Home > fiction, novel > Flight To Paradise: Mike Coe

Flight To Paradise: Mike Coe

September 7, 2011

Eighteen year old Keri Hart’s life was turned upside down when her Southern high society mother insisted, “Now Sugah, I think it would be best if you ended it with Ryan Mitchell…” only days before his leaving Atlanta to attend the United States Naval Academy.

Fast-forward nine years, Keri is a Miami-based flight attendant; Ryan is a Navy fighter pilot based near San Diego and soon to be an airline pilot. In hopes of reviving a love once lost, Ryan writes to Keri. Before the letter is posted, Rex Dean, Ryan’s laid-back, self-absorbed roommate, intercepts and alters the letter—the beginning of a deviously concocted plan that blindsides the hometown hopefuls, thrusting them into rebound relationships.

With Ryan’s marriage a train wreck and Keri engaged—her wedding only weeks away—fate arranges a coincidental New York layover. A morning stroll through Central Park awakens their undeniable love for each other, forcing them to question everything they thought they knew.

Masterfully balanced with suspense, humour, and emotional intensity, Flight To Paradise takes readers on a journey that concludes with the unexpected. With a multitude of twists and turns, the tale unfolds a story of hope, forgiveness, and the enduring message that “love given” is the key to unlocking the desires of the heart.

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Mike Coe landed in Southern California after traveling the world as an Air Force pilot and twenty-one year veteran commercial airline pilot. He has two grown children and is married to his high school sweetheart, best friend, and soul mate of thirty-three years. To learn more about the story behind the stories, please visit coebooks.com.

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There is a somewhat-Stepford quality to the two female characters which appear in the first few pages of Flight to Paradise: mother and daughter Barbara Ann and Keri are both flat as pancakes as far as personality and characterisation goes, and are described in terms which are at times reminiscent of the softer end of porn. The book opens with young Keri in the shower; later she happens to drop the towel she’s wearing just as she happens to stand in front of the mirror (I was at this point expecting a description of her appearance and while her face wasn’t mentioned, I wasn’t disappointed). Then there are the usual issues with punctuation and exposition; and our author’s odd fondness slapping “pre-” onto words which simply don’t need it. I found two instances of “pre-selected” within a page of one another, and a “pre-screened” popped up between them: not one “pre-” was required and the overall effect was jerky and peculiarly distracting.

On the plus side, however, the author has a reasonable sense of pace and unlike many of the other books I’ve reviewed here there is a hint of natural storytelling ability present in the text.

On the whole then, a disappointment. The hints that I saw of the writer’s talents were outweighed by his clumsy mistakes and his apparent discomfort within this genre, and I read just four pages out of three hundred and thirty five.

Much of this writer’s depiction of women was stereotypical and often verged on voyeuristic, and I wonder if he might be better off writing a different genre: I don’t think he has an aptitude for writing romance and it could be his lack of empathy with the driving force of this book which has deadened it. I wonder how he’d improve if he turned to genres which are more traditionally masculine, such as crime thriller; and I wish him luck in finding his niche.

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  1. September 7, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    On the upside, I do like the front cover. Were I browsing, I think I would have thought about picking it up. Judging by the description, it looks as though the plot has structure. Too bad the characters are disappointing.

  2. January 1, 2012 at 3:13 am

    Thanks for taking the time to review my “Flight to Paradise”. As a new writer, reviews such as yours are confusing. The story has been read by over 1,000 readers, many of whom have given amazing reviews (see the reviews @ coebooks.com and Amazon), reviews such as: “After 30 years of being given novels by my girlfriends to read, yours is the first I have every finished. I loved it!”; “Once I started, I couldn’t put it down.” and many more. It only goes to show: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

    The sequel, “Flight into Darkness” has been published. It is a suspense/thriller. Different genre. So far the reader reviews are “over-the-top fantastic”!

    Cheers and thanks again.

    Mike

  3. January 1, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Harvey Stanbrough (whose work has been nominated for a National Book Award, a Pulitzer Prize, a Pushcart Prize, a Frankfurt Book Fair Award, and the Inscriptions Magazine Engraver’s Award) had this to say about “Flight to Paradise”.

    “I’ve told only two unpublished novelists (from well over a hundred novelists and short-story authors) their work was excellent–you are the third.”

  4. January 1, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    “…this debut novel carries the promise that another Wiregrass native is poised to become an important part of the contemporary fiction landscape.”
    Wiregrass Living Magazine, January/February 2011

  5. January 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Jeffrey from GEORGIA writes: “I just finished “Flight to Paradise”!!. Amazing writing and a great twist. Took me on an emotional roller coaster for sure. Loved it. Thanks so much. Can’t wait to read “Flight into Darkness”.

  6. January 1, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Gail from VIRGINIA writes: “I VERY much enjoyed your book. You left a lot of food for thought. I sat in silence after finishing it. I awoke the next morning still——- chewing on “thoughts” It’s that kind of book! I believe a good author will do that to you with his writings. YOU sure HIT the nail on the head with this one! Your writing is so creative and quite exciting, too. Mike, Henry Ford, said…” THINKING is hard work…that is why most don’t do it” I love that you make me think…I look so forward to watching you grow each character in the next book! GREAT JOB!!!!”

  7. January 1, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Ron from CALIFORNIA writes: “Often times, a book is enjoyable for me because it’s full of intrigue and mystery and keeps me hooked and turning every page from start to finish, wishing I could read faster than I can to see what is coming around the next bend in the road. Other times, a book is enjoyable for me because I love the author’s creamy rich writing style and prose, his character development and imagery, wishing that I had read more slowly because I just didn’t want the journey to be over.

    In Flight to Paradise, the reader is in for a real treat because Mike Coe is a wonderful writer and storyteller who really knows how to deliver. Simply put, by each and all of these criteria, Mike Coe has hit a homerun with Flight to Paradise. Read it; your only dilemma will be figuring out how to race through to the surprising conclusion without letting it come to an end.”

  8. January 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Zona from GEORGIA writes: “I received your book “Flight to Paradise” this week. I unwrapped it with much anticipation, because I could not wait to read it! I started reading it last night and could not put it down. I finished it on into the wee hours this morning. I have to tell you….I loved it!

    The way you brought all the characters together to touch one another’s lives at some point was sheer genius! Each chapter left me anxious to jump into the next with much anticipation. I can’t remember when I’ve been so caught up in a story line! One twist (I won’t spoil it for others) blew me away. I don’t know how you managed to bring each and every character to cross paths for a purpose, but it worked beautifully to produce one of the most spellbound novels I have read in quite some time. I commend you on a job well done. You should be very proud of the book. I am so looking forward to your next one and I hope you will have one on reserve for me when they are ready for release. I want to thank you again for sending me “Flight to Paradise” and tell you once more how much I truly enjoyed it. When I neared the end of the book and realized that the cover had a specific meaning woven into the storyline, it evoked even more emotion that I was not anticipating. Now, that is the results of a really good writer! I didn’t want the book to end. Continued success and I will look forward to the upcoming release of the sequel, “Flight into Darkness”.”

  9. January 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Gayle from ALABAMA writes: “Just finished Flight to Paradise- I had saved it for my beach trip. It was such an easy read and so gripping that I didn’t want to put it down. Can’t wait for your next book!”

  10. January 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Beverly from FLORIDA writes: “Absolutely one of the best books I have EVER read. This book has a great story and will capture your attention from the first page. Love, hope, tragedy, forgiveness…….all the good drama! I tried to read it slow, to savor it, but wound up reading late into the night! Twists I didn’t see coming. I found myself smiling, especially when I finished it. Feel good book, without being “preachy” – just a real joy & pleasure to read. Can’t wait for the next book!”

  11. January 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Ann from ALABAMA writes: “Flight to Paradise” by Mike Coe (2010) is a story of romantic mystique. I found it to be engaging as Coe does such a good job with not only character development but with a great plot as well. I think this would make a fantastic series and perhaps even a movie!”

  12. January 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Dale from GEORGIA writes: “LOVED the book! I could not put it down until I finished it. Now my daughter is reading it. I’m ready for the next one please!”

  13. January 1, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    David from TEXAS writes: “This thing is a masterpiece…the storyline, the characters, and the technical architecture of the words on the page—easy flow. It’s just fun. Rex’s character is genius and your words have really brought this guy to life; I’ve found myself laughing out loud soo many times. I would love to see this work come to life on the big screen.”

  14. January 1, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Julie from KANSAS writes: “I just read your book this weekend and loved it!! I didn’t get a thing done this weekend because I couldn’t put it down! Such a great story and a happy ending!”

  15. January 1, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Barbara from FLORIDA writes: “Finished reading your book today! So good. Like others have said, it was hard to put down, especially toward the end! Congrats on your first book, Mike! Looking forward to more!”

  16. January 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Amy from ALABAMA writes: “Oh my goodness…….I finished the book last night and let me tell you….I was about halfway through the book when I started reading at 8 p.m. And finished it at 1 a.m.! I could NOT put it down. So today brings bloodshot eyes and the need for extra caffeine, but it was worth it!! I absolutely LOVED it and can’t wait to read the next one! I can relate to so many things in the book and it left me wanting more. Last chapter had me bawling and my fiancé waking up to ask me what was wrong. Haha. But it was a beautiful story. Great job – I’m so excited for your success – which is no doubt inevitable.”

  17. January 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Ann from HAWAII writes: “I just finished reading your wonderful book. I enjoyed it very much.”

  18. January 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Mary from ALABAMA writes: “I finished the book this afternoon and I can honestly say you had all my emotions going. I of course fell in love with the ending, but what can I say (I am hopeless when life seems to have that perfect ending.) Thank You!!!!”

  19. January 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Kim from TEXAS writes: “Mike, I just finished the book last night! Awesome. I found myself so mad at Rex, that is for sure. The end is so worth it, just a beautiful ending! I can’t wait for the next one.”

  20. January 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Lexi from CALIFORNIA writes: “I just finished! It is seriously one of the best books I have ever read. It was enticing, exciting, tumultuous, riveting, and fun. I was able to relate to the characters and I couldn’t predict what was going to happen next–which was a good thing; kept me guessing the whole time! I am SO excited to pass this along to my family and friends! Can’t wait for the sequel, Mike!”

  21. January 1, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Clyde from ALABAMA writes: “I purposely waited until we left town for vacation to read it because my wife had warned me about not being able to put it down. As usual, she was right again. Great job and I can’t wait for the sequel.”

  22. January 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Sandy from CALIFORNIA writes: “I read your book on Memorial Day and really enjoyed it. In fact, I didn’t put it down until I finished. It is the perfect vacation book. I feel Mike has succeeded in providing a riveting, quick paced, absorbing plot. There was one twist which I truly didn’t see coming and I am rarely surprised by plots. I really enjoyed that moment of discovery. I found the book very satisfying. It made me fill good. I think there is a screen play waiting to be written. I look forward to reading the next one! Carry on Mike.”

  23. January 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Charlotte from TEXAS writes: “I read it today at the beach… Great Story! Write another one. Reminds me of a Grisham book–hard to put down.”

  24. January 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Karen from GEORGIA writes: “”Flight to Paradise” uncovers long buried emotions that one thinks are theirs only and with dead-on accuracy!!! At times I felt parts of this story–lots of parts–were MY story. Your talented pen brings life’s loves, losses and lessons learned into clear view. Mike, FTP is excellent as pure light-hearted fiction and… as an instruction manual to living a happy, fulfilling life. Just follow Martha’s advice… Can’t wait for “The Golden Gate”!! And your author page was fun and enlightening! Hope you continue with this for books 2 & 3.”

  25. January 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Miki from FLORIDIA writes: “Mike, your book is a perfect “beach read”… everyone needs to buy it for their summer vacation read!”

  26. January 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Barbara from ALABAMA writes: “Very entertaining… I finished it in one night!!!”

  27. January 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Tiffanie from UTAH writes: “Just finished the book… loved it!”

  28. January 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    DeLaura from TEXAS writes: “You have a gift… you are a very talented artist/writer. I thank you so very much for “Flight to Paradise”. After takeoff, my eyes could not read fast enough. FTP reached into my soul from the moment of departure. Seriously, this is the kind of reading that one does not want to put down. It’s more than a fun love story; it’s much deeper. It has opened my eyes. With handkerchief in hand, I absorbed salty tears as I neared the final decent of my flight. Seriously, I had to take my glasses off and clean the tears away so that I could see to read. “Flight to Paradise” is the GREATEST! Not only did FTP open my eyes, “Flight to Paradise” is going to be a lifestyle for me. It’s more than typed words on a page or a picture in my hand. Your book has allowed me to think deeper and to really see and appreciate, more, the people that are in my life. My plans are to read it all over again. Thank you for a LIFE changing experience!!!!! “

  29. January 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Brandy from TEXAS writes: “I just finished your book… I read it all day, even when I was floating in the pool. I think it is one of the greatest books that I’ve ever read!!!! It is a great love story but even better, it is a great story of a parent’s unconditional love for his child. Just wanted you to know that I loved, loved, loved, loved it!!!! Great job. You have a very special gift with your writing. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and I can honestly tell you that I was meant to read your book–at this very point in my life. I know that it is a book, but it is a book that has given my heart hope. Thanks again for writing a really good book that touched my heart.”

  30. January 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Joe from TEXAS writes: “I finished the book last night. I love it! Well done!”

  31. January 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Brad from CALIFORNIA writes: “Mike has a wonderful way of capturing the thoughts inside the characters’ head as well as painting a canvas of words to carry you into the scene. You may even feel as though you are there. Make sure your tables are in the upright and locked position, have your legs up and take off into the story.With such skilled pen, Mike is able to weave the intertangled lives of the characters like a sailor’s knot. Like a salty snack at a party, eating one after the other, unable to stop, you find yourself reading chapter after chapter, each one compelling you, tugging at your interest strings, you just find it difficult to put the book down.”

  32. January 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Christina from FLORIDA writes: “Like many good writers, Mike Coe writes about what he knows. The airline references are familiar and fun, but this is not a “crew” book. It is a reminder that faith and hope really can make dreams come true.”

  33. January 1, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Mike from SOUTH CAROLINA writes: “Read it this weekend. Great book.”

  34. January 1, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    Mike from SOUTH DAKOTA writes: “I started reading your book yesterday after a few hours flying for work and didn’t quit reading until I finished at 2am this morning… An engrossing tale. Although I never flew for the airlines, my experience with pilots in the USAF showed me many Rexters… and many also like Ryan and their wives. Your storytelling was believable and compelling. Thanks for the memories.”

  35. January 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Johanna from MASSACHUSETTS writes: “”Flight to Paradise” is a HOT one!!!!”

  36. January 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Sherri from ALABAMA writes: “Mike, you sure know how to pull the heart strings. Love the emotional ride I’ve been on while reading Flight to Paradise.”

  37. January 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Bliss from CALIFORNIA writes: “I sat by the pool in Palm Springs and read it in one day. I was reading parts of it out loud to my friends. When is your next one coming out? I can’t wait!”

  38. January 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Rhonda from ALABAMA writes: “I really enjoyed reading it.”

  39. January 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Patty from CALIFORNIA writes: “I loved it! It was so good that I want to read it again so I don’t forget the story. I loved the short chapters.”

  40. January 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Elizabeth from ALABAMA writes: “I just finished reading Flight to Paradise and it was excellent! I can definitely see this as a movie. You did a great job and I hated to put it down once I started reading.”

  41. January 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Thomas from ALABAMA writes: “I enjoy how you tie so many interesting things into your novel.”

  42. January 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Rexann from ALABAMA writes: “Well written with intriguing and entertaining characters that deal with the frailties of human nature. Many twists and turns make this a page turner.”

  43. Jane Smith
    January 1, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Oh dear, Mike. You haven’t heard of The Author’s Big Mistake, have you? Perhaps you should google it.

  44. January 1, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Jane, Please don’t mistake my posting of reader’s reviews of my “Flight to Paradise” with the tactics characterized by “The Author’s Big Mistake”. I am not angry. I am not wishing others to harass you. I am not posting reviews to bash you or discredit you. I would NEVER do that. Writers who seek to bash a reviewer for an honest assessment of a few pages of their work are, in my opinion, out of touch with the subjective nature of art. My gratitude for your review was stated in my initial post and I stand by that.

    I stated: “As a new writer, reviews such as yours are confusing.” I find it perplexing when I attempt to connect your review with the many extremely positive reader reviews I have received. Based on your review, no one in their right mind would waste the time of day to read my novel—not even me. I wanted those who few your review of my novel to see balancing reviews from actual readers who have completed the entire novel. I posted a sample of those reviews two reasons: First, to show that a story cannot be evaluated completely by a sample reading of 4 pages; Secondly, to encourage other new authors who submit their work to you for review should realize that a negative critical review by one person does not determine the commercial success of a novel, nor does it give you a reason to cower in a corner and call yourself a failure.

    I will agree that, from the onset, I knew that the romance genre would be a difficult genre for a male writer to conquer, thus I hired 3 female editors to critique the manuscript line-by-line. Obviously, you did not like what these 3 women agreed upon for chapter one. Working with these women and the multiple re-writes were an educational experience which led me to write the sequel as a suspense/thriller.

    On a side note: In defense of my personal character, I am not voyeuristic and do have empathy for the driving force of my story—which would take a full reading to appreciate.

    Again, I thank you for your time to review the front cover, back cover, and chapter one (4 pages) of “Flight to Paradise”. I’m sorry that you were disappointed but feel, as many of my readers have, with a full reading, you would grow to love the story and the characters.

  45. Richard Kurzkoch
    January 5, 2012 at 6:39 am

    Certainly a book to avoid. Thanks for the warning.

  46. Jane Smith
    January 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Jane, Please don’t mistake my posting of reader’s reviews of my “Flight to Paradise” with the tactics characterized by “The Author’s Big Mistake”. I am not angry. I am not wishing others to harass you. I am not posting reviews to bash you or discredit you. I would NEVER do that.

    So you don’t consider posting over forty comments on my blog in the space of half an hour to be harassing? Hmm.

    The Author’s Big Mistake isn’t about being angry: it’s about responding to a negative review with anything more than, “I’m sorry you didn’t like my book: thank you for your time.” Many writers and publishers think that even that response is unwise. You don’t change the reviewer’s opinion, and you make yourself look foolish.

    I stated: “As a new writer, reviews such as yours are confusing.” I find it perplexing when I attempt to connect your review with the many extremely positive reader reviews I have received.

    Let’s consider those positive reviews, shall we? You have seven reviews on Amazon. All give your book five glowing stars. One comes from a writer who received a five-star review from you in return (trading reviews is pretty shabby), two come from people who both live in Alabama, just as you do, and who both have reviewed only your books and no others. Two other reviewers have reviewed only your books and no others, but might not actually come from Alabama. And one of the five-star reviews was written by you under the pseudonym FictionReaders. My guess is that you might know some of those other reviewers.

    Where did all the other reviews you quoted come from? I copied them into Google and it could only find them here, on my blog; on your blog; and on other places where you have copied them, such as Goodreads. It looks as though they might have originated on your website, but I couldn’t find anywhere on your website where I could leave a comment (by the way, your domain has expired—I could have bought it myself just now which would have been a bit of a laugh). How many of the people who wrote those reviews are your family and friends? How many are strangers who you’ve never met, who bought your book without meeting you first? I ask because it’s extraordinary for a book to attract so many positive comments from strangers, especially a self-published book which has no proper distribution or marketing push behind it. Just as with the Amazon reviewers, my guess is that you know a lot of the people behind those reviews.

    Based on your review, no one in their right mind would waste the time of day to read my novel—not even me.

    You didn’t notice the bit where I said you had potential?

    I wanted those who few your review of my novel to see balancing reviews from actual readers who have completed the entire novel.

    I posted a sample of those reviews two reasons: First, to show that a story cannot be evaluated completely by a sample reading of 4 pages; Secondly, to encourage other new authors who submit their work to you for review should realize that a negative critical review by one person does not determine the commercial success of a novel, nor does it give you a reason to cower in a corner and call yourself a failure.

    I have never suggested that writers should cower in corners because I’ve given them negative reviews. You seem to be projecting an awful lot onto me which isn’t actually there.

    You’re not the first person to complain that by only reading a portion of the books I review here I’m not giving them a fair chance. But you all knew my methods before you sent me your books to review: why object after the event? If you object so strongly to my methods, why ask me to review your work here? Did you assume that your book was so good I’d read it to the end? Are you just a little bit upset that I found so much wrong with it? And have you stopped to consider that I might actually be right?

    Moving on, readers don’t buy books based on their reading of the entire novel. They look at the cover, skim the back cover copy, and glance at the first page or two. That’s all. If you don’t grab them by that time, you’ll have missed your chance for a sale.

    And speaking of sales, how many copies have you sold?

    Mike, I’m sorry you didn’t like my review. I wish I could have found more to praise in your book; I wish you could have found something in it which could help you improve your work in the future. As it is, you’ve made a fool of yourself, and in so doing have made several readers of this blog extremely unlikely to consider any your future books.

  47. January 6, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    First, let me thank you for taking the time to post such a lengthy comment. Wow! You made some excellent points and had some great questions that I would like to respond to. I am reservedly hopeful that, in some way, you might view my responses (past and future) as an honest student of the craft, someone who is genuinely open to feedback, but most importantly a man of character who does not (has not) intentionally fabricate(d) false information for personal gain—as you tend to insinuate.

    At this point, based on the frustration and touch of anger I detect in your comment, I’m afraid it would take a face-to-face meeting to FULLY dissolve your belief that I am some sort of dishonest, rebellious malcontent. I am confident that if we chatted in person you would see that I am sincere and have not done anything, purposefully, to violate the invisible code of ethics for unpublished authors. I aim to handle all interactions (both business and personal) from an honest approach. It’s sad that blog/text/email exchanges tend to dehumanize a person—usually due to stereotypical assumptions based on previous experiences. However, since there is an ocean between us (plus the entire United States), I’ll take a stab at a reply using only my keyboard. I only ask that you read my words without presupposition.

    Jane: So you don’t consider posting over forty comments on my blog in the space of half an hour to be harassing? Hmm.

    Mike: No. Let me explain. First, I cut and pasted each—the reason for so many comments on your blog—I’m sorry for that if the number of comments is a problem. I actually had many more but grew tired and felt there were enough to justify the point. I was in hopes of getting your insight into the issue of my confusion: how can so many readers make such favorable reviews of my “Flight to Paradise” yet it only takes 4 pages to max out your 10-point test and consider it a flop. Trusting that my readers were not lying about their experience, all I could assume was my points were consumed by misplaced commas, punctuation, some needed sentence work, etc.—hopefully no misspelled words.

    You might choose not to believe me, but I honestly thought it was a fantastic idea—one that many of your followers would love to learn about. I actually expected you to make an instructional comment (from your vast knowledge/experience) in regard to how reviews and opinions of reviewers relate. This is something I am certain those who ask for your review of their novels are interested in but never ask. There are few, if any, outlets for new writers to enter into a two-way exchange with experienced editors. I see a great opportunity for you in this area.

    Jane: The Author’s Big Mistake isn’t about being angry: it’s about responding to a negative review with anything more than, “I’m sorry you didn’t like my book: thank you for your time.” Many writers and publishers think that even that response is unwise. You don’t change the reviewer’s opinion, and you make yourself look foolish.

    Mike: I never considered it my goal to “change the reviewer’s opinion”. Whatever happened to an honest exchange of ideas? Until you mentioned it, I’d never heard of The Author’s Big Mistake. I thought my greatest mistake, as an author, would be writing a story that would not connect with the hearts/minds/souls of my readers. I was looking for an exchange—preferably a positive learning experience. Instead, I feel like Dorothy standing before the almighty Oz, flames blasting to the ceiling, reprimands being hurled my way.
    Jane: Let’s consider those positive reviews, shall we? You have seven reviews on Amazon. All give your book five glowing stars. One comes from a writer who received a five-star review from you in return (trading reviews is pretty shabby), two come from people who both live in Alabama, just as you do, and who both have reviewed only your books and no others. Two other reviewers have reviewed only your books and no others, but might not actually come from Alabama. And one of the five-star reviews was written by you under the pseudonym FictionReaders. My guess is that you might know some of those other reviewers.
    Mike: Here is where I detect some of that frustration and anger—in addition to some serious judgments directed toward honest reviews made by my readers—I can only assume to be honest people. As you know, reviews only represent a small percentage of actual books read. It takes a serious commitment for a reader to post a review. I’m learning (after listening/reading about the two sides of the business: marketing and content/writing) that there is nothing wrong with asking readers for their honest reviews once they have read the novel. I tell everyone that corresponds with me that I would appreciate their review (good or bad). The numbers of reviews are important to writers—especially self-published writers with limited distribution channels.
    Perhaps the reason for some of the readers of FTP to have never made another review is due to the fact that I have heard from some of my readers who—believe it or not—tell me that my novel is the first one they have ever finished. In general, many people only read a few novels per year. Some of my readers are older—I know for certain that some don’t have computers. I learned this at several of my book signings.
    I was born in Alabama but live in California. Before California I lived in Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, and England. I have not lived in Alabama since 1987. My family consist of a brother in Alabama (who read the novel but did not post a review—that reminds me, I need to get him to do that), my father (read the novel and liked it, but did not give me a review—again, I need to get one from him); my mother and father-in-law (who both read the novel and gave me a review), two sister-in-laws (one couldn’t finish the novel because she said it reminded her too much of a bad experience growing up; the other one read it and love it but never gave me a review—again, I need to get one from her), and about 10 distant friends who I haven’t seen in a long time—most are avid readers who read it and loved it (some gave reviews). Moving as much as we have tends to limit the depth with friends. That about does it for friends and family unless you call Facebook friends “friends”.
    As the positive reviews started coming in, I thought it would be a good idea to post them to my website. Early on, I did collect them all and make one post (myself) on Amazon as FictionReaders to show those reviews (you are allowed one post). They were legitimate reviews that I had received from readers—some of the readers I knew, but most were strangers.
    You have made some serious judgments against me and these innocent readers who, I believe, are giving their honest opinions of my story. I’m not sure why you would stoop to this level unless it is trust issues with people, in general.
    Jane: Where did all the other reviews you quoted come from? I copied them into Google and it could only find them here, on my blog; on your blog; and on other places where you have copied them, such as Goodreads.
    Mike: The reviews posted on my website were sent to me on Facebook, Twitter (for example, I received one just yesterday from someone I don’t know. I posted it on Facebook and asked her if she would post a review on Amazon. She said she would. Here is the exact tweet/FB post: Tweet: @BluEyeDolphine5 – Finished “Flight To Paradise” in just over a day. Can’t wait to read “Flight Into Darkness” :), the mail, etc. These reviews keep trickling in and as hard as it might be for you to believe, they are very good reviews. This, of course, has nothing to do with your review, it only adds to my original point of this thread.
    As wonderful as it is, google doesn’t find everything. Again, I’m being very honest with you and have done nothing to mislead you. The reviews are as you see them. The readers are from all over the country—most are people I have never met.
    Jane: It looks as though they might have originated on your website, but I couldn’t find anywhere on your website where I could leave a comment (by the way, your domain has expired—I could have bought it myself just now which would have been a bit of a laugh). How many of the people who wrote those reviews are your family and friends? How many are strangers who you’ve never met, who bought your book without meeting you first? I ask because it’s extraordinary for a book to attract so many positive comments from strangers, especially a self-published book which has no proper distribution or marketing push behind it. Just as with the Amazon reviewers, my guess is that you know a lot of the people behind those reviews.
    Mike: I went through my family friend list in the previous comment.
    Yes, I agree. That is how I got into this mess in the first place. As I said, I was confused. Your comment… “It is extraordinary for a book to attract so many positive comments from strangers, especially a self-published book which has no proper distribution or marketing push behind it.” …shows that this new birth of self-published authors has a real chance. I’m a good example. Readers are looking for a story they can relate to (read some of my reviews); a story that touches their heart/head/soul. The gatekeepers of the traditional houses are blind to what is going on.
    I can’t thank you enough for bringing to my attention about my domain. My service did not warn me and I overlooked that. I also hope to put a comment section on my site—like yours. At the present, I only have a message (you missed it, so it must not be clear) to send all reviews to my email address.
    It bothers me that you would get a “bit of a laugh” from destroying someone’s business. You are obviously aware of the damage that could cause. But to be so vindictive only shows that you have anger issues over this. I am, AGAIN, truly sorry if I have contributed to your coming to this place.
    Jane: You didn’t notice the bit where I said you had potential?
    Mike: Oh yes, I did! It made my day. You see, I value your professional opinion. That is why I submitted my book to you. You seem to be having trouble believing me or accepting my honesty—something I’m certain a face-to-face meeting would resolve.
    Jane: I have never suggested that writers should cower in corners because I’ve given them negative reviews. You seem to be projecting an awful lot onto me which isn’t actually there.
    Mike: My comment “Secondly, to encourage other new authors who submit their work to you for review should realize that a negative critical review by one person does not determine the commercial success of a novel, nor does it give you a reason to cower in a corner and call yourself a failure.”, was an encouragement to writers, as most new writers wear their emotions on their sleeves. Whether you believe it or not, your review is a powerful force in an unpublished writer’s mind. I remember when I was about to give up, I had a wonderful man in the literary world, whom I respected greatly, give me a word of encouragement to continue. Learn the craft. Don’t be swayed by opinions. Connect with the reader’s heart/head/soul. It only takes a few positive words to give someone hope. That is why your word “potential” sticks out in my mind over all the other corrective comments you made. She thinks I have “potential”. How wonderful.
    Jane: You’re not the first person to complain that by only reading a portion of the books I review here I’m not giving them a fair chance. But you all knew my methods before you sent me your books to review: why object after the event? If you object so strongly to my methods, why ask me to review your work here? Did you assume that your book was so good I’d read it to the end? Are you just a little bit upset that I found so much wrong with it? And have you stopped to consider that I might actually be right?
    Mike: You are absolutely correct. We all knew: 10 strikes and you’re out. But I don’t see my concern as an objection. I saw it as an opportunity for you to reach your audience. Listen, we (writers) are dying for more clarity of what lies behind the “curtain”. We can get all the technical stuff from style guides and Internet searches. We want the meat that only people like you have. The only way we feel cheated is when we submit our “baby” to you—someone who has more experience than we have—and wait/hope for a constructive review that will push us to another level. In my case, I mailed my book across the “pond” and basically gave up after 3-4 emails/comments (over a year) to even see if it made it.
    When I first sent you my book, it had only been read by a handful of people. By the time you reviewed it, I had sold almost 1,000 copies—which, as you know, based on statics of self-published AND traditional publishing of first-time authors, is good. The reviews were good (as you have seen), so this is why I was led into this exchange, in the first place.
    I’m not upset that you found 10 mistakes so fast—a bit surprised, but not upset. It only goes to give you credit for what you do. The only thing I could possibly be upset by is that the story I wrote was unable to reach you. But that’s how the cookie crumbles. I accept it.
    Jane: Moving on, readers don’t buy books based on their reading of the entire novel. They look at the cover, skim the back cover copy, and glance at the first page or two. That’s all. If you don’t grab them by that time, you’ll have missed your chance for a sale.
    Mike: You are correct, but we could also say “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. For me, I will read a recommended book long before I pick up a book…the reason for sites like Goodreads. I don’t argue with you on what you are doing or how you are doing it. I simply saw a wonderful opportunity to connect with other writers on a topic that is raging within their writer souls: what makes a good story. In a perfect world, you could take my FTP and I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, given adequate distribution, it would be a #1 best seller and optioned for a movie.
    Jane: And speaking of sales, how many copies have you sold?
    Mike: I have sold in excess of 800 paperbacks of FTP. In my first and only book tour, I visited three cities and conducted six signings (back when it was first released), I sold over 350. I know you will doubt this, but I conducted three signings in Texas (one in Arlington was initiated by a person that I had never met but found my book online); the other two in Texas were at my old airline training facility and at the DFW airport employee gift store; there was a talk I made to a Friends of the Library group in Alabama (sold over 100 books there); two more local Alabama bookstores (one B&N campus store and one independent store). The e-book was released ($2.99) a few months ago.
    Jane: Mike, I’m sorry you didn’t like my review. I wish I could have found more to praise in your book; I wish you could have found something in it which could help you improve your work in the future. As it is, you’ve made a fool of yourself, and in so doing have made several readers of this blog extremely unlikely to consider any your future books.
    Mike: I did find something: I have “potential”, remember? As far as my making a fool of myself, I disagree and feel that your reference to me as a fool is unprofessional and of questionable character. Basically, I don’t understand you anger issues that are so apparent in your writing. Your disbelief in my success is also amazing. I have explained in detail, in as honest a way as I know how, the intentions of my comments and my journey. As far as your blog followers go, I’ll let each person choose.
    Again, the intent of all my posts was nothing but honest and sincere. I’m sorry you took it any other way. I wish you the best.

  48. Richard Kurzkoch
    January 7, 2012 at 3:51 am

    It was called a review, but what Jane gave you was actually a chunk of advice. Who else has done that in their reviews of your book? Probably not the person who said this: “After 30 years of being given novels by my girlfriends to read, yours is the first I have every finished. I loved it!”

    Why not take the advice and work hard to become a better writer?

  49. January 7, 2012 at 5:08 am

    Hi Richard,

    I’m not certain I understand your comment. I get the part about it being “called a review”, but I’m not too sure what “chunk” of advice you were referring to. Most of what Jane mentioned in her original review was non-specific. In her few specifics, I did try to decipher them, locate them and will continue to reflect on a couple of her notes. I think she is very experienced at what she does.

    I don’t understand what kind of advice I should be expecting from my readers. I’m certainly open for their advice but am thrilled just to get their reviews. I don’t understand your connection between Jane’s review/advice and the reviews of my readers. What am I missing? However, now that you mention it, the review you referenced was a very interesting one. That lady lives in Georgia and is in her late 50’s. I only know this because of a few follow-up emails I had with her thanking her for her encouraging comment. She is a wonderful lady who does not read many novels (never finished one, as she put it, until she picked up my FTP). She told me that FTP felt like it was written for specifically for her (a very big deal for an author to hear that). She said she identified with it in many ways, as many other readers have also told me.

    I am always seeking to better my craft and to learn all that I can from those who have walked this road ahead of me. One of my favorite teachers/coaches is Jerry Cleaver, author of “Immediate Fiction”. It ranks at the top of books I think every fiction writer should read.

    Richard, you might be interested to know that as I am typing this I just received a brand new review as a Facebook message from Jimmy. Jimmy said: “I hope I’ve gained you 2 new fans. My mom and and my friend Becky loved FLIGHT TO PARADISE. They want to read FLIGHT INTO DARKNESS. I told them they can’t have my copy until I read it. I told them how to order.”

    Jimmy is a man I met AFTER he read “Flight to Paradise”. I did not know Jimmy until after he read my novel. As a new fan, he ordered 2 signed copies of FTP for Christmas gifts for his 75 year old mother and a close friend named Becky. I do not know Jimmy’s mom or Becky but am glad to have them as fans.

    You see Jimmy, it is a slow process for a self published author, but it can be done. All it takes is a good story that touches the head/heart/soul of the reader. From the reviews I have received from my readers, I am happy that FTP does just that.

    Be sure to let me know what I missed in your comment. I would like to be clear on what you were trying to say to me. Who knows, one day you might even sneak off and spent $2.99 and see what all these readers are talking about with my “Flight to Paradise”. If you do, I would love to have your review–good or bad.
    ..

  50. January 7, 2012 at 5:11 am

    Hi Scooter,

    Thank you for your feedback. It was very helpful. Perhaps you might give it a try and see what you think of the characters. I would love to have your review and any comments. If you are a writer, you know how valuable honest reviews from readers.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  51. Jane Smith
    January 7, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Oh, for goodness’ sake.

    Mike, if you’re going to post any more long comments here at least split them up into proper paragraphs so that people can read them easily.

    I am reservedly hopeful that, in some way, you might view my responses (past and future) as an honest student of the craft, someone who is genuinely open to feedback

    If you were “genuinely open to feedback” I doubt you’d have reacted the way you did to my review.

    At this point, based on the frustration and touch of anger I detect in your comment, I’m afraid it would take a face-to-face meeting to FULLY dissolve your belief that I am some sort of dishonest, rebellious malcontent.

    I am only frustrated because you persist in reading things into my comments which are simply not there. Like anger, or the beliefs you ascribe to me right there. And because you persist in ignoring the points I’ve made.

    Jane: So you don’t consider posting over forty comments on my blog in the space of half an hour to be harassing? Hmm.
    Mike: No. Let me explain. First, I cut and pasted each—the reason for so many comments on your blog—I’m sorry for that if the number of comments is a problem. I actually had many more but grew tired and felt there were enough to justify the point. I was in hopes of getting your insight into the issue of my confusion: how can so many readers make such favorable reviews of my “Flight to Paradise” yet it only takes 4 pages to max out your 10-point test and consider it a flop.

    Most of the positive “reviews” you cut-and-pasted here were one-liners: you could have combined them all into a single comment. Quoting three or four would have made your point; quoting forty one seems excessive to the point of obsessive to me; and doing it at all is entirely inappropriate. I refer you, once again, to The Author’s Big Mistake.

    Trusting that my readers were not lying about their experience, all I could assume was my points were consumed by misplaced commas, punctuation, some needed sentence work, etc.—hopefully no misspelled words.

    Nope. As I made clear in my review, I found much more basic problems.

    You might choose not to believe me, but I honestly thought it was a fantastic idea—one that many of your followers would love to learn about. I actually expected you to make an instructional comment (from your vast knowledge/experience) in regard to how reviews and opinions of reviewers relate. This is something I am certain those who ask for your review of their novels are interested in but never ask. There are few, if any, outlets for new writers to enter into a two-way exchange with experienced editors. I see a great opportunity for you in this area.

    Careful, Mike, your ego is showing. In this one paragraph you tell me how I should have reacted, what other writers I review would like me to discuss, and how I’m missing a “great opportunity”. You seem very fond of speaking for others without any idea of what they want or think. As for that “great opportunity” you think I’m missing: perhaps you’ve not seen my other blog.

    Mike: Here is where I detect some of that frustration and anger—in addition to some serious judgments directed toward honest reviews made by my readers—I can only assume to be honest people.

    You’re doing it again.

    I was born in Alabama but live in California.

    I read somewhere online that you lived in Alabama. But even if you’ve now moved away, I suspect you have some family and friends who still live there. My point still stands.

    You have made some serious judgments against me and these innocent readers who, I believe, are giving their honest opinions of my story.

    Asking questions isn’t the same as making “serious judgements”.

    I’m not sure why you would stoop to this level unless it is trust issues with people, in general.

    You’re doing it again.

    Your comment… “It is extraordinary for a book to attract so many positive comments from strangers, especially a self-published book which has no proper distribution or marketing push behind it.” …shows that this new birth of self-published authors has a real chance.

    No, it shows that I’m doubtful that your book has attracted so many five-star reviews and no lesser ones.

    I can’t thank you enough for bringing to my attention about my domain.

    You’re welcome.

    It bothers me that you would get a “bit of a laugh” from destroying someone’s business. You are obviously aware of the damage that could cause. But to be so vindictive only shows that you have anger issues over this. I am, AGAIN, truly sorry if I have contributed to your coming to this place.

    1) The “bit of a laugh” comment was a joke, and a warning of what could have happened had I been less ethical.
    2) If my taking over your domain because you had not renewed it on time would have destroyed your business then you shouldn’t have been so damn slack about renewing it.
    3) How is warning you that your website has lapsed “vindictive”?
    4) I think you’re projecting your own anger issues onto me. Transferance and all that. You seem to have major emotional problems of your own.

    Jane: You didn’t notice the bit where I said you had potential?
    Mike: Oh yes, I did! It made my day. You see, I value your professional opinion. That is why I submitted my book to you. You seem to be having trouble believing me or accepting my honesty—something I’m certain a face-to-face meeting would resolve.

    You say you value my professional opinion but you’ve done nothing but argue with me assume that because I disagree with you I must have anger issues. And this is the second time you’ve suggested that we meet. That’s not going to happen.

    Listen, we (writers) are dying for more clarity of what lies behind the “curtain”. We can get all the technical stuff from style guides and Internet searches. We want the meat that only people like you have.

    There are lots of places writers can go to get editorial advice. There are editorial agencies which provide it, at a cost; there are various critique sites too (AbsoluteWrite is a good one). And there are conferences and workshops and conventions which you could attend too.

    Mike: I have sold in excess of 800 paperbacks of FTP.

    Well done—that’s very good going.

    As far as my making a fool of myself, I disagree and feel that your reference to me as a fool is unprofessional and of questionable character. Basically, I don’t understand you anger issues that are so apparent in your writing.

    In my view you have made a fool of yourself here. You are welcome to have a different opinion. And perhaps the reason that you don’t understand my anger issues is that they don’t actually exist, and are simply the result of you projecting your own anger onto me.

    Your disbelief in my success is also amazing. I have explained in detail, in as honest a way as I know how, the intentions of my comments and my journey. As far as your blog followers go, I’ll let each person choose.
    Again, the intent of all my posts was nothing but honest and sincere. I’m sorry you took it any other way. I wish you the best.

    You’ve transformed my review of your rather lacklustre book into a judgement that I have anger issues and doubt your sincerity. There’s nothing like denial to make things go swimmingly, is there?

  52. Jane Smith
    January 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Mike, it occurs to me that we both might benefit from a wider audience for this discussion. I could write about it on my bigger blog, which attracts several thousand unique visitors each week: but I’ll only do so if you’re ok with that. Please let me know if you’d like me to go ahead.

  53. January 7, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Jane: Mike, if you’re going to post any more long comments here at least split them up into proper paragraphs so that people can read them easily.

    Mike: Sorry for that. I wrote the comment as a word document, copied, then pasted to your blog. When I went to check it for proper spacing my computer was sticking. The first section visible looked okay, but after it posted I saw the mess. There is no way to edit comments. I’ll try a different approach this time. I’m not sure how to make it fancy like yours. Maybe you can instruct me and we can pretty this thing up–on my side.

    Jane: If you were “genuinely open to feedback” I doubt you’d have reacted the way you did to my review.

    Mike: I’m still not connecting with you on “reacting the way you did” part. Again, I believe this is a blog issue. I truly believe our exchange what not have taken this fork in the road if we had been speaking in person. When I re-read my “reaction”, I don’t feel what you must be reading into the words.

    Jane: I am only frustrated because you persist in reading things into my comments which are simply not there. Like anger, or the beliefs you ascribe to me right there. And because you persist in ignoring the points I’ve made.

    Mike: Okay, I’m going to offer the first olive branch on this one. You admit that you are frustrated. I believe you. I hate it that I am digging into your emotions and causing frustration. I don’t mean to be “reading things into” your comments. Again, it is this blog thing. I will work extremely hard to keep my words contained, thinking about each one and will try NOT to spark emotion by misunderstanding your the intent of your comments. Please, I ask you to do the same.

    Jane: Most of the positive “reviews” you cut-and-pasted here were one-liners: you could have combined them all into a single comment. Quoting three or four would have made your point; quoting forty one seems excessive to the point of obsessive to me; and doing it at all is entirely inappropriate. I refer you, once again, to The Author’s Big Mistake.

    Mike: I thought about doing that, and at first reflection, thought I should have. Yes, under normal circumstances it was probably excessive (another olive branch for you). However, from my newly acquired understanding of your disbelief, skepticism, and basic lack of trust (in me and my readers), I can see how, perhaps, they might not have been so “over-the-top”. I’m not sure if three or four would have been enough to warrant an exchange on our topic: the commercial viability of a novel with a negative review from a professional/creditable editor.

    Jane: Nope. As I made clear in my review, I found much more basic problems.

    Mike: I’m sure you did; the nature of a good editor. Any good editor can tear a manuscript apart, even after a previous good editor has given it praise. If this were not so, storys like “The Bridges of Madison County”, “The Notebook”, “Twilight”, “Harry Potter”, the list goes on and on, would have been snapped up my editors/publishers on the first couple of querys. Many good editors will tell you today that they still don’t understand how Waller’s book broke out. We both know why…readers identified with the story. This is the point I’m trying to make with you. You are a good editor, I’m only saying that being a good editor and giving a bad review of a story (especially after a small sample analysis) seals the fate of the commercial viability of that story. I jumped off topic. My response to your finding of “much more basic problems” was only me speaking in general terms–more aimed at the entire story.

    Jane: Careful, Mike, your ego is showing. In this one paragraph you tell me how I should have reacted, what other writers I review would like me to discuss, and how I’m missing a “great opportunity”. You seem very fond of speaking for others without any idea of what they want or think. As for that “great opportunity” you think I’m missing: perhaps you’ve not seen my other blog.

    Mike: Man, you are a tough one. Again, you really would not see that (ego) in my comment if we were face-to-face. Please don’t misread me. I only use the idea of a face-to-face to emphasize how difficult it is to “get it” on a blog post. We seem to be doing a lot of “showing” how that works.

    I speak of “others” in the sense a student might refer to other students. There is a commonality we share. I don’t have to know them to “know” them, so to speak. We are all very much alike in our journey.

    I have looked at your other blog–not in great detail. I will do this. My “idea/suggestion” was, again, not received correctly. I’m always looking for better ways to “crack the nut”. I’m at heart a teacher. When I see an opportunity to meet a need, I consider the angles. It appears that you do the same/have done the same.

    Jane: You’re doing it again.

    Mike: I chalk it up as another misinterpretation on your part of my intent–a blog thing.

    Jane: I read somewhere online that you lived in Alabama. But even if you’ve now moved away, I suspect you have some family and friends who still live there. My point still stands.

    Mike: In my last post I gave you my journey, in detail—locations I’ve lived and practically my entire family tree. I included many of my friends and the reason for my shallow debt of the number of friends based on my many moves. Did you read it? If you had you would not be saying “I suspect you have some family and friends who still live there”.

    Your “point” still standing shows you continue to “do it again” as you like to say; trying to find a way to not believe that these readers—friends family, or whoever—actually loved the story. This brings up a question. Why is it that a friend or family member can’t be trusted? Would it be easier for this person to just remain silent, not post anything, or give a weak “good book” review, if anything. If you read some of these reviews of my FTP, you can see the heart of the reader in many of the post. Regardless of who the person is, these reviews come from a much deeper level than the mere idea of “let me help poor mike sell his books…he is a fine young man and deserves the best”. I’m shaking my head at how you cling to this like a bull dog might his last bone.

    Jane: Asking questions isn’t the same as making “serious judgements”.

    Mike: Here is where we might disagree. It is my opinion that “serious” judgments are those that question a person’s character. I might be wrong, please tell me if I am, but when you call a person a fraud (the reviews are falsified, the author is not being honest and truthful, etc), I consider this to be serious. I’m not seeing a question being asked—or at least my answers in defense of my readers is not being heard.

    Jane: No, it shows that I’m doubtful that your book has attracted so many five-star reviews and no lesser ones.

    Mike: Now you are “doing it again”—doubting the opinion of my readers. Come on Jane, it is what it is. I don’t tell the readers what star to select.

    Jane: You’re welcome.

    Mike: Great catch…again, thank you.

    Jane: 1) The “bit of a laugh” comment was a joke, and a warning of what could have happened had I been less ethical.
    2) If my taking over your domain because you had not renewed it on time would have destroyed your business then you shouldn’t have been so damn slack about renewing it.
    3) How is warning you that your website has lapsed “vindictive”?
    4) I think you’re projecting your own anger issues onto me. Transferance and all that. You seem to have major emotional problems of your own.

    Mike: 1) Joke or not, it was revealing. I would never state something toward you that might be taken as a vindictive comment. However, again, I chalk it up to a blog thing—something easily detected in person for what you had intended. 2) “Destroyed” was the wrong word, but so was your “damn”. I’m doing the best I can to tolerate your offensive words and let them go…calling me a “fool”, and consider that I might be “voyeuristic” are examples. Now “damn slack”. Is it really necessary? Can’t we have an exchange that is not so aggressive? It is not in my nature. If you really want me to disappear just say so. 3) See 1. 4) Now I have “major emotional problems”. Again, I direct you back to #2. So you are now the analyst and I am the patient being psychoanalyzed. Interesting. Again, I’ll chalk this up as a blog thing—once again giving you the benefit of the doubt.

    Jane: You say you value my professional opinion but you’ve done nothing but argue with me assume that because I disagree with you I must have anger issues. And this is the second time you’ve suggested that we meet. That’s not going to happen.

    Mike: First of all, I do value your professional opinion. Secondly, I’m debating—or attempting to, however I’m not doing such a hot job—the issue of how a single (or multiple) bad reviews can or cannot predict the commercial potential of a story. If you call it arguing, then there must consider me wrong and you right. As my father always said when I challenge his view: “It’s not my way, it’s THE way.” You see, he considered himself to always be right. So for him, there is no place for an honest debat.

    Your anger issues that I refer to are mostly derived from the tone of your remarks: fool, major emotional problems, damn slack. Communication is a two-way street. I’m pulling from everything I can to make this a constructive discussion. I’m not perfect, but I don’t believe I have called you names, or sworn at you. I have said that I thought you had anger issues, were frustrated (which you confirmed), insinuated that I had falsified my readers reviews, accused me of lying, doubted my credibility, etc. I have also complemented you and made public my believe that you are a creditable editor, respected in your field, and worthy such. I even have said I gained from your comments and am continuing to thing on some of them.

    I think what I’m seeing is that you are digging and tearing at me, resolved and focused to completely dismantle my work so as to save your review from any questions. Something that is not on my radar for you in our exchange. If you misinterpret my comments and turn them into something that they are not intended to be, I can only speak in defense of the truth in my heart hoping you will see it.

    Jane: There are lots of places writers can go to get editorial advice. There are editorial agencies which provide it, at a cost; there are various critique sites too (AbsoluteWrite is a good one). And there are conferences and workshops and conventions which you could attend too.

    Mike: Good point. I understand that your other blog does a good job too.

    Jane: Well done—that’s very good going.

    Mike: Thank you. I must ask, not trying to poke at you, but you actually believe me? Maybe we are making progress.

    Jane: In my view you have made a fool of yourself here. You are welcome to have a different opinion. And perhaps the reason that you don’t understand my anger issues is that they don’t actually exist, and are simply the result of you projecting your own anger onto me.

    Mike: Wow! Me, angry? AGAIN, this blog stuff is, seriously, an impossible venue for communication. I thought we were making progress.

    Jane: You’ve transformed my review of your rather lacklustre book into a judgement that I have anger issues and doubt your sincerity. There’s nothing like denial to make things go swimmingly, is there?

    Mike: Your rhetorical questions have such..an air about them, it does make my head swim each time I read one. Sorta reminds me of the actors when they refer to all the “little people” (fans of theirs).

    Great point to the main theme of our exchange: It is YOUR review, and I accept it. But is your review a judgment of the fate of the story? If so, we have gone full circle and are back to the beginning—square one: How do the reviews of REAL readers factor into your judgment? You say lackluster when they say “Excellent!” “I loved it?” “I couldn’t put it down.”

    Is the denial you speak of the denial of the many wonderful reviews from readers of my “Flight to Paradise”. If so, we are wasting our keystrokes, don’t you think?

  54. January 7, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Jane: Mike, it occurs to me that we both might benefit from a wider audience for this discussion. I could write about it on my bigger blog, which attracts several thousand unique visitors each week: but I’ll only do so if you’re ok with that. Please let me know if you’d like me to go ahead.

    Mike: Jane, I am always open to the idea of a wider audience (my SM platform is almost 4,000 strong and growing 2-3% each month), but I am not certain we are ready for it. You are correct in making the assumption that we would/could both benefit (emphasis on “could” and “both”), but I don’t think readers want to visit the ancient days of Rome and witness a gladiator-type discussion. I don’t really think it would come to that, but until we decide on the topic–which I still claim to be “The commercial viability of a self-published novel after a negative (partial) review by one professional editor.” we would only be poking and getting nowhere.

    I would NOT be willing to enter into a larger arena until we could reach a point were we are aiming at the topic instead of each other. So far, I feel that most of my comments are hitting a stone wall, as I’m sure you have your own points of contention. However, the opportunity for reaching the “self-published” authors, in a big way, is here–a diamond in the rough, so to speak. The question is, can we polish it and make it shine.

    The idea of taking this to a wider audience for the purpose of “chest beating” would obviously not be a worthy effort–for either of us. So far, I’m far from convienced that you are interested in seeing me benefit. I am reaching my limits wtih this blog and never intended to go this far. However, I have a little more left and am willing to give it a few more tries (on this blog) to see if we can refine the tone and reach some point where we are seeking this “mutually beneficial” arena we both feel has possibilities.

  55. January 8, 2012 at 12:05 am

    Oh for petesakes, is there anything worse than an author who can’t handle a review that runs contrary to what he was expecting? Mike, if you don’t want to accept what an intelligent reviewer who has excellent analysis has to say, then don’t ask for one. Your attitude is unprofessional.

  56. Jane Smith
    January 8, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Mike, you seem determined to misinterpret everything I say to you, and to do so at great length. Your comments here reflect much of what’s wrong with your book.

    And Lynn is right: your attitude is unprofessional.

  57. January 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Hello. I just thought I’d populate the comments with another new name for some variety. 😉

  58. January 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Ha ha haaaa!

  59. January 8, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    I am totally exhausted.

    Mike. May I offer you a little advice from a fellow writer? Your long rambling comments tell me you’re inexperienced and/or have no idea of the impression you’re making. Whilst it’s lovely to get reviews from family, friends and from people who rarely read novels, they are not considered valid in the real world of publishing. If I were to copy out the telephone directory, my 87-year-old mother would call it a work of genius. I love her to bits but I wouldn’t ever consider listing her comments as a favourable review on a website or when I was approaching editors or agents. A writer needs to be professional at all times. Especially on the internet.

    You know what Jane is like from her blogs. You know she is straight-talking and has a sharp sense of humour. If you don’t care for her style, why argue with her at length? Walk away with your dignity intact and not egg all over your face.

  60. January 8, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    There are no words. Well, maybe these: I’m embarrassed for you, Mr. Coe. Though I do appreciate you taking the time to demonstrate, in exhausting detail, how to behave unprofessionally.

  61. January 8, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Mike, your lack of self awareness and level of denial are staggering. Perhaps if you spent as much energy in working at your writing rather than entering into bizarre arguments with a fair and experienced editor you would make better progress.

  62. January 8, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    *stunned silence*

  63. January 8, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Oh my goodness, I’ve just caught up on this.

    Mike – if your book reviews on Amazon are universally 5-star that’s amazing. Nobel Prize-winning novelists don’t achieve that level of universal acclaim so for a self-published first time author to do so is incredible. Literally incredible. Personally, I can’t accept your assertion that none of those people are at the very least friends and family. The comments to me are too similar in syntax and style and sound as though they’ve been written by one and the same person. But maybe I just think that because you’re protesting quite so much at people making that insinuation.

    Here’s the thing Mike – Jane knows her stuff and is well respected by many people in the book trade. If she raved about a self-pubbed novel I’d seriously think about stocking it in my bookshop. She gave you some pretty solid advice – characterisation needs to be believable from the outset; that maybe romance was the wrong genre for you and that crime-thriller might suit your writing style more; that there were too many sloppy errors – 10 in 4 pages is way too many – and that using words like ‘pre-screened’ spoilt the flow. She pointed out plenty of positives – that you understand pace and have story-telling ability and that in a genre you were more comfortable with those aspects may well help you to produce a really good novel.

    Nagging her and spamming her with 40-odd unsubstantiated comments breathlessly praising Flight to Paradise is not the way to deal with this. If you’ve had such positive feedback that’s great but haranguing someone for not liking your novel is out of order. And to accuse her of having ‘anger issues’ is ridiculous. I know Jane and she’s sharply intelligent and witty but not angry.

    I think you need to apologise and withdraw gracefully. Remember all those people who really like your work, take what you can of the advice generously given by Jane and concentrate on making your next book even better so that those readers looking forward to it get even more pleasure from reading it.

    Speaking as a bookseller, I like the cover but I think the title sounds too Harlequin Romance. I read the first few pages of the preview and agree with every thing Jane said. I also found there to be too many religious references but maybe a US readership is ok with that. I wouldn’t stock it because it doesn’t fit with the tastes of my customers but also because of the points that Jane made and I second.

    You have potential as a writer but you need to focus on developing that potential rather than on throwing your toys out of the pram because someone – apparently the first person to do so – disagreed with the opinion you have of your work, reinforced by all this gushing praise you’ve apparently received.

  64. January 8, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Oh dear!

  65. January 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Oh good grief.

    Vanessa – excellent, reasoned and experienced bookseller’s view. Well said.

    When we get a negative review we have to move on, quietly. If we respect the reviewer, we listen. If we don’t, we say nothing. The alternative is just too painful. As this shows.

  66. January 8, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Definitely one of those situations where one should be humble and take the advice given, strive to improve, and take another crack at it. If you really just completely disagree with the reviewer, simply ignore it and move on. Personally, I’d love a brutally honest review like this.

  67. January 8, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Out of curiosity, I have now downloaded a free sample onto my Kindle. This reveals all the typical faults of a novel that is nowhere near ready to be published. Too much exposition and back-story, a less than engaging main character; flat writing and lack of pace and variety. Rather than complaining about gatekeepers, I suggest you learn your craft. Jane was actually very kind to you in her review.

  68. January 8, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Out of curiosity I looked up Harvey Stanborough, the gentleman who was so keen on this guy’s work, and who told Mike he was so special. http://www.harveystanbrough.com/ Seems to be Mike’s own editor, and author of a squillion self-pubbed how-to books on writing. Also author of some interesting self-pubbed collections of short stories, samples of which are free to read on his site. Complete with many many many incredible reviews…
    Just saying.

  69. Amber
    January 9, 2012 at 1:25 am

    If it’s true that you only read 4 pages of the entire novel, this isn’t a review. You don’t have enough information to make any kind of educated opinion on the author or their book. This strikes me of sexism and self righteousness and not any real attempt to review the book.

  70. Cat
    January 9, 2012 at 3:22 am

    Amber, if the first page does not grab me I will put a book aside. Jane has probably read three pages more than she needed to for the purpose of this blog.

  71. Jane Smith
    January 9, 2012 at 7:42 am

    I note that Mr Coe didn’t comment overnight. A shame, as I think he could have benefitted from the advice which has been given (which, for anyone reading this who doesn’t know the people involved, comes from professional writers and publishing people).

    That’s very interesting, Vanessa. On his website Mike Coe writes,

    “My editor, Harvey Stanbrough, whose work has been nominated for a National Book Award, a Pulitzer Prize, a Pushcart Prize, a Frankfurt Book Fair Award, and the Inscriptions Magazine Engraver’s Award”

    I know that anyone can nominate anyone for the Pulitzer Prize, so that’s not actually the achievement it appears to be. I don’t know about those other prizes, but I would be interested to know more.

    And Amber: you might not like my reviewing methods but please note that I’m very upfront about how I work here, and if Mike Coe didn’t want me to review his book in the way that I do, he was under no obligation to submit to me.

    Four pages was plenty for me to note the problems that I did; and how reading four pages can equate to sexism I have no idea. Either your logic is lacking or your grammar.

  72. January 9, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Holy doodle, what a mess.

    I’m curious, Mike; if your book is so universally loved, why are you worrying so much about one review?

    Jane is entitled to her opinion. As is any reader. It’s not the author’s place to tell ANY reader how to read, interpret, or review their books. Not at all, not ever. Jane didn’t call you a fool, she said you’ve made yourself look foolish, and I’m afraid that in that she is 100% correct.

  73. Terie
    January 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Without providing any context, I asked a colleague what they would think if someone posted 40 consecutive comments within one-half hour on an internet forum. They said they couldn’t imagine any situation where doing something like that wouldn’t make the person posting the comments look ridiculous.

    Mike, regardless of what you think, you really, truly have committed the Author’s Big Mistake. I hope you learn from this experience not to do it again.

  74. James
    January 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Wow. Just wow. I’ve never been fatigued from reading blog comments before, but I am now.

    And for the record, Mike, you DO NOT know me or “know” me, or any other aspiring writer of any kind. Don’t make that assumption.

    Also, I don’t think this blog post has helped me in any way as a writer (as you keep saying it will) other than further emphasis on that whole “big mistake” thing. In that sense, you’ve showed me what not to do if I’m ever in your shoes.

  75. January 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    I thought this was a parody, I really did. Oh, Mike.

  76. January 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I wouldn’t have been turned off to the book by the review, but boy am I turned off by the author’s lack of professionalism. I’ll be steering clear of this one.

  77. January 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Jane, I have never heard of the German Book Fair Award, despite having attended the Book Fair a few times and having lived in Frankfurt. I couldn’t find it on google, either. On this page you’ll find some of the awards of the book fair, but none under that specific name: http://www.buchmesse.de/en/fbf/book_fair_live/awards/

  78. January 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Epic. Fail.

    ’nuff said.

  79. Jane Smith
    January 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Kibileri, you make an excellent point.

    In one of his many comments here Mike Coe wrote,

    Harvey Stanbrough (whose work has been nominated for a National Book Award, a Pulitzer Prize, a Pushcart Prize, a Frankfurt Book Fair Award, and the Inscriptions Magazine Engraver’s Award) had this to say about “Flight to Paradise”.

    “I’ve told only two unpublished novelists (from well over a hundred novelists and short-story authors) their work was excellent–you are the third.”

    Being nominated for The National Book Award, The Pulitzer Prize, and The Pushcart Prize does not mean that a book is prizeworthy, as any publisher (including a self-published author) can nominate the books it publishes for these prizes. I believe that one doesn’t even have to be a publisher to nominate a work for the Pulitzer. The proof of this can be seen in the number of almost unreadable vanity-published and self-published authors who trumpet their nominations in an attempt to make their work look more successful than it actually is.

    Of course, winning one of these prizes is another matter entirely. I’d be far more impressed by Mr Stanbrough if he had won anything.

    Mr Coe’s claim that Mr Stanbrough was nominated for The Frankfurt Book Fair Award seems to be a mistake. According to Mr Stanbrough’s own website he’s been nominated for The Frankfurt Award. I can’t find any information about a notable prize of that name, but I have found a few references to the Deutsche Bibliothek Frankfurt Award, which was won by Ultra Violet for her book “Famous For Fifteen Minutes (my life with Andy Warhol)”, which was published in 2004. A quick Google finds no other winners although others with better google-fu than I might have better luck.

    As for The Inscriptions Magazine Engraver’s Award: I think Mr Coe meant Inscriptions Magazine’s Engraver Award. This again appears to have been a prize which anyone could nominate themselves for, but as Inscriptions Magazine’s website is now no more than a placeholder, I think we can assume that it’s no longer awarding its prizes. Which implies that it’s not that impressive a prize to win (or even be nominated for).

  80. January 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    I’m afraid the content of the comments has moved away from the discussion of the actual story and a discussion about commenting. I recently gathered some additional comments from some of Mike’s loyal readers. I’m going to follow Mike’s lead and withhold the last names to protect the privacy of the reviewers. Hopefully, this will get us back on track …

    Beyoncé from Los Angeles writes: “I’ve never read such raw unbridled talent as Flight to Paradise. Lately, I’ve been on bed rest and on doctors orders to relax. I would recommend this book to all the ‘single ladies.’ ”

    Oprah from Chicago writes: “This is the greatest book I have ever read. For the first time, I wish I still had a venue to gather people together and discuss the pure genius of Flight to Paradise. In the meantime I’ll just have to buy copies and distribute them to my fans, er, friends. You get a book! You get a book! Book! Book! We’ll all be READ-INNNNNNGGG!!!”

    Regis from New York City writes: “All this time, I thought I knew Joy. I thought I was married to her. Hey! So last night we’re having drinks at the 54 Marlin, and this little man walks up to me. Looks me in the eye and says, ‘Rege, you’ve got to find true joy by reading this book, Flight to Paradise.’ Boom! Up all night. Yowza! I’ve got to tell Gelman.”

    Lassie from Hollywood writes: “Ruff! Ruff, Ruff, Ruff!” (Translation: Timmy is not lost in the well. He recently discovered Flight to Paradise and he is loving every syllable.)

  81. January 9, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    “Lassie from Hollywood writes: “Ruff! Ruff, Ruff, Ruff!” (Translation: Timmy is not lost in the well. He recently discovered Flight to Paradise and he is loving every syllable.)”

    Love it.

  82. January 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Good lawd.

    Mike, any review–even a bad one–is better than no review at all. Sometimes the bad reviews prompt curiosity and a desire to see “if it was really that bad” from readers and result in sales anyway. Arguing with a reviewer just makes you look petulant and unprofessional.

    As reviews go, this one is relatively tame. Don’t hurt your online presence any more than you already have. No reviewer is under any obligation to tell you how to improve. That Jane went out of her way to give you pointers on what could be changed to make for a stronger novel was above and beyond, whether you realize that or not. Reviews are supposed to be for the purpose of informing other readers what that reviewer thought and whether or not they recommend it–not to tell the author how to “fix” an already published manuscript.

    Step back, try to look at this from the viewpoint of a person who doesn’t know you, and realize that this is not the way to prompt goodwill from those who you wish to establish a professional connection with or to get admiration (or sales) from potential readers.

    Jane recommended some good resources. As one author to another, I suggest you thank her for her time and withdraw.

    Best,
    -J

  83. January 9, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Jess,

    Excellent advice and well put. Thank you. I did step back and realized where this train left the tracks. Standing behind my readers (and what I believe are their honest reviews), I posed a question in the wrong venue. Thank you for your wise and logical advice and ability to defuse this before I went any further.

    Jane, I sincerly apologize for having overstepped my bounds in your house. I do understand your format, thank you for your review, and wish you great success.

    As I posted my latest weekly blog this weekend, I realized that the blog was written more for me than for my fans: “Expections Kill Relationships” (see http://www.mikecoe.blogspot.com).

    Again, thank you Jess. You sound like someone I would like to call my friend.

    Best,
    Mike

  84. Sandra Peephole
    January 9, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    “As I posted my latest weekly blog this weekend, I realized that the blog was written more for me than for my fans”

    But aren’t you all just one person?

  85. vicvega66
    January 10, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I shan’t be going out of my way to buy or read any of his books any time soon.

    I started out writing fanfic and learnt very quickly the Golden Rule, ‘don’t engage teh crazy’ if I received a bad review, a flame or was trolled then I would reply by private message, politely,

    “thank you for taking the time to read and review it is always appreciated.”

    And that would be that.

    Your review was measured, sensible and contained some excellent advice, I’d be pleased to receive it and would take the advice on board, I’m a writer and want to improve.

    Regarding the reviews, sadly a large percentage of the five star reviews on Amazon are shill reviews by friends, family and bloggers who are given ARC’s of the book. It happens time after time, I always read the lower rated, one and two starred reviews for the real picture and it often isn’t pretty; poor grammar, punctuation and spelling, totally unedited and bad writing. I don’t have a Kindle and on the strength of the dross out there won’t be bothering to buy one anytime soon.

    A lot of authors rush into (virtual) print without bothering to have their manuscripts proof read first. As a reader I find mistakes take me out of the story and stop me reading, quite apart from the fact it’s darned annoying when you are being asked to PAY for the darn things as well.

    Quality control is all whether it be fanfic or ‘published’ material, it’s very much like sticking two fingers up at your readers then getting annoyed when they don’t come back for more.

    regards

    vic_vega66

  86. Jane Smith
    January 10, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Vicvega66, I’ve deleted the first half-line from your comment.

    By all means discuss the book, my review of it, and the comments which have followed: but please behave with respect. Let’s not start calling people names. It doesn’t help. Thanks.

  87. sammy
    January 10, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Thank you, Mike.

    I have not read any of your book, but after reading your clueless responses – I never will.

    Thanks! 🙂

  88. January 10, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Sammy, you hit the nail on the head. I was 100% clueless. Honestly, I was the poster child of being clueless about what to do and not to do when it comes to an editor’s remarks. No argument there. As we say in the aviation world–I had my head “up and locked”.

    After doing a little homework, I definately fit the mold for an author who is too close to his work–emotionally–and too excited about a few reviews. When I took my nose off the bark and stepped back, I could see that there was actually a forest.

    Jess layed it out in a clear, logical, non-emotional way in her comment on this site and her extended comment on another blog of hers where she vented her frustration of authors “flaming out” (another pilot term for about to crash). She put it down, step-by-step how authors and editiors are to act. I truly believe if I had been a spectator instead of the main course, I would have refrained from making a peep after my review. But, again, I was clueless.

    Listen, anyone who reads the exchange above is welcome to trash me if they feel it will benefit the situation. It stings, but I’ll get over it. Let ‘er rip. This hasn’t been my first mistake in life, and I’m sure it won’t be my last, but at least now I believe I understand “The Author’s Big Mistake”. Live and learn.

    Best to all…

  89. Jack Richardson
    January 10, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    I tried to link to this blog on the review section of Mike’s book on Amazon.

    Amazon initially posted it, then it was deleted. I would be willing to bet that this was a result of representations to Amazon by the author or publisher.

    Free speech at it’s very best!

  90. January 11, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I admire you. Mike, for stepping forward and holding your hands up. That takes courage.

  91. January 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Thank you, Sally.

    As writers, we learn that the key to good writing is re-writing—willing to accept our mistakes and not be afraid of the DELETE key. As people, I believe that the key to successful relationships is reconciliation—willing to admit our mistakes and not be afraid of the SORRY and FORGIVE keys.

    This weekend, my blog (Expectations Kill Relationships) hit me in the face like an iron skillet: “Successful relationships are vital to individual happiness as well as mental and physical well-being, the success of families, and the social health of communities. We live in a relational world and in order to experience love, we must have relationships (friends, family, acquaintances, other people).”

    We need each other more than we need to “make a point”. Writing is a passion; people are my purpose. May I never forget that.

  92. John
    January 15, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Brevity is the soul of wit.

    [deleted]

    NOTE: I won’t allow insults, no matter how cleverly you’ve worded them. Stop it. Jane.

  93. Anonymous
    January 16, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    I have never posted a reply on a blog before [deleted] I’m turned off enough to ensure I don’t pick up any copies of his work.

    NOTE: I’ve deleted part of this comment. I encourage active debate but I will not allow rudeness or mudslinging. Especially from someone who isn’t prepared to post under his own name. Jane.

  94. Jane Smith
    January 17, 2012 at 8:03 am

    I’ve edited a couple of comments. I’m all for robust debate but name-calling, insults and out-and-out rudeness will not be tolerated.

    Mike has stepped up to the line on this one: cut him some slack.

  95. tontongirl@hotmail.com
    January 18, 2012 at 5:37 am

    Yikes. This is one book I’ll never be reading. Mike, maybe you should look up Candace Sams and see how badly things can go when you respond to any sort of negative review. She ended up losing a lot of readers and is currently self-publishing because nobody other than Elora’s Cave wants to touch her. (And even then they only publish her sporadically.)

  96. Supermouse The Rodent
    January 18, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    This is an unusual tale of an author replying to a bad review, it all going horribly wrong for them, then the author *learning why that’s bad*. Although the comment thread started out being slow, repetitive and with implausible monologues taking up most of the pages, the pace picked up as soon as more characters were added and the enthralling plot twist two-thirds of the way through really made this blog page a must-read. I started off intrigued, admit to becoming a little frustrated and bored, but I left the thread with a smile on my face, very well satisfied with what I read.

  97. January 18, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    As a closet novelist who dreams of being published one day… I am embarrassed for Mike. Oh, Mike. You might think you’re being calm and rational, but the fact that you went out of the way to copy/paste reviews into comments – a separate comment for each one, no less! – to this lukewarm review makes me want to avoid your books, whatever your potential might be.

    If someone is legitimately looking for an opinion on whether or not they should read a book, they generally won’t just read ONE review. In fact, as a reader, I like to read at least one or two negative reviews of books I’m not sure about, just to see what’s getting brought up – if it seems like on the whole I’d enjoy the book and find the negatives either negligible or not applicable to my tastes, I’ll go for it! Having a well-rounded set of reviews for your work is not a bad thing. And while this review was critical, it was not saying “NEVER READ HIS BOOKS, HE IS A SHITTY WRITER BLUH BLUH BLUH”, it was saying that while you had promise, there were some issues. It happens.

    I do see you’ve stepped up and realised this might have been a bad reaction, and I do respect that in a person, but I do think it’s worth noting that your actions here – even if you backed down eventually – have turned me off of any slim chance there was that I was going to pick up your book.

    I wish you the best and hope that you have learned from this experience.

  98. owenborseth
    January 18, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    As decent human beings I think we need to give ol’ Mike the benefit of the doubt now. He’s owned up to his mistakes, he’s learned from them, and I think he’s graciously accepted the error of his ways. Mike, I give you kudos for that.

  99. January 19, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    I saw this thread when it first came out. I checked back today because I hadn’t read any new posts. Holy rusted metal, Batman!

    I’ve gotten and given bad reviews. Nicola Morgan, who commented above, was kind enough to critique my query letter and I learned a great deal. I learn the most from the bad ones, even though they sting. I don’t think my current WIP could have gotten where it is without the underwhelmed readers, either.

  100. January 23, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    It’s not every day I get the first and the last word!

  101. Oliver
    February 28, 2012 at 2:54 am

    Amazed that Mike came back and owned up to his errors, good on you! As an individual wanting to get involved in self publishing this has been a real eye opener. Thanks Jane, keep up the great work! Perhaps one day I’ll be brave enough to submit to the Jane test….

  102. Martin J Frankson
    February 28, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    There’s a saying : ‘stop digging the hole you’re in’.

    Mike, you are entitled to your opinions, obviously but your postings come across as undignified.

    This blog makes it quite clear what the rules of engagement are. I am poring through every comment and review Jane has made for all the books here so that I can both learn from them and make a rational decision whether or not to submit my work when it’s ready.

    I may like what Jane has to say, then again I might but if I don’t like what she says, I’ll take her advice on the chin and not submit comment as my gratitude to her is implicitly given on my initial submission. I’ll let others make comments but it would be ungracious of me to step in.

    On a general point : there is so much free and valuable advice on self-pulbishing, from writing advice to business ; from cover art to social media that there is really no excuse for anyone to plead ignorance on matters of technical, writing, business and social-media etiquette.

    In short, do your research and do it fastidiously. It takes time but its valuable time. Success is watered by good preparation.

  103. Martin J Frankson
    February 28, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    I take that first bit back. I should have read the entire thread before I commented.

    Mike, good on you for recognising your mistakes. That takes courage. We all make them and I wish you every success.

  104. March 2, 2012 at 4:42 am

    Mike, this website is not the end all and bee all of reviews. you have had so many nice comments from so many people so why the hurt for one review that is lynching you down? its too late for me to say don’t get upset, I believe that I joined in the discussion too late but. This woman doesn’t have a nice things to say about anybody, even her friend who wrote Mousetrap. just continue to celebrate where ur loved and keep away from destructive critisium. The review was not constructive in my opinion, it was patronising and by telling everyone she stopped at page four and how she hopes you find your niche is a piss take. people spend years wrting their books not to be lynched in public. With indie book reviews she wouldn’t have anything to gloat about.

  105. March 2, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Kevin-Lee, as you say this website is not ‘the bee [sic] all and end all of reviews’ but it is a site that clearly states its aims and invites self-published authors to submit their work to be judged against specified and openly stated criteria. Presumably when Mike decided to submit his book he was fully aware that Jane does not mince her words but was presumably equally aware that she is a professional writer and editor and knows what she’s talking about. This is not somewhere to submit work if all you want is to have your ego stroked and told how marvellous you are. In fact, that’s part of the problem with self-published authors – their families and friends are so positive that they think the rest of the world will be and don’t realise that actually, their work has to be of a comparable standard to professionally published work.

    I don’t know if you’re a writer (I’m guessing not given the spelling, syntax etc of your comment) but you need to be aware, like every other amateur, that if you want to be taken seriously and make the jump to being able to call yourself a professional writer, then you need to work to the same standards. In fact, given that many people in the trade such as myself have a fairly low opinion of most self-published books, you need to aim, not only in terms of your writing but in your dealings with booksellers, reviewers and others.

  106. Jane Smith
    March 2, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Vanessa, I wonder if Kevin-Lee is toying with us. He has so many errors in his comment, some of which are so bizarre, that it seems suspect to me. If I were to delve a little into the IP addresses of the people who have been reviewed here, and who have commented here, I wouldn’t mind betting that I’d find a match of sorts with the IP address he posted from.

  107. know
    March 22, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    You take the prize for pompous arrogance. Reading FOUR pages of a full length novel and then daring to write a review is beyond amateurish…it’s absurd. I have not read this book but reviews like this are worth less than nothing. Thanks for wasting our time.

  108. Jane Smith
    March 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Good afternoon, Know, and welcome to my blog.

    I’m sorry you don’t like my methods: but writers are under no obligation to submit their books to me for review if they object to them. I won’t guarantee to give anyone a positive review, but I can guarantee that I’ll treat the books I review and the writers who wrote them with respect, and will refrain from name-calling. It’s just a shame that you can’t do the same.

    Have a nice day, now!

    *cheery wave*

  109. July 5, 2012 at 6:11 am

    Reblogged this on 3deva and commented:
    An example of “The Author’s Big Mistake”.

  110. July 12, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Can I just say this is the first time I’ve ever left a comment on this blog?

  111. July 13, 2012 at 7:00 am

    ‘…I can guarantee that I’ll treat the books I review and the writers who wrote them with respect…’

    I don’t see how writing a review after reading just four pages of a book is treating the book or the author with respect.

  112. Jane Smith
    July 13, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Oh, Jenni. Jenni. Jennijennijennijennijenni.

    What you need to do is re-read the comment of mine which you quoted. I’ll repeat it:

    I’m sorry you don’t like my methods: but writers are under no obligation to submit their books to me for review if they object to them. I won’t guarantee to give anyone a positive review, but I can guarantee that I’ll treat the books I review and the writers who wrote them with respect, and will refrain from name-calling. It’s just a shame that you can’t do the same.

    Have a nice day, now!

    *cheery wave*

    I hope that helps.

  113. Marco
    July 13, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    Mike should’ve never sent his book for your review. After all, you clearly post your policy on your site and if he disagreed with it, he shouldn’t have sent it. But herein lies the problem: your policy.

    While it’s admirable that you’re taking the time to review self-published works, your policy includes declaring how many pages you read…But why? What purpose does this statistic serve (other than to humiliate the author)? If you didn’t like the book, fine, you can tell us that. But do you really need to include the number of pages you were able to get through? It adds insult to injury. Do you see the NY Times including page numbers in their reviews? Or any other reviewer in the country? No. Because it’s unprofessional. And it makes you look foolish. Imagine you were a writer (it might be hard for you to do — a failed one, perhaps?) and you spent months or years slaving away on your book, only to have some stuck up reviewer declare she only read 4 pages before she gave it a scathing review. Not very nice, is it?

  114. Jane Smith
    July 14, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Thanks for your comment, Marco.

    As you implied, no one has to send their work to me. No one at all. But if they do, then I assume they’ve read the guidelines I provide and know what they’re in for.

    Writers often claim that they want more feedback, and want to know why their books are rejected, but they only get form rejections: this is my attempt to provide that feedback. It’s not perfect but some people are grateful for it, I know, because of the emails I receive and the comments which are left here. The ones who aren’t shouldn’t submit their books to me for review.

    I include page-counts because they provide a sense of scale: if I’ve read just two pages before stopping then that suggests that the book needs a lot more work than one of which I read eighty pages, for example. The page-count indicates the density of the problems I find, and without them there’s no real context to the comments I make.

    And yes, I know what it’s like to receive critical feedback on my work: I am a writer. I’ve had over twenty books published and have gone through the editing process on all of them. I’ve had a handful of books rejected, too, and have received the same sort of feedback on them that I provide here. I don’t think it’s “stuck up” at all (such a schoolyard phrase!); in fact, I’ve always found it useful.

  115. Marco
    July 14, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    “The page-count indicates the density of the problems I find”

    So in other words, like I said, it adds insult to injury. Not only are you saying the book was bad, you’re saying it was THAT bad. An unnecessarily humiliating statistic. It serves no purpose. Other than to humiliate.

  116. Jane Smith
    July 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    No, Marco.

    I hope to help the writers whose books I review. I certainly don’t intend to humiliate them.

    Please don’t put words into my mouth like that: you don’t speak for me, and you shouldn’t pretend to.

  117. Marco
    July 14, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    But isn’t “The page-count indicates the density of the problems I find” just a euphemism for “The page count indicates how bad the book was”? Because that’s the impression I get when you say you only read four pages.

    If the page count is intended to help the writers, why not tell them this privately? Because publicizing it certainly doesn’t help them. It humiliates them and comprises their sales (which are no doubt already low to begin with — they are self-published, after all).

  118. Jane Smith
    July 15, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Marco, your comments are now being caught by my spam-warning utility: I think it’s because you’ve left a few comments on this popular thread in quick succession. If I tweak the settings to let yours through then all sorts of real nasties will also get through, so I’m afraid we’re stuck with that. I’ll approve your comments as soon as I see them: please be patient if you notice that your comments aren’t appearing immediately.

    But isn’t “The page-count indicates the density of the problems I find” just a euphemism for “The page count indicates how bad the book was”? Because that’s the impression I get when you say you only read four pages.

    It isn’t, but you seem determined to make it so.

    If the page count is intended to help the writers, why not tell them this privately? Because publicizing it certainly doesn’t help them. It humiliates them and comprises their sales (which are no doubt already low to begin with — they are self-published, after all).

    If I wanted to offer private editorial advice then that’s what I’d do. I’d also charge a lot of money for my services.

    Instead, I review books here for free and hope that the reviews I post help all sorts of people–not just the people who wrote the books which I review.

    You’re determined to find humiliation here; others are determined to find help and advice. Thanks to the magic of the internet you’ve all found what you wanted.

  119. Marco
    July 15, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    “If I wanted to offer private editorial advice then that’s what I’d do. I’d also charge a lot of money for my services.”

    You would charge a lot of money to review four pages? Uh… no offense, but I don’t think anyone would buy into that.

  120. Marco
    July 15, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    “It isn’t, but you seem determined to make it so.”

    Wow. In one line, you’ve managed to make things so clear! Thanks!

  121. Jane Smith
    July 15, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    You would charge a lot of money to review four pages? Uh… no offense, but I don’t think anyone would buy into that.

    That’s not what I said. And I’m glad you wouldn’t want to use my editorial services because I really wouldn’t want to work with a writer with such poor reading comprehension.

    Wow. In one line, you’ve managed to make things so clear! Thanks!

    Excellent! And you’re welcome.

    It’s time to say goodbye now, Marco. Wave nicely at all the people.

  1. January 10, 2012 at 5:45 am
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