A to Z Challenge 2015 · An Encouraging Word

K is for Kills You

Celebrating the A to Z Blogging Challenge with quotations on the writing life.

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If you’re going to write, don’t pretend to write down. It’s going to be the best you can do, and it’s the fact that it’s the best you can do that kills you.

Dorothy Parker

I’m not talking about the grinding self-doubt of the first draft stage. This is finished, published work. And while it’s the best you can do, it’s never going to be perfect. Not everyone will like it, and they will probably say so. Out loud and in public.

So here is advice I’ve received from seasoned professionals:

Do not read your reviews at Amazon.

How’s that for tough? Stay away. Because your ego is fragile, and you’ll believe what you read. One derogatory remark can shut down your writing for weeks. And over-the-top flattery will make you feel invincible.

Feeling invincible in the age of social media is a problem. (More about this on Saturday.)

On the other hand, you should read and respond to comments at review blogs that feature your book. And you should interact (graciously) on Facebook and Twitter. It’s Amazon and counting those stars that throws writers for a loop.

Have a trusted friend keep an eye peeled for malicious Amazon reviews, those that attack you instead of your work. These can be challenged, although not always always successfully.

DO look at your sales figures–often! Here is where the encouragement lies.

I have a book coming out early this summer, so this advice is a stern reminder to myself.

Photo: Ben Sutherland (Creative Commons Flickr). Image is link.

12 thoughts on “K is for Kills You

  1. I should add that I post my in-progress work at a members-only fiction site (Beyond Austen — membership is free). These reader responses I DO read and very thoughtfully, for I want to see what readers are reacting to. Have I left something out? Are readers confused? Are they biting their nails with anticipation? Have I done my job as a storyteller?

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  2. I’ve seen too many of us shipwrecked on the rocks of Amazon Reviews.

    I figure those are a private convo between purchasers and don’t involve me. In my experience, when reading negative reviews for practically any product, you are as likely to read reviews of Amazon as a corporate citizen, the delivery method, or the quality of the packing material.

    Interacting on FB and review sites is necessary, and even to salving the hurt feelings of readers who didn’t get what they expected or are outright angry with you is something we have to do. But, I draw the line at intentionally going before a firing squad for the further entertainment of anybody.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, I like your point about Amazon reviews being like private chatter between purchasers. Goodreads is another site I leave alone. Readers like to talk, and nobody wants a crabby author demanding her part in the conversation.

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  3. A tough battle, not reading Amazon reviews. Because “Inquiring egos want to know,” right?

    My ego is weak and untrustworthy. (Like my appetite that will woof down all the taco chips or countless pieces of fudge until I feel sick.) You used the word suicide. Self-inflicted injury–verifying that all my worst fears about my lack of writing talent are true–is a close second.

    So I don’t go to my book pages at Amazon any more, and I don’t click on the Reader Reviews report at Author Central. I have learned, oh yes. Sales figures tell me that people are buying–and with a series, sales of the follow-up books let me know that readers like my work.

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    1. Lots of people tried to convince me that reading reviews was good and that they were like a tough critique would make me stronger. But if they made me give up completely, what has been accomplished? Weak and frail as I am, I keep moving ahead.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d like to think I’m tough enough to take it. I’m not.

        I say I write to please myself, but the fact that I become caught with others’ opinions shows that it isn’t quite true. Too easily I fall into obsessively asking, “Did I get a new review today? Did I? Did I?”

        More about this on Saturday.

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  4. I realize that not everyone will like my books. There have been reviews which attacked me personally and unfairly, but I still read reviews. Bad reviews hurt more when I first started writing – not so much now. They no longer shut me down.

    I’m the sort of person to whom other people usually have a strong reaction. They love me, or they hate me. It’s the same with my books.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Laura,
    You are so right! I’ve had a few people send me emails asking me why I mix religion (they never call it faith) with vision problems. One said, “The religion thing did nothing for me, but each to his own.” A few have even purchased my book, and then I see they wanted and received a refund. I always wonder if that is due to my faith content. I will never know so I try to let it go. I feel I’m being obedient to God and that’s who I have to look to for my confirmation. 🙂 A good post.

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