Reviewer IndieView with Assaph Mehr of Felix the Fox Mysteries

Snooki’s memoirs from Jersey Shore that did make the cut? I read voraciously in and out of my main genres, but saying that there are definitely genres I’d find more or less enjoyable. If a book has a great plot, great characters, but the grammar is less than perfect, how do you deal with that? I always loved reading and discussing books with friends. Note that you really need an experienced, impartial editor, but even then you don’t have to agree on every point. Do you think attitudes are changing with respect to indie or self-published titles? Easy. I cover the following: what brought me to read the book, what to expect, what I liked, what to be aware of, and a summary. Enjoyment is a personal standard, and I fully acknowledge that it depends on tastes and mood. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) So, with betas, I’d recommend getting as many as you can and looking for common issues. It happened 😊
My advice to authors on getting a ‘bad’ review (hasten to add that might mean a perfectly honest, well written, fair review – just bad from the author’s point of view) is to take what you can from it and move on. If you invest money in all those three aspects (listed in order of importance), you’ll set yourself apart from (unfortunately) 90% of indie authors and together with the professionals. Keep at it. Not getting books edited, using a generic cover, and not producing books properly. They can tell within the first few pages if the manuscript fits their requirement at the time. On the flip side, many indie authors are getting smarter and are no longer publishing their first draft but getting proper editing, covers, and other services – and are rewarded by making decent profits, even without the NYT best-seller badge (which is subject to its own ills and manipulations). We’ll keep telling ourselves stories – and read them, of course – for as long as we are human. We’re told that the first page, paragraph, chapter, is absolutely key in making or breaking a book. I’m much more likely to read fantasy, historical mysteries and other spec fic than romance or anything with a six-pack on the cover. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”
And do get someone to proof your work after you’ve made changes, before the final publication. Is it a read first, and then make notes, or do you make notes as you go along? Once you learn how to work with professional editors and find one that suits your style, your writing will dramatically improve. With covers, we all know the adage of “don’t judge a book by its cover”. I read to enjoy, and sometimes it means going over paragraphs again to get the full nuances. I’ll live. Readers will adapt to the new paradigms faster than giant publishers, and will get smart in recognising, pursuing, and rewarding quality on both sides. I think storytelling is a fundamental aspect of human life, and I doubt that would materially change. If I start a book, it’s because I expect I’ll enjoy it. Why do you think people love reading? Assaph Mehr – 12 November 2018
About Reviewing
How did you get started? My reviews are geared towards other readers’ expectations. If you can’t afford a pro editor, work with beta readers – but bear in mind that you get what you pay for. That is different from agents and purchasing editors, though. I might mention it in the review as I know it bugs some people, depending on the severity of the problem. About Publishing
What do you think of the oft-quoted comment that the “slush-pile has moved online”? I started leaving reviews on Goodreads and Amazon (as well as blogging them) once I became an author myself and understood their importance. Life’s too short, as I mentioned. Reviews, especially en masse, are effective as are editorial assessments. I don’t time myself reading. Don’t think as an author or editor, don’t talk as one, and generally don’t talk about yourself. Is there anything you will not review? Unless it’s exceedingly bad, if the plot and characters hook me I’ll probably continue reading. How long does it take you to get through, say, an eighty thousand-word book? If I start a book it’s because I expect to enjoy it. Live, learn, and improve in your next work. Under no circumstances to ‘argue’ with the reviewer – would you agree with that? I read whatever catches my fancy at that moment. News of the impending demise of literature and fine art have been around for as long as there were literature and fine art – no need to take it seriously this time around. How do you review a book? As opposed to what? It’s a common saying because your book will be judged by its cover. On average, I read between one and four books per month. How did you come up with your rating system, and could you explain more about the rating system? If a book hasn’t grabbed you by the first five pages, do you put it down? I’ll leave you with this anonymous quote: “Art is what people look at and say, ‘that’s art’.” Perhaps recognising quality and success can only be done after the fact. Argument won’t get you anything but a bad reputation, that will keep both reviewers and readers away. But at least it will be published to certain standards. It changes over time and moods. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes, and talk to them as a fellow reader might about the book. As long as I’m enjoying it, I’ll read it – life’s too short for books I don’t enjoy. That’s the million-dollar question, that every publisher would love to know. We’re seeing lots of statistics that say reading as a pastime is dying – do you think that’s the case? I think storytelling is a fundamental aspect of human life, and I doubt that would materially change. Lastly there’s book layout and typography. It isn’t necessarily a refection on your book (and certainly not on you), but on what the reader is looking for when they picked up your work. What are you looking for? Absolutely. At least that step is easy enough, and extremely noticeable to most people. Keep reaching out to potential readers and reviewers, but be polite and courteous. They are not just reading the novel, but are looking for something specific – something they believe they could sell. What advice could you give to authors looking to get their books reviewed? Agents typically request only the first five pages of a novel; what do you think about that? Never pay for reviews, never respond with anything but a “thank you” (even for ‘bad’ reviews). About Reading
We talk a lot about writing here on the blog, and possibly not enough about reading, which is after all why we’re all here. Most new-author books don’t earn out their advances, and publishers rely on the 1-in-10 success stories to stay in business. End of Interview:
Assaph’s reviews can be found on his author site, Felix the Fox Mysteries. There are good and bad novels on both side of the business, and plenty of new hybrid models. When you are approaching readers (and every reader is a potential reviewer), think like one. The reality is that traditional publishing is a losing business. Slowly and painfully, but yes. I also will rarely post a review unless it’s 4 or 5 stars. By editing I don’t mean copy-editing / proof-reading for language, but actual, proper, story-development editing. I’ll give it more than the first few pages – though I’ll probably know by the end of chapter one. Also keep in mind this quote by Neil Gaiman: “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. Perhaps I’m more sensitive to this as it’s an area I’m proficient in, but to me it’s very easy to see when someone just uploaded a Word document to Kindle vs a professional book production. Accordingly, my ratings are:

5 stars: really loved it, will be reading more from this author soon
4 stars: loved it
3 stars: meh

I often don’t finish 3-star books, and definitely none with lower ratings. I have a 5-item format to highlight the experience of reading the novel, so others can judge if the book will be to their tastes. Indie authors, on the other hand, aren’t helping their cause by skipping editing, covers, and layout, and by overly vocal whinging. Just look at JK Rowling’s rejection letters. Publishers choose manuscript they think will sell – which could be trite, repetitious drivel. It also depends on available time throughout the week (between family, work, and my own writing). But it’s the process of experienced, unbiased highlighting of issues and consciously thinking about them that improves your craft. The publishing industry will have to come to grips with this new reality, and find new ways to make it work for everyone. Note that both with personal reading and with querying, requirements change over time and from person to person. It’s natural to be protective of your ‘baby’ – you’ve written a book (awesome!) and getting feedback can feel very harsh in the beginning. I only review books I finished, and I only finish reading books I enjoyed reading. It’s the little touches that readers might not be able to put a finger too, but collectively give a distinct ‘feel’ to the book, whether amateur or pro. Do you have any ideas or comments on how the industry can ‘filter’ good from bad, aside from reviews? Hardly the case. But no one, no matter what they claim, can tell ahead of time which book will take off and which won’t. So spend the money on a specialist cover designer, not an illustration from a friend or some cheap gig you found online. The publishing industry is undergoing a traumatic upheaval, same as the movie and music industry a couple of decades ago. We’ll keep telling ourselves stories – and read them, of course – for as long as we are human. Do you get readers emailing you and thanking you for a review? They are not equipped to deal with the current volume of submissions, and instead try to go narrow with mostly proven authors and formulas (with notable exceptions, of course). Read first, then summarise my impressions. About Writing
What are the most common mistakes that you see authors making?