Upon Further Review…

Posted: March 8, 2014 in Self-publishing
Tags: , , , ,

After nearly four months in the self-publishing biz, I recently received the first two* (count ’em, two!) reviews of my books. Both were posted to Smashwords by the same reader, one each for A World Gone Gray and Signal Fire.

First, the good news: Someone I do not share a surname with (at least I don’t think I do) took their time and money and spent it reading over 200,000 words of mine. That’s still kind of surreal (and very humbling) to me. The reader gave AWGG four out of five stars and felt that it was well-written. Signal Fire? Not so much. Although he or she noted that it was also pretty well-written, the reader was less-than-pleased with its conclusion, which they felt was too abrupt, as if it were the beginning of a continuing work.

Although I’m new to self-publishing, I’m fairly certain this is the part where I’m supposed to ignite a flame war (over Signal Fire, ironically enough) with the reviewer, calling into question their eyesight, their intelligence, and their personal hygiene. As fun and career-ending as that would be, there’s a problem; the reader is absolutely, positively, one hundred-percent correct.

Of the 16,312 anxiety-inducing reservations I had prior to publishing Signal Fire, number one on the list was whether or not it came to a satisfying conclusion. Like the reader suspected, I originally envisioned SF as a longer work, maybe even a multi-book series. With that in mind, I brought it to what I’d hoped was a reasonable, albeit ambiguous, ending. I thought it would work as either a stand-alone or the first in a two-or-more part series, release dates TBD. Strangely enough, I had the exact same problem with AWGG, which I’d also conceived as a much longer work. (In some alternate universe, my poor characters are holding Rascal races in A World Gone Gray Book XXVI: They’ve All Gone Gray.) But as the reviewer made clear, I was able to pull off AWGG‘s conclusion with mostly ham-less hands.

So what to do? I’ve had a few days to think about it, so I’m not going to do anything rash like pound on the Unpublish button and go into hiding. I know one review isn’t the be-all end-all of it all, but if the one reader outside my immediate family who took the time to purchase, read, and comment on SF has the same issue with it that I had, there’s a problem. The last thing I want to do is mislead anyone or put a shoddy product out there. Thankfully, nobody is buying my latest book (if I only had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a writer say that…), so I’ve updated the descriptions on Amazon and Smashwords to reflect that it’s the first of two in a series, and that its exciting (and hopefully, satisfying) conclusion will be available in autumn of 2014.

While going over Signal Fire for the umpteenth time before its release last week, I made the decision to scrap my current project (a heist story) and work on what I thought would be a sequel or companion novel to SF. I started feeling closer to SF”s world than to the one I was very slowly developing in the heist thing, so moving it to the top of the queue was an easy choice. This is just the kick in the ass I needed to set it all in stone.

*When I went to update Signal Fire‘s description on Amazon, I discovered a five-star review there for AWGG dated yesterday. Yippee!

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