9 Things That Cost Your Book 5 Stars – Guest Blog Post By An Amazon Top Reviewer

Useful advice here, a lot of which boils down to the usual importance of editing and proofreading (but no less worth repeating for that) along with some good points about characters and characterisation.

The editor who critiqued my first novel, Falling Girl, urged me to drop a couple of the ‘spare’ characters, and although that seemed drastic at the time it was definitely the right thing to do. Now I always look critically at all my characters, asking questions like: what are they doing in this book? What’s interesting or distinctive about them, and how does that come out in different parts of the story? (Remembering to ‘show’ more and ‘tell’ less wherever possible.) And are they even needed? If I like them that much, I can try to find a home for them in another story …

Dan Alatorre - AUTHOR

head shot your humble host

Meerkat agreed to do a follow up post about stuff we writer types can do to avoid getting a less than stellar review from a reviewer.

Here are some of the top pet peeves. (Emphasis added by me)

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There are lots of reasons why I love a book and I usually see something great in all books even if they’re not my favourite genres, but there are definite reasons why I don’t like a book and if these crop up, it feels as if the book still needs editing – and it’s hard for me to give it 5 stars.

1 – Spelling errors, grammar errors, typos, etc.

I know these are perhaps the least important for some people to check and I don’t mind the very odd typo (I’m guilty of them myself) but if every page of a book has typos and…

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Revision: Making a Mess Less Complicated

Useful advice here. My own approach is to kind of mix things up a bit more than this, but all these elements do need attention and it can be helpful to break down the process in this or a similar way. The important things is to find an approach that works best for you, and that may vary from book to book (it has for me at least).

A Writer's Path

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by S.E. Jones

There’s a lot you can fix in a first draft. It’s why they’re first drafts. You can focus on character, world building, plot, inner cohesion, the writing, the flow, the pacing–the list goes on and on.

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How to Handle Writer Jealousy

Good, helpful post. I have to admit to feeling jealous at times. Not so much of more successful and talented writers than myself, mind you. For example, I’m envious of Frances Hardinge for winning the Costa Prize for The Lie Tree last year – but having read the book, I also have to admit she’s a seriously good writer, the kind of author in fact that I need to read more of to help improve my own craft, and the book fully deserves the accolades and attendant sales it has earnt.

No, I’m more jealous of the ‘celebrity’ authors, those people famous for something completely different but who decided to write a book (often a children’s book) for the hell of it, and of course land a publishing contract right away simply because of who they are, not because – OK I’ll stop there because I could rant a lot longer but I won’t. Suffice to say – what can I learn from this type of ‘celebrity’ author?

The chances are they aren’t any more talented at writing than I am, and most often probably less so. (I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant, but we all know how much time and effort it takes to become a better writer, and most of these celebrities simply haven’t put in that hard graft – they don’t need to.) My conclusion is that I simply have to try to ignore them. They are a fact of the publishing world and probably always will be., and it doesn’t affect my own chances or goals in the slightest – unless I let it by allowing it to discourage me.

It also depends how I measure ‘success’. Is it sales and money, or is it the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from writing and doing the best you can?

A Writer's Path

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by Kate M. Colby

We’ve all been there.

Your classmate’s story is praised in workshop, while yours is torn apart.

“Poorly written” romances dominate best-seller lists, while your science fiction novel languishes in Amazon’s 2,000,000 ranking spot.

The author you follow on Instagram posts their third cover reveal this year, while you struggle to finish your manuscript.

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Full Moons Can’t Rise at Midnight

Great article. The Bad Astronomy link is especially helpful if you happen to be writing a sci-fi series for kids …

WRITERS' RUMPUS

By Marianne Knowles

I was reading a YA romance novel set on the coast of Maine. The teen girl woke up at 5am on July 4 to sneak out and meet the guy at a dock. She described the diamond-like stars sparkling in an inky-dark sky.

BANG-THUNK-KLUNK (Sounds of a reader tripping over a detail.)

MaineNight This is how the character described 5am in Maine on July 4.

This is what 5am on July 4 on the coast of Maine really looks like. This is what 5am in Maine on July 4 really looks like.

Clearly the writer or the editor or both had never been awake at 5 o’clock on a July morning on the coast of Maine. But that’s no excuse for an error that jolts a reader out of the story, especially when astronomy mistakes are SO EASY TO AVOID.

And this isn’t the only astronomy mistake I’ve read in the past couple of years. Here are a few more:[1]

  • The full…

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You Are Writing the Future

An inspiriting post for writers, especially of children’s fiction.

WRITERS' RUMPUS

By Marianne Knowles

Tomorrow’s do-ers are reading kidlit today. Keep writing!

You may have missed it, but this past Friday a rocket returned to Earth and landed on a floating platform bobbing on the waves in the Atlantic Ocean. And this time, it didn’t explode.

The event was a testament to the power of imagination. The Falcon rocket (named for Star Wars’ Millenium Falcon) had just launched the Dragon capsule (named for Puff the Magic Dragon) to rendezvous with the International Space Station. It landed on the barge Of Course I Still Love You (named for a ship in the science fiction novel The Player of Games).

The founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk, loves to read. He spent much of his childhood reading. He continually vacuumed up fiction, science fiction, nonfiction, comic books and, when he ran out of books, the Encyclopedia Britannica

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Mapping Character

Excellent post on writing and developing convincing characters.

WRITERS' RUMPUS

By Almitra Clay

I’ve been on a personal journey for the past few months, doing something that I’ve needed to do for a long time: therapy. Therapy includes a whole lot of introspection. It’s a journey of self-discovery that involves picking apart my own life to understand what was broken, as well as what makes me tick generally. Why do I do things the way that I do them? In the process, I’ve discovered that there is a great deal to be learned about creating realistic characters by looking into yourself, whether you’re broken or not.

Try this exercise: make a list of your own most extreme and noteworthy character traits. Be as honest as possible. Don’t worry, you aren’t required to share. Here’s my short list:

  • I have successfully fooled people into thinking that I am outgoing.
  • Left turns scare me. Social situations scare me. Making phone calls scares…

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