The problem was they didn’t like the second book in the series, The State of Chu, all that much.
Many plot holes were pointed out to me, things to try and add were suggested, and ideas were generally given on what I could do to make the book better.
There were two things I could have done with this email:
- I could have gotten angry and sent off a reply saying something to the effect of “You have no idea what you’re talking about; I’m a writer, I know what I’m doing,” or something similar;
- I could thank them for reading my book, pointing out what they liked and what they didn’t, and ensure that I’d go back and make things better.
The second approach is the one I took, and these were a few things I learned about my book in the process:
- Rushed: I really rushed this book in mid-January 2013. I broke a huge manuscript in half, right where a 20-year break pretty much took place in the story. It was a good choice; the manuscript was too long and really about two different states. The problem’s that I didn’t do an adequate editing job. I wanted to get the book out and I did, too fast.
- Mistakes: I came across quite a few mistakes while going over the book. I mean, there weren’t a whole lot, but enough where if I was reading the book, I’d probably have stopped. I’m actually really lucky I haven’t gotten any bad reviews; I really should have.
- Map: I added a map to the book around April. What the reader pointed out to me was that I really needed to get a detailed map of the battle that takes up quite a bit of pages toward the end of the book. I decided he was right, and drew a rough map when I was editing. I then made a pretty crummy copy in MS Paint and got someone on fiverr.com to make me a decent looking map. I chose to include it right before the battle chapters begin.
- Quality: I was quite surprised how good The State of Chu really is. I hadn’t really read over the book since I’d published it, and even then not very much. The time before that would have been after I edited it a bit when I was finished writing it in 2011. The story flows really well and grabs you. It also made me realize that I have a good story here and should continue it with another novel.
After that I’ll tackle the much larger first volume, The Warring States, which will be easier because I’ve edited it really well before, but also more difficult because it’s so long.
I hope this post gives you some incentive to edit some of your novel, or the whole thing. You just might be surprised how many mistakes you find, and how good the book you’re reading really is!
Now, if I could just get some new covers for these books…