Whenever you set up a system for evaluation, some products don’t pass the test. It’s a simple fact. Some books submitted to the Awesome Indies will meet the standards required for inclusion in the list and others won’t. Authors whose books don’t make the grade may wonder how this could possibly be helpful for them. Some, in their disappointment, probably go off and bad mouth what are actually quality book reviews, because finding fault with the evaluator is a way to negate the evaluation. That might make it easier to handle the disappointment, but it isn’t allowing the Awesome Indies evaluation to help the author in the way it was intended.
Help? How is telling me what’s wrong with my book, a help? They may shout in frustration, then show a string of quotes from reviews that say how wonderful their book is.
There it is. See those wonderful reviews? They are not telling you what you need to know to fulfill your promise as an author; they are sharing their opinion, but if they aren’t writing experts talking about the quality of the writing, then the reviews may be nice, but not particularly helpful for the author as a guide to where they can improve.
Many people who know about writing e.g. other authors, do not write negative reviews, adhering to the adage of ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’ This is a valid stance for authors to take, particularly as it avoids one having to take time writing a constructive review and potentially becoming the target of disgruntled authors; however, it means that authors simply don’t hear the truth about their craftsmanship. Readers don’t either – a double blow for the industry.
How can a review help a reader choose a book if no one writes a negative review? If all reviews are written by friends, family, or fellow authors afraid to offend the author, how will a reader separate the wheat from the chaff? The best sort of positive reviews will point out areas of improvement. Without such constructive criticism, a review loses an opportunity to give the author a way to better his or her craft.
The author can believe that they have a perfect book because that’s how the reviews make it appear. But appearances can be deceiving – ask any reader who has bought a book with a 4 star overall rating and a wealth of 5 star reviews and discover that the book has so many faults that they can’t finish it. If that author is serious about becoming an author, then the best thing for them is the truth as told by someone who knows how to evaluate craftsmanship. How can an author improve if they are under the illusion that their writing is already perfect?
On top of simply giving the level of feedback that is desperately needed by authors and very hard to find ( publishers don’t tell authors why they rejected their book, but if they did, they’d be saying the kinds of things that we say), the Awesome Indies offers authors whose books have only minor problems, like copy errors, the opportunity to fix them and resubmit. Those who pay for Priority Review processing or opt for a One Stop Submission get more detailed notes on what the problems are and how to fix them. Authors who re-edit their book to the degree requested usually find that their books are accepted the second time. They are also offered professional assistance should they wish further help. Many take advantage of my improve your prose tuition, others engage a good reasonably-priced proofreader or find help from someone else listed on our Author’s Services page. We get a lot of satisfaction from helping authors turn a 3 star book into a 4 star one, or a 4 star book into a 5 star one.
Authors who take advantage of our advice and our services end up with a better book. That’s how we help authors. And the best thing of all is that our basic service is free, but if authors can afford to pay, their offering helps send a little in the direction of those who spend a huge amount of time helping authors by giving them the level of feedback that every author needs and few receive.
How important do you think this kind of unbiased, craftsmanship based feedback is for writers and readers?