An Ode to Reviews

(Not actually an Ode)

I’m coming up on a launch. Songs for Libby releases on October 15 and is up for pre-order now. That means that I’m going to be putting out my hands to beg for reviews as soon as it’s out.

I think a lot of people think that in order to leave a review, you have to be a “good reviewer.” For the record, anyone who bothers to review something is a good reviewer in my book. You don’t have to do a special intro to the book before you give your opinion. It doesn’t have to be long. You don’t have to cover every aspect of what you did and didn’t like. If all you want to say in your review is, “I really liked this one,” that’s great! You can write as much or as little as you want. No one is out their judging your reviews (unless you are a professional reviewer, but that’s different).

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Beta Alpha Delta

I’ve mentioned beta readers several times and I’ve had a handful of people ask me what the heck they are.

It’s like beta testing a product. When you develop computer software or hardware, you have to beta test it before you start to sell it for real money. There will always be coding issues that need to be fixed, so developers have to debug it so that users don’t waste their hard-earned cash on something that’s going to have issues.

Same thing with books. It’s a product, and my readers spend their hard-earned money on it, so I don’t want to sell them a product that is defective.

But how can a book be defective?

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It’s Critical to Critique

Back before I published my first book, I exercised my writing muscles in a lot of different ways. I loaded my chapters onto a critique website and got feedback from a bunch of random strangers on the internet. In turn, I’d read their stuff and give them feedback. That format taught me how to better take criticism, whether that meant swallowing my pride and killing my darlings, or if it meant disregarding their comments because they were so far from my target audience that I had to filter some of their comments as irrelevant.

It also had the added benefit of teaching me how to give feedback. This is a learned skill. I’ve searched enough for useful beta readers to know that not everyone has that skill. It’s not just about reading it and giving a thumbs up or thumbs down. Good feedback only comes when the reader is able to identify that something in the writing isn’t sitting right with them, then identifying WHY that is, and then being able to come up with a possible solution. On top of all of that, they have to have the ability to articulate all of that information to the person whose work they are critiquing.

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An Author’s Guide to Self-Publishing

I’ve been doing this for a while now, and my editor thought it would be nice if I were to write down a little something about the adventures of self-publishing and what I’ve learned from it. I’ve had several first-time indie authors ask me how to go about it, but you’ll probably be surprised that it’s not as daunting as you might think. The self-publishing platforms are really good at guiding you through a step-by-step process. Continue reading