Wednesday 29 May 2013

Ouch - my first 3 star review...

Well guys;

I knew it had to happen at some time, but my first three star review appeared on Kindle pages for 'Jack Ketch's Puppets' over the weekend. 

All the rest have been five stars to date.

The positives? The lady acknowledged it was great story, and with strong characters, and it would have done better to have gone through a professional Literary Agency to have it properly assessed and edited. I wish!

The negatives? It was described as 'poorly written and researched'...OUCH.

I have found the spelling mistake she refers to and I admit, I never considered 'okey dokey' to be a fairly recent saying, so let that one slip by...that was the research error!

I would have preferred 'poorly written or poorly edited', but that is the cost of putting a book out there for can be uncomfortable! My research, otherwise, I would hope, was sound.

I was disturbed, viewing my novel again, that it does contain a larger number of punctuation errors than I realised, and the sort of things that I know my proof readers for my second book, have already picked up on...thanks guys! The first did not receive that level of attention...unfortunately...and a professional edit at between £400 and £4,000 was out of my league!

I am, as a consequence, revising the first edition and will personally endeavour to put right the punctuation errors, the spelling and the 'okey dokey' reference.

Another observation is the age old error of telling rather than showing, rather too much. There I put my hands up and admit that my desire to impart so much information, meant that there were some top heavy 'telling' sections of the book. I know now that a novel is not meant to be a book of facts! However, as my first baby, I am leaving it as intact as I can. There is so much background that makes sense in subsequent stories, it would be a shame to eliminate it now!

A painful lesson learned? I hope so...

I hope that those of you who have read it, and have rated it more highly, have done so on the strength of the story telling. I have a personal view that today, in a time of text and twitter, I would prefer to read a book that is fun and entertaining than grammatically perfect.

That being said, I don't want to gain a reputation for producing poorly written I apologise if the book did appear poorly written...I am a punctual person, but clearly my punctuation still leaves a bit to be desired!


  1. It's a learning curve.. there are no better critics than your readers, the best is yet to come from Mr Simpkin, I've no doubt about that!

  2. Phil, all reviewers are different. This is your first non-5 star, and it really isn't a bad review. A couple of very positive things to come out of it -

    1. You have not taken your bat and ball home, but have decided to become an even better writer than the good writer you already are.

    2. Many of the experienced writers on the Amazon forums say that it is good to have an occasional 3 star review, as some people consider all 5 stars a bit suspicious - especially with new writers. I am, of course, being very objective here because it is your review. When I get one, I shall undoubtedly jump up and down and foam at the mouth!

    1. Hi Anne; Thanks for the encouraging words. Yes, a tinge of disappointment, but a knowledge that there is some room to update the first edition and establish a higher standard of punctuation...which has always been a pain for me...especially where dialogue is concerned.

      Ironically, I had already recognised that show, rather than tell, needed to become the template, and I hope book 2 has moved further over to achieve that.

      The bit that niggled more than anything was the reference to one obvious spelling rather than sight...and an oversight regarding 'okey dokey' which she has eluded to as poor research! OUCH!

      We live and learn!

  3. Phil, I think that is a good honest review and I don't think it will do any harm, especially as you have replied saying you will rectify those errors. It actually sends a lot of positive messages about your story telling abilities.
    The reviewer has a point about punctuation and grammatical errors because I do think there is a point when a MS/book becomes untenable but that clearly wasn't in your case and you can now put it to rights anyway. As for the okey-dokey reference I think that is a tad pedantic. I strongly suspect that 99.9% of readers don't know the origin of the word. (Note that your reviewer has a degree in classic and medieval literature.)

    Out of interest,I don't take much notice of five star reviews: I usually start on the one stars and work my way up and see if anyone can convince me to buy! (Besides the one stars are always the most entertaining.))

    You know, I think 3 stars from someone who read classics and literature is actually pretty darn good. There's a lot of positives to take from that. In a way she's done you a favour - a critique without having to fork out £500! You can only get better:)

    1. Hi Jane; Great to hear from you...and in a serious and reassuring persona!

      The more I thought about the things she said, the more I saw the positives and almost sublime message that lay within the review.

      As you say, I think the bit that smarted the most, was the pedantic spelling mistake by way of 'site' rather than 'sight', and the 'okey dokey' ...and to be described as poorly researched?

      But like you, I then started to think,actually she's doing a hell of a promotion by encouraging people with the story and charcaters rather than the distractions in the writing...

      I was a little naive in my eagerness to get my first novel out, in that I had not developed a sufficiently resilient band of proof readers, which I now have, and who have done a great job picking up on some punctuation, and on some grammar. These include other authors I have met through the G+ group, including people like Chaunce and Megan Denby.

      I look at my firts novel and now at my second, and I know how much I have moved on...but now I am going to put a revised edition for book one through, and resolve the punctuation...which is actually a matter of missing or misplaced commas!

      Great to hear from you, and keep up the input on LAHK and the other groups! Love it!

  4. Don't be despondent, Phil. Anne is right. A review with fewer than 5 stars will add credibility. I had all 5 star reviews for my first novel 'A Wistful Eye - The Tragedy of a Titanic Shipwright' but then an American reader, who said he had really enjoyed the book, objected to the political persuasion of the main character (who is actually my great grandfather) and, purely because of this, gave it just 2 stars. The story includes the true fact that my GGF, one of the poorly paid shipwrights who built Titanic, turned to Socialism though ultimately it failed him. The reader hates Communism. 'Goes to show that you can't please all of the people all of the time.

    1. Hi DJ...Thanks for the supportive words. I have started to see things in a different light, and know that as a first attempt it was bound to be a bit 'rough and ready', particularly going the SP route after many rejections. Trial and error plus perseverence!


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