I was catching up on so much stuff this morning I nearly forgot I needed to put out a blog post. Dragonverse Origins (at least what has been written so far) has been sent to my content-editor for his review. Lee is very good at pointing out areas where I've messed up, where I should write more or less, and scenes that could be done in a slightly different way. Although I have the final say (after all, it is my novel) most of the time Lee has a very valid point and I take his advice.
Lee Dilkie is not a "professional" content-editor. He's a fan who just happens to have a knack for doing the job of a content-editor. Note I don't say he's a copy-editor or a proof-reader. Content-editors are more like beta readers except they get more into the details of the novel. Lee is one of those people who wrote me concerning issues he found in my past novels and I asked him to be a beta reader for Peacekeeper 2. He did more than just tell me it was good or not--he pointed out where I needed to improve. Thus, a long-distance relationship was established and I'm pretty sure we'll be working together for quite a long time.
This brings up a couple of interesting points. Writers must learn to listen to their readers. Sure, if you're under contract with a large publisher they'll provide you with an editor to go through your book with a fine-tooth comb. This type of editor combines the function of content-editor and proofreader. They typically have a degree in English. But, does that mean you should ignore the feedback you get from your readers? NO. There are some authors out there who refuse to read reviews and are unreachable via email. I can see someone like Stephen King wanting to keep his email private--having to respond to several thousand emails would prevent him from doing any more writing. But for writers like myself, the feedback is like gold.
There's no doubt you will get some very negative feedback. Don't take these to heart. There are people out there who get a kick when they slam someone. They're cowards who hide behind the anonymity of the internet. I have read novels I didn't care for. Perhaps it was the author's style or the story itself. If I didn't like it but the story is put together well, I will give a good review and state why I didn't like it. I am entitled to my own opinion and so are all readers, but that does not mean one should write a horrible review just because you didn't like the story. I don't like seafood, but that doesn't mean I'm going to give Red Lobster a horrendous review because they serve seafood. There are times though when the story does deserve a bad review. Poor grammar, a plot that makes no sense, characters who do things a normal person would never do, etc. Give it a low mark--but explain why. Be detailed. The writer needs to learn--the reviewer can become a teacher in this instance.
I like to engage my readers. If someone writes me - I write them back even if only to say thank you. I read every review and I take what people say to heart.
Dragonverse Origins is going to be a challenging book to write because it combines Medieval people with advanced alien technology and is a link between two previously unrelated novels. So far, its been fun to write. The challenging part is about to begin.