So You Think Your Book is Ready? It Isn’t.

After all the years I’ve spent writing, you’d think I would learned my lesson. But no, I managed to make the same mistake again a few weeks ago. I’d finished a draft of my new novel, Anywhere’s Better Than Here. I felt like it was strong, really strong. After all, it had already gone through many drafts as a screenplay, and this was the second draft of the novel version. I was really just adding to it, making it better; tighter in some place, looser in others. I was sure my beta readers were going to tell me how wonderful it was, how it was just a few short tweaks away from being ready to send out.

Boy, was I wrong.

My beta readers are kind, but they’re tough too. They pointed out all the obvious weaknesses in the draft, things I couldn’t see because I was too close to it. The opening scene that I thought was killer? They hated it. “It’s good for a first draft,” one of them said. Ugh.

What to do? My first reaction when I get criticism is to tell myself I’m a terrible writer and I really should be doing something easier, like brain surgery or running for president. Once I get that out of my system, I give myself more rational messages: At least they’re telling me what my book needs. I wouldn’t get that from an agent. I’ve been through this many times before. I’ll get through it again. I have too many skeletons in my closet to run for president.

The next thing I need to do is step away from the book for a while to give everything a chance to digest. Right now I’m working on the first draft of Goddess, Book 2. In a few weeks, I’ll reread all the notes I’ve been given, re-outline the book, and return to battle. I know I’ll get through this and come out the other side with a better book and as a better writer. I will survive.

Otherwise, vote Kelee Morris in 2020.

Best wishes and happy writing,

Kelee

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Romance Writing Group Forming

For many years, I coordinated a screenwriting group here in Chicago. Every three weeks, we would meet at a local cafe, sip lattes, and read each other’s pages aloud. It was a great way to get feedback and improve our work as we were writing, instead of waiting until we had finished a draft or three.

I’ve missed that, which is why I’ve decided to start a new online writing group specifically for romance writers in any subgenre. I’m looking for 4-6 writers. You might have published several novels or be working on your first. All I ask is that you be open and committed to the process of receiving and giving constructive criticism.

How the Group Will Work

Each week, one writer will post a chapter for the group on Google Docs. (You can also post a short story, query letter, or synopsis you’re working on.) I know that life sometimes gets in the way of writing, so if it’s your turn but you don’t have anything ready to post, then the next writer in line can take your place. The idea is to keep the group moving forward and have something posted every week, but not so much material that we get overwhelmed.

The other group members will then have a week to read and post comments on the document, the more detailed the better. I’m looking for writers who are willing to post tough, thoughtful criticism. This group is meant to be supportive, but it’s also intended to challenge us to be better writers.

If you’re interested in joining, please send me a short writer’s bio and 1,000 words of something you’ve published or are working on. You can email me at keleemorris@gmail.com. You can also comment on this post and I’ll contact you.

Happy writing!

Best wishes,

Kelee

Getting Amazon Reviews: A Success Story

I’ve written earlier about my struggles to get reviewed on Amazon. I definitely wasn’t going to pay for good reviews (Unethical!) and I decided to avoid asking friends and family to review my book. (I’ve read too many books with rave reviews that turned out to be terrible. We all know where most of those reviews came from.)

Call me crazy, but I wanted to actually earn my good reviews. While doing research on where to advertise my next sale on Goddess, I stumbled across Reading Deals. They advertise book bargains, but they also offer a service to send your book out to people who are interested in reviewing it. Yes, you do pay for the service (I paid $39 for 10-15 reviews.) but the reviewers themselves are unpaid and there’s no promise that the reviews will be positive.

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I’ve now received seven reviews through Reading Deals, and along with the reviews I already had, my book is averaging 4.1 stars. Compared to the many books with 5-star averages, that’s not fantastic. But I suspect most of those 5-star reviews were written by the author’s mom and best friends.

The reviews themselves are mostly well thought out, though far from what an author would get from a professional publication. But on Amazon, I think that’s the best we can expect. Overall, I’m pleased with my experience with Reading Deals. I would definitely recommend them to other authors searching for reviews.

Best Wishes,

Kelee