The Perils of Reviews


As most authors know, a review is like a double edged sword. We need them. We long for them. Who doesn't want feedback to fuel their writing forward? In this day and age of Amazon, well let’s just say that if you don’t have reviews, you get shoved among the masses trying to dig yourself out of the sludge and reach one or two readers.

We writers have such a black and white sense of accomplishment. One day we're riding high, stunned by the words that seemed to flow so effortlessly from our fluid fingers. The next day we're drowning in self-doubt and deleting every line. Reviews are really all we have to determine if what we’re putting down on paper is reaching those people the words were meant for. Good or bad, a review means someone picked up your book and took the time to open the cover.

Thanks to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, we can now be further tortured knowing how many pages a reader has read. Makes me want to scream....”tell me why you didn't finish it!” Did life simply get in the way of your reading time? Was it truly so bad that you couldn't stomach finishing it?

At my beginning, I embraced all the positive feedback from friends and family. I believed every single word and for a hot minute I actually thought I’d be the breakout star in the writing industry. My first book amazed them all and I got many emails and texts praising my good work. By the time book two released they were less inclined to pour on the praise and settled for a simple "really liked it".

Hell...at least that's something.

I had work to do and I went to it, pushing those writing muscles to the extreme. I admit, I wrote more from my emotional center with my first two books, rather than from a clinical perspective; as the work it truly is. I've grown as a writer; that's clear when you read my first book and compare it to my most recent one. But getting readers to jump on board seems to get tougher each time out of the gate. Getting reviews - good or bad - feels like I'm banging my head against the wall. Often. Quite often.

The sad truth of our industry- especially if you publish on Amazon - is that reviews drive sales. It's been said that you need twenty-five reviews before your book is even released. Twenty-five?!? Sounds impossible right? Feels like it is most of the time, actually. I can barely get my friends to post a review, so how the heck am I supposed to expect some stranger to do it?

The ironic part of it is that I rarely leave reviews myself. I read like an addict desperate for his next fix, but writing reviews gives me instant writer’s block. What can I say…I loved it? I didn’t love it. B-o-r-i-n-g. So how can I expect readers to do something I'm not willing to do myself?

Clearly, this is an endless cycle I can’t quite seem to put into any amount of perspective.

Here’s another irony about these reviews….twenty amazing ones are somehow lost in the random 1 star review. I’ll beat myself up for days over one of those, but will I take a moment to give myself an atta-boy for the 20 amazing ones? Nope. We writers are not exactly a smart bunch of folks. Not when it comes to reviews, at least. Somehow the knowledge that books – like music and art – are subjective, gets lost in the self-bashing and worrying I do over that less than favorable review.

Now that I’ve whined and complained and generally made an ass out of myself about this subject, I’ll let you in on a little secret. All the reviews in the world – good, bad, right down the middle of meh – will never deter me from this driving need I have to put words in my head down on paper. No 1-star review will keep me from creating beautiful characters in my head, or stories that I would love to read. I’m in this for the long-haul now, no turning back. I’ll be that gal, still plunking down naughty sex scenes at the age of 80, a stack of pretty novels with her name on them stacked right next to the easy chair.

I’m okay with that.

Happy reading (and hopefully reviewing)!

AJ

PS. In case you’re wondering, I rarely read my reviews. My mom does it for me. I’m really good living in this land of denial. *rolls eyes at self*

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