I had a moment of clarity this week, which is great. On the back of that revelation I then made two decisions and one mistake.
Want to know about my epiphany moment? Well, as counter-intuitive as this may sound I realised: good reviews actually help me improve more than bad ones do. I know this might sound backward. Maybe you think it’s just my ego dismissing negative reviews as obvious garbage. A lot of them are not, but a lot of them are. People who enjoyed reading my work, those that leave positive reviews, actually care about the novel and I find that people will often point out areas for improvement. They also point out what works, what they enjoyed, thus allowing me to become aware of what I am doing successfully.
Most bad reviews tend to be about slinging insults or they’re completely unhelpful like, “hated it”, or “rubbish”, those might be valid opinions but they don’t really help me improve as an author.
So my two decisions? The first was to forget all about reviews completely. I decided that I would pick a day of the month to read them all, good and bad. Amazon don’t notify authors of reviews so we have to check just like the rest of you do. It can be a hold your breath, close your eyes, ignore your pounding heart moment when you click through your titles (on the different territory websites). I don’t check reviews as often as I used to. In the early days I was on every day, hoping and praying that someone enjoyed my work. Now I try to only look if I’m doing something else, lol.
The second decision was to reach out more to those who do enjoy my work, and ask them about areas I’m uncertain of. Like tonight on Facebook I asked about the frequency of sex my characters should enjoy. The question was on the back of a reviewer mentioning that they believed there was too much sex. It was a positive review and it was superb. But it’s exactly what gave me my epiphany moment. The reader enjoyed the work and reviewed but also pointed out something specific that I could look at again. It was brilliant for me! Honestly, it was a great experience. The reviewer made me think about my work. I asked people who I knew had read my work what they thought, and so I moved forward. I felt like I had progressed, something had been done.
So fantastic, all very good, right? Well, yeah, but then I made a mistake. It wasn’t really a mistake. Well, ok, yes, I suppose it was. But it was unintentional. I went to a website that carries one of my novels, a website I hadn’t checked since loading the novel. What did I find? A bad review. A long bad review. I read it – of course – and now I feel like complete crap and I don’t want to write any more tonight. It’s ludicrous that I should let one opinion sap my mojo but it’s done. I can’t undo it.
I’ll wake up tomorrow stronger. These things don’t last forever. But my mood is low, my creativity has been flushed away, and anyone who says they are always completely unaffected by bad reviews is lying.
I made the decisions, stuck with it, felt good, moved forward, and now it’s four steps back.
Anyway, the original premise is still in place. I’ll stick with my two decisions. But damn, I wish I hadn’t read that. It’s so typical, isn’t it? You’re free and flying high, then your wings melt.
Thank you for the support you’ve all given me though. I do feel petulant in moments like this. I know it’s dramatic. It’s irrational and uncalled for. But it’s honest and that’s all I can be. The positive support has been overwhelming and I still struggle to comprehend how any of this is real. People have read my work. Wow… I’m… it’s just amazing. Thank you everyone.
Good luck on your adventures,