When A Review Helps Fine Tune A Story


How A Review Can Change Your Novel Details

Careful reading of reviews can give a novelist clues about fine-tuning the novel and how to improve future stories. Thoughtful reviews can even trigger action to change.

I work hard to make my historical information as accurate as possible, down to making sure the Latin words are not too many but appropriate. In The Roman Heir  I had two spelling choices for the term for the head of the family: the original Latin pater familias and the modernized spelling paterfamilias. The bulk of my readers are in the United States so I originally chose the modernized spelling.

Although most of my readers are in the United States, I am keen to build and overseas audience. I received a review from a reader in The Netherlands 

A murder mystery set in 512 AD. In The Roman Heir, with less than hundred pages a quick read, we meet Argolicus, a former praefect of Rome, who was asked to deliver a book to Philo, the son of Pius who dwells in Ostia. Argolicus arrives just after Pius was murdered brutally, which left the seventeen old Philo as heir. Argolicus offers his help to find the murder. His straightforward manners upset the local families. Pius was the local leader in Ostia, not just another patrician from Rome with a second house in this harbor city. What is revealed in a series of interview, is shocking. Fact-finding, putting aside emotions lead to the murder, even before Pius’s funeral is there. Zara Altair throws in a lot of Latin and local flavor to have the story set in ancient Roman society, except paterfamilias that’s not written properly. A convincing plot that definitely should have a follow-up.

The reviewer had studied Latin for six years and took issue with the spelling. 
I knew that the reviewer fit the parameters of my readers so I took note.
It was easy for me to adjust the spelling to pater familias in Vellum with search and replace. Then I uploaded the new version to digital sellers like Amazon, ibooks, Kobo, Google and the like. 

Strive For The Best It Can Be

I made the decision to change the text based on several factors

  1. Knowing my best reader base
  2. Providing accurate details, including spelling
  3. Wanting the best text possible for all readers

Honest reviews do help an author create the best books possible for readers. After this experience, I encourage writers to consider text changes after an honest review.

​Zara Altair

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