Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Make bad reviews work for you…

Good Tuesday morning! Let’s talk about reviews. Yes, I know, some say don’t read them. Some say read them. Me, I read them. But how do we react when we read them? Anger? Confusion? Laughter? Happy? Sad? There’s a lot of things that go through your head when you read reviews of your work. But I have a couple of things to discuss with you about them.

Make them work for you…

What am I talking about? Well, hear me out… Bad reviews can go two ways, one being they are just nasty and have no meaning for your writing, or two, they are well thought out reviews that can tell you something about the work.

Let’s talk about some ways to use bad reviews to make your work better. Here goes:

1: There are misspelled words and grammatical errors!

                We know that it doesn’t matter how many times your work is edited and even if it’s by the best editor out there, mistakes can be missed. I’ve read some of the bestsellers out there that have some mistakes that weren’t caught. SO, use that bad review as a reason to read through your work just one more time with a critical eye.

                Now, do remember, some people are not experts and what they think is a grammatical error, really isn’t. But, I still go back over my work, just in case I missed something, or my editor did. It’s worth the effort in the end. Especially if you get several reviews about the same problem.

2: The book was left on a cliffhanger!

                Ok, this one shocked me the first time I read it. When I read a book that’s part of a series, most of the time I expect a cliffhanger to get me to read the next one. Think about a series on television. They always leave you at the end of the season wondering what the heck just happened and what will happen next. The reason I put this one in my post is because if you get this and it bothers you, then insert a sentence in your description that says, ‘This book ends on a cliffhanger’. That way you don’t have to worry about a reader not understanding that it’s a series and can end on a cliffhanger.

3: The characters were not fleshed out…

                If you get this one, maybe look back at your work and see if you never described your main characters. I know that as a reader, I love to be able to picture the characters in my mind. I’ve received this type of review before and realized that I was so into writing the story, I never fleshed my character out. Yep, that was a facepalm moment for me. Go ahead and add a little description, because as a writer, you know in your mind that you have a picture in your mind of the character.

4: The book was too short… or This book was too long…

                Now this one took me by surprise. But yes, reviewers have opinions on the length of your book. There are those that don’t like them too long and those that don’t like them too short. My thoughts on this are, input in your description, at the end, ‘This is a novella’ or ‘This is a full-length book’. Maybe that little key point will stop some of those lower star reviews.

5: The story doesn’t flow well…

                Now this can be a problem if your story doesn’t flow well. My suggestion is to read the manuscript out loud and don’t do it as the writer, do it as a reader. Meaning, in your mind, you’re the reader wanting to be entertained by the story. Believe me, I do this with my books before I publish them and its eye opening. Sometimes I wonder what on earth was I thinking…

Now there are many more aspects of reviews to look at. Also look at the good ones. This keeps you motivated and let’s you know what your dedicated readers loved. Of course, there will always be those that give a bad review just to do it. I’ve had those.

If you do have a review that’s particularly nasty and doesn’t match your book, report it to the distributor whether it be Amazon, Barnes and Noble or iTunes. I had one that mentioned characters that weren’t even in my book. I reported it to Amazon and the review disappeared. But I had one that didn’t represent my book and they didn’t take it down.

The moral of the blog is this, use even the bad reviews for good. Let them roll off your back and move forward. Now, if you get only bad reviews, then I would definitely take another look at the work. But hey, smile and keep writing. A writer has to have a thick skin. Sometimes when I get my work back from my editor, I have to thicken my skin and push through it. So, keep up the good work!

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

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Roller Coaster Sales…

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Have you ever felt like your sales were on a roller coaster? Sometimes I feel like I’m on a roller coaster. One day you’re on the uphill ascent then the next day you’re barreling down the other side so fast it takes your breath. 

Some of the sites where you can put your books for sale only report sales once a month and that really puts you to task. My sales sometimes amaze me. I can go on a tweet fest and the sales ramp up. I looked at my pages views on Smashwords.com last night and it actually looked like a roller coaster. The funny thing is all the hills were around a social media blitz.

So, if you’re having downhill sales, try doing a tweet fest. Don’t forget those hash tags. I’ve really learned a lot about the use of them. When I do a tweet fest I try to go to every site my books are on and tweet that book from the site. Also working on a list for one of my posts regarding social media sites that have worked well for me. 

Don’t let downward sales affect your writing. Sales are a fickle thing. One day you do really well, and sometimes you have really good weeks. Then a plummet for a day or so and you’re poking out your lip and giving up. Don’t do that! Have faith. If it was selling good those days, it will again.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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How’s your writing attitude?

In life we show a lot of different attitudes. Bad or good is up to you. As a writer I’ve noticed a lot about my writing that goes along with my attitude. Here are a couple of things I’ve noticed.

When I’m in a really good mood and my attitude is peppy and upbeat I do a lot of writing. It seems to pump me up and get me going with ideas. When my mood is not so good I notice  that I’m not as into my writing as I need to be. When I’m in a thoughtful mood I can really put words on screen. It’s amazing how our attitude or mood can affect the writing we do.

I had a bad attitude not long ago, which is not usual for me. I usually have a good attitude, but that day I was just not a happy camper. I sat down with my laptop and re wrote the same line three times. Nothing sounded good and I almost gave in to the bad attitude. Then I noticed the list of my works in progress and one of the titles caught my eye. I opened the file and read the couple of paragraphs that had been hastily written a couple of months ago. Something in my attitude slipped. My mind suddenly went to a new plateau. 

The point I’m trying to get at is this. In my little world, sometimes my writing can bring me out of the bad attitude or help to conquer a low attitude. It’s like therapy in a laptop or story.  Usually it takes a new manuscript. Especially if I’ve been at a loss on another manuscript that I’ve been steadily working on. Just going into something new and fresh helps. So next time you are stuck in a bad or low attitude try opening a newer manuscript and refreshing your mind. It could help out and you may even finish the new one.

So as always good writing and May God Bless You…


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Choices!

We start making choices the moment we wake until the moment we go to sleep.  Do we get up with the clock or hit the snooze? What do we eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner? What do we wear? Do we go to work today or stay out and be lazy? 

Choices, have you ever sat down and thought about how many choices you make in a day? Do you make good choices? Do you think about your choices or just fly by the seat of your pants?

Sometimes we make choices that haunt us for the rest of our lives. The choice has been made so live with it or do something about it. Immortalize it in fiction is my recommendation. Usually makes for a good book…

As you start you day or for those of my friends that are ending your day, think about your choices you make. Think about those that are affected by your choices. Those people could be family, spouses, friends, coworkers and the list goes on.

As always good writing and May God bless you and your choices 🙂