Tag Archives: reviews

Who would like an Advance Review Copy of The Big Smoke?

Exciting times! I’ve now gone through all of the line edits from my copy editor for The Big Smoke, and I’m thrilled with his recommendations. I feel like he really ‘gets’ the novel and its characters, and his feedback has helped to iron out any minor issues and given me ideas where I can take scenes that little bit further. The writing is also more concise now, with almost 10,000 words culled from the total word count.

Thankfully, it seems he’s enjoyed the process as well, judging by the feedback I received from him:

I’ve edited and reviewed writing by many well-known Australian authors, and have also mentored a large number of emerging writers as they’ve worked toward publication. Working with you on The Big Smoke has certainly been among the most enjoyable of all these experiences.

What you achieve in this novel is significant. With authentic characters you take the reader through those momentous transitions young people make, from school to tertiary study and from country to city. Ceara and Seb are truly brought to life, each at the centre of a network of friends and family – and there’s just enough overlap in those networks to ensure that readers can keep their bearings with ease.

It’s a rare first novel that runs beyond 100,000 words and sustains interest throughout. That this is achieved reflects the strength of the central characters, and the immediacy they are given in your first person narrative strands. Capturing the ebb and flow of relationships is no easy thing, and you do this very well indeed through the skilful depiction of a whole spectrum of friends and acquaintances. You have a great ear for dialogue, and your evocation of an emotional landscape will resonate with many readers.  The Big Smoke is a polished and memorable piece of writing.

Isn’t that awesome? Warm fuzzies!

By the end of this weekend, the content of The Big Smoke will be finished. Done. Like I said, exciting times!! This means that I’ll soon be able to give people Advanced Review Copies in e-book format. So, who’s keen to read a contemporary realistic novel of the new adult variety? You’re under no obligation to give the book a positive review (or any review at all) if you don’t enjoy it. If you do enjoy it, feel free to post a review on your blog, on Amazon, on Good Reads, on a billboard… 😉

In case you’ve forgotten/don’t know what the book’s about, here’s the blurb:

Ceara’s desperate for love; Seb’s desperate to get laid. Ceara adores reading novels; Seb hasn’t finished a book in years. Two strangers, both moving from small country towns to Brisbane – the big smoke. As they prepare to attend the same university, their paths seem set to collide, but they keep missing each other. Maybe fate is keeping them apart, or maybe it’s just chance.

When the semester starts, things get complicated. Ceara’s best friend withdraws from her, Seb’s closest mate turns into a sleazebag, and the relentless demands of university make their stress levels soar. Before their first semester is over, both Seb and Ceara will be forced to question who they are and what they want from their lives. Will they have the courage to find the answers, or will they crumble under the pressure? And when they finally meet, will it be love at first sight or a collision of headstrong personalities?

The book will be available as an ARC in MOBI, Kindle and PDF formats, which means it will be readable on all e-reader devices (I think. Correct me if I’m wrong!).

So, what do you reckon? 

Fancy giving The Big Smoke a bash? You can read the first two chapters if you’d like to get a taste of the book before deciding. If you’d like an ARC, leave a comment or drop me an email at callyjackson at gmail dot com. Feel free to spread the word…

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Filed under Editing, New Adult fiction, Self publishing, The Big Smoke, Writing

IWSG: Are we jeopardising the indie book industry by being ‘nice’?

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

“Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!” Alex J Cavanaugh

For this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post, I’d like to discuss something that’s been on my mind a little bit lately, thanks to Andrew Leon’s two-part post titled, Is It Better To Be “Nice” Or Honest?

You can read the full post part one and part two by Andrew (and I recommend you do, it’s very thought provoking), but in the interests of time, I’ll give you the extremely abridged version. Essentially, what I took from Andrew’s post was that we are doing the indie book industry a disservice every time we write a positive review for a self published book that doesn’t deserve it. Why? Because reviews are the only currency independent authors have, and if we discredit that, then readers will assume all self-published books are as rubbish as each other and stick with traditionally published books, which have been judged as worthwhile by someone they trust (mainstream publishers).

I agree with Andrew on this point. Writing a good review just to be nice doesn’t do anybody any favours. It tarnishes your reputation as a writer/reviewer, it tells the author they don’t need to grow, and it turns readers off the indie book industry.

However, I’m not entirely comfortable with the extension of this argument, which says that we must write negative reviews for books that deserve it. While I agree this would add to the overall credibility of the industry, I just can’t bring myself to publicly criticise another author’s work. If they asked for my opinion, I would give it to them – in an email, not a public forum. I would rather recommend the books I enjoy and not mention the ones I don’t. I guess this is because I understand what it’s like to be an insecure writer, and I don’t want to cause others pain.

But maybe I’m just soft and my reluctance to criticise is actually harming the industry. Almost every self published book you see has a handful of glowing reviews, even those that clearly don’t deserve the praise. I assume these reviews are written by family and friends who would love whatever the person wrote regardless of the quality. By not balancing these reviews with honest, critical ones of my own, am I contributing to the erosion of review credibility, thus diminishing the indie publisher’s only currency?

I’m really keen to hear your take on this. Do you think I(/we) should be tougher and write critical reviews of self published books? Do you write reviews like that? What would you think if you read an ultra-critical review on my blog? And what effect do you think the absence of these reviews has on the industry as a whole? Let me know what you think!

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!

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Filed under Insecure Writers Support Group, Self publishing, Writers, Writing

Insecure Writers’ Support Group: review-phobia

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

“Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!” Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post! I’m going to preface this post by re-stating one of the key reasons the blog-father, Alex J Cavanaugh, founded this support group:  “Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak.”

So no teasing! Cos I’m about to tell you one of my real, genuine fears.

Now that I’ve decided to indie publish my first novel The Big Smoke, I’m faced with the fact that people everywhere around the world will be able to purchase my writing and then tell everybody else what they think about it. That’s AWESOME but it’s also FREAKING TERRIFYING.

I fear that, soon after The Big Smoke is released, my Amazon page will be swamped with bad reviews by people who absolutely hated my book.

Thumbs down

Bad, bad, bad.

Now, I know that bad reviews are par for the course. I know that every book is bound to get a few negative reviews in its time. But what if they come first? What if the very first reviews that appear on my Amazon page all say my work is rubbish? Then no one else will give it a chance – including the people who just might love it.

Don’t get me wrong. I have confidence in my writing. I do. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have decided to put it out there. But that confidence doesn’t negate the fear. And I think indie publishing perhaps makes that fear a little stronger. If I had the tick of approval from a publisher, I don’t think I’d be as concerned about reviews. But for indies, reviews really are the make or break. Hence, the fear.

I know a lot of you reading this have published your own work – either traditionally or independently. Did you fear bad reviews too? Have you had any? I don’t mean luke warm, I mean reviews where the reviewer seems to believe your fingers should be chopped off so you can never write another word. Any advice on how to quell those nerves?

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!

21 Comments

Filed under Creativity, Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Self publishing, Writers, Writing