I feel like I’m holding my breath right now. That I have been for a while now. I don’t know when I can let go, but my face hasn’t quite turned blue yet. Luckily, I’ve got this guy–Fisher, not his chipmunk pal–to keep me distracted enough to barely even feel the burn in my lungs: (brief pause to show off my cute dog)
I have several (no, dozens) of copies of my book out right now for review. Lots of paperbacks; triple that with Kindle copies. Now the hard part is playing the waiting game. Because my book is already out, I’m not upset my book isn’t “blowing up” but that means when everyone finally does review it (which is apparently next month and through the summer), I’m going to hear ALL THE THINGS that people like or don’t like. While I’m noting and planning corrections to my marketing mistakes, for now I accept whatever time frame it takes for bloggers to get back to me. I understand that I should’ve planned much further ahead of time. But I’m taking it in stride and will apply that to future releases. In the meantime, that leaves me waiting with bided breath, hoping that when reviews begin to come in, I’ll appreciate and learn from each positive or negative one. I expect reviews will be, as my mom puts it, feast or famine. Much like my two years of job searches, I expect I’ll have days, weeks even, without a single review or mention, followed by two straight weeks of my email hitting Red Alert.
As I’ve stated before, bad reviews don’t scare me (I’ve got a flask). I plan to take what criticism I can work with and use it to my advantage when writing Book 2. Assuming people aren’t jerks (and I can’t imagine that’ll be anyone I spoke with, rather random Amazon reviewers), I could take what they appreciate or can get by without to move the story along. That’s how writers grow and while it might sting, I’m ready to anticipate fixing any weak spots in future manuscripts. Plus I expect it’ll help my writing in other works too, as far as character development or pacing goes. I get where book bloggers are coming from and I’m hoping for honest reviews.
Now for the other side of the page: Writer have feelings, too. I don’t know if this applies to every writer, but many, many of us are pretty much just nervous people. That’s what I’ve decided in the last few months of putting out my work, specifically when I talk to other authors. There are plenty of others like me who are downright scared sometimes. We want our work to be good, to be special, to really grab an audience and move them the way your characters hope they do. It’s gut-wrenching to be turned down after so many queries to agents, so once we nut up the courage to go indie publishing, we now have to face everything ourselves. It’s intimidating and overwhelming and really, I’m looking forward to it being easier the 2nd time around.
Approaching a person, trying to be sincerely interested each individual, is worth every bit of the research and time investments a writer makes. (For the record, reading a book blogger’s Review Policy is crucial. Every writer pitching stories to book bloggers, please take notice of their entries. You might have a basic skeleton of what your review request looks like, but send separate emails, name names, and anything else that shows a blogger you are. Read the About Me’s. If they’re investing their time to read an effin’ novel, you can take eight minutes of your day to read a few notes.) Once book bloggers have the books, however, it’s up to them to write a piece that best represents their ideas and opinions. Some state the sunny side of things–even if a book didn’t work for them, they still talk about what might work for others or what they did like. This is how I write reviews–even if I had problems, I don’t want to be blunt or rude about it. I especially defend the right to opinions (provided they’re all respectful), because what didn’t work for some usually works for others.
I’ve even seen some bloggers that offer the DNF (Did Not Finish) option to email the reason why and opt out of a review, thus sparing the reviewer time and the author pain. It makes sense to me, actually. If I can’t get through the first 100 pages of your book, it’s not going to end well for anyone. I just want to move on to the next book at that point. And at least as an author, I can be saved of a poor review and the only loss is a bit of your time (I’d say about twelve minutes**, tops).
I suppose that while I may get a low score on the love-o-meter, my hope is that it’ll be stated with respect. All the bloggers in my Twitter feed and email inboxes have been excellent and I believe even if they aren’t crazy about the story, they’ll still like something about the book. A character, a detail, a particular Gift even, would be something positive I can take from it, at least. We writers should always, ALWAYS be polite and sincere when asking book bloggers to do us a favor. But book bloggers will hopefully be considerate and professional about their reviews. (This is my general plan to saving the world, but we’ll come back to that.)
**I’m only joking about the time it takes for blogging, emailing contacts, and staying up to date on social media. Far longer than twelve minutes. I’d have a hell of a lot more posts if it didn’t take time and thought to create a unique post. Don’t throw tomatoes at me, book bloggers.
And now, just because she’s super cute and you deserve to smile on Tuesday, here’s my friend’s dog Lady. We like to think Lady and Fisher are dating, but neither of them seem particularly fond of the other. Either way, she’s a doll. It’s always better to begin and end a post with cute dogs.