As an indie writer, there are many challenges I face, but two stand out the most: getting sales and getting reviews. In comparison to reviews though, getting sales is a piece of cake. I’m not saying it’s easy, mind you. Getting sales is quite the challenge. But compared to getting reviews, it’s a cinch.
The path of any author, indie or traditional, has many a challenge and many a frustration. Self-doubt shall forever be something we need to face and overcome and much of that comes from not knowing what people think of your work. Is it good? Is it shit? Does it matter? The internal dialogue can get pretty intense and not in a nice way.
In reality, any review is better than no reviews because that means that even if it sucks, it sucked enough for someone to write about it. I say this because some people would be frustrated by a four-star review… so imagine if they got a three-star review. Imagine if they got three of them in a row with a potential fourth and fifth 3 star review.
That’s what’s happening to me, and I couldn’t be happier.
Everyone loves a good review. It’s either an ego stroke or it validates that what you did was worth it. But the fact remains that we will not always get a 5-star or 4-star review. For me, I always want to know the truth behind the reader. What did they think? How did they feel? How was my work interpreted? How can it be better?
In my case, a reading group from Wisconsin was kind enough to allow me to send them copies of the Daydreams onthe Sherbet Shore in return for some honest reviews. And that’s what I’ve gotten. Writing was praised as was the atmosphere, but all of them coincided with being a bit lost from one story to the next. They were reading it as one narrative rather than individual standalone stories, and even if they’d got that, the characters weren’t allowed enough time to resonate with them. All of them thought the poems at the end was a brilliant touch and wondered why I didn’t include them at the beginning of every chapter instead of as an afterthought. This is a gem of an insight and something I’ll be integrating a bit in Volume 2 and FULLY in Volume 3.
I could have reacted in many ways, but I’ve chosen to accept the reality that the first instalment of the Daydreams of the Sherbet Shore is a good book, but not a great book. It’s a fun read that shows potential, but it’s lacking in structure if not in memorability. It explains why people enjoy it on the blog but don’t know how to cope with it in book form, which I think is fascinating. Is it frustrating that it’s not a 5-star book? If I allowed my ego to get in the way, then of course. But that’s the thing, my ego would get in the way of becoming a better writer.
The insights shared by the Young Women’s Book club opened my eyes to quite a few things and that is invaluable. That will not change the fact that I am very fond of this project, that I think it’s worthwhile and that the purpose of this collection of stories is to inspire you to smile in the span of one story. Maybe it does need a better narrative from one story to the next, or maybe something that threads it all, or maybe it just needs to be explained better at the beginning of every episode to further clarify the nature of this project. What it does is bring me hope that as this series grows, I think people will eventually kind of get what I’m trying to do, but I can’t just stand idle. I have to push. I have to improve. I have to make sure that the reading experience is understood as well as enjoyed. And that’s just what I will do.
That’s because I’ve gotten 5 star reviews that although great for my rating, don’t tell me much about my work and on one occasion, I’m sure I was given the rating due to how I am as a human and not how I am as a writer… and although well meaning, I’d rather the 3-star review. I’d rather know how to improve than have people afraid to tell me the truth.
They say the truth can set you free, but it can also set you on your path. I am of the school of thought that to be great, you have to work hard. So here’s to those 3 star reviews I’ve earned and to improving so I can keep reaching for those stars.
Peace, love, and maki rolls
Ps.: Have you read the Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore? If so, what did you think? Can you think of any 3 star books you'd like to recommend? If you're an indie author, how has your experience been with the different reviews? What have you learned from them.