Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Readers, Reviewers, and Thick Skin

As an indie author, you must let reviews slide off your back.  We spend a lot of time trying to get reviewers and bloggers to review our work.  When they leave less than glowing results, we need thick skin. You want reviews. You also want to let the reviewers do their job without fear of retribution.  DO NOT argue with a reviewer.  Move on. Seriously. I thank a reviewer and move on.  Nothing but that.

Reviewers are not the only ones that will leave reviews.  Some readers will too.  Even if you have written the best book ever, don't expect to get all 4 and 5 star reviews. Each pair of eyes sees things differently.  Each brain processes a little differently.  Not every person will love your book.  In fact, some will probably hate it.  The only way to avoid this is to write a book so middle of the road that nobody cares enough to love it or to hate it...and quite likely they won't finish reading it.

As the months go by, you will hear from one person that they loved the conflict and all of the struggle, only to hear from another person later that they were disappointed that there was a lack of conflict.  One person will say the sex was hot and steamy, the next will say it read like a porno.  Or, worse yet, the sex put them to sleep. See what I mean? Same book, different opinions.
The best thing you can do is not read your reviews.  I have to admit that I have not reached that level.  I still read them. And, I will admit, a bad review stabs me right in the gut.  I have to sit and rationalize about all of the great reviews I have gotten.  So far, there are way more of those than the bad.  And, for some reason, the few bad ones I have gotten have kept them to their blogs.  Had they put them up on Amazon and B&N it still does not matter in the scheme of things.  ALL best sellers have one and two star reviews. Again, different opinions. I am sure more are coming, but so are 5 star reviews.

Some authors don't like my work nearly as well as readers who don't write books. They point out the different ways that I don't play the game right in my writing. Some of it I agree with and some I don't.  Some I will work to improve on and some I will blow off. Why would I blow it off?  Because I think some of it comes down to style.  My style does not have to be like theirs. That is why I am indie. If we all write the same way, what is the point? Still, if I hear repeatedly about things that are an issue I will know that needs to be considered. 

Even things that are a "no-no" in writing (like head hopping, for example) have some that think it heresy to do and others that say they don't care.  Some famous/best selling authors do it, some don't.  I do, but I am not famous.  Yet. :)

Yup.  I head hop. I am trying to learn how to do it in a less jarring way, but honestly, I want readers who are sophisticated enough to be able to read two or more points of view and thought processes at the same time. Yes, I know it is not usually done. That doesn't mean it can't be.  (And, actually, it is done way more than some might think.) I believe  people have progressed enough to be able to process that and still identify with a main character. Nowadays we multi-task all of the time, so it should not be a stretch. My gosh, if Picasso and a myriad of other forward thinking artists listened to the "no-no" we would still be hanging huge religious paintings on our walls.

Will I lose some readers by this?  Sure.  I will also lose some because of graphic sex. Or lack of sex. Or too macho of a male lead.  Or too wimpy.  You yourself will also will lose some readers no matter what.  However, if you give your very best...honestly write from your gut and have a way with will also keep some readers for life. They will feel your passion and believe in you. If you move them, it will be a lot of readers that you keep. And, if you have to choose between keeping readers who don't write books or authors happy, choose the former.  There are a hell of a lot more of those. :)


  1. I've always been a HOPPER! It was the first thing a publisher ever chastised me about. I think it can work and not confuse folks. Jodi Piccolt comes to mind. The way she transitions her chapters from one character to another, but having them address the same scene from their own POV is bril. :-)

    I think it all comes down to the basic motivation of why we write. If our #1 motivation is to be published and well known sadly, we will have to make sacrifices and "play the game" with the powers that be. But, if we write because it is who we are, that is its own reward. Also, with the advent of small press publishers, we have more freedom to 'hop' than ever before.