's obvious but the reader wants to feel that they're in good hands and, by showing them your ‘qualifications’, you're doing just that.
After all, books aren't cheap and we don't like the feeling of foolishness which occurs when we've chosen badly. Use the bio to (gently) sell yourself to the reader. If they've got that far, they’re hooked on the book; now reel them in - slowly.
Bio of the blog’s author
Clive West first started in publishing at the age of 16 when, as a result of lack of parental support, he was compelled to leave school early. He joined a large local printing company but put himself through night school in order to later qualify as a civil engineer. Despite working in construction, he has always been involved in the marketing side of the businesses he worked for – everything from producing brochures and writing sales literature to drawing up contracts and constructing a wide variety of legal documents.
On becoming disabled, it was a natural step for him to move into commercial writing but his true desire was to be a successful fiction writer. Approaching conventional publishers, both Clive and his fellow author wife, Damaris, were shocked at the seemingly non-commercial and off-hand responses they received. As a result they set up their own Indie Publishing company called Any Subject Books Ltd. As far as they are concerned, talented new writers are always welcome.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

5 Tips to Keep a Ghostwriter Sane



No. It doesn't refer to an author sitting at a table and waiting for the spirits to make contact. If that were the case, the writer could be waiting a long, long time!


What is ghostwriting? And why would any writer do it?


Ghostwriting refers to the process of one author or person paying another author to write for them. Typically, the ghostwriter signs a contract stating that they give up all rights to the story once it is done. Some contracts do allow for the ghostwriter's name to be listed below the publishing author's name, but generally once the deal is closed, whatever happens to the manuscript is out of the ghostwriter's hands.


This is a common practice and has been around a long, long time. Many celebrities use ghostwriters when it comes to publishing their "tell all" books. People who want to share about their traumatic experiences in life often have someone else do the actual writing. Heck, even established authors like James Patterson, Tom Clancy, and Clive Cussler use them!


I've been ghostwriting quite a bit this past year and a half. I do it because it's been a great way to make decent money quickly doing something that I enjoy--writing. I have several repeat clients, and while I can't tell you who they are due to my contracts, I can say that they are authors in many different genres. I've written a series of short stories, two book series, and several stand-alone novels. They've ranged anywhere from 1600-50,000 words.


And that doesn't include writing my own Bayou Myth series.


Yeah, it's a lot of work, but the money has been good. Some clients are better than others when it comes to financial compensation, but I don't take any jobs that I don't like. I'm careful about my contracts and rarely work without one.


I have a few tips for those of you that are just starting out in the world of ghostwriting. These may seem like no brainers, but it's easy to forget the basics when you're bogged down under a sea of words.


1. Only take work that gets you excited. My parents always told me that sometimes you have to do things you don't like. That's true, but it doesn't apply in ghostwriting. Believe me. I've learned that the hard way. If you don't feel excited about the project, if the thought of it bores you to tears, don't take it. I don't care how good the money is. (Well, okay that's not entirely true) It is not worth the pain, heartache, and time if you can't get motivated.


2. Stick to your deadline, but know when to ask for an extension. Writing is tricky. Sometimes the muse is there and the words flow like sweet honey. Other times, you're wading through a sea of manure with no end in sight. Make sure you are setting aside time to get the work done, but if you are in the manure zone, don't wait till the last minute to ask for more time. Be up front. Pull the "but I’m an artist" card if you have to, but don't sit around twiddling your thumbs. You're being paid to write and your client expects results. However, most people understand that writing is a process and sometimes the process gets delayed by life, family, and…well…manure. Be up front about it.


3. Don't lose sight of your own projects. I like to set aside time that is just for me. Typically on Friday night, I pour a glass of wine and then sit in front of my laptop. Sometimes I work on my projects, but sometimes I just write whatever comes to mind. Take time for yourself!


4. Step away from the project before you hurt someone! You are giving up control when you are a ghostwriter. You don't call every shot. That can be a hard thing to accept. You may write the most fabulous scene ever, but your client thinks it's awful. Deal with it. Don't freak out and send nasty emails or make crazy phone calls. Take a breath, step away, and remember that you are getting paid to do something you love. Not everyone can say that.


5. Read the contract carefully. Know what you are committing to before you sign. Some clients have very particular requests and you need to understand them before you agree to be their ghostwriter. Deadlines, time frames for drafts, payment schedules, anonymity needs, and whether or not your name will be listed on the front cover--a good contract should cover all that!


Any other ghostwriters out there with advice? Drop us a line and share your tips!


Monday, September 17, 2012

Do you hear words when you read?

You'll be reading this when I'm out of town, visiting my daughter. She's the one who prompted these thoughts, though.

We had a discussion at least a year ago, maybe more, on contractions. I was saying that, of course, one writes a lot of contractions in dialog because that's how people speak. The more casual and regional the speech, the more contractions, at least for Texas-speak. My daughter replied that contractions slow her down when she reads.

Huh? I asked how that happened. Turns out, she doesn't actually hear the words as she reads. She reads super fast and is capable of reading a whole novel in a sitting, if it isn't extra long. She quickly scans the pages and takes in the meaning, but doesn't feel any rhythms.

I'm exactly the opposite. I read my stuff out loud as I'm writing it. Sort of like reciting it to my fingers on the keyboard. In fact, when I read books by Garrison Keillor, it takes me forever. I know how slowly he talks, delivering his Prairie Home Companion monologs, and I hear his writing in his voice.

I must say, I was astonished to learn this. I thought everyone heard the words and the rhythms. Not so! The only way I can write is to the rhythm, so that won't change, but I appreciate that not everyone will care whether my sentences have cadence or not. Some of them might be slowed down by my dialog.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Spotlight

Every now and then I like to point out a book or author that I think is interesting. Today I'm doing a book spotlight on author Ron D. Smith and his novel The Night Budda Got Deep In It.  Check out the book blurb, the excerpt, and author bio listed below!

Fifteen-year-old Budda (Butter with a souther drawl) Jessico leads an unremarkable and anonymous life in suburban St. Louis. He’s not unpopular, because someone would first have to notice him. Except for the tormenting by his older brother, however, Budda is content. He follows his father’s rules and stays out of trouble. Then, at the urging of Blood Mama (his birth mother), a voice only Budda hears, he catches a bus to Kentucky to rescue his former foster sister, Addie.

As soon as Budda reaches Louisville, he goes to a McDonald’s for the first time in his life where he meets the resolute Baresha, a fellow runaway on her own adventure. Then Budda’s mission to find his sister goes downhill. He hitches a ride to Valkyrie, Addie’s hometown, in hopes of saving her from some danger Blood Mama won’t reveal. Instead, Budda encounters her blood kin, led by the ominous Odyn Starkwether and his violent brother Dickie.

A drug shipment controlled by the Starkwethers has disappeared and so has Addie. The brothers have a mess to clean up, and Budda is soon in the middle of it. At first, Budda goes along willingly, if it will help him find Addie. Before long, though, Budda realizes it’s sometimes better to stay put.
The Night Budda Got Deep in It
Segment 1
Ellie had the cigarette lit before they made it out the front door. She began to relax immediately. It wasn’t so bad smoking outside where she could enjoy the fresh air in her lungs.
Exhaling a plume of smoke, she asked, “You say you’re looking for Addie, huh?”
Budda nodded. He was momentarily less interested in finding his sister than watching this girl put her lips around the cigarette. Even the smoke couldn’t overpower the smell of cleanliness about her. He would from then on see her in his mind when he smelled bleach. But he had to get that out of his mind, because that wasn’t what brought him to Valkyrie.
“I just need to find Addie.” he said.
“She’s inaccessible at the moment,” Ellie said, blowing a plume of smoke upward.
“Inaccessible in what way?”
“The kind where she can’t be accessed.”
Told you so.
Ellie sized up Budda, but she couldn’t make him fit as Addie’s brother, even a half one she didn’t know about. Addie had moved with her mom a long time back to Missouri where her mom had an aunt or some such. Ellie hadn’t heard anything about Addie until she showed up back in Valkyrie a few months earlier, broke as the day she was born. Addie didn’t talk much about all the years she’d been away, and it didn’t matter enough to Ellie to ask.
“I guess her mom got knocked up with you after she left here,” Ellie said, going with the most obvious possibility.
“Addie’s my foster sister,” Budda said absently. “How long before she can be accessed?” He began to think Blood Mama was right about Addie needing help.
Ellie took a long drag, and then exhaled the smoke in bits like a chugging train as she answered. “I wouldn’t hold my breath. Could be awhile. Sorry you came all this way for nothing.”
This here girl’s a lying liar. She knows where Addie is, all right, Blood Mama said.
Am I supposed to just accuse Ellie of lying? That’s not going to make her too happy, Budda said.
You’re thinking with the wrong part of your anatomy. You’re not here to make this girl happy. You’re here to save your sister.
Author Info for Ron D Smith:
I started my adult life as a journalist, but gave it up when I realized I wasn’t going to become Walter Cronkite. I grew up in small towns in Missouri and Iowa, which make my adopted hometown of Louisville look like Manhattan.
I envy the dialogue of Daniel Woodrell, the sense of place of Silas House, and how Wendell Berry makes writing seem deceptively easy. I appreciate Elmore Leonard for being Elmore Leonard. I don’t write like anyone but me.

Amazon Kindle copy

Ron Smith Online

Monday, September 10, 2012

Book Launches for Self-Published Authors

I'll admit I don't know anything about this topic. I'm only blogging on it so I can maybe collect some ideas.

My third novel will launch in just a few weeks and I have nothing planned. I didn't do book launches for my first two and am not sure I'll do one for this one.

From what I've observed, one serves at least wine and cheese, and maybe has giveaways for all attendees. That sounds like one will be spending money one has not earned yet. In my case, it may be more money than I'll earn from the book in quite a while.

Then there's the venue. Where does one hold a book launch? Ideally, the launches for the Imogene Duckworthy books would be in the Wichita Falls area. To be sure, I lived there when I started writing them. But I don't now! I'm a good two hundred miles away, over three hours on the road, and I'm a terrible long-distance driver.

Here's what I do: I try to guest blog a lot just before and around the time that my book is coming out. I give away books on some blogs. Now that I have more than one out, I'm giving away #1 and #2 in prep for #3. I schedule signings. I give talks and appear in person whenever and wherever I can. There are writers' groups, book clubs, library events. I attend conferences, but can only afford the time and money to attend a few at this point.

I hope it's enough!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Do Reviews on Amazon Matter?

As a writer, the opinions of the reader can be pretty important. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it's a bad thing. Sometimes it’s the thing that can give your self-confidence a nasty shake--if you let it! Today I’m exploring the importance of reviews on Amazon.


Do they really matter?


After all, it's not like the people commenting are world famous critics. Sure, they may picture themselves as the Simon Cowell of the literary world, but in reality, most readers who leave a review on Amazon are your Average Joes--ordinary people who like to read.


Yes, I've heard and seen first-hand the readers that just like to rip apart a book because they can. I don't like that practice, but it is what it is. I also don't think that most readers intend to be that way. But a word of advice to all you writers who get hot under the collar about such things--chill out. Don't respond. Don't comment or try to justify yourself or your book. It never ends well and always makes the writer look like an ass.


But back to the question I posed today: Do reviews on Amazon matter?


I say yes. They definitely help other readers figure out whether or not this is a book that might be for them. Through review comments, a potential buyer can learn the genre of the book, how long it might take to read it, and whether or not it's got the right tone for them. The more reviews you have on Amazon, the better they can make the determination as to whether or not they should add your book to their collection.


Don't believe me?


Read through some of the comments from reviewers on Amazon. Many of them say they purchased the book because of all the reviews.


Of course getting reviews is a whole other blog post…


For you readers who aren't sure whether to leave a review or not, I say do it. Even if you didn't like the book, leave the review. Feedback is the breakfast of champions. How else will writers improve (assuming the ego can get past the sting of criticism) and get better? Editors, agents, and publishers are all well and good things to have. But nothing tells you where you are at in the process of writing like a review from Average Joe.


In fact, what prompted me to write this post was the anger of an Average Joe reviewer--my mother. She is an avid reader of the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin. However, when she reached the end of the fourth book, I got a nasty phone call. She hated the way the book ended. All the characters she wanted to know about where in the next book and she'd invested all that time getting through the novel only to find that out at the end! How dare Martin trick her like that!


I asked her if she was going to read the fifth book. She answered "no" and then revised that answer to "well, at least not right away." Mr. Martin could wait a little while before he got her money for Book 5!


That's when I advised her to write a review on Amazon. Maybe this was something other readers might want to know about.


Of course, I doubt George R.R. Martin (who needs two middle names?) reads the Amazon reviews, but you never know!


Happy reviewing!