A book advisory service can make or break you. Don’t let it become the latter.

A Day in the Life of… 
Louise Wise

March 8th 1999 was the day I BECAME an author.

I’d been writing a long time before that, but that was the defining moment in my head and where I received the most horrendous review on my precious novel. I’d sent it for analyst to a well-known (shall remain nameless because I’m still scared of them) book advisory service.

I paid my money (over £400) and waited for them to fall over themselves in recommending me to agents and publishers (we’re dreamers, us authors).

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Four months later, I received my ms back (in those days it was all done via the old fashion postal service) and I opened the brown package with eager fingers. The smell hit me first: cigarettes. But I wasn’t deterred. I sat down with my smelly ms to read the advisory’s review, digest their suggestions and to feel warmed by their encouragement.

What I got was wriggly red lines underlining sentences, red circles around paragraphs and lots of exclamations or question marks in the margin. There was no explanation to these marks, but there was a one-paged mockery analyst of my work. It was handwritten with very bad handwriting at that.

Of course, I was devastated, and my husband suggested I not contact the advisory until I calmed down. But name me a woman who listens to her husband! Oi, put your hand down, you.

The advisory was blunt, unapologetic: “Welcome to the writing world, dahling, this is what it’s like, get used to it.” They blamed the smell of the ms on the ‘cheap’ (their words) ink I’d used, and said the wriggly lines and circles should be self-explanatory. 


They offered to take the ms back and re examine it ‘providing I pay the postage costs’. But I was so shocked and demoralized by their attitude I declined. 

The report could have broken me. It was more than harsh, it was nasty. In hindsight, I think I was sent the note version of the analyst although this was never admitted. But you know what, that day something clicked in my head and my backbone strengthened.

I put the ms aside and began another book. This time though, I used another advisory service: Cornerstones Literary Consultancy. This book wasn’t ready either, but the service was encouraging, patient and most of all, a learning experience.

The moral? 

There are some nasty people out there. Be strong.

Louise Wise has written two comedy romances, two science fiction novels, a collection of short stories and a non-fiction novella.

craziness assured 
A Proper Charlie 
romantic comedy
She’s losing her job.
She’s losing her boyfriend.
She can only afford to eat spaghetti hoops on toast.

She’s called Charlie… or Charlotte, or ginger, ginge, Duracell,

Yet with all these odds against her, she pushes forward to
take the lead story on her paper at London Core. 

Shame no one knows. Shame she’s the office general assistant and not a real journalist.
 it’s on missing prostitutes and Charlie thinks pretending to be a ‘tart
with a heart’ will get her that story.

She doesn’t just get a story.

She becomes the starring role.
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The Fall of the Misanthrope: 
I bitch, therefore I am 
dark comedy

‘So where would you have taken me on the drive?’

‘A place where we could walk along the Thames just by ourselves; it’d be beautiful watching the silver moon dance on the surface. I’d have taken your hand…’

‘Yes?’ My heart was thumping; the menu – my guard – was lowering from my face.

‘Kissed each one of your fingers, and told you how beautiful you looked.’ His honey-coloured eyes were watching me intently. ‘I’d lean in, you’d lean in and we’d kiss. Gently. Softly. You’d look shocked, maybe embarrassed, and then I’d say, let’s walk. And we’d walk along the river bank. My coat around your shoulders. We’d hold hands, you’d relax. Then, beneath the moon, I’d stop, pull you against me and kiss you again. This time you wouldn’t be embarrassed.’

I couldn’t believe this. He was doing it again!

‘Did you have lessons in seduction?’

His mouth twitched. He sat back, and picked up the menu. ‘Admit it, Velvet, you were falling for it.’

Insufferable, but correct, man. He was good, I’d give him that. Playboy at his best. I’d have to stay alert. Maybe I shouldn’t drink anything alcoholic tonight. Just in case.

Ooh, they had cocktails! I love cocktails. I snatched up the cocktail menu and, yep, they had my favourite – Fuzzy Navel.
One wouldn’t hurt.

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science fiction romance

Jenny was hurled to the floor. Winded, but managing to crawl out of the spaceship, she glimpsed Bodie turning to look and calling for her to run. Matt picked up a rock and threw it at the alien as it ran towards them.

She began to stand, but dizziness swamped her. Trying to ignore the sensation, she staggered away from the spacecraft, but the ground shifted under her feet. Time was measured for Jenny, yet around her things were moving fast.

‘Jen! Move!’ yelled Bodie. The alien was in between her and the two men who, by now, were at the top of the crater.

sequel to Eden
(new release – links to follow)

‘I’m scared’, he’d said. 

He was never scared. He was her hero. Her rugged hero made up from all the romance books she’d read. Big, bold and beautiful—in an alien kind of way.

Beauty has tamed her beast. Jenny and Fly live on Eden, a planet where they were both marooned. They’ve come a long way since then: farming livestock and living a perfect life on their idyllic world.

But signs were all there that their world was changing–only they didn’t notice it at first. 

And when they did, they didn’t have much time to prepare.

Fly and Jenny become HUNTED.

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2 thoughts on “A book advisory service can make or break you. Don’t let it become the latter.

  1. Hear, hear, Alison. You can't beat a professional crit. I classed my first as a 'cowboy' crit, they may have cleaned up their act now, but back then, it was dire.

    For me Cornerstones and JBWB (http://www.jbwb.co.uk/) which I should have included in the article, are two of the best I've used.


  2. Had the same strong crit on a very early draft of one of my books, but although it was robust, no, actually, it was brutal, most of what they said was true. An avalanche of self-doubt fell on me.

    But like a determined alpinist, I survived. After I'd cried, I read the report and annotations in detail and although sniffing into my hankie now and again, I was grateful. Along with the comments, there were excellent learning points. Then came the rewrite, a total rewrite, and many weeks of honing.

    Growing a thick skin and a sense of detachment are *crucial* to a writer's professional development. If you put your baby into the firing line, it will get shot at. But a good crit service will supply the bandages to salve the hurt and vitamin pills to promote strong growth on the way to maturity.


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