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The Value of A 3-Star Review

I’m a people-pleaser, trust me on this. I know some of my previous blog posts make it seem as if I am a dyed in the wool contrarian. (John, I’m looking at you here.) But as a rule, though, I want to make my readers happy. When someone suggests a change, my standard response it to figure out how to make it happen. This is true whether the change comes from ARC readers, my wife’s editing classes, or the editors I have hired to help me. I tie myself in knots wanting to please everyone.

Witness My Sun Sets to Rise Again. The first draft of this book was finished six years ago. It has gone through a dozen major rewrites. I have added and subtracted and changed characters. The plot of the story has expanded and contracted. Out of fifty-one chapters, only eleven have survived the journey. There is an urban myth that Einstein threw away all of his work every few years and started over. My Sun Sets was like that. I wanted so badly for everyone to love it.

One of the ARC readers for The Road to Damascus has taught me a valuable lesson about trying too hard. A reader named Craig on Goodreads did me a solid and gave me an honest review –not just a rating. There were things he liked about the book, scenes from actual nursing in the hospital, for example, but he was bothered by the ending. He wanted more action, a more exciting final battle.

When I read it, I thought: “I could do that.” But as I pondered the particulars, I realized a complicated fight wasn’t the book I was writing. Lots of urban fantasy readers want action, and while The Road to Damascus has some, that’s not its central focus. And that’s okay. Craig helped me to come to terms with the idea that not everyone is going to love every story I write. (Craig: I did move all the reference stuff to the end as an appendix. You were totally right!)

At my age, you wouldn’t think I’d need to learn such basic stuff. The hero of the K-Nurse books, Paul, is over nine hundred years old, and he’s still learning, so I’ll take a hint from him.


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