Monday, August 1, 2011

Confessions

Recently, a well known author, and one whom I once counted as a favorite, said that he paid no attention to reviews on sites like Amazon (I guess that would also mean places like Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Good Reads, Kindle Boards, etc..).  This was just the latest affront to his readers in my eyes.

When I heard what he said, my reaction was, “How dare he?”  Those are the people who spent their money and took their time to read his books.  He may not have to agree with every review, but to dismiss reader’s reviews in favor of “literary critics”, who are beholden to large publishing companies for future reviews, is just ludicrous.  At least to me.

An author should never dismiss his or her fans.  Never.  He or she does not have to take every review to heart, but that fan took the time to not only read the book but to post a review.  The author should be grateful.

On the other hand, there is me and (I am guessing) almost every other indie author out there.  We go to the other extreme.  We live for each sale and for each review.  That’s where the title of this post comes into play.

I confess; I am a review-a-holic.  I read every single review.  I check for new reader reviews every day.  I read them and analyze them.  If the reader sends me an email, I respond.

Of course, I also long for that “literary critic” to come along and review my work.  With trepidation I do pine for such recognition.  Still, the fan opinions are the most important in my mind and if I ever sell enough books to make writing my one and only profession, I hope I still see reader reviews in the same light. 

Another confession; I hate the beginning of a new month.  Today is August 1st and when I go to check Amazon sales, I won’t see any.  No one new will be reading my book and I’ll freak out just a little inside.  Will anyone EVER buy my book again?  I have already passed the “average indie book” figures in sales.  Is it over?

The angel sitting on my right shoulder will whisper to me and remind me that I haven’t even really started trying to market the book yet and that I’ve only solicited a few reviews.  The angel will be kind and remind me of how good those reviews have been so far.  My angel is a good guy but he disappears sometimes.

The demon (and he is, where do you think I got some of those ideas in the first book?) sitting on my left shoulder will laugh triumphantly and remind me that I’m not a “real author”.  He’ll remind me of everything I could have done better in the first book.  Then, he will tell me to just stop wasting my time with this writing stuff and go back to simply reading what others do better than I ever could.   He will point out to me that the author I criticized above is still a better writer than I could ever hope to be.  The demon is a tremendous bastard and follows me everywhere.

Further on that confession; I check sales every day.  Sometimes more than once because places like Amazon and Smashwords take time to update the statistics and I might have checked too soon.  I have already seen that two new people have downloaded sample chapters but will they buy the book?  Is the demon right?  If they do buy the book, will they post reviews?  Will those reviews be additional good reviews or will they start an avalanche of negative ratings that drag down my scores?  OCD much there, Split-Baby?

So those are my confessions for the day.  I criticize authors who are better/more successful than I and sales/reviews keep the demon at bay.

I would love to tell you that I am so confident that I don’t care about reviews or sales, but that would be a lie.

I don’t know if anyone actually reads this blog but I ask you, fellow indie and wannabe authors: do you care about reviews and sales?  Do you have a demon and an angel occupying shoulder space? 

Confess I say! lol

Splitter

6 comments:

  1. I'm not an actual author yet but I would be the exact same as you.
    Hell, I'm that way with my blog.
    I open it up, type what I think or feel about a book or what not and sometimes get ZERO responses.
    My sits TELLS me I have followers but sometimes I just don't hear from them.
    It's nice to be reassured that someone out there is reading.
    So this is me letting you know, I am reading....great work!

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  2. Hola Splitter!
    I am just as compulsive as you are, I must confess...I take each review as it comes and I do try to consider what every reviewer says in an impartial light (though obviously I like to believe utterly anyone who loves my book to bits, heheheh). But actually what I really love is the discussion with readers - it can be so enlightening in so many ways for me and hopefully for them as well.

    And as for sales and stats, well I'd have to be a real geek to have uploaded them all into an Excel sheet with a tab for each country, a table for total numbers and a line-chart showing cumulative sales by country and in total, wouldn't I?? (Though if you ask me nicely I can let you have a blank copy to put your numbers in). (Or rather, I would be able to if I was that sort of geek).

    BTW, haven't read "The Reluctant" yet as am not allowed to read when I should be editing but it is on my list - and if you want to send that demon my way, I'll feed him to the giant jellyfish (it doesn't turn up till book 3 but for you, I'll write the scene specially)....

    Catch you on GR!
    JAC

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  3. lol, Great comments.

    Tell you what, JAC, I'll trade the spread sheet....just for research purposes of course...for a no-charge copy of The Reluctant when are able to read again.

    For me, I can't read fiction stories when I am writing. It is hard to get my head into someone's story when mine is rolling around in my head.

    And that's only one of my limitations! :)

    Splitter

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  4. I don't agonize over sales at all...I check maybe once a month. I do read and respond to reviews. I like reading my reviews, and sometimes I can learn from them. All of my reviews to date have been honest and not malicious, so I take them to heart and can use that reader response and apply to my next novel.

    Cheers!

    Dale

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  5. Hi Splitter,
    I am with you on the angel and demon thing. I am currently under edit to improve my work before I ask for further reviews as well. It is difficult getting reviews that seem more about the author then the story, but it is a part of putting your work out there. I too check the sales charts, and I also google my work to see if anyone else has mentioned my work, either good or bad. I suppose that goes away after a few published works, but I would never take the reviewers for granted. They are the bread and butter of our writing.
    I like you site, it is quite fun and informative. Awesome job.

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  6. Dale, I hope to reach your level some day :).

    Leslie, I do the Google thing too. You know that you can set up a Google Alert of your name and/or book titles, right?

    Splitter

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