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I'm most recently a writer.  In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot.  As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades.  An unwilling transplant from the South,  twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US.  Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect.  When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do.  Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Reviews--What I've learned so far

Quite frankly, reviews scare me to death.  The moment you put your work out there for anyone and everyone to read(hopefully), there's the possibility they'll tell you just what they think.  In much the same way you know your children's faults, you may know the flaws in your writing, but you don't necessarily need to hear about them from anyone else.

Now I've been very fortunate.  I haven't gotten many reviews, and all of them have been kind.  So far.  I'm sure the day will come when someone feels the need to slam my books, if only because they don't like clean, inspirational romance and there are no walking dead in my stories.  Seriously, there are those who will read a book they know they won't enjoy, and then post a 1-star review, maybe just because they've had a really bad week and they can't take it out on anyone else.  That's what scares me.  There's nothing more fragile than the feelings of a sixty-something-year-old woman who's dared to self-publish her first completed work.  That review will really hurt!

There's another side to reviews that has cost me some sleep, the in-person review, or more precisely, the lack thereof.  Someone will tell me they've started reading one of my books.  They love it!  So far.  I wait, I wonder, I anticipate.  I never hear another word from them.  At least not about my book.  Do you know how awkward it is to run into that person in Walmart and want so much to ask "Did you hate it?" and instead just smile and make some comment about the weather?  I'm learning to let go of the anticipation, finally.  It's a phenomenon I can't explain, but I have to accept that it will happen, time and time again, apparently. 

There's also the issue of asking for reviews.  It's uncomfortable, like solicitation of any kind.  I'm not good at asking for things.  I'd like to think people would want to let the world know their opinion.  That certainly seems to be the case everywhere you turn.  Readers, people I don't know and won't run into in Walmart, email and comment on FB with lovely things to say about my books.  A few have actually posted reviews, but only a very few.  Now I love hearing those things, but I'd also love for someone else, say the potential readers browsing on Amazon, to hear them.  Unfortunately, I can't copy and paste them there.  I subtly(for the most part)suggest that a review would be appreciated.  Once in a while, it works.

I don't really mind not having a couple dozen reviews on each of my books at this point.  At least I've been spared the less than appreciative ones.  However, there's another side to accumulating reviews.  If I want to promote on any of the sites like Kindleboards and others which inform readers of what's out there, I must have at least 5 to 10 reviews adding up to at least a 4-star rating.  Those are the rules, and so far, only Hearts Unfold has achieved that.  Also, reviews lead browsers to books.  They can choose to view only x#-star rated books, and if there are no reviews, the book won't even come up for consideration.  A necessary evil, I suppose. 

Why am I telling you this?  Maybe it sounds like fishing for praise, or even whining?  That's not my motivation.  When I look at a book, mine or anyone else's, and see that it has 0 reviews after x-number of months on the market, I can't help but wonder "what's wrong with it?"  If it hasn't inspired anyone to even declare it "a waste of time" or "a noble effort", if it hasn't prompted anyone to take the time to post so much as a brief opinion, then it must not be much of a book. Books are after all meant to touch something in the reader, be it good or bad.  If that reader, at the end of the book, feels something, anything, the book has done its job.  If ambivalence is all the reader feels, that's kind of sad.

I'll continue to hope for more reviews, brace for the negative and get all teary-eyed at the positive.  And the sight of a new review on any of my books will always prompt an initial gasp of anxiety.  That said, in the end, no matter what they have to say, I'll be pleased that someone out there took the time not only to read my work, but to tell the world of readers about it.  That let's me know my little book has done its job.



2 comments:

  1. I think people are scared to write reviews. They love the book, but are afraid they have to write something closer to a literary critism instead of just saying "I loved it!".

    I am reading your book and I'm really enjoying it. It's the kind of book I want to take my time with and snuggle down in bed with it in my hands to read right before I go to sleep.

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    1. Good point. I realized a while back that I often hesitated to review for fear of not having anything valuable to add. But for the self-published in particular, reviews are vital. Our readers can add so much to our efforts. And of course, their comments, like yours above, make it all worth while. Thanks!

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