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What's Your Biggest Challenge with Your Book?

I'd be interested to learn what authors/publishers on this network think their biggest challenges are with their book. I wonder if there's any common, pervasive challenge we all face.

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Catherine, my only historical book is HELL'S GATE, and as someone who has spent a lot of time in Africa, I'm sure you will know that Hell's Gate is in the Rift Valley. The period is 1898, and it's about British and German colonialism. You can see more at

With regard to book reviews (Susan) by authors for their own books, I know that Amazon do not allow it, even though I get e-mails from them asking me to review the novel I've just bought. This happens each time I download my own book on to Kindle. I do this as soon as my books are available so that I can check the quality etc. As tempted as I am, I try not to read my reviews because I might (I know) I will read something I don't like. Dame Edith Sitwell once said that some readers and writers would be better off breeding rabbits. I think you could say the same about some book reviewers.

Amazon doesn't allow it if they KNOW the author wrote the review, but there are many ways to get around this, and some unscrupulous author do (eg. get a friend or two to publish them for you.) I like your comment about Dame Sitwell, but I believe she was referring to editorial reviews, not reader reviews published on amazon. I pay attention to them. These are my readers. Some of them become fans. Others don't care for my books. That's okay, too. But what bothers me the most? People who put up "reviews" in which they state plainly that they did NOT read the whole book.

A reviewer desribed one of my books as "clunky" and "witless". This intrigued me because all my other reviews for that book were good and positive. I clicked the reviewers name ("see all my reviews") and found that the first fifteen reviews were dominated by kitchen gadgets and garden equipment. The three book reviews there were not very good at all, each one awarded three stars which was less than the 'gadgets'. It did make me wonder about the reviewer. I really MUST stop reading my reviews!

It is sometimes instructive to check the reviewer's other reviews. One gave my book a 3-star and complained that it was not the first in my series. I checked his other reviews. He had given 14 3-star reviews to other books. Amazing. I decided to pay no attention to it. You can't control what these people put up.

I will look up "Hell's Gate" - sounds good!   I have copied the link to one of my brothers too, because it is just the sort of thing he would like to read too.

With regard to reviews (everybody!)

There are several blogs on the same subject.  Do please - EVERYBODY! - Twitter, FBook etc. these reviews so that we can start to "educate" the review-writers who, mostly, get themselves confused with god.

Thank you, Catherine. Word of mouth is a wonderful thing. Hopefully your brother will like my book.

I think he has already ordered it. I will too - it is on my To Do list.  I go to Belize when it is winter in Europe and, although it is so beautiful, (have you been?) there is not a lot for me to do (I have long since explored all the ruins and the islands) so I read a great deal.  Deary me - what a lot of brackets - bad writing!  Old age .....

Yes, we went to Belize for a couple of weeks in the eighties. Our son was a Harrier pilot in the Royal Air Force and was stationed there for a couple of years. It gave us an unexpected opportunity to explore a country we would otherwise never have visited. I learned a little about scuba diving because Belize has the second largest reef in the world after Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

One very big challenge is coping when you get a bad review. As we all know, we often have no right to reply and the review can not only be unfair and unkind, but can also be simply untrue.  I am referring to owners of hotels and restaurants etc. here, not just writers.  I had one bad review for one of my books, and as a previous person on this forum has pointed-out, the writer of the review, one Nell Daley, writes lots of similar negative and self-opinionated reviews, so I ignored her. (I take it is OK for me to put her name as she felt free to put mine?)  It was only the one bad review so it really didn't matter, but the principal of it is wrong and we, as writers (or owners of hotels or whatever) need to challenge it.

Below I have put a link, and there are several other items on the same sublect.  Not your business/book, not mine or your neighbour's, but SOME businesses can be ruined by a bad review and it is time for it to change.

I believe negative reviewing and commenting are more wide spread than you might believe. All the experts that I've worked with and read about tend to over question the spelling, editing, graphics and so on without ever reading the whole story or book even. Consequently THE STORY itself gets lost in the professional-shuffle. THE STORY is the why a writer even bothers to write. I didn't read the review you're talking about, but will wager the reviewer didn't pickout one good thing about your story. This might be the result of "low level" thinking and you or I were expecting too much. The story I sent out into the world for reviewing didn't get read. I could tell. They thumed through it mostly and at least twice "speed read" it, which wasn't the proper way to read a novel. I believe your reviewer might have had a different attitude if he discovered the "why" you wrote the article in the first  place. 

Richard, I've seen the same sorts of reader reviews of books on amazon. At least 2-3 of them posted reviews of my (3) books stating inside the review that they had not finished reading the book. Clearly, these folks have no idea what a review (of anything) entails. Supposing someone wrote a review of a hotel (using Catherine's example) without ever staying there? Supposing someone posted a review of a car without even writing it.

And so, my question: do you think anything would happen if we pointed such reviews out to the folks at amazon. I am not speaking of negative or unfavorable reviews. I am talking about reviews that clearly state that they have not read the entire book. Your thoughts?

Susan -

I’ve thought on it for a long while (before now) and am just satisfied to know the reality of the publishing world. From what I’ve seen I do not think I could begin to change any part of it. For me it just ate up too much of my creative time going round and round with Amazon on titles and trying to talk to the reviewer who took money to review my story and then passed it on to another less experienced person and on and on. To answer your question in a phrase - I think there are "too many big boys and girls" in the publishing business.


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