This is a follow-up to my post last week titled Don’t Believe The Hype, It Hurts Later.
A friend of mine recently received a plethora of not so kind reviews on his self-published novel. He complained to me that people were just being cruel and hateful and how he feared it would hurt sales of his book. After all, he reasoned, his wife read the story and thought it was excellent. When I asked him who else read the story he informed me, “no one else.” Oh boy.
Comments on his novel included lots of 2 and 3 start reviews. These reviews focused on the high number of misspellings and a lack of character development. Were they really being mean? He assured me that they were and that the complaints sere unfounded. Said friend gave me a free copy to read. I told him if I liked it I would give him a good review.
But you know what I found? The reviews were accurate. In 80,000 words, there were 1,500 misspellings including many instances of mixed up “they’re”s, “there”s, and “there’s”s. Everywhere “it’s” should have been used, he had written “its” instead and visa versa. There were an average of five misspellings per page including several times when he misspelled the name of his main character. As for character development, well, it wasn’t bad for a juvenile novel, it was weak for an adult market one, which is what he was targeting.
So, the question arose as to whether or not I should be honest with my friend and tell him the truth. Ok, it really wasn’t much of a question. I tell the truth. It’s the way I am. So I did.
“And after all the good things I had to say about your novel?” he complained. See, he had been in my review group for Under the Darkened Moon and he did have a lot of good things to say. But he did have lots of constructive criticisms too.
I told him, look, do you really want me to lie to you? The book wasn’t that good. Period. The reviews were accurate. Either you take the criticism to heart and fix the problems, hoping to re-release the book, or move on to your next project with valuable lessons learned. I told him I would be more than happy to be part of his review group for the next go around because he did me such huge favors by being part of mine.
Still, however, my friend seems a bit more hurt now than before I confirmed what the reviewers he thought were just being mean had said. Well, that’s what happens when you believe the hype I suppose.
He started writing his novel in December last year after finding out I was writing one. He published it in April this year after just having his wife read it and not seeking out other opinions. The work was obviously rushed. He did a grand total of one edit on it from the rough draft he created.
First novels are hard. Believe me, I know. I’m going on one year since I started writing mine. And it’s still not ready yet. It’s gone through multiple review groups. It’s gone through multiple revisions and is still not ready for publication.