Being an independent author is different from the old days of traditional publishing. I, as the author, have the ability to make corrections and even reasonable modification to my published books. This pretty much was something that never happened in the old world of publishing. Now the reader and author have the ability to interact and actually improve a book. Case in point, Andy Weir, the author of the Martian, originally published the novel on his blog, one section at a time. He received a lot of valuable feedback that he says improved the book.
In the modern self-published world, the readers themselves can do what is the job of an editor at the big publishing firms. I know for me as an author, I would be more likely to take the advice of a reader that had a solid background in the section of my book that he is critiquing. Say I am writing a scene about falling a large tree. Would I be more likely to take the advice of an editor who spent his career in a high rise in NY or the burly timber faller with forty years of experience falling timber? If I write a scene with dialog between a number of teenaged girls, am I going to take the advice of teenaged girl readers telling me “We don’t talk like that!” or the nearly retirement age guy in the high rise? The answers are pretty easy for me.
Yes, there are some down sides to it. That editor who spent his career studying books and selling books in a high rise in NY is a subject matter expert on what sells and can offer a lot of good advice in that area. However, he might be able to pick out good-selling books but he may pass ten really good manuscripts to every one he accepts. His job can be on the line if he makes too many mistakes, so he is going to play it safe.
No, a good author is not going to try to take and incorporate every suggestion readers make. All you have to do is look at online forums to see that for every question, there are almost always answers 180-degrees opposed to each other. You, as the questioner, have to have a fairly good understanding of your subject to weed out the advice that doesn’t fit your situation.
For various reasons, I do not post excerpts from my books beforehand, but I do use reader reviews.
So the plea of this post is please take the time to do reviews if you read my books. Hopefully, this way, I can put out better and more enjoyable work for all readers.