From the moment I decided to publish my stories, I became vulnerable to every reader's opinion on them. And even though common sense told me that there's no pleasing all of the people, all of the time... I'm afraid that common sense is no comfort when you receive your first bad review.
There are those who will tell writers 'don't ever read your reviews' and all I can think is that these are authors who've been on the Public Opinion roller coaster a few times, survived it, and decided they were idiots to get on in the first place. But as a relatively new author, those reviews hold an allure that's hard to resist, and I find myself checking sites like Amazon and Goodreads, to see what readers are saying about my stories. I guess, coming from a background where a lot of my feedback came from fellow writers, on a dedicated authors website, there's a part of me that believes that writers critiquing writers is fine (for the technical stuff) but it's ultimately the readers who can tell you what they like to see between the covers of a book or on their e-reader. I value their feedback, so why would I ignore it?
But here's the thing: Every story I write carries a piece of me. It might be an emotion, a memory, a dream or an ambition. At the very least, it's something my imagination was responsible for - and there's no separating imagination from its owner. My stories, at some level, are personal: and I'd defy any artist, whatever their medium, to deny that.
Over the last five years, I've learned to take the hits alongside the pats on the back. Both have value. It's the silences that are perhaps the worst. Are these a 'no news is good news' kind of thing, or a 'don't say anything if you haven't got anything nice to say' kind of thing? Yup, crazy as it seems, it's 'no response at all' that I find most unsettling.
That's where acres of PATIENCE comes in useful. With patience, you can rest easy in the knowledge that some people might take longer to read a book they've bought (they may have a whole raft of books waiting to be read) or perhaps they need longer to form an opinion than other readers? Maybe they just don't DO reviews and prefer to keep their thoughts to themselves? Whatever the reasons for the silence, I've found that patience is a valuable virtue that allows me to stop worrying and keep writing.
Sometimes it even pays off.
Last April, when I was gearing up to release 'Betty Sue's Teatime Tales', I did a Goodreads giveaway for two signed copies. In the past, I've found these a great way to garner interest in a book, and I've even had some good reviews come through as a result. There's never any pressure on the recipients to leave a review... but you kind of hope they will (and it will be positive). So, with the copies posted off to the two people (out of over 1,200) picked, I kept my fingers crossed that they'd like the book.
Nothing. Not a peep... for over seven months. I admit that 'patience' had become 'they obviously don't write reviews: ah well!' But I was wrong. A few days ago I got a 4* rating and a positive review from one of the giveaway winners.
Of course, I also discovered I'd been given my first 1* rating on the same day... which is all part of the roller coaster experience!