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The Silent Tide Experience – Best critical review I’ve had yet

A moment of learning is a precious gift.

Sometimes, learning comes coupled with high praise and it goes down nice, like a well-poured, icy cold draught beer.

Sometimes, however, learning wraps itself around your neck like heavy rusted chain, the links rubbing you raw with every breath you take.

Prior to uploading the Amazon Kindle edition of A Silent Tide on November 13, 2013, we test drove manuscripts of the work to an editor, a high school English teacher, and to twenty “beta” readers. My instructions to each reader were simple. I told them that I knew the book had potential but that I was not looking for compliments. Instead, I wanted them to tear it apart and tell me what they didn’t like about my work.

An interesting thing happened.

By the end of this manuscript review process, and despite my instructions, I had received many compliments but very few suggestions as to how, or why, something should be added, deleted, re-written, whatever. “Don’t change a thing” was a frequent report back from the troops.

Now, all authors love compliments and those comments were cool to hear, but there was a growing part of me that soon came to the conclusion that friends, acquaintances, “people who know you”, may not be the best choice as “reviewers” as they may be reluctant to impart needed criticism. And, that’s not good. Because in this business, you better have it right before you sign your name to it and throw it between the covers.

So, how do you get the unbiased commentary necessary to figure out where you really stand?

One way is to just ask.

The following review was posted on Amazon on August 16, 2014.

“This is a good story, holds your attention, BUT... certainly not a 5-star effort. Mr. Johnson clearly needs to find a professional editor, proofreader, and someone whose use of grammar and punctuation is superior to his own. There are numerous awkward 80-90 word sentences (sometimes a sentence is a full paragraph) that leave you lost in his attempt to sound like a great writer. Then he shifts into his "good old boy" mode and throws in some local jargon to add authenticity to the characters. This inconsistency in style is so frequent that I could almost see this first-time author sitting at his desk "working" at writing the book. You can't relocate "To Kill A Mockingbird" to the Chesapeake Bay and expect everyone to think another great author has appeared on the literary scene.”

Hitherto my response (via the Comment link)

“Very true. Surprised by the huge number of five stars myself and the Indie award for best self- published legal thriller in the country. I had two editors on this work and I am amazed at how much slipped through the cracks. It won't happen again. As to the long running sentences and the sudden shift to another style, that's my art, as rough as it is, and I'm sticking to it. Thank you for reading AST and thank you for posting this review. It helps this newbie to fine tune his craft. Have a great day.”


I think about that review every day. It drives me to become a better producer and I thank the writer for affording me a precious moment of learning. I won’t waste it. The comment I took most to heart was about “visualizing the author at his desk “working” at writing the book”. I suspect the reviewer tossed that bit in as one of the heavy links of rusted chain. I received it, however, as a cool sip of just tapped Stella Artois because that was exactly how the job got done.

WEJ - August 30, 2014

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