Now I have a few reviews of Sovereign Nation and Second Time Lucky (5 and 2 respectively) I’ve started to think seriously about the feedback they give and what to do with it. Obviously the 5 star reviews that say they are great and wonderful works are nice for the ego but they don’t give me any feedback to work with. So, excluding them, what do my reviews tell me?
I have a 3 star review for Sovereign Nation from one of Amazon’s Vine Voice reviewers which mostly seems to be positive. The main negative of the review is that the reviewer wasn’t keen on the political turn the story takes. I know the story changes genre a bit over the course of the novel, but that is part of the idea behind the story and the reviewer is mainly saying she just isn’t keen on political stories.
The other 3 star review of Sovereign Nation talks about issues with the language and grammar but is not specific about what those issues are. There was also another review of Sovereign Nation a while ago which appears to have been deleted from Amazon at some point, I have no idea why. If memory serves, the review spoke about there being too many run on sentences in my writing. For Second Time Lucky the one non-5 star review talks about sentences joined together with commas and a need for paragraphs to be separated.
None of these reviews criticise the story itself, the dialog or the characters – in fact they seem to mostly praise these. The one criticism about the story taking a political turn is not really saying there is anything wrong with it, just that the reviewer doesn’t like political stories.
So, what can I take from these reviews?
1. Generally the story, dialog and characters go down well with my readers.
2. I need more reviews.
3. Some people don’t like my long sentences that are joined together with commas.
I’m sure an editor would have a lot to say about my manuscripts and give me a lot of changes to make. However, I don’t have an editor. As an aside, there is a good and simple reason why I don’t employ an editor – I don’t have the money. When I have looked up editorial services on the internet I have found plenty but they all charge several hundred pounds to edit a novel. I am sure this is a fair price for what they do but I couldn’t afford that when I was working, after almost 8 months of unemployment there is no way I can afford it. Sure, I start a new job on Monday (at last) but it will be a long time before I can afford to employ an editor and I’d need to be making much more money back from my writing before I could justify it (my first two royalty cheques came through recently, they were for £1.30 and £2.31). In the meantime I have to edit my own work as best I can.
My main issue from the reviews is that I write a lot of run-on sentences that are possibly multiple sentences joined by commas. Is this true? Yes, no doubt about it. It is clearly something I do and something I can see myself in my writing. So, first question – how much of an issue is it? The people who criticised it still gave the stories 3 star reviews. That isn’t a bad review, I’d bet on the majority of books I have read and liked (but not loved) would get 3 star reviews from me. So, it doesn’t seem to be a deal-breaker. So, second question – can I eliminate it from my writing? Probably not completely. I think it is just part of my writing style and it is something I have always done. It is also something I kind of like. Is it an error in my writing or is it just part of my writing style? I think it is probably a bit of both. I need to look out for it in the editing process and remove it where I think it is unnecessary but there will always be some of it – it is just how I write. This is the main point I am taking from the reviews though, I need to be aware of it when I edit and not get carried away with it when I write.