I think many readers don’t understand how much we authors in independent publishing depend on their reviews. Not just to help sales. Not just because of Amazon’s algorithms. Not just to provide marketing fodder.
No one book is for everyone. Every independent author will get negative reviews from some readers, and that’s the reader’s right when he or she doesn’t enjoy the book. I’m not complaining about legitimate and respectful bad reviews, and I don’t resent them.
Still, we writers need positive feedback to go along with the criticism. We need something to keep our confidence up. Something to motivate us and to remind us that yes, we have a reason to keep on writing.
We need reminders about why we’re doing what we’re doing. While we know we can’t please everyone with our art, it’s a medicine for the soul to realize we at least have pleased someone.
MEDICINE FOR THE SOUL
For someone like me, just starting out and releasing books after six+ years of working on my drafts with beta readers, I often doubt myself chronically.
It doesn’t help that I suffer from anxiety on a regular basis. It’s a part of my life, and I’ve learned to accept and to deal with it. That’s not what this post is about; that’s just background information to help explain that I often wonder:
- Did I release my book too soon?
- Is my book any good? Would it ever be any good, even if I’d worked on it longer? Sure, I got support from people who had read it before I released, but….
- How can I ever balance trying to establish myself as a writer with supporting myself financially? Is it even worth it? Should I just give up the writing?
- Am I chasing my dreams or am I being ridiculous, trying to do something I just don’t have the talent to accomplish?
I have a method to handle the bad reviews–I outline it here–but that doesn’t make them easy to stomach. We all have to stomach them.
A good review can turn around a writer’s entire mindset.
A good review can remind a writer that yes, the time, and the effort, and the pain of putting yourself out there are all worth it. You’ve touched someone. Your work truly touched someone; it spoke to his or her soul and made that person think. It opened new possibilities for that person.
A good review can remind a writer that although he or she may not be William Shakespeare, yes, he or she is talented. Potential is there: the potential to inspire, to comfort, to entertain, possibly even to teach.
A good review doesn’t just let a writer know that he or she isn’t crazy for having written and released that novel. It provides evidence to prove that fact. And that’s powerful, because when you’re doubting yourself, you need that proof.
(In case you’re wondering what inspired this post, I got a touching five star review today on goodreads at a moment when I was tearing myself apart. To know that someone enjoyed my work enough to say such positive things about it was a huge comfort.)
PLEASE WRITE REVIEWS
I’m sure I’m not the only writer who needs reassurance from time to time that I haven’t lost my mind for doing what I’m doing, trying to convince people my work is worth reading.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who falls into spirals of doubt. So please, take a moment to write a good review about the books that you enjoy reading.
If you’re not sure what kind of information is helpful in a review, this post can help you.
It’s not about marketing or sales. It’s not about being a “fan girl” or “fan boy.” It’s not about anything beyond offering encouragement and support to the writer whose work touched you.
After all, we all need support and encouragement from time to time, no matter our chosen career paths or life situations.
So, writers, has a good review ever touched you? Have you ever received one, like I did, at a moment when you really needed someone to tell you, “You’re doing all right, and you’re good at what you do”?
Reviewers: why do you review? What is your favorite thing about writing reviews?
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