Critique & Technique

Receiving a book review from Writer’s Digest

At nearly 40 years old, there have only been a few times in my life when I held a full-length manuscript that I believed was truly worthy. A book that could beat the competition. The best of class.

Last spring was one of those times. A community of writers and artists banded together to publish the Social Gap Experiment Anthology, and the finished project was lovely. One person called it “a masterpiece.” As I held the print edition in my hands earlier this year, I couldn’t help but agree.

So, I did something bold. I submitted our creative collection to the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards in March. The contest was a great experience, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we were very excited to have our work considered.

In the fall, I learned that our book didn’t win the contest. However, we received some valuable feedback from the editors. Although the anthology did receive some glowing reviews on Amazon, this was probably the first time I personally have received an in-depth book review. As the creator and editor of the project, I definitely have a lot to learn.

One thing of note in the project is I volunteered my time to create this book, which meant holding a contest for cover art, using the art to design a cover, editing the copy, formatting the images, and laying out the design for each and every page, down to the table of contents and the back cover. I must admit, I thought the book turned out beautifully.

Even so, I can imagine ways we could have reconfigured the book to enhance its appeal. The best thing about a good critique is how much it can help you improve upon your technique.

Our book may not have won an award, but the editors recognized the “exemplary” quality of the work and the impact of the project. Read their feedback below! 😷 🌎 💞

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Criticism for the Social Gap Experiment Anthology

Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards 2021: Below are selected critiques from the editors at Writer’s Digest.

“This book is exemplary in its structure, organization, and pacing. The structure of the chapters/parts aid in a compelling organization of the story or information. The pacing is even throughout and matches the tone/genre of the book.”

“The concept was born from the pandemic and provided a creative outlet to authors from all genres.”

“The cover concept was strong, but the interior layout was a little plain.”

“The biggest drawback was that the interior design was not as strong as a project like this could have been. It needed a more artsy feel to it. The presentation of the photographs and drawings could have been more elaborate.”

“This book is satisfactory in its choice of topic or theme for the story. It has some unique elements and will appeal to many readers in its intended genre.”

The Topic Appeal is… “A collection of pieces that didn’t really have a cohesive theme. All were well-written.”

“The idea and concept were well-executed. Providing a creative outlet for artists suffering from isolation was a great idea.”

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