I am lucky to have had excellent critical acclaim for Junkie both on Amazon and on various blogs. So imagine my horror when I looked at the reviews on Goodreads. Among the 5-star and 4-star reviews was a 2-star review and worse, the opening sentence ran, I was very tempted to give this book a single star. (If you look at the review, it features the old DYI cover.)
The reviewer, Guilie Castillo, went on to say that she liked a lot about the book. Her low rating was based on shortcomings in the writing. Of course, as the proud author, I bridled at this and took exception to her comments about needing an editor, because I had used a great editor throughout the development of the book. I ranted a bit but then I calmed down, because I knew…
She was right.
At the last draft of Junkie, I had run out of budget for a line edit, so I did it myself and a couple of friends helped out. Guilie had spotted the flaws that we all missed. Her analysis was fair and constructive. Like her, I am always bugged by errors like these when I read the works of others, indie and trad alike.
My current editing budget is dedicated to Oboe, the sequel to Junkie. After a lot of soul searching, I decided not to do a further draft of Junkie at this time but with care, I went through the manuscript several times and corrected the errors that she had found. I have uploaded the corrected manuscript to Amazon and iTunes.
She was particularly right about my habit of filtering (I think… I feel… I remember…) and I have made a resolution to be on the lookout for it at all times.
Guilie, thank you for taking the time to review Junkie. Authors all like to bask in the 4- and 5-star reviews but what we should be looking for are reviews like yours.
Fellow authors, we all know that a ‘bad’ review is painful but when they are constructive, they are well worth focusing on because, with luck, they will make us better.
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Guilie · September 5, 2012 at 10:53 am
Robert, you have shown your quality–not just as a writer (and I repeat here what I said on the review, you are *very* talented), but as a person, a professional, and a human being committed to growth and excellence. I’m sure many many authors would prefer to thrash a review like mine and delete / ignore it (best scenario) or, as we’ve seen so often online, respond in the heat of anger and affront. You’ve done what so very very few do: listen to your heart and see if the criticism rings any internal bells. I already had respect for you as a writer, but that just multiplied dozen-fold.
Robert P. French · September 5, 2012 at 11:43 am
Thanks Guilie for your kind comments.
Elinor Mavor · September 15, 2012 at 12:22 pm
As an editor for self-publishing authors, this exchange totally amazes and delights me. Far too many self-published books have not been gone over by a professional editor. And it always shows, both to the detriment of the work as well as the writer. Robert, you reveal yourself here as both an exceptional writer and man for acknowledging the critique given by an honest reviewer. I have lost clients for being honest, and it was a good thing. You just can’t work with a person who can’t take honest criticism. Bravo to both you and Guilie for showing how this process can benefit the writer!
Robert P. French · September 15, 2012 at 1:25 pm
Thanks Elinor. Your insight is much appreciated.
Robert P. French · October 5, 2012 at 10:13 pm
Thanks Elinor. I appreciate the feedback. My next novel, Oboe, is already with my original editor but perhaps we can collaborate in the future. Best wishes, Robert.