We’re playing flexible time again, at ALBTALBS, and I hope you enjoy the ride. Because I’m doing it and you will like it. … Anyway somehow I messed up (beyond the obvious) and this blogiversary isn’t much of a blogiversary because there aren’t any prizes being offered but fuck it because that’s how I’m feeling. Well, I’ll be offering some prizes… but I’m rambling and I shouldn’t be doing that during Jackie Uhrmacher‘s post.
The Power of a Three Star Review
First of all, I wanted to thank you for having me on ALBTALBS and wish you a very happy anniversary! It took me a while to come up with The Right Post and received divine inspiration over the weekend.
To give a little background, I’ve been a book reviewer for over five years, and I recently made the transition into published author in September. It’s always been my dream to see one of my books on a bookshelf somewhere. Anywhere. Even in my own home. My mom badgered me on a daily basis as to WHY I hadn’t done it yet so I finally pulled up my big girl panties and published Love You to Death on the one-year anniversary of her death. I had no grand plan as to what I was going to do after the fact. My website, if you’d call it that, was a mess. I didn’t even formally announce I was publishing Love You to Death until it was done. As far as Marketing went, I was an example of how not to self-publish a book, but I was okay with that. It was out there. Mom could stop dropping by in my dreams asking why it wasn’t done. If I sold one copy so be it! If it turned into something bigger…well, shit.
And, of course, it turned into something bigger. If I’d developed a well-thought out Marketing plan and hired someone to build a kickass website, it wouldn’t have sold a single copy. So here I am with a crappy website, decent sales, and surprisingly wonderful reviews.
What does this have to do with anything? Like I said, I was a reviewer for many years so, for the past four months, I’ve waited for the other shoe to drop. Consistent four and five star reviews?? That didn’t happen. I waited…watching…knowing, at some point, someone wasn’t going to like Love You to Death.* Then it happened. A beautiful one star review floated its way onto Amazon for one and all to see. It was a simple two-sentence review and explained quite well why the reader didn’t like the book. I’d prepared myself for what I would do when this happened – would I cringe internally? Get pissed and chuck the keyboard? Vow to never write again?
Nope. Crazy person that I am, I smiled. THIS is what I needed to feel like a real author.** It’s not the praise, the profit, or the rush in knowing that people you’ve never met are laughing at something you wrote – it’s realizing you can take the criticism and not want to give up.
I’m glad I received that one star review because it prepared me for the most crushing and most inspiring review I’ve yet to receive. It’s a simple three star review. That’s right – not a one or two star, a three star. It’s not harsh. It doesn’t personally attack me. In fact, it’s an excellent review. I say it’s crushing not because I feel like the reviewer was trying to hurt me or demean Love You to Death in any way – I say that because she pointed out something that I *know* I could have done better.
This is where the inspirational part comes in and if there are any new/soon-to-be/want-to-be authors out there, pay attention because this is something you can claim to be prepared for but you never are: your book will never be perfect. I know, this seems obvious, but hear me out. You can read it over and over and over, checking for grammatical mistakes, misspellings, inconsistencies. You can have beta reader after beta reader give you feedback. Your editor can have it in the best shape he/she can hope for. But you know what? It still won’t be perfect. There will be some mundane fact or some plot point that someone brings up in a review or conversation that makes you stand there and think, “DUH! I KNOW better!”
Don’t beat yourself up. In fact, absorb the information and move on. Next time, you’ll know better. Your book still won’t be perfect but it will be better because of the previous book’s imperfections.
And to the person who left that three star review: Thank you.
*Please note: There has never been a book in the history of the world that EVERYONE liked especially a dark romantic comedy about female serial killers who like to drink, smoke, and kill their husbands. A less than stellar review is expected and, honestly, welcome.
**Again: I’m not saying authors who don’t receive low-rated reviews aren’t real authors.
So you know (or actually you probably don’t since I haven’t mentioned it yet? But … this is the third blogiversary of ALBTALBS), that’s why Jackie wrote about the number 3. That’s the general theme. What do you think of her post? And come on – that cover? Pretty great, yeah?