The Writer’s Conundrum: Book Reviews Help Sell Books

Note: I wrote this post with The Beard’s specific objections. I love that man!

Writing isn’t new to me, but publishing my first book took me down a new road. I’ve discussed my love of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. Her book accompanies Stephen King’s On Writing  as the two most valuable books about the craft of writing. Oh yeah, there’s The Elements of Style, which as someone recently pointed out to me, contains erroneous examples of passive voice among others. The thing about modern language is that it evolves. I also enjoyed Bird by Bird. The thing about these books is that they offer fabulous advice on the craft, process and hopefulness that writing requires.

I have an entirely different post about editing coming up in a week or two. As you know if you follow my facebook page, I’ve just finished editing The Esau Emergence after receiving fresh and critical input from a new editor. The critique thrilled me and jump started me on a week long push of edits. Third edition coming soon…

I’ve been asking my readers to leave book reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. The request falls in the realm of selling books and the wonky ranking system that Amazon uses to place books in their sales lists. It also moves me closer to earning an income from my writing. Of course, I never expected everyone to love my book. I don’t love every book I read either. Poor reviews are unavoidable.

Someone left my first one star review this week. I don’t mean to parse, but the critique left me confused and unperturbed. The Beard is on a rampage. He’s stomping around railing about the other poor reviews this person wrote. He’s more upset than I am. Me? I’m pretty disinterested. I love my book. It’s not Pulitzer Prize material. That’s a different book currently in the works.

Putting a book out there for public perusal is a terrifying experience. I used Natalie Goldberg’s advice, “We are not the poem.” She says, “Don’t identify too strongly with your work. They are not you. They were a great moment passing through you. A moment when you were awake enough to write down and capture.” It became my mantra as I released my words out into the world. That sickening rush of fear didn’t disappear. My belief in making choices from love rather than fear quieted it.

I have the skills and experience to recognize good writing, even if I don’t enjoy it. I believe I have the skills and growing experience to write good books, even if everyone doesn’t enjoy them. I’m okay with that. It’s a rare book that I dislike enough to leave a one star review.

I’d really appreciate your review, honest. Pardon me if I find it amusing that my first one star review was authored by someone named Wurst.