I’ve completed two books and I need some feedback before I get too far into starting another.
The first is a non-fiction work called The Poor Man’s Guide to Financial Freedom: A Realistic, 10-Step Manual for Building Liberating Wealth on a Low to Medium Income. It is very much a beginner’s guide to personal finance and covers such basic requirements as eliminating debt, establishing an emergency fund and a budget, investing in bonds and shares, and how to find a good financial advisor. It is 24,000 words. It started as a series of blog posts but once I got to 10,000 words I decided to just make it into a book, instead.
There are two types people who might make suitable reviewers for this book: those who know a fair bit about personal finance, and those who know bugger all. The first group might advise me if their views differ from my own. The second group are the target audience, so if such a reader doesn’t understand something, that feedback would be very useful to me.
The second is a novel entitled Sulfur. It is about 80,000 words. A murderer called McKalister is on death row – and then things take a turn for the worse. I won’t describe the plot in detail here as I think it would be more fun to go in blind, but it is, I guess, pretty outlandish. Ideal reviewers would be keen readers of fiction who are into such long novels. Helpful feedback would include telling me which bits are lame, slow, or don’t make sense, character suggestions, etc.
I am not looking for copy editors. Don’t worry about typos – they’re easy to fix later. Right now I just need general, big-picture suggestions.
The risk for a good-willed reviewer is that the writer is an arrogant nonce who won’t take feedback. I know – I’ve been there. My mate once asked me to read his short story. It had potential but I advised him that the central premise wasn’t fully explained and so the story was confusing. He huffily said, “No, it’s fine,” and asked for no further suggestions. He didn’t learn his lesson, but I learned his lesson.
Before writing these two books, I actually wrote another novel. A mate gently suggested, after effusive praise, “It’s good, but, I’m kind of wondering, where’s it going? I saw this guy talk about screen writing once and he was saying, ‘You’ve got to have jeopardy. Where’s the jeopardy?’” And my mate talked about the plot for that post-apocalyptic movie where they have to get across the country with just one bullet left as a good example of how it should be done. I realized my plot basically had no structure or underlying tension that could sufficiently carry the story along.
I responded by reading two books on novel writing, and I used this advice to more properly map out Sulfur.
The point is not that the books will now be awesome. They will not be. Rather, I want you to know that negative feedback is exactly what I want. Give it to me good and hard! Because that’s the only way I can get better. Right now I have ideas for two further novels but just in time I realized that there’s no point starting them until I know what I want to improve on from last time. Presently I have no idea.
Having said all that, some feedback wouldn’t be useful. For example, saying that the non-fiction one is too basic would miss the point – it is meant to be as basic as possible. A person who finds it insufficiently advanced is simply not in my target audience. Would it suit your idiot nephew who lives off his credit card and never has any savings? That is a better measure.
As for Sulfur, it would not be helpful to criticize the dark, underlying philosophy. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you can guess its nature. If you already know this book is not going to be your cup of tea, perhaps just don’t waste your time reading it. I’m not trying to ruin your day, here.
Obviously preference will be given to people I know, regular commenters or those with their own blogs. Feel free to refer me to others who might be interested in having a look. No need to make excuses if you’re too busy! I know this is a big ask, especially for that 80,000-word monster.
I don’t need many volunteers – if I could just get one or two people to read each book, and give me one or two suitably aimed kicks in my backside regarding what I need to improve, that would be brilliant. There’s no firm deadline for feedback but I’ll be starting the publishing process in northern summer, so if I could get something by then that would be great.
Please reply in the comments below or PM me if you’re keen. I can only send them as a Word attachment or PDF.
Update: thanks to my test readers. One book is now published:
Also available on all other major platforms.