One of the craziest things about being published is that total strangers out there in the world are actually reading your books—and on top of that, forming opinions about them! This is very surreal. As someone just starting out in this whole published writer thing, it’s a new experience for me.
I’ve been surprised to find that as I gain more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, it’s easier than I expected not to take it personally. After all, there are tons of books out there that I don’t like—it wouldn’t be possible for everyone to like mine, or to like them for the same reasons. The critiques range from glowing (I do love those) to brief and disapproving (one reviewer wrote, simply, “dumb”), and run the gamut from thoughtful dissections of the plot to simple explanations of what the reader liked and didn’t like.
Instead of obsessing over what each person is writing or how they’re rating my books, I’m appreciating the larger process of seeing what readers have to say. It’s extremely gratifying that people are responding to my books enough to express something about them. Some of the criticism is helpful to me as an author, some isn’t, but being willing to face reader opinions is a necessary part of publishing a book, whether those opinions are complimentary, neutral or that the whole book is dumb.
I’m learning to rejoice in the good, especially in knowing that my story entertained and satisfied a reader; to laugh at the ridiculous; and to take the bad philosophically. Being reviewed hasn’t changed my enjoyment of writing, in part because I decided years ago that I was going to write the best work I could for fun, and not worry about what the end results would be. And once I hit “publish” on that first novel, I released all control of what happened next.
Publishing requires letting go, doing all that you can and then stepping back and watching things play out—which is true about a lot of things in life. I think that’s the most valuable lesson I’m taking away from all of this: whether I’m adored or despised by my readers, to just enjoy the ride.
2 thoughts on “The Review Ride | author’s note”
great advice, thank you for sharing. Over all, how have you found the publishing process? Do you list your books with more than one seller (ie Amazon, BN, etc.)?
I am not close to publishing yet, but any “insider” information or observation you can share would be awesome. Thank you.
I’ve been really happy with the self-publishing process just over a year in, especially with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, which has allowed me to publish eight books at no cost to me. I highly recommend it! So far I haven’t investigated offering my e-books through any other sellers, as I’ve been satisfied with the services KDP provides, especially free promotional days. Recently I used Amazon CreateSpace to publish my first book in paperback through print-on-demand, which is also extremely low-cost; I did pay a small fee ($25) so that my book could be available for other booksellers to order/offer (Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, libraries), though I find the Kindle editions sell much better, not surprisingly.
It’s a big, daunting leap to self-publish, but offers a fantastic opportunity to get your work directly to readers, skipping the grueling process of convincing an agent to believe in you. You have to be willing to market your own work, but since my goal isn’t to make millions, I’m OK with not having an agent or professional publicist.
Best of luck to you as you decide your next step!