Writers Have Feelings, Too

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)

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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.

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7 thoughts on “Writers Have Feelings, Too

  1. Zen says:

    The wait before you receive the reviews you’re expecting is terrible. I have to resist refreshing my page on Goodreads/my email every few minutes to see if anything new came up. I’ve received good reviews so far, and I’ve taken criticism into consideration; sometimes readers will have a point, even if we, in all our vanity, refuse to believe so.

    I also take the time to read up on bloggers before contacting them. It’s really common courtesy; they’re doing you a huge favour, so the lease one can do is try to find out who they are. =]

  2. Andrea @The Bookish Babes says:

    First, I freaking love the pictures!

    Okay. I have tons to say about the outright free-for-all that’s happening too often. I get that reviews are only for readers, but they’re really not. Reviews are often for authors to take note of what does/does not work. I mean, duh. How can you sit there and rant about what you don’t like and want them to do better if you don’t want them reading reviews?

    I don’t care how much you dislike a book. It is never okay to be cruel. I learned that as a child.

    So yes, while it is not okay for authors to badger a bad review, it is also not okay to treat an author like ass b/c you didn’t like their book.

    Luckily, all the authors I’ve reviewed have been kind, even when I’ve give them negative reviews. I don’t know if that’s b/c I’m respectful, or if I’ve been lucky.

    This was a great post, Liz. Good luck.

  3. Lauren@The Housework Can Wait says:

    Oh heavens. I wish it only took me 12 minutes to write a review. My blog would be a veritable font of information and reviews if that were the case.

    I also wish I was like some book bloggers and could read a book in 3 hours. I probably could, if I was speed reading and not detail reading, but what’s the fun in speed reading? NONE, I tell you. Zero fun.

    I have a sneaking suspicion some book bloggers are androids. Or Cylons.

    Anyway, this was a great post, Liz. As a blogger (and a baby blogger at that), I get huge butterflies when I agree to accept a book for review. Even if the premise sounds awesome, there’s always the risk I will hate the book, and I hate hating the book, especially when an author is kind, approaches me personally, and treats me with respect (and that’s when the DNF option comes in very handy – everyone can walk away with their dignity intact).

    And even when I enjoy a book, I feel like it’s my responsibility to readers and to authors to point out when there’s things that didn’t work for me. I mean, who wants to read a blog where the writer loves everything about everything? BO-RING. But again, respect and tact is key. Your book is the perfect example. I really enjoyed it, but there were a couple small things I had issues with, and your reaction was wonderful. It gave me a lot of confidence as a blogger that authors aren’t going to go storming the gates if I say the slightest negative thing, as long as I treat their work with respect.

    Thanks for reminding us that all those avatars on the Internet belong to real live human people. The blogger/author community is so awesome, and I love being a part of it.

    • LizLong says:

      Your review was great! Not because you loved the book of course (it helps), but I can take what you said and figure out if it needs to be addressed later. I haven’t personally had a bad experience with a book blogger, but part of it is because I’m literally the nicest I know how to be. (I’m a much snarkier person in real life! lol) Thanks again for taking the time to read and review my book. I appreciate it so much! And hopefully everyone will be as smooth sailing as you were! 🙂

  4. Liz (@elizabethbarone) says:

    I’ve had some negative reviews. My rule of thumb is to let a review “stew” — if it’s scathing, I won’t read it again until at least a couple of days have passed and I’ve calmed down. Then I try to learn something from it. If I can’t learn anything from it, I just ignore it and move on.

    And if all else fails, the Lizs with weapons will attack. 😉

    Seriously, though, I think you’ll be fine. *hugs* Waiting is the hardest!

    • LizLong says:

      Thank you! I need to hear it. Totally agree with you about letting the review sit for a while. Keeps us from regretting anything! I don’t want to give any more bad stereotypes to self-publishers than already exist!

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