Wednesday, January 28, 2015

3 How I Use Reviews To Improve My Craft - A WOW-Wednesday Post by Mary Waibel

Today I have the pleasure of presenting a writer who knows how to multitask. Besides being a talented, multi-published author, Mary Waibel is also my editor at BookFish Books. She's got a sharp eye for story and an even keener sense of how to improve your craft. Maybe some of that she learned from reading reviews!

How I Use Reviews To Improve My Craft -- A WOW-Wednesday Post by Mary Waibel

Today I’m talking about the dreaded “R” word. Reviews. They have the power to send an author’s spirits soaring into the atmosphere or plummeting to the depths of the earth. Good, bad, or ugly, reviews are needed to help generate buzz about our writing.

I read my reviews. All of them. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Why? Well, of course I read the good ones because they reaffirm that a reader liked what I wrote.

Why read the bad ones?

I believe reading is subjective, and no matter how much I work on my craft, there will be people who do not like what I write. But, if they took the time to tell me why they didn’t like what I wrote, I feel I owe it to them as a reader to listen to what they had to say and see if I need to make a change in what I’m doing as an author.

Not all reviews are equal. One or two star ratings accompanied by review that say, “I didn’t like it” or “this just wasn’t for me” may sting, but they really do nothing to educate you as an author about why the reader didn’t like your book. These reviews, IMHO, should be glanced at and set aside.

Reviews that say things like, “the writing was formulaic,” “I figured out the villain the moment they stepped on page,” or “too many clichés” are ones you should read, set aside and let the sting fade away, then go back and re-read, listening to what this reader is trying to tell you.
  • Did you follow a formula? If so, why? If you were writing this book again, would you do the same thing, or would you do something different? 
  • Did you introduce any red herrings or was it not important that your reader discover the villain right away? 
  • Could you have made a twist on the clichés you chose to use? Or, did you really need them in the first place?

You might find you disagree with the reviewer, and that’s fine. Look at your work with their comments in mind, fix what you think you need to, and move on.

It’s okay if you don’t read your reviews. Or if you have someone screen them for you. But, I hope you might consider looking at reviews as a way to improve your craft.

About the Author:

YA author Mary Waibel’s love for fairytales and happy-ever-afters fill the pages of her works. Whether penning stories in a medieval setting or a modern day school, magic and romance weave their way inside every tale. Strong female characters use both brain and brawn to save the day and win the heart of their men. Mary enjoys connecting with her readers through her website:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

About the Book:
 When Callie Rycroft wakes to find purple flames flickering on the ceiling, she believes she’s still dreaming. But soon she’s forced to accept that she has magic―a special magic that grants her entrance into the Faery Realm.

For centuries humans have been banned from Faery, but dangerous times call for dangerous measures. Declared Champion by the Faery Queen, Callie is assigned a Guardian, and tasked with finding the Cordial―a magical elixir needed to keep the portal to the Faery realm a secret from humans.

The upside? Reece Michaels, the boy she's been crushing on for years, is her Guardian. Callie hopes that by spending time with Reece, he'll start to see her as more than just his best friend's sister.

The downside? She's in a race not only against time, but against another Champion, and a rogue Guardian―a Guardian who stands to threaten her developing relationship with Reece.

Magic, mistaken identities, and hidden agendas are the least of Callie's worries when she learns that the Cordial requires a sacrifice. Will Callie be willing to risk everything―even Reece―to complete her task as Champion? Or will she let the portal open, and doom both realms?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

-- Happy Writing!
    S.P. Sipal, @HP4Writers


  1. Thanks so much for letting me quest post today. Susan posed a question to me via e-mail about how I've made changes to my work based on a review.

    While it hasn't 'officially' happened yet (seeing I haven't written it yet) I do plan to make a change in book 2 of the FAERY series based on a reviewers comments about how I treated Alyssa in book 1. She pointed out that Callie really wasn't a good friend to her, and as I look at it now, I do see her point, and plan to use Callie's mistreatment of Alyssa against her in the second book.

    How about you? Have you ever used review feedback to make changes?

  2. I love this post. I used to write in a heavily trafficked online fiction forum before I went traditional, and the reviews were sometimes brutal. Other authors got so mad, but I was like... this is my target audience telling me what they don't like. How can I not take this and use it positively? I stopped doing x and did more z and LISTENED to the readers. My writing is so much stronger because of it.

    1. Thanks, Stephanie. That's exactly how I approach my reviews. If I don't know what's broken, I can't fix it. And while it does hurt to get a low review, learning why the reader didn't like it can be very valuable going forward.

      Thanks for sharing your experience, and I'm glad to hear you were able to improve your writing based on the feedback you received.


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