30 December 2012 - 12:47 pm

Review happy

Or, how to make a writer smile

I check for reviews periodically on the online stores where my ebooks are sold (primarily on Amazon because it has the highest turnover and tends to generate more reviews). It’s always good to know what people are saying about my work and how it is trending against other books.

I went in and checked on my ebooks recently and was pleasantly surprised to see a number of new reviews had been added in the past few weeks. With the usual trepidation (it’s always scary when you’re going in blind), I clicked through to see what they said.

I was honestly floored by the responses.

This series is the real deal and Melanie Edmonds needs to learn how to write quicker than I can read. She’s one of the best indie author’s I’ve found in the 2 years since my son gave me a Kindle for my birthday.”

Best Character Development I’ve Seen in Some Time.”

“Good read and recommend the entire series.”

The praise was wonderful! And some of the reviews were detailed, which as a writer, I always appreciate (have a look on the linked review pages on Amazon for the full text!).

I don’t expect positive comments in reviews. I don’t expect five-star ratings. I hope for them but I don’t expect them; it’s safer that way. Negative reviews and ratings are hard enough to take as it is!

I value honest feedback. It’s one reason why I’m so opinionated about critiquing fiction, and I strive to remove my ego from the equation. It’s difficult and negative reviews always hit me where I live, but I don’t discourage them.

When I was editing the Apocalypse Blog for the ebook editions, I had a list of negative things from reviews that I tried to address. Some sections were rewritten and many were expanded. I tried to improve and learn. For that opportunity, I thank those reviewers.

But nothing beats positive feedback. Nothing beats knowing that someone has read your story and honestly been touched. Yes, I love making people cry, because it’s a sign of my craft that I’ve managed to move someone that deeply. I love making people stay up half the night or spend time at work reading.

“I even put off watching the Olympics at times because this series was so good, I couldn’t stop at times, often reading throughout the night.”

Wonderful characters and story…loved every page….made me cry at several points.”

“I usually read while working out on my treadmill, I was so into these books I didn’t even notice my time on the machine as it shuts off @ 100 minutes: as it did every time while reading these!!!!”

“Once I started, I couldn’t put the series down. I literally read the entire batch over the course of a 3-day weekend.”

“Love this story, can’t put it down! I find myself very attached to the characters and am really enjoying the story.”

I love the complaints when they reach the end because there’s no more for them to devour.

“I read all four books in a week and I’m so hoping the author will consider continuing on with Faith’s story. I did see a review from someone re: Book 3 asking for more as well. Maybe with enough fans of this writer and ‘Faith’s Story,’ we’ll get our wish!”

“This is the third [book]. I’m bummed. I’ve grown to like Faith more and more. Lots of excitement . Violence and intensity too. You won’t be sorry you gave this series a try. My question is: WHEN DO WE GET INSTALLMENT 4?”

Great book, have read all the books to this series, hoping the next one will be out soon! great apocalypse book!”

They’re all signs that I’m doing things right. People are connecting with my characters and stories, and they’re reacting to them in good ways.

I’ve even had vindication in some of the things I set out to do. In the Apocalypse Blog, I wanted to show a different side to a post-apocalyptic situation than I’d seen before. I wanted Faith to be a different voice, and I didn’t want the zombies to be the centre of the story; it wasn’t about them at all. And that has been picked up in the reviews.

“When I started with the first book I wasn’t sure what scenario the characters would be faced with in addition to the zombies. Even though they took a while to show up they did not disappoint once they arrived. By then I was so attached to the characters it just added to the adventure. They were not the center of attention but the main problem the characters faced was easily just as interesting.”

“While I’m not a “zombie” fan AT ALL, I was able to get through their appearances in this series. I was also able to shake off the nightmares…yes, that how good the writing is.”

“I do like a good “after the collapse of society”, “dead things back to life” story, and while this one was reminiscent of every other apocalypse/zombie thing I’ve ever seen/read (The Walking Dead, Survivors, Falling Skies, The Road) it still had me captivated. Just enough newness to keep my interest.”

“The book has great characters and is very different than the usual apocalyptic novels currently available.”

“I’m glad to see female authors emerging in this genre. It gets old, reading about the ex-military, gung-ho zombie killer that’s taught all of his sons to shoot but not his daughter and hides the women in a closet.”

Better than that: I’ve been recommended to others on those grounds. It’s different and fresh and new. In this world of fiction, it’s hard to do something truly unique, but I feel like I might have succeeded in at least some small way.

It’s reviews like that that keep me writing and publishing. I write because I have stories in me; I publish because I want to share them, and I want to know that I have something worth sharing.

I should note that reviews are likely to affect sales, and of course, positive comments and ratings will sell me more books. But I won’t beg or buy them. I want my work to stand on its own and speak for me, and so far, it has (I’ve done little marketing, mostly because I don’t have the time). That’s enough for me. If the books do well, it’s because they deserve it and I’m happy with that.

Do I wish that all of my reviews were so effusive? What I’ve quoted above isn’t the whole story; I have only included snippets of them here, and I encourage you to check out the full review text. Many of them came with caveats and notes about stuff that could have been done better. And I’m working to take those on board and take them forward with me in my new writings, so no, I don’t hope for the reviews to be 100% positive. No fiction is perfect (and I’m not deluded enough to think mine is, either!).

I am grateful for all of it and I thank everyone who has commented on my work. But I am especially grateful to those who took the time to tell the world how much they enjoyed my work. You lifted my day.

I hope to give you even better stories to read soon.

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  1. Gabriel says:

    Hey, that’s great!

    And, of course, are you planning any more Apocalypse Blog related works? I would love to read them if you did! 🙂

    December 30th, 2012 at 9:42 pm

  2. Mel says:

    Thanks, Gabriel! 🙂

    I haven’t got anything firm planned yet, but I’m not discounting the possibility. I still have a list of shorts that I’d like to do. One day!

    December 30th, 2012 at 10:23 pm