Saturday, 20 July 2013

Two Versions - R4R (Lessons Learned)

Two versions of the same song (Aintree Book 2) has just come to the end of a 'read for review' (R4R) on Goodreads.  For those of you who aren't familiar with it R4R is when an author offers copies of their book to readers in exchange for an honest review to be posted on Goodreads and hopefully e-book selling sites such as Amazon.

I must admit the book did take a bit of a battering but that's okay - it actually did better than I thought. It is deliberately provocative and it is certainly not a sweet romance.  I studied all the reviews to identify commonalities.  In this way I could learn from my mistakes - which is a significant part of the process for me.

Common criticisms

  1. I knew there were structural problems with the novel and if I were to do it again I would structure it differently.  This did come through in the reviews.  The readers made a valid point in this regard.  Lesson learned.
  2. I took note of the criticisms about background information overload.  Both protagonists do give a bio of themselves and tell the reader about the people closest to them when they are introduced.  Perhaps I could spread the detail more evenly throughout next time, rather than have it all at the beginning - something to think about ...
  3. Repetition - I was concerned about this as I know that it can be tedious reading the same info more than once in a novel.  It is deliberate; basically, as part of the narrative, both protagonists give their version of the same event - what differs is their interpretation.  It is only done if and when it is significant to the main plot.

Common praise

  1. Several readers remarked that they liked the diversity of characters (I take this to mean in relation to ethnicity and social class).  I found that interesting.  Admittedly 10 copies were offered for R4R and, to date, 7 have reviewed it, but the general impression that publishers give is that readers are put off by diversity, so I did not expect to find this to be a common plus-point.  It's refreshing to discover this.
  2. Realistic is a word that came up quite a lot.  This is true for reviews of my first novel, also.  So it would seem that readers believe I portray teenagers realistically and I write realistic romance.  I'm happy with that. 
  3. Both sides of the story.  Almost all of the reviewers commented on liking this aspect of the novel.
Taking part in R4R is risky because you never know what sort of feedback you are going to get and you could end up with a less favourable rating on Amazon as a result.  As I have discovered, some readers make helpful constructive criticisms that can be invaluable, while others just won't get the book.  (Let's face it, it is down to personal taste.)

I'm glad I took part and I am satisfied with all the reviews - good and not-so-good.  There were no trolls - all the readers were honest but kind in their delivery - which is much appreciated.


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