How to Avoid using Reviewers as Editors

I’ve noticed a trend where indie authors are asking me to review their books already published and asking for my opinion (i.e. editing advice). Right off the bat, I can tell it obviously hadn’t been professionally edited or badly edited, whichever the case.

I’m not sure why they would rushed to publish it when it wasn’t done. I wonder if they got in the trap where they had to publish. If you’re a writer, you knowing that feeling. You spent months or years writing the book . You’re sick and tired looking at it and want the damn book off your plate already. So you skip the editing stage and shove it out the door. Or maybe it has to do with money. Either you can’t afford to pay and editor or, in other cases, some authors start blogging, tweeting and posting on Facebook and quickly gain a large following. They start to feel the pressure to publish so they can bank on their new fame. Or maybe they thought it was ready. They had the book critiqued with one of those critique groups online or in town. A few people read the whole story and said they liked it. They may have even paid an editor to polish it. So they assume it’s ready to be published. But when the reviews start coming in, they aren’t what you expected at all.

I fell into that trap myself. I wanted to get the book off my plate and foolishly believed the critiquer’s and beta readers that my book was great. I paid an editor to polish it, skipping deeper story line edits that would’ve cost me thousands I didn’t have. When I published it, I had a rude awakening. I didn’t get the stellar reviews I expected. (Truth is no one does, unless paid for.) What some reviewers wrote made me realize the book wasn’t ready to publish as I thought. There were some serious story line issues I left out.

Lucky for me, I still had a strong story so my reviews weren’t too bad. The revisions my book needed didn’t require a new ISBN. But for the authors who publish a book that tanks badly, it’ll take a lot to build up their reputation with readers after that.

Even if the author decides to revise the book and republish it, they’ll have to get a new ISBN. I.e. no reviews, low ranking, etc… Pretty much starting over from scratch promoting the book, which may not be so bad if the book bombed, but it adds a lot of unnecessary work.

So you say, how do I avoid falling in this trap myself?

First of all, you can’t rely on a critique group review to spot story line issues when they only read a few pages at a time and days apart. They are good for line editing such as catching grammar and punctuation errors, POV issues and other minor editing issues, but nothing more.

Beta readers will give you a general sense of a book, but still not a true gauge, because of their skill level or time issue. Most beta readers are someone you arranged to swap reading stories with. They are focused on their book not yours. So they are going to do the bare minimum. (I had someone say, Oh your book seemed fast and nothing else after I gave them a 3 page manuscript critique.) Or they don’t have the experience to catch major issues.

So there are couple of steps you can take to get a true view of your book story line quality.

  1. After writing your first draft, have your book read by a professional “paid” editor who specialize in your genre. Make sure they provide you a detailed critique on your manuscript. They’ll be able to spot story line, characterization and other issues beta readers miss.
  2. Revise.
  3. Build a small beta reading group of writer’s in your same genre with writing skills that compliment yours. You can use them to verify you corrected the issues the editor noted in their critique.
  4. Have another professional editor read your second draft, preferably a different one so you get a fresh perspective.
  5. Edit and go back to your beta readers.
  6. Repeat until no one spots any serious issues.
  7. Then pay to have it polished.’

Even if you take all those steps, you can’t guarantee a bestseller, but you can at least ensure it’s well written and good story.

If you have any additional advice, please feel free to post a comment.

About The Author

C. Zablockis is an Indie author of paranormal, dark fantasy and horror novels. She published Lexi Greene’s Dangerous Lesson, Lexi Greene’s Grim Awakening, Monster (The Zeuorian Series) and My Watcher (The Zeuorian Series) YA Dark Fantasy Thriller.




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