The first five star review I received made me felt validated. As a writer, I hadn’t shown my writing to many, and those I did show it to said positive things. They were almost required to as it was only a few close friends and a family member of two.
To get a review from a complete stranger, felt magical. It still does even when it’s not a five star, even when it’s much lower.
Every time I release a book into the world, I hold my breath, and then I wait. The reviews tell me that people are reading. They tell me that my stories mean something and that they matter. They tell me that my words have touched someone, and if I’ve done it well, that I’ve possibly even changed someone for the better. Reviews are more than just stars, they are actual love from a reader. When you get one, it’s like someone hugged you and told you that all of those long hours of writing and editing were worthwhile. Even when they aren’t favorable or are critical, they still tell you that someone read your words. As a writer, that’s what you hope for. You hope that people read your words.
I’ve gleaned much from critical reviews, and I appreciate them as much as I do the positive ones. The critical ones tell me what I can do better. They tell me how I can grow, and when they’re written to be helpful, they do help and I love them just as much.
Every time I release a book into the world, I can wait. Will someone like it? Will anyone read it? Will it matter?
When it does, the sheer joy is undeniable, and for one split second I realize that I might just be okay at this writing thing after all.
This challenge freaks me out because it’s personal. Five fears … the challenge is about your greatest fears but I don’t know if I can dig quite that deep. We’ll see how far I can go.
I’m with AK Lawrence on two of hers. The first one is snakes. Snakes, rats, mice; basically anything creepy crawly. Even though I live a little rural, I’m a city girl at heart!
The second one is the fear that nobody will ever read my books, which is silly because I have wonderful readers. I think this is every author’s fear and that I would’ve be a normal writer if I wasn’t plagued by self-doubt.
My children will hate me. They love me now, but I haven’t made any major mistakes yet. I know that as they get older, I’ll have more opportunities to really mess up and it scares the crap out of me. The what-ifs plague me every day and I worry that one day they won’t let me know them anymore. I remind myself to do my best, love them with my whole heart, and not allow my fear to paralyze me.
Heights. I’m afraid of climbing up and down tall ladders. I don’t mind airplanes or elevators or looking out of windows from tall buildings, but you’ll never catch me sky diving or standing untethered from great heights.
Vulnerability. This is the only deep fear I’ll share here. My writing makes me vulnerable which can be terrifying, but I share it because it’s good for me. I write because it’s healthy, less expensive than therapy, and more effective. I know that sharing my words opens me up and pushed me outside of my comfort zone, but I know that I need to.
I have many other things I’m afraid of but can’t bring myself to share for fear that they’ll come true. This is about as deep as I can get … the question is, what are you afraid of?
This writing life has taken me on so many new adventures in the past few years.
I’ve been to book signings, started a blog, made many new friends, joined a publisher, and then lost a publisher. I’ve submitted to and been rejected by agents, published four books, written five books, and am now working on my sixth and seventh. I’ve received five star and one star reviews and have had readers both love and dislike my books. This journey has been full of ups and downs and through it all I’ve enjoyed the entire experience. I’ve laughed and cried, and been frustrated and excited, and throughout it all I haven’t regretted one moment.
I’m still amazed that anyone even wants to read any of my books. I’m humbled and honored that with the millions of books and authors, that anyone even chooses me.
Now, I’ve had the honor of being chosen to join Evatopia Press as one of their amazing authors who write books for women. I’m incredibly excited to get to work with Margery Walshaw who has experience as a publicist, literary agent, and script manager. I can’t wait to see what she teaches me, how she stretches me, and how I will grow from this experience. My books have strong female protagonists who struggle with life and love, and I’m excited that they’ll get to be represented by a company with such a commitment to quality and support for both readers and authors. I’m anticipating what the future holds as I start down this new and exciting path and I’m excited to share it with you!!
Disclaimer. This is a difficult subject for me this week, but I’ll attempt to tackle it anyway though I DO NOT claim to be an expert. I read somewhere that a new author should be happy to sell over one-hundred books and when I hit that mark I stopped counting. I’ve never made it onto a major bestseller list, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be there one day. But this journey has been tremendous and far more than I ever hoped for.
Selling books is not only an art, but it’s mostly a business. Author Taylor Dawn recently shared an article written by Nicholas Sparks about the pitfalls of the book business. Book selling is not for the faint of heart yet as authors whose hearts are full of our stories, we continue to try and share them with the world despite knowing that it’s an uphill battle at times.
I’m happy to share what I’ve learned in the past few years of doing this crazy book-thing especially if it helps someone even a tiny bit.
Be grateful … for everything. Every reader, every review, every like, every connection, everything that tells you that someone chose YOU. With the millions of books in the world, I’m grateful every time someone chooses one of mine, even if they didn’t love it or didn’t connect with the story or the characters. Someone still chose my book to read and I’m constantly amazed that they would. Saying THANK YOU and participating in giveaways and supporting fellow authors with hops is a great way to show gratitude.
It’s been said a million times but don’t spam people with your books 24/7. It’s annoying! They’ll unfollow, block, and ignore you for all of eternity. Enough said.
Try new things. Some things will work and some won’t but there is value in trying. Before I try a new opportunity, I always do my research and read comments or ask questions of other authors who’ve done it. Some marketing avenues will work and give you great exposure while others will boost sales. Know your audience and know what they like.
Share the love! There is strength in numbers and supporting other authors/bloggers not only shows how awesome you are to new fans, but can introduce your readers to wonderful new people as well. It’s a win-win to get involved in giveaways, cover reveals, celebrations, and anything that can get your name out there.
Be true, be you! Show your readers who you are, inside and out. They are readers and people, just like you are. Interact, listen, and respond … consistently. Every single reader is important!
Do your research and don’t keep doing what doesn’t work. It’s important to ask around and take your time when making a decision. But don’t be afraid to try, although you do wanti be selective when it comes to spending marketing dollars!
It’s important to remember that this is a journey; a marathon and not a sprint. It can take time to build an audience so don’t get discouraged and don’t compare yourself to others. Marketing involves taking risks, trying new approaches, and being brave. Try all of the free stuff and be selective about what costs money because not all of it is tried and true.
If bloggers offer to help, interview, or spread the word about your books, then let them, and don’t forget to THANK them! Many of them do it just because they love books and for no other reason.
Be true, be you, and have fun while your doing it!
I’ve been writing all of my life but before I met you, that part of me was incomplete. I’ve always written for myself but never imagined there might be someone out there who would care to read my words. I never thought that anything I wrote could matter to anyone else but me. I realize now that there was a piece of me that was truly missing before I found you.
I wrote without direction or purpose, my thoughts chaotic and meaningless. But when I met you, there was a reason for the words that I wrote and the stories I put together. For the first time, someone else cried when I cried and felt what I did, and suddenly all of the noise in my head made sense, and there was quiet and peace.
You helped me make sense of what was once a thousand dreams running through my head all at once. You gave me a better understanding of my place in the world and how to survive in it.
I can’t tell you what it means to me when you read the stories that have been bled from my heart. And when you tell me how much they mean to you, I replay every word because the joy it gives me is immeasurable and so good for my soul.
I want you to know that I am so thankful for you. You have helped to heal me and make me whole and I will forever be grateful for your love and support. I hope we will always know one another because your honesty and friendship is something I will always treasure.