your feedback is more critical now than ever
The quote at left is emblematic of the comments I got while writing The Just Beyond with the aid of a readers group. The group helped me tremendously with ongoing feedback, chapter by chapter, on what was working in the book and what was not. That same invaluable counsel is helping to shape the sequel, The Far Beyond, which I am in the middle of writing.
Obviously, it's great to receive a positive response -- it makes the whole tedious and sometimes lonely writing process feel worth the effort. But the criticism is even more important. I'm confident in my general writing style, but I find it difficult to assess the worth of my work in artistic terms. I do my best to write convincing dialogue, set an exciting pace, and weave a plot that is both credible and full of pleasing surprises. But I never know if I'm succeeding until I hear it from someone else. And there's nothing like reader critique to point out where concepts are too vague, characters are not engaging, the plot is dragging, or I've missed the opportunity to resolve a certain scene in a more satisfying way.
Now that the book is out, there's nothing readers can do to make The Just Beyond better. But that doesn't make criticism any less important. In fact, your feedback is more critical now than ever. For one thing, your suggestions will help make books two and three of the trilogy stronger by helping me understand what I've done right and wrong. For another, I don't know about you, but I always read customer reviews before buying any product online. And even a lukewarm review can help identify something that's right up my alley, even if the reviewer themselves were none too impressed.
So I'm asking you -- you who have so honored and humbled me by taking a chance with The Just Beyond -- to make your voice heard. Comments entered on this site (bottom of the main page) will be published here, but reviews posted on Amazon and the other retail sites exert the most powerful influence on potential readers that an unknown writer can hope for. The good ones will bring in more sales, and the critical ones will make the rest of the trilogy better. So hop to it! Be honest -- brutal, if necessary; I need your candid feedback to give me a realistic perspective and your word of mouth to inform potential readers. Thank you for helping -- it makes a big difference, and I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. - Mark