Coffee Talk: The Box, The Write Life, and Peer Reviews

Good morning and Happy Saturday! Are you as happy that the weekend is here as I am? I'm particularly excited because, being a holiday, we have a three-day weekend. Having that extra day is always nice because you can get chores done and still have time for fun. It's amazing how much one extra day can do that. At any rate, I hope you have plans to do something fun. As for myself, I'm going to get some chores/work done; host a potluck & bonfire with friends; get some much-needed hiking in; and generally just relax.


If you haven't heard yet, The Box was published yesterday! I'm excited to finally be able to share it with the world. It's available for $3.99 and you can purchase it through various retailers. For more info, go to The Box's Pronoun Book Page.


There's a great sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing something, and nowhere is that more true for me than in The Write Life. I've talked extensively about The Write Life on this blog, and, over the years, you and I have seen my growth as a writer. What started out as a dream/goal to write a book, turned into a true passion. I've come a long way since Cold and it shows. Not only are my writing skills better, but so are my editing skills, blogging skills, video-making skills, and my general knowledge about the self-publishing world.

It would be a lie if I said that I haven't struggled through this journey or that I haven't had some of the most frustrating days of my life doing this, but I wouldn't change any of it for the world. Being an author has changed my life in only the best of ways, and, no matter the outcome, I can say that I personally accomplished something I wanted. And that, folks, is what being an author is truly about. 

I've written fun, entertaining, and easy-to-read books because that's what I've done best. It works well, people like them, and I enjoy writing them. I have evolved enough now, though, in The Write Life that I've decided that my next book will be more gripping, well-written, well-researched, and a true thrill to read. What I'm saying is that I've grown up in my writing, and I'm ready to write a big-girl book. Stay tuned!


As an Indie author, I rely on reviews of my books for a few reasons: 

1. Publishing websites use a rubric for books. If it gets x amount of reviews, they will start advertising it on other parts of their website, bringing it more exposure.

2. Reviews help buyers decide if they want to invest the money in your book or not.

3. Reviews can be good feedback for authors to correct errors.

4. Along those lines, reviews can also help an author decide what does and doesn't work so they can use this information for future books.

After I published my first book, and realized it wasn't getting reviews, I did some online research and found that Indie authors can join peer review groups. You join a group, submit your book, and you get x amount of authors' books to read and vice versa. I thought this was a great idea, so I entered my first book Cold. Then, when I finished The Melody, I quickly did the same. After I finished The Station, it went through the process as well.

While reviews for the first book were what I expected, I noticed that with each subsequent book I entered into peer review groups, the quality of the reviews went down. Was it that my books were declining in quality? No, the opposite was true -- although I learned that I needed to edit better and use a better program for styling my ebooks. 

So, what was the problem then, exactly? The problem was the other authors reviewing the books. While the first peer review group understood what I was doing, with each subsequent book I noticed a wave of new authors coming in, and, boy, were they snobby. What I mean by that is that their expectations for my books were much, much greater than my own. They were critiquing my book in some correct and constructive ways, but they were also approaching my books as if I were trying to rewrite War and Peace.

In all honesty, I'm just writing short, fun, and campy books for purely entertainment value. What I'm not writing is the Great American Novel. I've decided then, that I'm not going to enter The Box into a peer review group, because I don't need the negative reviews that condemn my book for not being the "next greatest thing". So, then, a word to other authors doing peer reviews: Review the book as it is, don't try to review it like the author of the book you're reviewing needs a lesson on why their book isn't going to be the next literary great. Truth: it's not. Review for the kind of book it is, and not how you expect that it should be. 


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