Learn how to enjoy having your creative work critiqued might sound like an impossible assignment, but, in my experience, releasing the dislike or fear is about mindset.
As I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog post, the value of creating relationships with critique partners, I remember the jitters that came when first handing off a manuscript for critique.
Like most things precious to us, we don’t want to have our work dissected, altered, and criticized. We want it to remain whole, unchanged, and pleasing just as it is. And sometimes, we believe that our creation reflects us; so, critique it, and you critique us. We don’t enjoy hearing about the parts of our creation, and thus about us, the creator, that might need improvement.
But why are we so fragile about this? I can only speak for myself. Maybe you can relate.
When I first received a critique of the first draft of my manuscript, the many red markings in the margin (or wherever they fit) rose from the page like warning signals of personal failure. Even when I told myself I’d be okay with whatever came back to me, those pages of red markings were difficult to digest… at first. The next day, after I’d slept on the comments, interestingly, I felt differently about them. One or two of the comments immediately stood out; their improvement to my work was undeniable. If one or two comments made that much of a positive difference, what might all the rest do?
And just like that, I transformed from a wounded ego to an eager creator once more-more excited about my project than ever.
Instead of fearing failure or personal judgment, I experienced renewed excitement about my manuscript, and deep gratitude for the person who’d taken the time to read it, and the care to comment so generously.
My mindset had changed. The critique experience became thoroughly positive; it became a lesson in which I quickly found great value. I was now excited to contemplate and evaluate each thought or suggestion given to me. I moved through each comment with care and consideration. For each critique provided, one of the following occurred:
- I accepted a critique suggestion outright;
- I used the clear misunderstanding of a critique remark to change a manuscript description, plot element, character intention, word choice, or another such manuscript-related component. Each change brought a noticeable improvement;
- Each change brought a noticeable improvement. I reworked a critique to better suit the intention of my manuscript;
- I altogether discarded a critique.
Sometimes, well… I’d say, most of the time, we’re too close to our work to see objectively where it needs improvement.
Here are a few examples of errors or omissions we can too easily miss:
- Words that don’t convey the meaning we intend;
- Improper use of pronouns;
- Improper use of tense;
- Repetition of phrases or words or overused expressions;
- Use of clichés;
- Misspelled words;
- Holes or gaps; the missing bridges that connect the plot or scene structure;
- Creation of a character who lacks depth or isn’t relatable to the reader;
- Inconsistencies in the timeline or other details.
In time, handing a manuscript or some other heartfelt creation over to a peer for critique becomes easier. We,
- Move past worrying about being judged and get back to the business of producing the best creation we can;
- We see the remarkable value in each critique—even the critiques that at first seem too heavy-handed or harsh;
- Each remark becomes a path to improvement of creation and craft.
To enjoy having your creative work critiqued might sound like an impossible assignment, but, in my experience, releasing the dislike or fear is about mindset.
This is a guest post by Sherry denBoer and you can read the original version here.
You can also find Sherry on Twitter.
If you would like to publish a guest post on here then please do reach out.
In The Caverns an ancient evil lurks…
In the small rural town of Linston an ancient evil lurks and suddenly awakens with a whole bunch of mystery. When The Caverns; a tourist hotspot and only real economic attraction of the place begins to swallow people it soon becomes both a problem and a media circus.
What is the evil? Although deadly it has no real physical manifestation and gets into the heads of everyone in town including a group of friends who just happen to be there for a curious visit to the Linston Caverns on a road trip of sorts. There’s a good mix of cliché fun and conflict here as the town drunk lays down fair warning whilst the money driven people in charge of the attraction push to keep it open no matter how many lives are taken. Locals don’t appreciate anyone from the outside with a prying nature that may damage the towns reputation and combined with the harrowing events a perfect storm ensues. There’s a wide group of characters, some a just bit-part throwaways subjected to the evils of what lies below and others that carry the story.
For those who enjoy mystery horror with a hint of humour and the unexpected, you’ll definitely find it here.
Review by Rohan O’Duill
“A generation has passed since climate change brought about the Cascade that transformed the world, smashing the tectonic plates of the political landscape and infesting the wilderness with demons and shriekgrass.“
“Jonah knew that holding power always meant drowning, that every second in office meant fighting for oxygen, with one’s enemies baying like hunting dogs on the shore. Ian, with the treacherous sea in his fisherman’s blood, must have been used to drowning.”
The character complexity in Rachel A. Rosen’s debut novel Cascade is fascinating. Ian moved from a working-class fisherman’s family into being a campaigner and protestor. When he developed magical powers and the ability to see into the future, he aligned himself with the new hope in politics. But it turns out that predicting the future doesn’t mean anything in a political system that is just not fit for purpose to deal with the climate crisis. It’s a chilling observation of the struggles in today’s corridors of power. But despite the weightiness of the messaging in this climate-disaster fantasy, there is a whole lot of laugh-out-loud moments and action that keep this 400 page novel careening along.
“You go lookin’ for terrorists, you see every daft kid dreamin’ of his 72 virgins and every chinless loner prick with a case of blueballs that he blames on his ex-girlfriend.”
Ian Mallory is Malcolm Tucker with heart, and the abuse that he dishes out to confuse and divert attention from his actions is priceless. His apprentice, Sujay, is not far behind with the cutting observations, although these start out mostly in her own head before circumstances force her into the open.
What starts out as a political thriller with magic, quickly evolves into a quick-witted action-filled fantasy that explores climate change, activism, corruption, racial profiling, brutality and the chaos inflicted on the world through popular politics. This is all held together superbly through Rachel’s beautiful writing style and storytelling ability.
This is a guest book review by Rohan O’Duill who you can find on Twitter.
In between creating, marketing and social media things it can be hard to find balance sometimes. To me, the three of them go hand in hand and when productivity drops for one, normally the results slow down for all. Crawling back out of a slow slump can be arduous to say the least and its no wonder so many give up.
Finding balance is something that I tend to do quite well, being a functional busy person is how I function. Pick something that needs doing and do it. Then I’ll just try to be content with the fact I’ve attempted to be productive. And whilst the social media algorithms are a conundrum and always will be, consistency everywhere else does pay off – the numbers don’t matter that much when it comes to being content, that’s what I’ll tell myself anyway.
For all the ups and downs that do happen on this path, to keep going is to eventually seek rewards. But if not, I’ll still keep going.
Thanks for following this blog. It means a lot that you are here.
An exploration themed sci-fi novella not of this world…
Leon Stevens combines a unique mix of adventure, exploration and sci-fi in this intriguing novella that see’s a pair of hikers find their way into another world. At the heart of the story is a problem-solving theme that runs alongside adventure.
From figuring out how high a cliff is to deciphering alien language and maps, this world they explore becomes more intriguing as the story unfolds. The premise is original and full of mystery throughout where most chapters finish with a moment where readers will want to keep reading. A seemingly deserted place creates intrigue and even a sense of eerie atmosphere that kept me interested throughout. I would have liked to have seen a little more from both characters in terms of character depth but their chemistry together works well to tell their tale of exploration and fun.
The results are here for my latest book promotion efforts and now I am ready to share how it went and who I advertised with. Let us dive in!
With all of my book promotional efforts there’s always a wider plan and motive. So first of all, for the complete beginners, what is a book promo run? Well to me, its a short period of time where I lower the price of a book and advertise it for maximum sales.
Now I don’t advertise my work constantly apart from regular social media posting and my book selling philosophy is to be present on social media to the point where it interests potential readers to first of all engage or follow me and then buy from me. I have 30,000+ following on Twitter that regularly buys my work as long as I stay active.
The plan for this promo run was to set the price for my super hero comedy The Teleporter to free for one day and then raise the price only slightly the next day to 99 cents whilst using advertisers for both of those days. My vision was to get maximum free downloads and then hopefully some paid discounted sales after.
On the day The Teleporter was free it was downloaded over 1000 times across 9 countries! This is a fantastic number!
And here are the results for the next day with paid sales.
21 paid sales with a few trickling in after is a moderate number. It’s not world beating but good enough for me considering I already potentially have 1000+ new readers. It was also good to see page reads boosted.
On the day of it being free, The Teleporter hit #1 in the Free Satire Fiction chart over in the US which is great for that little extra visibility.
So for most of my book promo runs I advertise with book promotion websites. They are generally good places to tell hopefully masses of readers about my books. Most book promo sites boast large mailing lists and that’s essentially what I am paying for. You can find a list of book promo sites at the bottom of this post.
Here’s who I used for this promo run.
Day 1 – The Teleporter is Free
Freebooksy Sci Fi Promotion
Book Runes Featured Free Book
Day 2 – The Teleporter is discounted to 99 cents
Just Kindle Books
These 4 advertisers were all paid, check them out for individual pricing.
Not a bad promo run, in fact I consider anything over a 1000 free downloads to be a massive success. In order to move numbers with book sales its important to consider paying for advertising, although most of my promos run at a loss, the returns I get are reviews, future sales and readers.
Thank you for reading and below you shall find some resources to help with your own promo efforts.
Want to know how I have mastered Twitter and turned it into a book selling machine? Check out my Patreon coaching sessions which lay out book promotion and much more!
A Concise List of Book Promotion Sites
My guide book lays everything out in detail plus there is a whole section dedicated to my many successful book promo runs I have done over the years!
Its time to go beyond the true darkness as the occult Order of the Following Series culminates with the thrilling final book Darke Apocalypse.
I said my next fictional release would be the final ‘Darke’ book and so I kind of have to go through with it now….
A purge is coming to Darke Heath and the assembled Order of the Following heroes must fight to survive. After the awakening of a force unparalleled to anything seen before they will face their biggest and deadliest challenge yet. The origins of the Order and legendary founder Hudson’s story is revealed along with the revelations, twists and turns that follow the series to this thrilling conclusion.
Coming September 2022
A quaint and fun magical tale…
This was my first Azalea Forrest reading experience and an enjoyable one at that. ‘Witch in the Lighthouse’ is a quaint and fun magical tale that follows ‘Magnolia’ as she inherits a Lighthouse from her recently passed away uncle in a town that isn’t so welcoming of her kind.
Having had previous negative encounters with those of the magical persuasion Maggie faces the task of convincing the small seaside town of Lightview that she is there to help. Whilst some make her feel welcome, others are stubborn to the thought of a witch in their town even if this world of practical magic can help them in so many different ways. Just what did happen in the past and even to her uncle? The intrigue intertwines with the moving plot here keeping readers interested throughout.
Eventually the story unfolds as does the history of Magnolia’s family and what follows is an epic meeting of forces that carries an original and deeper meaning of responsibility of power and much more. Magical forces in this world can be used for both good and bad which is explored well here. The characters, setting and story were very well executed and I’d be more than happy to read another title by Forrest.