How Do I Tell Them Their Writing Sucks?

IMG_2074How do we support fellow authors when we feel their writing is not of a standard that we would be proud to share?

Today’s question is a lot more sensitive than usual as none of us wants to hurt the feelings of fellow tribe members. But the reality is, we come up against this problem all the time, and we need to put it on the table fully and purposefully if it isn’t going to become the elephant in the room very quickly! Ultimately it will only going to get bigger, and we need to clean up all that poop! So let’s sort it out now before it settles in.

I am no expert on this subject and I find it extremely difficult to tackle. So I’m just going to throw out some thoughts on this one, and hopefully, you can all build on it?

First and foremost I want to stress that being given the opportunity to read and review and critique the work of another author is a huge honour and one that we need to be very very careful with. This is sacred space we are treading on, and no matter what we do, feel or say, we need to tread with a massive dose of humility and an even bigger dose of grace! Anything short of that is always going to go badly!

Here are some real-life examples:

I once read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of a book which from page one was filled with errors. I would have put down the book immediately but I had offered to read it for a friend and didn’t want to let her down. So I read a few pages more to see what was going on and soon realized that there was a beautiful story underneath there and that without the errors, it could be a success. So I put on the most humble hat I could find, wrote her a carefully worded message which was the least accusatory or judgemental that I could possibly write, and apologized profusely for being the bearer of bad news.

But I told her straight out, that I saw great potential in her story, and that I also saw some quite bad mistakes. I shared with her that in my own personal, totally subjective opinion, the mistakes appeared to me to be simply a translation issue (the book had been written first in a European language) and I gave her some advice on how to fix them.

I went to bed worried, but needn’t have. I woke the next morning to a beautiful thank you message, and over the next few weeks we put our heads together to come up with a solution. She sacked her translator, postponed her launch by a few weeks, and we combed through that manuscript over and over again. She ran it through Grammarly time and again, and I cheered her on from the sidelines every step of the way.

It was a great honour for me to be a small part in that and loved watching her beautiful story emerge!

Here is another real-life story:

I bought a book that looked great, and while it was a much heavier story, with all the things that I am passionate about (abuse, survival, tribes and so on), there too was an amazing story in there. The author wrote in a way that I felt brilliantly walked that very fine line between laying bare the truth of unspeakable abuse without having to go overboard and become gory or voyeuristic. She somehow kept the integrity of the abused child and later adult, without shying away from the horror that she endured.

But I also found the story a little jarring. Instead of building through to crescendoes and solutions and resolutions which built slowly and unpacked over time, the story moved from beautifully written tragedy to beautifully written tragedy with very fast solutions in between which came out of nowhere. I wanted to know how those solutions evolved and came into being, how trust was built and I wanted to live with the main character through her fear of failure with so much on the line. I wanted to rejoice with her triumph but it was a triumph that I couldn’t connect to as the reader was not taken on that particular journey.

Again it was my personal perspective opinion on the story and it was very subjective, but I wanted to share my thoughts with the author in the hope that they could take her writing to the next level. I still believe that she has huge potential as a world-class author, but that this potential blind spot could hold her back for some readers.

Her response was not as welcomed as the other author and she told me I was wrong. I have no doubt that I am wrong, who am I anyway, and it was just my opinion. But it laid out for me the question of how do we navigate this space of sharing our opinions and helping? I was honest with both of them and had completely different results.

And in both cases I believed in the authors and would read ALL of their books and be a huge Brand Ambassadors for them for the rest of their careers if they would learn from what I see as their potential blind spots.. I am not the boss of how successful anyone is, but I do follow authors I can get behind totally, but don’t want to read books that leave me feeling as though it could have been so much more.

Then again what would have happened in each of these 2 cases if behind their meagre blind spots, there wasn’t an amazing author there? What if those stories were boring or badly written, or mechanical or going nowhere no matter what efforts and “fixes” were thrown at them?

I invested in those stories and those authors because I LOVE their work. But there have been others where I simply don’t. Is it me? Is it them? Who am I to say. But I simply don’t have the time, energy, or know how to help them in any way that I can see will make a difference, and it’s best to walk away. Isn’t it?

So my only thoughts and experiences come to these conclusions:

  1. If I have the honour of reading anything for review or critique, then I do so remembering that this is sacred ground I have been given the honour of walking on. I need to treat it as such.
  2. If I LOVE it and it is perfect (how often does that ever happen LOL), then fabulous for me and fabulous for them! Woohoo!! I become their number one fan, write a great review, and become a brand ambassador for them FOREVER!  ….YAY!
  3. More likely, however, is that especially for a relatively new author (less than 5 full books under their belt) there will be a few blind spots that they would hopefully want to be aware of. Most authors want to be better and to know how to improve. But again, we are on sacred group here, so all feedback should be given with as much grace and humility as possible.
  4. How the author responds is about them not me. If I have been constructive, humble and gracious, that is all I can do. If they don’t want anything more then that’s fine and I honestly do feel for them as no one likes “constructive feedback” so they are entitled to feel a bit yuck. But whether they use that feedback as a stepping stone or not is up to them.
  5. If I can’t find the fluent, flowing author and his or her magic in there anywhere, regardless of mistakes big or small, then this is where I struggle the most. It doesn’t mean a fabulous, incredible author isn’t in there, or that their work is not magnificent, but some writing styles don’t speak to me, some stories I cannot relate to, some language grates on me rather than sings to me, and sometimes I can’t even unpack it that succinctly that I can put my finger on the “problem”. It’s just for me and that’s the end of that.

What are your experiences and solutions to this dilemma?

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Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

YouTube |Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith

 

 

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Nov Author Blitz!

Screen Shot 2017-10-22 at 8.32.05 PMIt’s November!! That means that the October #ArtBlitz is over, and it’s time for #NaNoWriMo (woohoo!!) and November #AuthorBlitz ! Thank you to last month’s winners and I look forward to seeing who wins this month!

The competitions are back on, and again I will be awarding three prizes at the end of the month.

1: The Purple Heart Award will be up for grabs again, for the steady and constant support of one of Faithfuls (you know who you all are!! I love you!).

2: To make it easy for everyone here, my first book will be FREE every Saturday of the month, so that anyone can read and review! (see links below).

So obviously, one of the prizes this month will be the Review Prize!

To those who have Amazon accounts, honest reviews will gain mega points, but getting friends to do the same will gain even more! Also, here is another easy way for more points if you have already left me a review:

I LOVE that I have such an international audience, but sadly, it has shot me in the foot. I need 50 reviews on my book on Amazon.com. in order to be allowed into all kinds of writing spaces, and while I do have more than 50 reviews, they are spread among the different regions of the world instead of just on .com

So while new reviews through November will be greatly appreciated and points given with glee, points will also be given to those who have already reviewed (thank you thank you!!) but only on one of the three biggest sites.

Below are the links to the others too, you are welcome to copy/paste your original reviews to the others, so it should be very quick. But if my UK and Aus reviews could be duplicated to .com … it will open big doors for me!

3: The Facebook Prize this month will be called the Writery Prize, and will focus on this, my Author Facebook page, as well as my blog ( https://jenniferpeacocksmith.wordpress.com ) and my articles on The Mighty ( https://themighty.com/author/jennifer-peacock-smith/ ).

Points towards this prize pool pick will go to those who share and comment lots. Sadly “likes” don’t count much for anything anymore as far as Facebook is concerned, as they have worked out that some people just “like” everything on their newsfeed without even looking. I know none of you do, LOL, but I need traffic, and only comments and shares create traffic.

Thanks SO much for being a part of my team, I hope you have some fun this month!

Here is my book on .com
http://ow.ly/DjNc30fXSoy

Here it is on .co.uk
http://ow.ly/TkXV30fXTg4

Here it is on .com.au
http://ow.ly/YLP730fXSWX

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Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

YouTube |Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith

Writing is a Real Life Video Game!

img_3102Being an author used to be simply about writing (and getting a publisher), but now it’s more like being on a complicated role-playing video game! We have to achieve levels before we can move forward, and we need the public to help us!

One of the hardest thing as a writer is to get reviews. Honest ones, Amazon ones. I get so much great feedback, people write to me, talk to me, they thank me and they encourage me. They also ask me a LOT when the next one is coming out.

Instagram free 1But for some reason, they don’t appear to understand that unless they review the book at the end, on Amazon (which takes all of 30 seconds) I can’t progress much further. I still write and will continue to write, but despite nearly 4,000 of my book existing out there and a gazillion promises to write reviews, I am still WAY off target to get my 50 reviews that unlock the key to the next level… for Amazon to take me seriously, promote my books in their adds, put me on the “also bought” lists when other people buy books, and so the list goes on…

Despite selling all these books I am still in the red financially and I need to at least break even before launching the next book…
So today I have put my book out there for free again HERE, but this time for the purpose of getting people to read it and give an honest review. It’s a SHORT book (45 minutes)… so PLEEEEEEASE, I’m begging you, if you have my book please review it, if not please download today and review it, or at least send this to someone who will?? Please?

Help me to unlock this level so I can move to the next one? Help me level up with a short honest review?? Please don’t assume someone else will, most people can’t be bothered or forget… leaving me sitting here on this stupid level … stuck…Thanks! 🙂

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Where you can find and follow Jennifer: 

@JPeaSmith
 
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

 

949 Books went yesterday!

Yesterday, as many of you would know, was my FREE BOOK day. It did really well, with 949 people snapping up the opportunity! Thank you, thank you, thank you, if that was you or someone you recommended it to! Truly!

If it was you (or your friend or mate or whatever), PLEASE will you fill out the automatic review on the last page of the ebook. You don’t even need to say a lot, as long as it is honest.

WHY REVIEW? I hear you ask.

The short answer is that until I can get 50 reviews, Amazon won’t promote my book or take me seriously and I slip away into the dark abyss, never to pop up again… truly. It is no longer about selling books as much as it is about honest reviews. My friends and family can’t do it as that isn’t fair and I am not prepared to buy reviews. Swapping them is also against the rules. So I rely 100% on the general public, who choose to buy a copy of my book, to write a review at the end.

So pleeeease, pretty pleeeeeease, if you downloaded my book yesterday, when you’ve done reading it, please pop up a quick review? Thanks awfully much! xxx

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To book a talk with me and discuss my schedule you can contact me on JPeaSmith@KingsRoadChronicles.com

Where you can find and follow Jennifer: 

@JPeaSmith

Decimation Book Review!

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 4.28.14 PM.pngDecimation by Richard T. Burke

I am so behind on my book reviews, but I just LOVED this book which I finished only a few moments ago and I can’t wait to share it with you. I won’t lie, I am just a little bit proud of myself for taking a chance on this book. I am stuck in bed at the moment and I needed some distraction and this book did the trick and oh so perfectly!

This is my 5 Star review:

“I bought this book because of my love of genetics and biochemistry, and the few lines I allowed myself to read of the synopsis had me intrigued. But once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down! Seriously! It is extremely clever, very well written, I love the characters, and there are so many times where the author could have tried to be too clever, but wisely chose not to. This made it feel far more real for me.

But above all, as a wheelchair user myself, I just loved the way this book deals with disability, wheelchair use, etc etc. Spot on!! “

Building an Ethical Launch Team!

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The ink is still wet on my first book and I am already planning the next one. Actually, the next few books were written long before the Lion and the Peacock was even an idea, but that is beside the point. It is and forever will be my first book and it is not by any means forgotten, but I learned so much from the process that I am keen on sharing my ups and downs with you and what I would have done differently. I am also keen on putting those learnings into practice to see if they have an effect or not.

So with that in mind, I am starting my Launch Team much earlier this time and will use it as a learning tool for myself and anyone who would like to come along for the journey.

The first step of any Launch Team is to create a Closed Facebook Group. The idea behind it is to rally people to support your upcoming book. The slight difference here is that I will also have people joining it simply to learn the process, but the first step would be the same for any Launch Team. You want the group to be closed and not public simply because it can be a safe place to talk about “behind the scenes” things that you don’t want the public to know (as yet anyway). It will later become a space where you can share your ideas for a front cover and people give feedback on the font, picture, layout etc. It is an interactive group.

But I want to point out that it should NOT be a space to create “read and review swaps”. Or a place that guarantees any kickbacks. It should be a place of community and support. Anyone who joins the launch team should expect nothing in return but because of the way the group should function, they would hopefully ultimately feel that they gained a lot by being there.

If you are an Author:

Join someone else’s Launch Team because:

  • You can learn so much from the process in order to do a great job (and hopefully even do a better job) yourself. It is almost silly to run your own launch before ever being on one and seeing it from the other side, or having launch teams to compare mistakes and successes etc. It is a totally free way to learn!
  • You want to “pay it forward”. In other words, when it is your turn to have a launch team you too will want people to sign on and help you. Of all the professions in this world, being an author is one of the greatest in terms of this. Whether you like it or not, all authors need the generosity of others, and if you have never given anything it is tough to ask others to give it to you.

Don’t join someone else’s Launch Team if:

  • You expect them to join yours. It could well backfire on both of you as the Amazon Bots are always on the look out for “review swaps”. The process of Launch Teams is a little like the analogy where it “all comes out equally in the wash”. If you belong to enough communites and are active in them, then there should be plenty to go around if you all join a handful of launch teams with no one reciprocating.
  • You aren’t prepared to give anything to them. If you think about it, they have started the group for themselves but you have been given the privilege of being a fly on the wall of this intimate and soul bearing exercise. The least you can do is any one of the little, free, 2 second ways that you can support them (“Like” their author facebook Page, share their posts, retweet a few of their tweets, tell your freinds about them … the list is endless). But think about giving them a review at the end. If you are not doing a review swap then this is the greatest way to bless them!
  • You don’t like their writing! I know that a lot of people dont agree with me here but it is really hard to read and review a genre or a book that you are completely uncomfortabel or unfamiliar with. Spend a little time reading soemthing that they have out there for free (free book on Amazon, or a blog that they write, or an artcile that they have written for a publication, or check them out on Goodreads).

If you are a Reader:

Join someone’s Launch Team because:

  • You can learn so much about what goes into a book and I believe that your reviews will be so much richer for understanding the heart and soul of some of the authors. It can be so easy to criticize something that appears small and simple but isn’t. I beleive that a great reader would enjoy getting to know some authors and their processes.
  • You want your favourite authors to succeed. Never before have readers had so much power in the success or failure of the authors of the world. So many people have asked me when my next book will be out and the answer is very simply: “when I get enough people to support it”. If no one is going to even know that it exists, then I will fail before I begin. If you want your favourite authors to write, then support them at the foundations and help the world to see them 🙂
  • It’s fun! OK, maybe fun isn’t always the right word, but when I read the books of some of my favourite authors I have a yearning for so much more. I want to know the things that I felt were hidden between the lines, if there are photos of the journey then I want to see them. Launch Teams and newsletters often let you into private spaces that no one else gets to see.

Don’t join someone else’s Launch Team if:

  • All you want is to be a fly on the wall and give nothing back. If an author allows you into their heart and soul process then please be gentle and helpful with that gift that they have given you. Too many people say yes please to the privilege of being on the team and then do nothing but take advantage of the days that the book is free and give nothing back.
  • You aren’t prepared to Like their author facebook Page, retweet a few of their tweets, tell your freinds about them … again, the list is endless. But most of all if you aren’t prepared to give them an honest review at the end then think carefully about pretending to support them when in fact your aren’t.

So to recap: First step is to set up the Closed Facebook group and the second is to find people to join. The reason I suggest people to start early is because it takes time to build a good team. So many people urgently create a group a couple of weeks before launch and don’t have the numbers that they want. Next post I will talk more about how to find the people that you need to make this group work! (but in the meantime, set up your group and ask a handful of Facebook friends and family to join you).

Here is my new Launch Team link if you would like to join, follow and learn from my journey: JOIN THE TEAM

Here is the link to be on my no spam email list to receive updates, specials, and exclusive updates, photos and personal details: SIGN UP

Success Stories!

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-5-41-32-pmEveryone loves a success story, but of course, success means different things to different people and at different times. As an author, the sheer number of books sold is one measure of success, but so are awards, accolades and “Best Seller” lists. I have hit number one on a couple of lists on the days that the book was free, and the numbers of books sold are climbing steadily.

But for me right now the greatest joy are the success stories! The feedback from complete strangers that tells me that my theory works, it makes sense, it is easy to read and put into action, and that at .99c it accessible to almost anyone. This is bringing me great joy on all kinds of levels and I would love to blog about some of these stories.

Sooooo… if you have read the book, I would love to hear from you personally… It is up to you whether you would like me to interview you on here, me to simply publish what you have to say, or whatever else works best for you. Thank you all for this feedback so far, for passing it on to others (for I don’t even know over 2,000 people so they must have got it from somewhere right?!) …

You can contact me in the comments below, or by signing on here (which will put you on the list for the non spam emails which will give details for the feedback and interviews and you can then answer me back at that address). I am so enjoying reading your stories!