Uzo Okoye's book Missing Piece is featured today on my blog. She was gracious enough to do a guest post. Enjoy!
Why should I have my book critiqued before it is published.
Critiquing a book before it is published, is a great way to gain insight into how a good percentage of readers will receive the book. It is also necessary for a debut author bearing in mind it is a first time...
Too late into my writing process, after I contracted the services of an editor, I found there were editors who offer a critique service to indie writers. There was nothing in my budget for this service, a huge chunk of my budget had already gone to my editor and I was way over budget.
For obvious reasons I was desperate for this service, and being a professional business analyst, I knew first-hand the immense benefit of taking a finished document through the fiery, internal, review process. This is before the document is released for an external review. I figured, if it is a vital process in my profession, my book would benefit from the same process.
On the other hand, there is the danger of having a book critiqued by an entrepreneurial editor with an interest in upselling their editing service, and upselling in a way that will make me doubt the ability of the editor who had so painstakingly edited ‘Missing Piece.’
I believe in all things made possible. There had to be a way to have my book critiqued without paying a dime. So I went on a quest. A quest to find a solution. The truth is we are surrounded by a wealth of experience and resources - people around us. I came up with a brilliant idea to ask a broad - spectrum of people, from different backgrounds - black, white, male, female, doctors, educationists, inspirational speakers, authors, avid readers - for a critique of my first chapter. Later though, I knew I would have to return a favour or two :0) Why the first chapter one would ask, because firstly, the first chapter helps readers decide whether or not they will read the book, and secondly I didn’t want to lumber them with a task that would be difficult for them to act on.
In some way, these people represent my target audience, and most would give an honest feedback. I specifically requested a ‘Simon Cowell’ type critique! (See excerpt of email requesting a critique below).
The result. Priceless. Their feedback invaluable. Their comments were all acted on bar one.
My advice is this - although one needs a thick skin to take critiques, it’s best to go through this process before the book is published - better early when it can be rectified, than later when a bad review will be inevitably given, with its damaging consequence. Besides, it also gives the writer another level of confidence on the finished book.
In future, I might take on a professional critique service, or go down the same route of asking people who represent my target audience to critique my book. Time will tell…
An excerpt of my email requesting critique;
Subject - Brutally Critique (Simon Cowell) first chapter
…please be brutally honest, and give your honest opinion and critique on the following:
• Will you be compelled to continue or is it a put down?
• What were you expecting it to deliver that it didn’t?
• How can it be improved please?
Uzo Okoye is the author of ‘Missing Piece.’