(Let’s give a warm welcome to Ellie this morning. Her current book, Wedding Bell Blues, is available through Amazon. Her next book — and, sigh, we can’t agree on a title yet — will be available through NRP’s webstore, Amazon, BN and other outlets next month. — Amanda)
Good morning! When the Mad Geniuses asked if I wanted to blog today to help promote my new book, I jumped at the chance. After all, I’m a writer. Doing a blog should be easy, right? Of course, I oh-so-conveniently forgot two things: first, I’m a lousy blogger. That’s why I don’t have a blog no matter how much Amanda tells me I need one. The second thing is that I hate doing promotions. That’s why I always laugh when I read Sarah talking about how she hates doing it. It’s as if she’d read my mind. What I wouldn’t give for my own pet publicist. Unfortunately, my cat just won’t cooperate. Even if she agreed, I’m not sure I could afford all the special cat food she’d demand in return. Knowing her, she’d want fresh caught tuna as well as caviar, all served in a gold dish. Did I say my cat’s a bit spoiled. Oh, wait, she’s a house cat. Spoiled is a given.
Anyway…I was all set to promote my next book. It’s not exactly a sequel to Wedding Bell Blues, but it is another romantic suspense. Nothing heavy, just a fun book with characters you like — I hope.
That caveat is added because, no matter what we do as writers, there will always be someone who doesn’t like or doesn’t understand what we’ve written. All you have to do is look at the reviews of most books to see I’m right. It’s up to us not to let the reviews get to us.
That’s a trap I fell into early on. After Wedding Bell Blues came out, Naked Reader Press published a couple of my short stories. One Amazon review had me scrambling for the phone to call Amanda to find out what I’d done wrong. One star. My heart fell and I felt sick to my stomach. A reader hated me because he hated my story. It didn’t matter that the reviewer clearly hadn’t read the description of the story. Heck, I’m not sure he even read the story. But he hated my baby. I’d done something wrong.
I obsessed and quit writing because I couldn’t figure out what I’d done wrong. The folks at Naked Reader kept at me, offering me bribes of chocolate and coffees and even treats for the cat — who still hasn’t forgiven me for turning the latter down. Sigh. Do you know how dangerous it is to live with a cat who has been denied a bribe she really want? — to get back to the computer. Finally, they resulted to the big guns. They sicced Sarah on me (Hi, Sarah!) who quickly told me to quit reading reviews and just write.
Now, this isn’t a “woe is me” post. In fact, it isn’t even one telling you not to read your reviews. They do have their place. What it is is a post telling you not to take them so much to heart that they paralyze you. What you have to remember is no two people will get the same thing out of your book and you can never tell who will review it, especially on sites like Amazon and Good Reads, to name two.
If you don’t believe me, read the reviews for Wedding Bell Blues. They range from 5 stars to 1 star. There are complaints because there’s not enough sex and complaints because the sex is too explicit (that one had me in hysterics. If you had any idea how hard it is for me to write sex, you’d understand. I like my sex like my violence, alluded to, nice build ups and then behind closed doors. Guess I’ll never make a good voyeur.) One person hates the fact there is so much cussing in the book. A couple I’m not sure they read the book I wrote.
My favorite review is from someone who doesn’t read romantic suspense. It’s a three star review. But he enjoyed the book. More importantly, his criticisms were valid and things I’ve kept in mind on subsequent work. It was a thoughtful and well thought out review. Hey, let’s face it, if I can get a guy who doesn’t read this sort of book to read it all the way through and not want to kill me at the end, I’m doing good, right?
I printed out that review and have it hanging near my computer, reminding me not to take the bad reviews to heart but also reminding me that my writing isn’t perfect and there are things I need to work on.
The good reviews are wonderful ego boosters. The bad reviews sometimes leave me shaking my head. But they also give me a good laugh because, after a few minutes of asking myself if they have a good point, I know there isn’t anything I can do. Some people just aren’t going to like the sort of book Wedding is. It’s romantic suspense with comedy mixed in. The characters aren’t perfect, but each one is based on someone I know. It’s a novel without any aspirations of being the Next Great Novel.
I guess what I’m saying is to make your own choice as to what you are going to do about your reviews. Read them or don’t. But never, ever let them keep you from writing.