Becoming a self-published author involves a myriad of tasks beyond just writing. First and foremost is to continue writing and in between that time, we have to establish our presence on social media in order to build a following. We want to attract people who share an interest in what we write about, as we introduce ourselves to the world with our published works to attract readers.
When we write, on a good day, our pens or fingers move effortlessly across the pages with our thoughts and ideas as our creativity flows. We can all attest to the plenty of times our brains cease up and we sometimes find ourselves stuck in a blank abyss of the dreaded writer’s block. As dedicated writers, we keep plugging away to drive through those empty moments. Eventually the words come, whether we keep scribbling until something makes sense or we walk away for a time-out.
After we manage to finish that first raw draft, the publishing aspect kicks in. Revisions, more revisions, editing and more revisions. We search for the perfect book covers in hopes of choosing the right one to convey what our books portend. Finally we get to the formatting stage, ready to publish. Just a few steps with an abundant amount of time consumed—months for some, years for others.
As we happily put out our work and bear our souls in our books, we hope to give something to learn from or evoke hopes and dreams for others by the stories we tell. When our works our reviewed by readers, they aren’t concerned with the blood, sweat and tears that were put into the making of our books, they only read our words.
As we anxiously anticipate a good review to validate our writing, along with the good ones will inevitably come some bad ones. That is the reality of putting our work out into the world to be publicly scrutinized. Reviews are shared by readers to express what they took from a book. Not all reviews are always rated fair which can mislead other readers and definitely bruise the ego of the author. When I say unfair review, I’m referring to someone’s personal opinion which sometimes has nothing to do with the content of the book and may have no pertinence to the story. For example, I have a very successful author friend who has learned to grow a thick skin to the occasional bad or sometimes ridiculous review he gets. This is something I am still learning to develop. My friend writes in the romance genre and received a nasty review from a reader who left a comment which went something like this: “This book sucked. I only like vampire stories and this is a sappy romance.”
Why did that person have to drag down an author’s rating with a stupid comment which had no relevance to his work? That comment didn’t help readers and why did he/she even bother reading the book if it wasn’t their genre? These are questions we will never know answers to and it does happen quite often that books are unjustly reviewed.
I like to live by the old adage, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” A comment without any valid constructive criticism, does nothing for anyone. Get my point?
I know when I got my first of only two bad reviews on my first book Conflicted Hearts, even with the many five and four star reviews, it was a huge blow to me. I began questioning my writing and even lost my desire to write for a few days. But a very successful author friend of mine chuckled when I brought my bad review to his attention. He told me to get used to it and grow a thicker skin, and said even the best of authors get slammed. He continued by emphasizing the stupidity of the comment and urged me to ignore it and move on. It took a few days for me to shake myself out of my deflated ego. The review had gone something like this, “Wa, wa, this book is all about the author…..”. Well, no shit Sherlocke—IT’S A MEMOIR! Once I learned to swallow it with a grain of nonsense, I persevered. Now I’m not saying the next bad comment that rolled in didn’t sting, but it’s going to happen. We have to learn to roll with the punches and realize we are going to get those zingers and also realize that we are just not going to please everybody all of the time; especially when we write in certain genres that may not appeal to everyone.
Reviews are very important to us as authors; not only do they validate our work, they are read by others and help make their decision if they would like to purchase that book. Everyone likes feedback. I know when I go to purchase a book, I always read the reviews to try and get a broader scope of the book’s content. I will often notice that a book is mainly highly ranked at four and five stars with the odd lousy review. l look at how well-received the book was by readers and then my curiosity always drives me to look at the bad reviews. Often times that is just what they are—bad reviews. No detail as to why it’s bad, other than a reader’s preference or an opportunity to slam or demoralize the author. In some more rare instances I’ve seen some constructive criticism. I like to take the overall picture and the bad reviews with a grain of salt. Truthfully, the questionable reviews tend to peak my interest because I want to know why those reviews are polar opposites to so many good ones. So perhaps all publicity is good publicity?
All in all, I’m just saying that we can all respect the works of others. If you choose to review a book in a negative aspect, try and find the positives and point them out with the criticism. Review on the actual content of the book, not because you like or dislike the author. Try to be helpful with your reviews. Be fair.