As we’re almost at 2020 and it’s the time we look at ourselves with the most promise. We can actually look at our flaws and think “I can fix that, I just need to sort my life out.” Usually with notions of joining a gym or eating vegetables.
Authors do things a little bit differently. We know at the back of our heads that joining a gym is probably what we should do, but just commit to reading more instead. But sometimes we also take a look at our own books and figure out how we should improve. From time to time, there are some clues in our bad reviews.
Last week I did a feature called Top 3 Things Authors Shouldn’t Worry About in Bad Reviews, which had a look at what advice we should ignore in bad reviews. So this week we can have a look at a few things that we should probably take on board when our readers tell us what they didn’t like about our books. Let’s take a look!
1. Editing and formatting issues
There’s no real reason that a reader would say there are editing and formatting issues if there aren’t any there. It’s so easy after going through your own manuscript again and again to miss a few typos or incorrect phrases. That’s why it’s a good idea to have an editor and/or some beta-readers on board.
If you have several reviews mentioning typos or editing issues, get into your manuscript and have a look because there’s even less chance that several readers are making this up. Take a look, correct it and slap it back out there on the market all polished and new.
2. Plot inconsistencies
Avid readers are the best at pinpointing loose ends or inconsistencies. They’re looking at our books for the first time with fresh eyes and if something doesn’t make sense or isn’t wrapped up by the end, they’re bound to find out.
If you’re not a meticulous plotter, this is so easily done and kicking yourself doesn’t feel like enough when you realise.
This is one of the few things I would say that the reader is better qualified to point out than we are. We can be absolutely, 100% sure that we caught everything but the truth is, we can’t. We’re too close to this, Sergeant. We’re off the case. (Sorry, I’ve been watching too much Brooklyn 99).
3. Book Covers
OK, right off the bat, sometimes this isn’t true. But mostly, I’ve experienced that the readers are spot on when it comes to book covers. If they are saying that the book cover is unprofessional, chances are they have a point.
Book covers are the first thing to grab a reader’s attention and that’ll either be a good thing or a bad thing. Either they’ll love it and buy it immediately (*cue heavenly noises*) or they’ll think it’s unprofessional. Sometimes they’ll give the benefit of the doubt and buy it anyway, especially if the blurb is good. If that’s the case, that unprofessional cover might still come back to bite the author in the butt in the review.
Thanks for reading!